James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.
And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.Genesis 9:18-29
THE ORIGIN OF THE NATIONS
NOAH’S PROPHECY (Genesis 9:18-29)
To which of the sons of Noah is attention called at the beginning of this section, and why (Genesis 9:18)? To what occupation did Noah apply himself after the flood (Genesis 9:18)? Of what sin was he guilty (Genesis 9:21)? Of what grosser sin was his son guilty (Genesis 9:22)? What curse did Noah pronounce on the line of Ham (Genesis 9:25)? Which particular line? Just why Canaan is selected one cannot say. We only know that his father is not once mentioned in this chapter without him, for which God must have had a reason even if it is not revealed. One reason may be to emphasize that the curse rested upon Asiatics rather than Africans. Because certain of these latter are descendants of Ham, and are black, and have served as slaves, men have associated the curse with them, but the facts of the next chapter (Genesis 10:15-19) are against that idea. The Hebrews or Israelites, the descendants of Shem, who were themselves slaves in Egypt for a while, afterwards enslaved the Canaanites (Joshua 9:23-27; 1 Kings 9:20-21), and this in part is a fulfillment of this prophecy. It is pertinent that the Canaanites, like others in the line of Ham, the Babylonians, Egyptians and Africans, inherited the sensuous characteristics of their progenitor for which the judgments of God fell upon them later.
Passing over the blessing upon Shem, or rather the God of Shem, mention the three things prophesied of Japheth (Genesis 9:27). He is enlarged in the sense that the peoples of Europe sprung out of his loins, to say nothing of the Hindus and doubtless the Mongolians. He “dwells in the tents of Shem” in the sense at least that he partakes of the blessing of their religion, that of the Bible. Canaan is his servant in the sense doubtless in which the nations and tribes descendant from him are subject to the control of Europe.