Noah, Ham, and Leviticus 20:11


Leviticus 20:11


In Noah’s Pajamas, I taught that if Ham when he saw his father’s nakedness, is in fact an expression for having sexually assaulted his father, then Noah’s reaction of anger would be clear to understand. The wording of Leviticus 20:11 adds an interesting alternative understanding that would likewise provoke Noah to extreme anger. The text reads, “If a man lies with his father's wife, he has uncovered his father's nakedness.” This opens the possibility of reading Genesis 9 as:


When Noah was passed out drunk, it is possible that Noah’s wife was with him, and also passed out. When Genesis 9:22 reports that Ham saw his father’s nakedness, the definition of “his father’s nakedness” extends to seeing his mother’s nakedness. If Ham had relations with his mother, and if (say) Canaan was the product of the episode, then this would explain why Noah dragged Canaan into the curse.


I don’t really know why Canaan received the brunt of Noah’s curse. But even that permutation of the facts given to us has problems.


1.            Noah’s wife is not mentioned. She has to be inserted into the text.


2.            Noah is specifically described as “uncovered.”


3.            There is no immediate clue that “saw his nakedness (Genesis 9:22)” is the same thing as “uncovered

                   his nakedness (Leviticus 20:11).” If they are equivalent, then there would be no need for Shem and              

                   Japheth to walk backwards in order not to see their father’s nakedness.


4.            Idioms tend to be recited verbatim. This increases the odds that “saw his nakedness” was literal.


5.            Genesis 9:22-24 focus sharply on Noah. Moses had every opportunity to mention that he was talking

                   of their mother.


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