Genesis 9:27

ESV May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.”
NIV May God extend Japheth's territory; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.'
NASB May God enlarge Japheth, And may he live in the tents of Shem; And may Canaan be his servant.'
CSB Let God extend Japheth; let Japheth dwell in the tents of Shem; let Canaan be Shem's slave.
NLT May God expand the territory of Japheth! May Japheth share the prosperity of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant.'
KJV God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

What does Genesis 9:27 mean?

Noah cursed Canaan, Ham's son, to be a servant to Ham's brothers. The curse applied to their descendants as well. The previous verse extended Ham's curse with a comparative blessing of his brother Shem. Now Noah blesses Ham's other brother, Japheth. God will "enlarge" Japheth or extend his territory. In addition, Japheth's descendants will live in (or among) the tents of Shem.

The family line of Shem will eventually lead to God's people Israel, through Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 11:10–27; Genesis 21:1–3). This same family line will also produce the Messiah, Jesus (Luke 3:36).

However, it is not clear what it means that Japheth's people will live in or among the tents of Israel, or when that prophecy was fulfilled. Scholars have suggested many options, but none are conclusive.

In any case, the curse on Canaan's descendants is repeated a third time, giving it unusual emphasis in Scripture. Canaan's people will be successful in many ways, and often will hold an advantage over other people and nations. However, their fate will always come to the same eventual conclusion: failure, due to their opposition of God's chosen people. While the Hebrew language used here does not suggest that Canaan's children will become the literal slaves—the forced servants—of Japheth's people or Shem's people, it does indicate a lack of favor.
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