Iron sharpens iron and one of the joys I’ve enjoyed the last few weeks has been sharing this Bible reading with some great brothers in Christ. We’ve been discussing the passages and holding each other accountable over email. One of my friends, Steve, is doing a similar blog discussing his thoughts on our readings here.
Yet another friend, Andy, who came up with the idea for all this, shared some very interesting analysis of the curses of Genesis. With his permission I’m going to just quote him here.
I tried to map out some of the curses and how they’ve evolved in Genesis, along with some conjecture:
9:20-24 – Noah is offended by his son Ham, and as a result curses Ham’s son, Canaan. Canaan & his offspring would be cursed as a slave to his brothers. His offspring would become the people who reside in the land of Canaan and are long at odds with the nation Israel. The fact that it seems like the cursed nation is a people group and not the land itself (since it later becomes the Promised Land) circles back to what Steve has been noting.
16 – Out of lack of faith & disobedience, Sarai gives Hagar to Abram and Hagar gives birth to Ishmael. Hagar mistreats Sarai, so Abram gives Sarai permission to abuse Hagar. Out of all this faithlessness and strife, Hagar flees. God gives her the blessing that her son Ishmael would have many offspring, but curses him, saying that he would always live in hostility toward others. Later, Abraham begs that God would bless Ishmael, and God promises that Ishmael would become a great nation, but never revokes the curse. As a result- both Isaac (born of Sarah) & Ishmael will bear forth great nations, but Ishmael’s will forever be cursed. He goes to reside in Beersheba, in the land of Canaan (see above). If we peek ahead to Galatians 4, it notes that Hagar & Ishmael represent a nation in slavery, which is similar to the curse on Canaan back in Genesis 9.
25:21-23 – Two nations are in Rebekah’s womb (Jacob & Esau), and the peoples will be separated. The older will serve the younger.
27:39 – Isaac curses Esau after being deceived by Jacob.
28:6-9 – Jacob is told to not take a wife from Canaan. Esau has already married Hittite women, and it has caused strife in the family. Esau is still angry at Jacob and despises his father Isaac, so he goes to Canaan and marries Mahalath, who is the daughter of Ishmael, the cursed son of Abraham.
So in a way, the nation that would always be opposed to Israel has been formed- 1) the promise of a hostile nation borne out of Ishmael, & 2) a profane & subservient nation that would come from Esau, coming out of the people of Canaan. When Esau marries back into the line of Ishmael (Mahalath), the link is complete. In a great sense, Esau becoming son to Ishmael links together the curses on Canaan, Ishmael, and Esau.
If we jump even further ahead (spoiler!) this line subsequently becomes the nation of Edom, which is forever at war with Israel/Judah and is cursed b/c of it. Edom joins with Babylon (later to be overcome by Babylon) to conquer first the 10 tribes of Israel and later the two tribes of Judah, destroying Jerusalem & the temple in the process. The land where Babylon resided (though later conquered by Persia) becomes modern-day Iraq.
Just great stuff. Thanks Steve and Andy. You are a big encouragement for me. Cheers.