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What About Ham Being Cursed For Seeing His Father's Nakedness?


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#1 Fred Williams

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Posted 11 April 2005 - 04:09 PM

A skeptic once wrote in my guest book ridiculing this passage in the Bible:

Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father's nakedness and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father's nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father's nakedness.
When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said,
"Cursed be Canaan!
The lowest of slaves
will he be to his brothers."
(Genesis 9:20-25)

The skeptic interpreted this as follows:

And of course there's Noah and his kin, who, of all the human race, deserved to survive. That would be the same Noah whose first crop after the Flood was wine grapes. In celebration of all the blessings bestowed upon him, he got drunk as a skunk and lay around naked. Then when his thoughtful son Ham tried to help him out by getting help to cover his [behind], Noah cursed him and his descendants forever (and God, apparently, backed up that curse (and biblical literalists have used that as a justification for slavery and segregation of blacks {whom they imagine to be "Hamites"}, among other atrocities]). Was that mean drunk the best of the human race that God could come up with?


While this interpretation more than anything else reveals the bias of the skeptic , it is a passage of scripture that does seem strange. But there is a piece to this puzzle that unlocks the verses and then it becomes crystal clear why Ham was cursed. Consider this verse from Leviticus:

‘The man who lies with his father’s wife has uncovered his father’s nakedness…’ (Leviticus 20:11)

Ham was not cursed for covering a naked Noah, he was cursed for sleeping with Noah’s wife (his mom)! The Bible explains it in a polite fashion by describing this vile act as “uncovering Noah’s nakedness”.

In Christ,
Fred Williams

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Posted 12 April 2005 - 04:42 AM

I heard a sermon preached on this once. And the preacher refered to it as Ham mocking Noah by telling his brothers and not doing the respectful thing, which his brothers did. For Noah to become the laughing stock of the people God had placed him over, he would have lost his leadership role because he would have lost their respect. And the reason the world was flooded would have started all over again.

For as long as the people had respect for Noah, they would have respect for the God he worshipped. If they would have lost that respect, then Noah being the set leader by God over them, their respect for God would have vanished.

Noah knew this. If the word got out they he did this thing, which Ham was ready to tell everyone about.... Also, Ham could have taken his place of authority by doing this. And since Ham had no respect for his father, he would have no respect for God either. And would have lead the people God saved from the flood down the wrong path.

It works like much of how things work today. If you have someone in a respected position for God. And he does something like this in a moment of weakness. Would it be better to have him judged by telling everyone? Or let God deal with it, not the people? For only God can be a just judge. And should a person lose their ability to lead because of one mistake? God forgives. Man is not so willing to do the same.

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Posted 12 April 2005 - 10:02 AM

Surprise! I have a few comments.

I heard a sermon preached on this once....


I think that preacher had it right. There is quite a body of ancient Jewish commentary on this passage, and that is the thrust of it. Also, Ham did something to Noah, although the Scripture doesn't say what (Genesis 9:24).

It works like much of how things work today. If you have someone in a respected position for God. And he does something like this in a moment of weakness. Would it be better to have him judged by telling everyone? Or let God deal with it, not the people? For only God can be a just judge. And should a person lose their ability to lead because of one mistake? God forgives. Man is not so willing to do the same.


Well, Jesus has this to say in Matthew 18:15-17, "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. "

That applies to the leaders of the church more, if anything, than to the laiety. It isn't a matter of judging in the judicial sense. It is a matter of judging right and wrong and keeping the Word in highest respect.

A man who is found guilty of gross sin can, of course, be restored to fellowship upon repentance. A fallen leader can be restored as well, but only to fellowship, not to leadership because the requirements for leaders are specifically spelled out, and among them is "blameless". {1 Timothy 3:2, 10 : Titus 1, 5-7, et al}

#4 chance

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Posted 12 April 2005 - 02:18 PM

Seems to me that Ham is cursed for what he did not do, i.e cover up his father, instead he just tells his brothers about the situation and they fix the problem. Cursed for his indifference and/or laziness?

#5 Fred Williams

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Posted 12 April 2005 - 09:45 PM

Seems to me that Ham is cursed for what he did not do, i.e cover up his father, instead he just tells his brothers about the situation and they fix the problem.   Cursed for his indifference and/or laziness?

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Again, let's look at a well-established Hebrew figure of speech:

‘The man who lies with his father’s wife has uncovered his father’s nakedness…’ (Leviticus 20:11)

‘If a man lies with his uncle's wife, he has uncovered his uncle's nakedness. … ‘If a man takes his brother's wife… He has uncovered his brother's nakedness.’ (Lev 20:20?21)

Also

‘The nakedness of your father’s wife you shall not uncover; it is your father’s nakedness’ (Lev 18:8).

This figure of speech is used on other places including Ezekiel:

In you men uncover their fathers' nakedness; in you they violate women who are set apart during their impurity. (Ezek 22:10)

I think a strong and reasonable case can be made from this Hebrew figure of speech, that Ham slept with his mother and thus why Noah cursed him as a statement of his wickedness. In the words of Pastor Bob Enyart:

“Canaan’s true story shows the tragic reality of a child being set up to fail by the wickedness of his father. Thus Noah cursed Canaan as a statement of that reality, not as a hex or evil spell, but as a warning to others against following in Ham’s wicked ways. So incest set the background for centuries of conflict between Noah’s Hamitic descendents, especially those through Canaan, against the descendants of Shem, the Semites, especially the Jews, to whom God promised the land of the Canaanites.”

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Posted 13 April 2005 - 01:30 AM

Seems to me that Ham is cursed for what he did not do, i.e cover up his father, instead he just tells his brothers about the situation and they fix the problem. Cursed for his indifference and/or laziness?

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God Judges us by what is in our hearts, not so much by actions. So because God knew what was in Ham's heart when he did this (hate, desrespect, trying to take Noah's postion etc...), God punished him accordenly. If God relayed why, and how He knew and did things. The bible would be so huge, no one would read it. As christians. we have to have faith that God knew things about Ham we did not. And was why he got the punishment he did.

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Posted 13 April 2005 - 06:05 AM

Again, let's look at a well-established Hebrew figure of speech: 

‘The man who lies with his father’s wife has uncovered his father’s nakedness…’ (Leviticus 20:11)

‘If a man lies with his uncle's wife, he has uncovered his uncle's nakedness.  …  ‘If a man takes his brother's wife…  He has uncovered his brother's nakedness.’  (Lev 20:20?21)

Also

‘The nakedness of your father’s wife you shall not uncover; it is your father’s nakedness’ (Lev 18:8).

This figure of speech is used on other places including Ezekiel:

In you men uncover their fathers' nakedness; in you they violate women who are set apart during their impurity.  (Ezek 22:10)


Yes. But what is a figure of speech in one place can be a simple statement of fact in another.

I think a strong and reasonable case can be made from this Hebrew figure of speech, that Ham slept with his mother and thus why Noah cursed him as a statement of his wickedness. In the words of Pastor Bob Enyart:

“Canaan’s true story shows the tragic reality of a child being set up to fail by the wickedness of his father.  Thus Noah cursed Canaan as a statement of that reality, not as a hex or evil spell, but as a warning to others against following in Ham’s wicked ways.  So incest set the background for centuries of conflict between Noah’s Hamitic descendents, especially those through Canaan, against the descendants of Shem, the Semites, especially the Jews, to whom God promised the land of the Canaanites.”



It may be that Ham slept with his fathers wife (but incest was not yet banned by God, and He does not punish where there is no crime {Romans 5:13}). It may also be that he performed some sodomitic act on Noah (same problem). I doubt that it was a simple case of seeing the old man naked. Admin3 cited a preacher who said that Ham was cursed because he would have brought the same vile things back that the flood washed away, and that is a good possibility. What, exactly, he did to provoke the curse is interesting guess work.

#8 Fred Williams

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Posted 13 April 2005 - 10:04 AM

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Yes. But what is a figure of speech in one place can be a simple statement of fact in another.


True, but if this figure of speech was used somewhere where the context clearly wasn’t S@xual sin, I would think the connection I’m proposing would be much more debatable. I did another word-search, and everywhere this expression is used the context is clearly a S@xual sin, except for two places: 1) the account we are talking about, Genesis 9, and 2) Habakkuk 2:15. Both of these accounts make much more sense if a S@xual sin is involved, which seems compelling to me that the figure of speech also applies in these passages. As you said, it seems very unlikely that this was just a simple case of seeing Noah naked.

It may be that Ham slept with his fathers wife (but incest was not yet banned by God, and He does not punish where there is no crime {Romans 5:13}).


While it is true incest was not banned yet (and in fact was required in the first several generations to fulfill God’s request to be fruitful and multiply!), adultery very likely was banned, and was the sin Ham committed (See Gen 39 for an example where adultery was known by Joseph to be a sin, before the Levitical Law was given). We also know from Romans 2 that the law was written on their hearts – what specifically were these “laws” would be debatable, but in the least one would think it includes adultery and honoring parents.

What, exactly, he did to provoke the curse is interesting guess work.


I think in this case it’s more than guess work, but would also agree it is something I can’t be dogmatic about. But it is much more supportable than many speculations we like to make, such as guessing when Satan’s fall occurred (an interesting topic in itself).

Fred

#9 Geezer

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Posted 13 April 2005 - 10:23 AM

I think in this case it’s more than guess work, but would also agree it is something I can’t be dogmatic about. But it is much more supportable than many speculations we like to make, such as guessing when Satan’s fall occurred (an interesting topic in itself).


As a Jew, I have to agree with Fred on this one. It is almost certain Ham slept with his mother or Noah himself to"uncover his father's nakedness". He then compounded the whole thing by his attitude afterward.
It might even be argued this was the 1st sin since the flood and such a major one - G-d could not have been pleased.

note - edited to get quote box right.

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Posted 13 April 2005 - 10:26 AM

Fred, I suspect that your exegesis is sound. But like you, I can't be dogmatic about it. Upon reflection, other possibilities present themselves. :)

#11 chance

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Posted 13 April 2005 - 02:15 PM

Again, let's look at a well-established Hebrew figure of speech: 

‘The man who lies with his father’s wife has uncovered his father’s nakedness…’ (Leviticus 20:11)

‘If a man lies with his uncle's wife, he has uncovered his uncle's nakedness.  …  ‘If a man takes his brother's wife…  He has uncovered his brother's nakedness.’  (Lev 20:20?21)

Also

‘The nakedness of your father’s wife you shall not uncover; it is your father’s nakedness’ (Lev 18:8).

This figure of speech is used on other places including Ezekiel:

In you men uncover their fathers' nakedness; in you they violate women who are set apart during their impurity.  (Ezek 22:10)

I think a strong and reasonable case can be made from this Hebrew figure of speech, that Ham slept with his mother and thus why Noah cursed him as a statement of his wickedness. In the words of Pastor Bob Enyart:

“Canaan’s true story shows the tragic reality of a child being set up to fail by the wickedness of his father.  Thus Noah cursed Canaan as a statement of that reality, not as a hex or evil spell, but as a warning to others against following in Ham’s wicked ways.  So incest set the background for centuries of conflict between Noah’s Hamitic descendents, especially those through Canaan, against the descendants of Shem, the Semites, especially the Jews, to whom God promised the land of the Canaanites.”

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That’s fascinating, i.e. that “uncovering nakedness = sleeping around”, it can certainly help to understand a text in a wholly different context.
But what then of Ham’s brothers? They covered Noah up! Obviously they can’t undo what Ham has done, so what action are they performing to undo Hams transgression, or ease Noah’s anger?

#12 Geezer

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Posted 13 April 2005 - 03:11 PM

But what then of Ham’s brothers? They covered Noah up! Obviously they can’t undo what Ham has done, so what action are they performing to undo Hams transgression, or ease Noah’s anger?


When Ham entered the tent, which in itself may have been a violation if he did not receive an answer to his clap (not sure of this since it is right after the flood), if he saw his father naked, he should have averted his eyes and did as Shem and Japeth and covered him.

Aside:
Here is a real mystery. The english translation of Shem is "name". Why would Noah name his son name?
I can see the Abbott & Costello routine now:
"What is your name"?
"Name".
"Right - what is it?"
"Name"!
"Yes - I want to know"!
"It is Name you bloody..."

Well, you get it.

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Posted 13 April 2005 - 05:55 PM

"Shem" can also mean "renown".

#14 Ray Martinez

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Posted 14 April 2005 - 10:58 AM

‘The man who lies with his father’s wife has uncovered his father’s nakedness…’ (Leviticus 20:11)

FW: Ham was not cursed for covering a naked Noah, he was cursed for sleeping with Noah’s wife (his mom)! The Bible explains it in a polite fashion by describing this vile act as “uncovering Noah’s nakedness”.

Hi Fred:

I never matched the above verse with the act of Ham. It certainly gives strong support that Ham's sin is as the verse says.

But the fact that Japheth and Shem covered Noah and did not look seems to disprove the evidence above ?

Admin3 in post #2 makes what I feel is the best grave sin of Ham: disrespect of God's anointed.

We know Elisha cursed 42 children in the heat of an insult towards Him and God honored it.

I have always been taught that we must first assume the Bible/God means what He says.

IOW, Ham and his descendants were cursed for exactly what the text says: Gossipping about Noah.

We know there is a ton of Bible against gossipping, whiSSSpering, etc.etc.

goSSipping/whiSSpering/ = pSSt = SSerpent = SSatan.

RM

#15 Geezer

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Posted 15 April 2005 - 07:29 AM

IOW, Ham and his descendants were cursed for exactly what the text says: Gossipping about Noah.


Could you provide the verse where it says "gossiping" please.
Thanks very much.

#16 Ray Martinez

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Posted 15 April 2005 - 12:13 PM

Could you provide the verse where it says "gossiping" please.
Thanks very much.

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Genesis 9:22 says Ham told Shem and Japheth = gossip.

He should of kept it a secret and did what his brothers ended up doing.

BTW, where in the Bible do we find God coming down on Noah for getting drunk and ending up naked ?

God got mad at the gossip.

The point I believe is that while getting drunk and naked is obviously a sin it didn't even warrant a rebuke by God. It was the gossip that made Him angry.

Proverbs 6:16-19

These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:

A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,

An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,

A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.


Notice the very last thing that God hates: "sowing discord among brethern." = gossip.

I can't find getting drunk and naked on the list but they are sins as can be deduced from many other places in Scripture.


RM

#17 Geezer

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Posted 15 April 2005 - 02:41 PM

Hi Ray - Welcome by the way,
I do not equate Proverbs with the weight I do the rest of the OT. They are...well, proverbs.
Secondly, I agree gossip is bad, but not the reason for the curse on Ham. The uncovering refers to a specific act - not gossip.
We, of course, do not know for sure so I am not going into a debate over this. :>)

I can't find getting drunk and naked on the list but they are sins as can be deduced from many other places in Scripture.


Drinking of the vine is not forbidden or a sin. Getting drunk and naked in the privacy of your own tent is definitely not a sin.

Your tag says you are a Christian. I have recently been reading the Gospels. Did not your Jesus perform a miracle where the best wine was served? And this after all of the other had already been drunk. Seems Jesus had nothing against a little wine and even occasional tipsiness?

Shalom Shabot

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Posted 15 April 2005 - 03:03 PM

The Scripture gives thanks to God for "the wine that gladdens men's hearts". What is most definitely forbidden is drunkeness as a lifestyle. The example mentioned, the wedding feast at Cana is an excellent example. Who imagines that after days of feasting no one was loaded? Even so, Jesus produced between 120 and 150 gallons of heavenly quality wine so the party could continue. So, an ocassional party is one thing, but habitual drunkenness another.

#19 Geezer

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Posted 16 April 2005 - 06:34 AM

The Scripture gives thanks to God for "the wine that gladdens men's hearts". What is most definitely forbidden is drunkeness as a lifestyle. The example mentioned, the wedding feast at Cana is an excellent example. Who imagines that after days of feasting no one was loaded? Even so, Jesus produced between 120 and 150 gallons of heavenly quality wine so the party could continue. So, an ocassional party is one thing, but habitual drunkenness another.

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I agree with this sentiment wholeheartedly. Drunkness should not be a lifestyle or even somethinf that happens too often. Special occasions only.
My .02

Note:
edited for spelling mistake

#20 chance

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Posted 17 April 2005 - 02:21 PM

Going back to my childhood I recall being told that drinking wine from an urban environment was safer than the water in those days, (killed the bacteria). In addition the ‘drinking’ wine (as opposed to the ‘party’ wine) was not particularly strong, so there would not be any social stigma with consuming what by today’s standards would be a high wine diet. Not sure if this is an urban legend or not, anyone have any facts about the above?




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