Today is the 2nd Sabbath of the annual Torah cycle: parashah (Torah portion) Noach / Noah, Gen 6:9-11:32. Read Genesis 6:9-11:32 at Bible Gateway.
This week’s Torah portion forms a chaistic structure. I have included the markings (s for stumah and p for p’tuchah) for the paragraph divisions (see the teaching tools of Scripture) so that it can be seen that the paragraph divisions often reveal the chiastic structure.
1A) Gen 6:9-6:12 s, The righteous contrasted with the wicked;
1B) Gen 6:13-8:14 s, God judges sin by the Flood;
1C) Gen 8:15-9:17 s+p, God blesses the righteous;
CENTRAL AXIS) Gen 9:18-9:29 p, The curse on Canaan;
2C) Gen 10:1-10:32 s+s+p, The seed of the sons of Noah, the result of God’s blessing;
2B) Gen 11:1-11:9 p, God judges sin by confusing the tongues;
2A) Gen 11:10-11:32 8s+p, Righteous Shem contrasted with the wicked nations.
Now, it is clear that we have outlined the chiastic structure correctly. The paragraph divisions and the placement of the p’tuchah markers where they are reveal the matching pairs. But why oh why is the curse on Canaan the central axis of this entire Torah portion? How does that make any sense?
We have to remember, when trying to work out these puzzles that Scripture sets up for us, one of the main purposes of Torah. Jesus said that Moses wrote about Him (Joh 5:46). One of the main purposes of Torah is to reveal the Messiah! How does the curse on Canaan reveal the Messiah?
The name “Canaan” is from Strong’s H3665, kaph-nun-ayin, a primitive root. In the ancient Hebrew pictographs, the kaph is the open palm, the hand used to bless others rather than to work or fight. The nun is the seed, so also, son, generation, continuation. The ayin is the eye, so also, to watch, look, see, know, or understand.
The kaph-nun combination paints the picture of the opening (kaph) of the seed (nun), so the going down of the root to provide a firm foundation for the plant above the ground. The verb form, then, means to stand, as the root provides the support that enables the plant to be upright; the concrete noun means a root; and the abstract concept is sureness. So interesting!
Now when we add the ayin, the eye, on to that picture, we get the going down of the eye; i.e. to bow the head, to humble oneself, to be humbled, or to be brought into subjection. The name “Canaan” actually means “lowland.” So what does this have to do with Messiah?
Remember Noah’s prophecy:
“Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants he shall be to his brethren;” Gen 9:25
Of Jesus Christ the Word says:
“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Mat 11:29
“… Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Phi 2:5-8
“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree;” Gal 3:13
The curse on Canaan is a veiled prophecy of the means by which the Promised Seed would redeem us. He brought Himself down, He humbled Himself and made Himself the Servant of servants to His brethren. In so doing, He became a curse for us, when the sin of the world was placed upon Him, and died.
The next time Canaan plays a prominent role in the Old Testament, we find that the sin of the Canaanites has grown so great, that God executes judgment on them by causing their death as a nation. This is another veiled prophecy in the same manner: the wages of sin is death – but the One who died, is the Servant of servants to the brethren, the One who caused His eye to go down.