We study the Torah according to the triennial cycle every Sabbath (Why?), being aware of the teaching tools employed by Torah, and looking for them, so that we can get the message God is trying to convey.
Today is the 8th Sabbath of the triennial cycle: parashah (Torah portion) Vayikyu ben Noach / Sons of Noah, Gen 9:18-10:32 (read at Bible Gateway or the Hebrew Bible in English).
Additional readings for this week:
Prophet: Isa 49 / Psalm: Ps 8 / History: Job 15-16 / Gospel: Mat 15:21-39 / Apostolic: Eph 2
Parsha (paragraph) divisions in this week’s Torah portion:
Gen 9:18-29 ends in a parsha p’tuchah, a strong paragraph division.
Gen 10:1-14 ends in a parsha stumah, a weak paragraph division.
Gen 10:15-20 ends in a stumah.
Gen 10:21-32 ends in a p’tuchah.
The theme of the parsha p’tuchah from Gen 9:18-29 is that dishonor brings a curse.
The theme of the parsha stumah from Gen 10:1-14 is the sons of Japheth and Ham.
The theme of the parsha stumah from Gen 10:15-20 is the sons of Canaan.
The theme of the parsha p’tuchah from Gen 10:21-32 is the sons of Shem.
The first thing we notice, is that the parsha divisions have singled out the sons of Canaan into their own parsha. We cannot even say that God divided the paragraphs up by the sons of each of the three sons, for Japhath and Ham share a paragraph – except for the sons of Canaan.
So it seems as if the theme of strong paragraph from Gen 10:1 through Gen 10:32 is telling us who the grandsons of Noah are and the 70 nations that came from them (count them – there are 70 descendants who became the heads of 70 nations) – singling out and setting aside the nation of the Canaanites (the Phoenicians), above all the others. Why? Because, we learned, dishonor brings a curse, and we have to know who the people are who have been cursed, to see if the Word of the Lord comes to pass or not.
The theme is the blessing on the sons of Noah, how they were fruitful and how they multiplied, and the curse on Canaan.
Finding Messiah in Torah
I had done a Hebrew word study on the names of each of the three sons of Noah. But as I was thinking about the curse on Canaan, I realized I had not done a word study on the name, “Canaan.”
Canaan is from Strong’s H3665, unk, 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 of the seed, 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 what Noah said of Canaan? “Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants he shall be to his brethren;” (Gen 9:25). Of Messiah Yeshua 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 Messiah 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 brought about His death.
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, “canaan,” the One who caused His eye to go down.