Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham (Cham), and Japheth, but it is Ham and his lineage that settled Africa and various parts of the Middle East. According to scripture, the brothers were born when Noah was 500 years old.
“And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” – Genesis 5:32
According to the Strong’s Concordance #2526 (Cham) is defined as: a son of Noah, also his descendants, also a name for Egyptians.
In ancient Hebrew culture, it was customary to list the children in the order of their birth, which makes Ham the middle son. This is important because there is a common misconception that Noah cursed Ham, but that is not what the Bible says.
Ham Was Not Cursed
There are many church leaders that have helped spread the false teaching that Ham was cursed by Noah, and that teaching has been used to justify both slavery and racism toward people of African heritage. Here is what the Bible actually says:
“And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.” – Genesis 9:21-23
As the story unfolds, we see that Ham was the one that discovered his father naked, and immediately told his brothers. It does not say that he uncovered his father, nor does it say that he had sex with his mother, as some false teachings claim. Once Noah awakens from his wine, it is Canaan that is cursed and no one else.
“And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.” – Genesis 9:24-25
The verse makes reference to Noah’s “younger son”, but he then curses his grandson. The reason for this is that both sons and grandsons were simply referred to as “sons”. The words grandfather, grandson, grandmother, and granddaughter are not used in the King James Version. They are referred to as sons and daughters. As we learned above, children were usually (not always) listed in the order in which they were born, and Genesis 10:6 lists Canaan as the last son of Ham, which fits with Noah referring to his “younger son”.
Was Ham The Youngest Son?
There are some that believe Ham was the youngest son of Noah, but that is unlikely because of scriptural pattern of the chosen son.
- Seth was the youngest son of Adam.
- Isaac was the younger than Ishmael.
- Ephraim and Manasseh were younger than Reuben.
- David was the youngest son of Jesse.
We know from scripture that Japheth was the oldest (Genesis 10:21), and because Shem was the chosen son, it would fit with the pattern that he was the youngest, thus putting Ham in the middle.
The Lineage of Ham
It is through Ham’s lineage that we see the development of most of Africa and parts of the Middle East, including modern day Israel and Iraq. Here is a breakdown of Ham’s lineage and the countries they founded. We know that Africa was considered the “land of Ham” because of the following verse:
“Israel also came into Egypt; and Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham.” – Psalms 105:23
Ham’s Sons (Genesis 10:6)
- Cush (Sudan)
- Mizraim (Egypt)
- Phut (Libya)
- Canaan (Israel)
Ham’s Grandsons Through Cush
Ham’s Grandsons Through Mizraim
Ham’s Grandsons Through Canaan
Interestingly, the sons of Phut are not mentioned, but we know that they existed because Phut’s lineage is mentioned in general several times in scripture.