International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
(1) A son of Ham, and ancestor of various peoples, Ludim, Anamim, etc. (Genesis 10:6, 13 1 Chronicles 1:8, 11).
See TABLE OF NATIONS.
(2) The name of Egypt.
The land of Ham.-cham, was another name for the land of Egypt. It occurs only in Psalm 105:23, 17; Psalm 106:22 Psalm 78:51 probably refers to the land of Ham, though it may refer to the children of Ham. The origin and significance of this name are involved in much obscurity. Two improbable etymologies and one probable etymology for Ham as a name of Egypt have been proposed, and the improbable ones very much urged:
(1) Ham is often thought to be a Hebrew appropriation of the Egyptian name "Kemt," a name for the "black land" as distinguished from "desherr," the red land of the desert which surrounded it. This etymology is very attractive, but phonetically very improbable to say the least.
(2) Ham has sometimes been connected directly with cham, the second son of Noah whose descendants under the name Mitsraim occupied a part of Northeastern Africa. But as there is no trace of this name among the Egyptians and no use of it in the historical books of the Old Testament, this can hardly be said to be a probable derivation of the word.
(3) There is a third proposed etymology for Ham which connects it ultimately but indirectly with Ham, the second son of Noah. Some of the earliest sculptures yet found in Egypt represent the god Min (Menu; compare Koptos by Professor Petrie). This god seems also to have been called Khem, a very exact Egyptian equivalent for Cham, Ham, the second son of Noah and the ancestor of the Hamitic people of Egypt. That Ham the son of Noah should be deified in the Egyptian pantheon is not surprising. The sensuality of this god Min or Khem also accords well with the reputation for licentiousness borne by Ham the son of Noah. These facts suggest very strongly a trace in Egyptian mythology of the actual history of the movements of Hamitic people.
(4) While the preceding division (3) probably states the real explanation of the early name of Egypt, it still remains to be noted that the use of the name Ham by the Psalmist may be entirely poetic. Until it be found that the name Ham was applied to Egypt by other writers of that period it will ever be in some measure unlikely that the Psalmist was acquainted with the mythological use of the name Ham in Egypt, and so, in equal measure, probable that he meant nothing more than to speak of the land of the descendants of Ham the son of Noah.
See also HAM.
M. G. Kyle