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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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HAM . The original (?) use of the name as = Egypt appears in Psalms 78:51 ; Psalms 105:23 ; Psalms 105:27 ; Psalms 106:22 . It has been derived from an Egyptian word kem , ‘black,’ in allusion to the dark soil of Egypt as compared with the desert sands (but see Ham [Land of]). Hâm came to be considered the eponymous ancestor of a number of other peoples, supposed to have been connected with Egypt ( Genesis 10:6-20 ). His ‘sons’ ( Genesis 10:6 ) are the peoples most closely connected either geographically or politically. Great difficulty is caused by the fusion (in J [Note: Jahwist.] ) of two quite distinct traditions in Genesis 9:1-29 ; Genesis 10:1-32 . (i.) Noah and his family being the sole survivors of the Flood, the whole earth was populated by their descendants ( Genesis 9:18 f.), and the three sons people the whole of the known world the middle, the southern, and the northern portions respectively (ch. 10). (ii.) Canaan , and not Hâm, appears to be Noah’s son, for it is he who is cursed ( Genesis 9:20-27 ). The purpose of the story is to explain the subjugation of the people represented under the name ‘Canaan’ to the people represented under the names ‘Shem’ and ‘Japheth.’ To combine the two traditions a redactor has added the words, ‘and Hâm is the father of Canaan’ in Genesis 9:18 , and ‘Hâm the father of’ in Genesis 9:22 . (1.) The peoples connected, geographically, with Hâm include Egypt (Mizraim), and the country S. of it (Cush), the Libyans (Put), and ‘ Canaan ’ (see Canaanites). The descendants of these four respectively are so described in most cases from their geographical position, but at least one nation, the Caphtorim, from its political connexion with Egypt (see Driver on Genesis 9:14 ). (ii.) In the second tradition Shem, Japheth, and Canaan stand not for large divisions of the world, but for certain much smaller divisions within the limits of Palestine . ‘ Shem ’ evidently stands for the Hebrews, or for some portion of them (see Genesis 10:21 in the other tradition), and ‘Japheth’ for some unknown portion of the population of Palestine who dwelt ‘in the tents of Shem’ ( Genesis 9:27 ), i.e. in close conjunction with the Hebrews. ‘Canaan’ (in the other tradition, Genesis 10:19 ) inhabited the coast lands on the W., and the Arabah on the S. E. But there is no evidence that the peoples in these districts were ever in complete subjection to the Hebrews such as is implied in ‘a slave of slaves’ ( Genesis 9:25 ). Some think that the three names represent three grades or castes [cf. the three grades in Babylonia, who hold distinct legal positions in the Code of Hammurabi amelu (‘gentleman’), mushkenu (‘commoner,’ or ‘poor man’), and ardu (‘slave’)].

A. H. M’Neile.

HAM . According to Genesis 14:5 , the district inhabited by the Zuzim (wh. see). The locality is unknown.

J. F. M’Curdy.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Ham'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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Ham, Land of
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