Question:

Hi,

I could not understand why Noah issued a curse on Ham just because Ham saw Noah naked in Genesis 9:22-27.

Q1. Was there a law of the land regarding seeing someone naked and Ham did not follow it?

Q2. What's wrong with Ham telling his brothers? (If I was the youngest and saw my father asleep naked and didn't know what to do, I would go and tell my older brothers, hoping they would know what to do.)

So I did some research and now am completely confused and perplexed at some of the explanations, findings and interpretations. What is your understanding of Genesis 9:22-27, and your biblical or scripture references for your answer?

This is only a small example of what I found:

From: Wesley's Explanatory Notes on Genesis 9:22

"“And Ham saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren” To have seen it accidentally and involuntarily would not have been a crime. But he pleased himself with the sight. And he told his two brethren without - In the street, as the word is, in a scornful deriding manner."

PS. Wesley has no comment at all on Genesis 9:24

How does Wesley not give Ham the benefit of the doubt, that it was accidental and involuntary? How does Wesley accuse Ham that is was not accidental and involuntary? Where in the Bible does it say that Ham was pleased with himself at the sight, and told his brothers in a derogatory way?

Or from another web site:

Q. What was Ham's reaction to his father being drunk and unclothed?

A. He wanted his brothers to come see.

How can they say Ham wanted his brothers to come and see? The Bible clearly just says “and told his two brothers outside”?

Or regarding Genesis 9:24

1 bible version says “found out”

1 bible version says “discovered”

4 bible version says “found out”

8 bible version says “learned”

13 bible version says “knew”

using the last version what did Noah “know” that his youngest son did to him?

The bible does not tell us but David C. Pack does in The Bible’s Difficult Scriptures Explained

"Who was the one cursed here for the sodomy committed against Noah?"

Other things that came up about Ham, that I could not find in the bible where

  1. Ham was a magician meaning a “bad person”
  2. Ham looked with pleasure and delight on his father's nakedness
  3. Ham was a very wicked, immodest and profligate creature
  4. Ham was a public corrupter of mankind
  5. Ham acted “improper actions” or that he “did something” more than look

In Genesis 9:24 when it says Noah knew what was done to him. Why can't it be no more than Noah felt Ham should have just covered him straight away, and said nothing to his brothers?

Where, how, and why has sodomy come into it?

If God didn't see fit to tell us, why does man think he does, and more to the point that man's explanation is right?


Answer:

It was God who recorded before the fall of man, "And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed" (Genesis 2:25) and it was God who recorded after the fall, "Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings" (Genesis 3:7). What changed was man's realization of good and evil, their loss of innocence. Man's response was to attempt to cover himself. "So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself"" Genesis 3:10). The statement is clear. The reason for the fear and the hiding was because man realized he was naked. And it was God who gave Adam and Eve adequate clothing. "Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them" (Genesis 3:21).

The simple fact is that because man sinned, a consequence of that sin was an awareness of nakedness. God's response to that was clothing. The clothing was for man's sake, not God's.

Some time later: "And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father's nakedness. So Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him" (Genesis 9:20-24). In regards to the topic at hand, Ham found the nakedness of his father something unusual, perhaps of amusement -- enough to tell others about it. The word used, wayyagedh, carries the implication of telling or explaining something in detail. In this he showed disrespect for his father. Shem and Japheth refused to look at their father's nakedness and hid it. In this they showed Noah respect. Yet, the key to understanding this event is knowing that nakedness was a matter of shame, even in the privacy of a person's own tent.

There also might be something more to this. Later, sexual situations are referred to as uncovering a person's nakedness. "None of you shall approach anyone who is near of kin to him, to uncover his nakedness: I am the LORD" (Leviticus 18:6). Thus, it would not be wrong to conclude that Noah was not just unclothed, but perhaps also sexually aroused at the time Ham saw him. Another passage to consider is "Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, pressing him to your bottle, even to make him drunk, that you may look on his nakedness!" (Habakkuk 2:15).

Ham's sin was not his seeing his naked father but what his action implied. Instead of being embarrassed for his father, he told others. This, by the way, is what he did to Noah. He made Noah's embarrassing condition known to others. If it was accidental and involuntary, then his response should have been to walk out quickly or to cover his father so no one else would accidentally see him.

You are correct that commentators will forget that they must not interject their own ideas into the text and if they are guessing, it should be so noted.