Fifth question.... : LUSENET : Catholic : One Thread

Now, in the next part (Gen. 9:20), we read about how Noah got drunk and fell asleep naked. His sons saw this, covered him up and left. But when he saw that he had been covered, he cursed his grandson to be a slave! Why????

I have more questions but it appears that I'm up for bath duty tonight! With three children, it's like a little assembly line. :) I'll finish this up later.

-- jackiea (, May 08, 2000


Hi, jackiea. Another great question!

This time you have to read very carefully, and you even have to "read between the lines," because the author uses a euphemism to keep from being offensively explicit. What am I saying?

Here are the Genesis 9 verses we're talking about:
18: The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan.
19: These three were the sons of Noah; and from these the whole earth was peopled.
20: Noah was the first tiller of the soil. He planted a vineyard;
21: and he drank of the wine, and became drunk, and lay uncovered in his tent.
22: And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside.
23: Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it upon both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the
nakedness of their father; their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father's nakedness.
24: When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him,
25: he said, "Cursed be Canaan; a slave of slaves shall he be to his brothers."

The phrase that I underlined is a hidden way of stating that Ham sodomized his unconscious father Noah, and invited his brothers to take their turn in this incredibly gross sin. They decline and instead act decently, for which they are later blessed. Upon awakening, Noah realized what has happened.

I used "bold" to emphasize Ham's fatherhood of Canaan, which is metioned twice in five verses -- while no other sons of Ham, Shem, or Japheth are mentioned! For centuries (including the time when the Pentateuch was written down), the Canaanites (descendants of Ham/Canaan) were among the avowed enemies of the S(h)emites (including the Hebrews). Noah asked God's curse not on Ham's firstborn son only, but on "Canaan" figuratively -- that is, all Canaan's descendants of future generations. This was probably even a greater punishment in Ham's mind than if he had been personally and directly cursed, disowned, etc., for his sin.

God bless you.

-- J. F. Gecik (, May 10, 2000.

Excuse my boldness.

-- J. F. Gecik (, May 10, 2000.

Oh, brother! (And I don't mean Japheth.)

-- J. F. Gecik (, May 10, 2000.

John, As I was reading your post a question came to mind: did the curse actually fall on Canaan's descendants? And if so, were these descendants worthy of punishment because of the sin of their great-great grandfather?


-- Enrique Ortiz (, May 10, 2000.

I am not sure I know how to answer your question about the curse, Enrique. It appears, from various passages in the Bible, that Ham and his descendants deserted the faith of their forefather, Noah, and turned to worshipping false gods, setting up idols, and even sacrificing children to them. This had terrible consequences for them, but I hesitate to say that anything happened because of a curse, since I believe in free will and punishment only for one's own personal sins.

1 Chronicles 1 tells us:
13: Canaan was the father of Sidon his first-born, and Heth,
14: and the Jeb'usites, the Am'orites, the Gir'gashites,
15: the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites,
16: the Ar'vadites, the Zem'arites, and the Ha'mathites.

You may recognize some of these tribal names. They were the people who inhabited the ("Holy Land") region into which Joshua and the Hebrews entered, crossing the Jordan after the Exodus from Egypt. These were the tribes who were conquered (sometimes massacred) by God's people -- as recorded in the books of Joshua and Judges. God had promised this land to Abraham (a descendant of Shem) and his descendants (Genesis 12:5-7).

God bless you.

-- J. F. Gecik (, May 11, 2000.

I know that these comments were generated two years ago, but this passage just caught my attention today. One thing my mother pointed out is that Noah saw what his youngest son had done. Youngest or younger literally translates to very little (like a small schoolboy) or unworthy. She also noted the implied sexual perversion. Eliana

-- Eliana G-C (, May 19, 2002.

If you show us where the early Fathers told us such a thing, I may change my mind:

''The phrase that I underlined is a hidden way of stating that Ham sodomized his unconscious father Noah, and invited his brothers to take their turn in this incredibly gross sin.''

--But until you do I refuse to accept this interpretation of the text. It's outlandish, John.

-- eugene c. chavez (, May 19, 2002.

Hi, Gene.

Well, it seems that each of us got a little careless above.
----- I should not have made it seem that the interpretation I offered is the only allowable interpretation. I should have stated that it is one of two that I have encountered (and the one that I think made more sense to me).
----- You, meanwhile, should not have demanded a basis in the Fathers and should not have called the interpretation I offered "outlandish."

Did you think that I invented that interpretation? No. It is one accepted by some commentators. I don't know if any of the Fathers mentioned this interpretation. But in order for us to consider it plausible, we don't have to find it in the Fathers. (Now if you can present the Church denying it as a possible interpretation, I will get on board with you.)
As I recall, the interpretation has its basis in three things:
(1) an understanding of Hebrew idioms;
(2) a logical consideration of these words from the text: "Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him"; and
(3) the unlikelihood that Noah would have invoked a curse on a son/grandson, unless he had done something extremely evil.

I will be glad to acknowledge the legitimacy of your differing interpretation, as long as it doesn't include considering my interpretation "outlandish"!

God bless you.

-- (, May 20, 2002.

''Done to him''--as a way of saying he violated his own father? If it isn't outlandish, then it's an ''impossibility''---! Just my opinion; and who says you have to accept that? For you to ''acknowledge the legitimacy of your differing interpretation'' is unimportant. I just can't agree. It isn't stated in the verse at all. I only wanted to counterbalance something you've stated publicly here which others might take seriously.

After all; we know there are two sides to every story. Legitimate? My side is only saying your side is illegitimate until you've backed it up some way. The ''early Fathers'' is a stab that I took, in trying to understand your source. If it isn't out of something in there, I can't imagine what better source you may have. --Mind you, I'm not blaming you-- for that interpretation. You've cleared yourself now. But the source is very likely spurious, IMHO.

-- eugene c. chavez (, May 20, 2002.

I done a search today on this subject and ran across all kinds of pages, I like what I have read here, and what I have read in other pages as well, I would like to share this other page in here to go along with the last comment made and to share how this actually has now made me believe this sodomization situation could have happened. Here is the link to the other page so you know that I am only sharing another persons quote:$. asp I would like to point a phrase he/she has there, {NOT MY WORDS} """He [Noah] drank of the wine and became intoxicated; and he unconvered himself inside his tent. And [Noah's son] Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. And Shem and Yafet took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and walked backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him.""" [Genesis 9:21-24]

"The Sages of the Talmud have two opinions about what actually transpired: "Rab and Samuel differ, one maintaining that Ham castrated him, while the other that he sodomized him." [Sanhedrin 70a] What both opinions have in common is the incredible rage Ham directed toward Noah."

"Let us consider what Ham's world-view must have been. He had grown up, surrounded by a culture of violence, thievery and sexual licentiousness. And then he saw that his father's passivity caused the destruction of his world. His actions seem an expression of Ham's rage and disdain at that passivity. Furthermore, we must not overlook the fact that Noah was the only good and just man in his generation. That means that his children were like the rest of the lot. They were saved from the flood totally on their father's merit. It would seem that Noah failed even in educating his own children. Noah's passivity -- of which his nakedness is a metaphor -- was evident in all his relationships."

"Noah lives for some 300 years after the flood, fathering children, witnessing the birth of numerous descendants, countless future generations. What message does Noah impart to his descendants? Again, or still, it seems that Noah remains passive; he has nothing to say, as if the rest of his life remains clouded by this intoxication, even when the world around him begins again to sin against God." {MY WORDS ARE NEXT} Now I personally see in all this that castration did not happen since Noah had several children. But since the word nakedness is used for all Noahs sexually activities, then it makes sense that HAM could have actually done what is being discused.

-- Burl Gossman (, April 12, 2004.

From the footnotes of the New American Bible:

"This story seems to be a composite of two earlier accounts; in the one, Ham was guilty, whereas, in the other, it was Canaan. One purpose of the story is to justify the Israelites' enslavement of the Canaanites because of certain indecent sexual practices in the Canaanite religion. Obviously the story offers no justification for enslaving African Negroes, even though Canaan is presented as a "son" of Ham because the land of Canaan belonged to Hamitic Egypt at the time of the Israelite invasion."

-- Bill Nelson (, April 12, 2004.

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