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Canaan (Heb. כְּנָעַן), the fourth son of Ham and the ancestor of the Canaanites (Gen. 10:6, 15–19; I Chron. 1:8, 13–16). The biblical narrative relates that when Noah awoke from sleep brought on by wine, he realized that his youngest son had seen his nakedness and he cursed Canaan, saying "Cursed be Canaan; a slave of slaves shall he be to his brothers" (Gen. 9:21–27).

In Islam

Canaan (Kanʿān)  is not mentioned in the Koran, but the commentators believe that Sura 11:44ff. refers to him, when it mentions the son who did not join Noah in the ark and drowned in the waters of the deluge. Ṭabarī calls him Yām. Arab historians believe that Kanʿan is the father of the Canaanites, who according to the legend either left the Land of Canaan of their own free will or fled before Yūshaʿ (see *Joshua ) to Africa and that they are the ancestors of the Berbers. Muslim legend (Thaʿlabī, p. 51), however, also states that Yākūnūn (= Canaan) son of Ḥām was cursed to be the slave of his brothers Sām and Yāfith (cf. Gen. 9:22–26).

[Haïm Z'ew Hirschberg]



B. Joel, in: EIS, 2 (1927), S.V. Kan'ān, incl. bibl.; Tabarī, Ta'rikh, 1 (1357 A.H.), 142, 145; Thaʿlabī, Qiṣaṣ, 1356 A.H.), 48; Kisā'ī, Qiṣaṣ, ed. by Eisenberg (1922–23), 96–97.

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.