5 comments on “Sermon Redux – “Hi, I’m Noah” – Genesis 9:18-29 – Part 8 of How We Got Into This Mess

  1. Matthew Henry would be proud of you, but I don’t see from the passage where you came up with your interpretation. If it is somehow “sinful” to become uncovered in one’s own private space, where Noah had the right to expect privacy, it must be “sinful” for me to sit here in my birthday suit at my computer, in my own private space (home).

  2. What I see is a son who disrespected his father by violating his personal space, and then went back outside giggling and told his brothers what he had seen, as if he had never seen his father naked before. Oh, maybe Noah had a piss-hard-on. How DISGUSTING and DISGRACEFUL – NOT!!!!!

  3. I come to a vastly different interpretation. Paying very close attention to what exactly is written, and what is NOT written, and being aware that no one verse is of a “private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20), that is, let scripture interpret scripture and not try to read into a single verse without context, it seems to me that since it specifically says what Ham had “DONE” to him, not simply saw him naked or whatever, but that he “did” something to Noah is the reason for the curse. We also know that to “uncover the nakedness” phrase is a euphemism for sex, and can mean with someone else than who is specifically named.
    Leviticus 18:7-8, “7 The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness. 8 The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness.”
    And again in Leviticus 20:11a, “And the man that lieth with his father’s wife hath uncovered his father’s nakedness:”
    If Canaan was the illegitimate child as a result of Ham’s incest with his mother, this is the only logical way of explaining how the curse would fall on Canaan… and not as a punishment against Canaan for doing wrong, but simply as an unfair consequence of Ham’s actions.
    Also, we do not know whether Noah knew that making wine would cause him to get drunk. Before the flood, the earth’s environment was VASTLY different, and fermentation may not have been possible. Noah may have had a drink and simply thought the juice tasted a bit funny and did not know it would cause drunkenness.

  4. Gentlemen,

    I think the best way to respond to both of you is to take the passage and break it down piece by piece and address your concerns verse by verse.

    “Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent.”

    Looking at the passage objectively all we see here is the actions of Noah. There has been some concern whether Noah knew what he was drinking would have an effect on him as it did but having studied the effect of alcohol on people (I have a running gag about it and theology having the same effects) it does not have an instantaneous effect. This is not Noah had one drink and got snokered. He is drinking wine as well which is not known for its intoxicating properties as much as say harder liquor. It would have taken some time for him to get drunk and it would take him more than one drink to do so, so even if he did not know it would do this to him, he soon would have been aware that something was unusual and still had a choice about it. There are two points of conjecture you both are making though regardless: 1) That Noah did not know it would intoxicate him and 2) That he did not have a choice about it. I think the first is complete conjecture so it does not help us and the second does not line up with what we know the effects of alcohol are. It should be noted that in Scripture later (letting Scripture interpret Scripture) drunkenness is strongly condemned by both testaments in multiple places. It may not be a sin at this time but it will made one before the Bible is finished.

    “Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. ”

    I want to note for Bart’s sake that expression ‘uncovered his father’s nakedness” is not used here. All that is really said is that he SAW his father’s nakedness. There reason it is not used is because the previous passage makes it know that Noah UNCOVERED HIS OWN nakedness. He did it to himself. All that really happens is that Ham is going to see his father (for whatever reason as we are not told) and low and behold his father is laying there naked. He then goes outside the tent and tells his two brothers. 1) You can get no maliciousness by Ham out of this verse. The facts it states are straight forward and no moral commentary is given. 2) the motive of Ham is unknown and not stated as to why he went to see his father. I note this because there has been an idea that Ham invaded his father’s privacy, but that is conjecture and not stated either. I can very well tell the story as Ham went to see his father, discovers his naked condition and then stepping outside sees his brothers coming so he warns them not to go in because of it. I have done this once myself when I accidentally went into a bathroom saw someone in the shower and then coming out stopped some other people that were going in. I am using a little conjecture but far less than those who want to say Ham did something other than see his father naked and report it to his brothers. What is stated is stated and we can’t add to it just because we like Noah.

    “But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away, so that they did not see their father’s nakedness.”

    To my friend Pipermac5, I want you to notice WHO is embarrassed about nakedness in this passage. It is obviously not something Noah was known for or it would not have been treated as unusual. It should noted as well that if even coming into Noah’s tent was an invasion of his private space, the two brothers are just as guilty as Ham. The people who are treating nakedness like a disease are the two brothers and later Noah. Given I can’t find a reason for this other than sin having its negative effects means that they are the ones with a problem with the naked body. Ham does not seem to have this problem. The actions of the two brothers are in my opinion morally neutral but Noah will see them as beneficial because of his perceived problem with nakedness. If this was about invasion of privacy they could have preserved his privacy far easier and with no risk to themselves as well by simply placing guards on the door of Noah’s tent. These are Noah and the two brother’s choices recorded but that does not automatically make them the moral high ground given the rest of the Bible on nakedness does not condemn it in and of itself.

    “When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him. So he said,

    “Cursed be Canaan;
    A servant of servants
    He shall be to his brothers.”

    The passage makes note that Noah does this immediately right after he wakes up. Noah is hung over and probably not in the best state of mind. The records in Scripture sometimes just record events and makes no moral commentary and this is one of those times. Noah however does engage in a puzzling act with no explanation. He does not curse Ham himself but his son who as far as we can tell had nothing to do with the entire incident. Noah curses an innocent person. As the rest of Scripture plays out one of the things the Law and later Scripture presents is that people are cursed and blessed on their own actions. Noah is clearly doing something later Scripture would condemn. So at this point the only guy who has later Scripture condemn him in this story is Noah who 1) gets drunk (defying God’s later commands and wisdom) and 2) curses an innocent to slavery (defying God’s later law).

    A point needs to be made about the fruits of interpretation. Both your interpretations fail the fruit test, in my humble opinion, because the logic you follow is the same logic that has been followed by every society that wanted to justify slavery with the idea that those they enslaved were part of the ‘seed of Canaan’ and thus their being forced into slavery was thus completely justified because Noah justly cursed Canaan. I don’t have that problem with my Interpretation here – Noah is the perpetrator of his own drunkenness, nakedness (which in my view is morally neutral, Noah and his sons make a bigger deal out of it than it really is) and then in a hung over state, curses an innocent person (possibly child) for no other reason than his own embarrassment. Sorry, I think people are conditioned to think of Noah as the righteous one in the story up to this point so they just assume he must be the good guy here as well. We have plenty of characters that are declared righteous but do sinful acts (David comes to mind) so why do we have a problem that Noah might have engaged in sin and still because of God grace be declared righteous?

    It was also suggested that Noah may have curse Canaan because he was the product of incest. Firstly, the genealogy does not support this idea. Secondly, how is it Canaan’s fault that he is a product of incest? At that point you are saying then it is justified to think lesser of a child simply based on who their parents are. Children that are bastards and/or the products of incest then are also justly (based on your interpretation) to be thought of as less of simply becasue of who their parents are. Sorry, I don’t think the Bible supports this idea at all

    To me is is far easier and more justified given that Noah was a man just like us in his passions, to look at this a a drunk guy story who in the end in his hung over state and anger of a perceived injustice does something heinous by cursing and innocent child. This is far more the result I expect from a ‘I got drunk and this is what happened’ story which is what this is.

    Blessings and Cheers!

  5. I still believe there is something to the fact that Genesis 9:24 says that something was DONE to Noah, “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.” If Ham had not “done” something and had only “seen” his father naked and drunk, then it would have read differently.
    Also, I’m not justifying slavery or saying that people born of illegitimate circumstances are “lesser people”. What I said was that being the product of such unions has negative consequences, like it or not. There are two kinds of “curses”… those that are pronounced and cast, as in “I curse you because…”, and then there are natural curses of circumstance that are not “cast upon” anyone or necessarily “deserving”, it just happens.
    And, if Noah had “uncovered himself”… well, he could have been in there relieving himself manually. In Genesis 2, it plainly states that Adam and Eve were naked, not “uncovered”, so that it is plainly read that they simply didn’t have clothing. “Naked” is also frequently used elsewhere in the Bible to denote being simply without clothing, so why would it say Noah was “uncovered” instead of simply saying he was “naked” in his tent?
    Also, what do you mean that it doesn’t fit the genealogy of Canaan? Perhaps you are thinking of Cainan (son of Arphaxad, son of Shem). The Bible only records the sons of Canaan, no grandsons or anything further.

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