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God Has Ordained Semitic and White Privilege in the Transactions of Genesis 9 with Fathers Shem, Ham and Japheth, But Such Privilege Does Not Negate the Duty On Men of Applying the Same Moral Law to All Humanity

 by J. Parnell McCarter

 

Date 6/22/2020

 

We read in Isaiah 55:8-9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.   For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Fallen man has a predisposition to controvert the truths of God’s word.  This controversy is on display in Romans 9, and is roundly put down there:

 

For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?

Fallen man chafes against feeling the negative effects of an ancestral father, yet such is a Biblical reality, as most obviously seen in Adam’s transgression: “as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12). The Jews chafed against it and were rebuked, as Matthew Henry comments regarding Jeremiah 31:29-30:

 

They shall say no more (they shall have no more occasion to say) that God visits the iniquity of the parents upon the children, which God had done in the captivity, for the sins of their ancestors came into the account against them, particularly those of Manasseh: this they had complained of as a hardship. Other scriptures justify God in this method of proceeding, and our Saviour tells the wicked Jews in his days that they should smart for their fathers' sins, because they persisted in them, Mt. 23:35, 36. But it is here promised that this severe dispensation with them should now be brought to an end, that God would proceed no further in his controversy with them for their fathers' sins, but remember for them his covenant with their fathers and do them good according to that covenant: They shall no more complain, as they have done, that the fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge (which speaks something of an absurdity, and is an invidious reflection upon God's proceedings), but every one shall die for his own iniquity still; though God will cease to punish them in their national capacity, yet he will still reckon with particular persons that provoke him.

 

And it works for good as well as for ill.  Noah’s posterity has the advantage via Noah of being assured that we shall not have to endure what Noah’s generation endured with respect to a worldwide flood. Even more importantly, Jesus Christ’s spiritual seed enjoy this great spiritual benefit: “by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19)

 

Having seen the long term effects of Adam’s conduct on all of his posterity in Genesis 3, and then the long term effect of Cain’s conduct on all of his posterity in Genesis 4-6, and then the long term effect of Noah’s conduct in Genesis 9, we next come to see the long term effects of the transactions recorded later in Genesis 9 by fathers Shem, Ham and Japheth, from whom all the peoples of the earth are descended:

 

And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:  And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.  And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.  And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.  And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.  And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.  And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.  God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

 

John Calvin comments on these verses regarding the consequent long term curses and blessings flowing from it thus:

 

...It is asked in the first place, why Noah instead of pronouncing the curse upon his son, inflicts the severity of punishment, which that son had deserved, upon his innocent grandson; since it seems not consistent with the justice of God, to visit the crimes of parents upon their children? But the answer is well known; namely that God, although he pursues his course of judgments upon the sons and the grandchildren of the ungodly, yet in being angry with them, is not angry with the innocent, because even they themselves are found in fault. Wherefore there is no absurdity in the act of avenging the sins of the fathers upon their reprobate children; since, of necessity, all those whom God has deprived of his Spirit are subject to his wrath. But it is surprising that Noah should curse his grandson; and should pass his son Ham, the author of the crime, over in silence. The Jews imagine that the reason of this was to be traced to the special favor of God; and that since the Lord had bestowed on Ham so great an honor, the curse was transferred from him to his son. But the conjecture is futile. Certainly, to my mind, there is no doubt that the punishment was carried forward even to his posterity in order that the severity of it might be the more apparent; as if the Lord had openly proclaimed that the punishment of one man would not satisfy him but that he would attach the curse also to the posterity of the offender, so that it should extend through successive ages. In the meantime, Ham himself is so far from being exempt, that God, by involving his son with him, aggravates his own condemnation.

 

Another question is also proposed; namely, why among the many sons of Ham, God chooses one to be smitten? But let not our curiosity here indulge itself too freely; let us remember that the judgments of God are, not in vain, called "a great deep", and that it would be a degrading thing for God, before whose tribunal we all must one day stand, to be subjected to our judgments, or rather to our foolish temerity. He chooses whom he sees good, that he may show forth in them an example of his grace and kindness; others he appoints to a different end, that they may be proofs of his anger and severity. Here, although the minds of men are blinded, let every one of us, conscious of his own infirmity, learn rather to ascribe praise to God's justice, than plunge, with insane audacity, into the profound abyss. While God held the whole seed of Ham as obnoxious to the curse, he mentions the Canaanites by name, as those whom he would curse above all others. And hence we infer that this judgment proceeded from God, because it was proved by the event itself…

 

Verse 26. Blessed be the Lord God of Shem . Noah blesses his other children, but in a different manner. For he places Shem in the highest post of honor. And this is the reason why Noah, in blessing him, breaks forth in the praise of God, without adhering to the person of man. For the Hebrews, when they are speaking of any rare and transcendent excellence, raise their thoughts to God. Therefore the holy man, when he perceived that the most abundant grace of God was destined for his son Shem, rises to thanksgiving. Whence we infer, that he spoke, not from carnal reason, but rather treated of the secret favors of God, the result of which was to be deferred to a remote period. Finally, by these words it is declared, that the benediction of Shem would be divine or heavenly.

Verse 27. God shall enlarge Japheth . In the Hebrew words tpy (japhte) and tpy (japheth,) there is an elegant allusion. For the root of the word is htp (pathah,) which, among the Hebrews, signifies to entice with smooth words, or to allure in one direction or another. Here, however, nearly all commentators take it as signifying to enlarge. If this exposition be received, the meaning will be, that the posterity of Japheth, which for a time would be scattered, and removed far from the tents of Shem, would at length be increased, so that it should more nearly approach them, and should dwell together with them, as in a common home. But I rather approve the other version, 'God shall gently bring back, or incline Japheth.' 17 Moreover, whichever interpretation we follow, Noah predicts that there will be a temporary dissension between Shem and Japheth, although he retains both in his family and calls both his lawful heirs; and that afterwards the time will come, in which they shall again coalesce in one body, and have a common home. It is, however, most absolutely certain, that a prophecy is here put forth concerning things unknown to man, of which, as the event, at length, shows God alone was the Author. Two thousand years and some centuries more, elapsed before the Gentiles and the Jews were gathered together in one faith. Then the sons of Shem, of whom the greater part had revolted and cut themselves off from the holy family of God, were collected together, and dwelt under one tabernacle. Also the Gentiles, the progeny of Japheth, who had long been wanderers and fugitives were received into the same tabernacle. For God, by a new adoption, has formed a people out of those who were separated, and has confirmed a fraternal union between alienated parties. This is done by the sweet and gentle voice of God, which he has uttered in the gospel; and this prophecy is still daily receiving its fulfillment, since God invites the scattered sheep to join his flock, and collects, on every side, those who shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. It is truly no common support of our faith, that the calling of the Gentiles is not only decreed in the eternal counsel of God, but is openly declared by the mouth of the Patriarch; lest we should think it to have happened suddenly or by chance, that the inheritance of eternal life was offered generally to all. But the form of the expression, 'Japheth shall dwell in the tabernacles of Shem,' commends to us that mutual society which ought to exist, and to be cherished among the faithful. For whereas God had chosen to himself a Church from the progeny of Shem, he afterwards chose the Gentiles together with them, on this condition, that they should join themselves to that people, who were in possession of the covenant of life.

Notice Calvin’s point that the curse maintains on the posterity so long as the withdrawal of divine grace maintains, whether with respect to the common or saving operations of the Spirit. Commentator Matthew Henry describes it this way: “God often visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, especially when the children inherit the fathers' wicked dispositions, and imitate the fathers' wicked practices, and do nothing to cut off the entail of the curse.” The same is true on the blessing side.  So long as the posterity maintains the good character of the ancestral father, then so long the posterity will enjoy the blessings. But should that good character wane in the posterity, then the posterity should not expect the blessings to continue.

 

Yet this curse on Ham’s posterity does not mean the blessings of salvation of Jesus Christ are ultimately withheld from them, as we see in the conversion of the Ethiopian eunich in Acts 8, and their inclusion in all of the nations on earth by and during the “millennium” which will be Christian (Revelation 20:3, 15:4).

 

It is God’s prerogative as Creator to order things thus, and “who art thou that repliest against God?”  Modern men who rail against ‘Semitic privilege’ or ‘white privilege’ are in reality engaged in a controversy with God, and a futile one at that, for God is sovereign and not puny men. Much of the talk regarding reparations to Ham’s posterity for their servanthood is offensive not primarily because it is an attack on whites primarily descended from Japheth (who in the end are sinners deserving of eternal condemnation save through Jesus Christ, even if not for the reasons modern men blame on them), but because in reality it is an attack on God who ultimately pronounced the judgment of servanthood (whether manifested in chattel slavery, incarceration, drug addiction, etc.) on Ham’s posterity until the sins should be addressed and corrected by that posterity, which it still has not been. Haiti, Zimbabwe, Detroit, the Gaza Strip, etc. are testimony that it has not generally speaking been repented of and corrected. What instead has been happening is Japheth’s posterity has become more and more degraded such that we are entering into servanthood alongside the posterity of Ham.  From Babel’s standpoint that is a good thing, but from a Biblical standpoint it is a bad thing.  This trend is unlikely to reverse until the Jews convert to Biblical Christianity en masse (likely within the next few decades), which in fact is implied in the blessing on Shem and more explicitly prophesied in other scripture texts.

 

For those with relatively more privilege, even this privilege in no way permits any to avoid the duty of extending the principles of God’s moral law as summarized in the Ten Commandments to all of our fellow man, whether descended primarily from Shem, Ham or Japheth. “Be ye doers of the word” is a command which extends to all for all.  Sadly, we live in a day when the prevailing condition is thus: “all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her” (Revelation 18:3).  There is a widespread rebellion against Christ’s Ten Commandments.  Part of that rebellion is seeking a modern day Babel instead of Biblical Christian nations, yet Jeremiah 12:15 offers hope: “"And it shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them out I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again, every man to his heritage, and every man to his land." John Calvin comments concerning this text:

 

God does not only promise mercy here to the Jews, but also to heathen nations, of whom he would be the Judge, to punish them for the sake of his people. And that this passage is to be extended to aliens is evident from the context; for the Prophet immediately adds, “And it shall be, that when they shall learn the ways of my people, to swear in my name, Live does Jehovah, as they have taught my people to swear by Baal, then shall they be built in the midst of my people.” We hence see that God would not only shew mercy to the remnant of his elect people, but also to their enemies. If it be objected, — that thus God’s favor, manifested towards the children of Abraham, was obscured, the answer is, — that this availed much to confirm the hope of the faithful; for they had not only to look for their own salvation, but also for that of their enemies, whom God would gather together with them. Thus God rendered double his favor to the Israelites. The Prophet also in this place confirms in a striking manner the confidence of the faithful; for he says that God would be merciful even to their enemies for their sake, as they would be saved in common with themselves. We now then understand the object of the Prophet, when he declares, that God, after having drawn out the Gentiles from their own countries, would again be merciful to them, so as to restore every one of them to their own inheritance and to their own place. 

 

This verse gives great hope to all of mankind, for all of the nations (both the Jewish nation and the Gentile nations) shall enjoy the salvation in Jesus Christ. This salvation will not only have spiritual consequences, but also political consequences, for after divine judgments will follow a period when each nation and people group will be returned "to his heritage" and "to his land".  God will thus bring down every Babel that manifests itself in history (including the one prophesied in Revelation chapters 17 and 18).  Those who seek to maintain "Babel" will in the long term be greatly disappointed. It is God's plan that the earth will be covered with Biblical Christian ethnic homeland nations which serve the Lord.  For a further explanation of how this is prophesied, please see http://www.historicism.net/aBrakel.htm .