Canaan Stole Shem's Promised Land

Continuing the discussion from two days ago, Ham attempted a takeover of the family by sleeping with his mother, and Canaan was the fruit of his action. Noah curses Canaan, and then he blesses Shem in the very next verse: “Blessed by the LORD my God be Shem;
and let Canaan be his slave” (Genesis 9:26).

The blessing is a big deal; later, we see Esau and Jacob doing whatever they can to get the blessing from their father, Isaac. Shem gets the blessing, and then we no longer hear of the blessing until 290 years, ten generations, later when Abraham gets blessed by Melchizedek saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, maker of heaven and earth” (Genesis 14:19).

Melchizedek is probably not a person’s given birth-name but a title-name. The letter to the Hebrews says of him that, “He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace” (Hebrews 7:2). So if Melchizedek isn’t his birth-name, who is he? Hebrews is not arguing that Melchizedek had no genealogy but that he did not have the correct Levitical genealogy required to be a Levitical Priest. The argument is about which is the enduring priesthood, and the answer is the bread-and-wine priesthood of Melchizedek.

Since Melchizedek is someone other than Melchizedek, and he is someone who possesses the blessing, could he be Shem, the last one we heard about who was blessed? Shem lived 210 years after the birth of Abraham, so he was around.

I’ll tell you what I think. Shem was blessed and given the inheritance, but the Canaanites and the Hamites continued to try to take over his inheritance. Shem’s descendants moved away to avoid the conflict, leaving Shem mostly on his own but still the king of Salem. Shem’s inheritance, the land promised to him, is taken by the Canaanites and becomes known as the land of Canaan. The land of Canaan is really Shem’s rightful inheritance stolen by Canaan and his family.

Abraham is called back to this land by God to retrieve it for God’s chosen people. As soon as Abraham defeats the four kings who had defeated the five kings in that region, becoming a sort of king of kings in what later will be called Israel, Melchizedek comes out to bless him. When Abraham reasserts authority over his family’s rightful inheritance over against the Canaanites, it is then that the ultimate family father, Shem, comes out to pass on the family blessing and inheritance. Abraham comes to set his people free and to regain the lost inheritance, and so he is blessed and made the new head of the family of God by the former head, Shem.

The Promised Land was controlled by the Canaanites because they had usurped it from Shem’s family. Abraham reasserted his familial claim, and so was made the family’s new head. This is all symbolic and a representation of the battle between humans and demons. The demons are jealous of us and seek to keep us from our God-given inheritance, heaven. The Promised Land is one of the strongest symbols of heaven, and through the disobedience of our first parents and the deceit of the devil, we lost our inheritance.

We have been trying to regain it ever since; this is represented in the Old Testament by the continual quest for the Promised Land. Abraham was the first one to reclaim it; David is the next one to get peace from his enemies round about, and then God makes a covenant with him promising that one of David’s descendants will reign on his throne forever. Jesus is the fulfillment of these prefigurements, for He definitively retakes heaven and opens its doors for all who are united to Him.

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Copyright 2007

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