And he said
Not in a drunken fit, as some profane persons would suggest, for he was awaked from his wine; nor in the heat of passion, but by inspiration, under a spirit of prophecy:
cursed [be] Canaan;
or, "O cursed Canaan", or rather, "Canaan is", or "shall be cursed" F17; for the words are either a declaration of what was his case, or a prediction of what it should be. It may seem strange that Canaan should be cursed, and not Ham, who seems to he the only aggressor, by what is said in the context; hence one copy of the Septuagint, as Ainsworth observes, reads Ham, and the Arabic writers the father of Canaan; and so Saadiah Gaon supplies it, as Aben Ezra relates; and the same supplement is made by others F18: but as both were guilty, as appears from what has been observed on the former verses, and Canaan particularly was first in the transgression; it seems most wise and just that he should be expressly named, since hereby Ham is not excluded a share in the punishment of the crime he had a concern in, being punished in his son, his youngest son, who perhaps was his darling and favourite, and which must be very afflicting to him to hear of; and since Canaan only, and not any of the other sons of Ham were guilty, he, and not Ham by name, is cursed, lest it should be thought that the curse would fall upon Ham and all his posterity; whereas the curse descends on him, and very justly proceeds in the line of Canaan; and who is the rather mentioned, because he was the father of the accursed race of the Canaanites, whom God abhorred, and, for their wickedness, was about to drive out of their land, and give it to his people for an inheritance; and in order to which the Israelites were now upon the expedition, when Moses wrote this account, and which must animate them to it; for by this prediction they would see that they were an accursed people, and that they were to be their servants:
a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren;
the posterities of Shem and Japheth, who stood in the relation of brethren to Canaan and his posterity; and to those he and his offspring were to become the most mean abject servants, as the phrase implies: this character agrees with the name of Canaan, which may be derived from (enk) , "to depress", "humble", and "make mean and abject".
F17 (Nenk rwra) "maledictus erit Cenahan", Junius & Tremellius.
F18 So some in Vatablus.