About a year ago, I expressed my opinion on what is the craziest part of the Bible, the Curse of Canaan. As the story goes, after the flood, Noah plants a vineyard, makes wine, gets drunk and passes out naked. Ham, Noah’s son, sees him naked and tells his brothers who walk backwards with a cloak as not to look and cover their father’s nakedness.
Noah recovers from his drunken stupor and realizes what Ham has done and makes Canaan, Ham’s son, a slave. So, a man became a slave because his father saw his grandfather’s penis and didn’t throw a towel on it. Seems a wee bit looney, right?
Some people have accused me of misinterpreting this Bible passage. It’s not rational for Noah to be so upset and make Canaan a slave over something so trivial, so there must be more to the story. It’s not that Ham saw Noah naked, he did much more. This idea comes from nakedness being tied to sex in Leviticus 20:17.
If a man has sexual intercourse with his sister, whether the daughter of his father or his mother, so that he sees her nakedness and she sees his nakedness, it is a disgrace. They must be cut off in the sight of the children of their people. He has exposed his sister’s nakedness; he will bear his punishment for iniquity.
Others have argued that Ham didn’t have sex with his father, he had sex with his mother! This interpretation comes from Leviticus 18:8 and 20:11. The people who follow this interpretation believe that Canaan was cursed because he was the result of incest!
Do not uncover the nakedness of your father’s wife; it is the nakedness of your father.
If a man lies with his father’s wife, it is the nakedness of his father that he has uncovered…
There’s a couple issues with these strange and perverted interpretations of the Bible.
1. They’re baseless
2. They don’t make the story better, it just makes things worse
The story of Ham raping his father makes no sense. They didn’t see each other’s nakedness, only Noah was naked.
The story of Ham having sex with his mother is even more ridiculous. Ham didn’t uncover the nakedness of his father; his father was already naked. Canaan was already there. He didn’t come 9 months after this incident. And what makes both stories absurd is the fact that the two brothers walked backwards to not see their father’s nakedness and covered their father’s nakedness. This doesn’t make sense if Ham raped his father, and really doesn’t make sense if this passage is about Ham having sex with his mother.
This is a story about dignity and nothing more. Rather than protect his father’s pride, reputation, and dignity, Ham spreads gossip to humiliate his father. The two brothers work to protect their father’s dignity. That’s all folks.
Canaan’s curse was a punishment for Ham. It was to say his bloodline would not be kings, they would be slaves.
And how do these interpretations make the story better? A man becoming a slave because his father saw his grandfather’s penis and didn’t cover it is insanity. But a man becoming a slave because his father poked his grandfather up the rear is the very pinnacle of intelligence and reasoning?
All these interpretations of this story expose how flawed the Bible is. How vague and poorly written it is. How people can come up with any number of crazy interpretations. It’s a clear demonstration that it wasn’t written by any god, merely men claiming to speak for god. Nothing more.
-James Kirk Wall
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