Never heard that theory before, and the KJV definitely seems very straightforward about it: 21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. 23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.
Considering the description of Shem and Japheth’s actions, it seems clear that the verse is intended literally, and I’d be hard-pressed to imagine a translational or euphemistic interpretation that changes the author’s intent.
edit: Unless, of course, you’re suggesting that the author fucked up the story. Which is fine, I was just under the impression that you were a literalist.
True, and the same phrase is used a number of times in Leviticus 20:10-21 to refer to sex between family members. I don’t know if this is an accurate interpretation and it would definitely depend on whether the words in the original were the same (as opposed to different Hebrew words reduced to the same English) but it is interesting. It explains things better: why would Noah curse one of his own sons’ descendants forever for just seeing his bare ass, and how did he magically know that this happened when he woke up?
Here’s another thought: Leviticus says that if you bang your mom, you have uncovered your father’s nakedness. Hmm.
In any case, it’s just a theological theory. By the way I keep referring to Leviticus only because it was written by presumably the same author or at least someone with a similar vocabulary, and books written way later may have used the term differently.
With the caveat that the English is not always accurate, and this is why we have theologians and scholars and shit, yes.
The Ham rapes his dad theory was taught as a possible interpretation of that passage in my Judaic Studies classes, and it makes a lot more sense then the literal reading. The bible is full of phrases like that, like the biblical use of the word ‘know’. Two thousand years from now, what would a scholar make of our use of the word bang? The bible requires interpretation even if it is read in hebrew.
Anyway, I talked to my resident Mormon’s (well, they are only temp residents, while on Mission) for several weeks, every Saturday. They are definitely Christians. They believe in the New Testament, though in cases of conflict the Book of Mormon wins. Why? Because the Bible has been controlled by the Catholic Church and other confused religions for so long that the words themselves are now far more confusing than those found in the BoM. The BoM (is the bomb! err…) is the purer book because it was hidden for so long until Smith found it again. It hasn’t been copied over and over by monks. It hasn’t had politics affecting it.
However, as far as the Mormons are concerned, there are no real conflicts with the Bible. The conflicts are apparent, the result of the confusions I mentioned above. The BoM is just clearer.
That said, they have some VERY interesting views on the nature of the divinity and Christ that most Christians would see as heretical (at best).
Well, I was born and raised in a Mormon family, so I have what I’d consider at least a passing familiarity with the doctrine. The millions of gods, becoming a god is all a pretty sperate issue from Jesus being the savior of mankind. The possibility of additional Gods is pretty different, but they have zero power or influence over this creation, preserving a monotheistic power structure. But like I said, just because certain sects choose a narrow and arbitrary definition of “savior” doesn’t mean other interpretations aren’t valid.
I don’t doubt your euphemistic interpretation of the phrase, that seems entirely plausible even if it wasn’t used in that sense elsewhere in the Bible. I also don’t doubt that, if there was an actual Noah and an actual Ham, then their falling out occurred differently than the story relates, since almost any explanation is more plausible than the literal reading.
HOWEVER. Considering the detail and specificity used to describe the brothers’ actions, it seems clear that in the very next line the author did use the phrase “saw not their father’s nakedness” in an absolutely literal sense. So unless a later translation took all sorts of poetic license (more than the usual, that is), I stand by my original assessment that, according to the Bible, Canaan was cursed to servitude because Ham accidentally saw his grandfather’s dangle. Thanks a lot, Dad.
I was thinking about this thing last night. So if Ham did something, why did Noah curse Canaan, his son? Here’s a thought:
Ham “uncovered” Noah’s nakedness, which if we use the language of Leviticus means he slept with Noah’s wife (his own mom). Perhaps this resulted in a pregnancy and the birth of Canaan, whom Noah cursed as the progeny of the mother-son sexorz.
So in this case, it wasn’t homosexual activity, it was hot mom-on-son action.
Fair enough. I didn’t know that “revelation” could override their actual scriptures. On the other hand, the BoM has changed often enough.
I found a couple of good pages that give a breakdown of this line of reasoning and what it all could mean, in the language of the time, including why it’s a more reasonable interpretation than “Noah cursed his grandkid because daddy saw his wee wee”.
I don’t think it has to do with poetic license. I think it has to do with using a modern phrase to convey a delicate subject. For example, I would say that I “slept with” Nicole Kidman, but we all know that I didn’t “sleep” with her. That’s a euphemism talking about perhaps a delicate or vaguely taboo subject but in no uncertain terms. You want poetry, go to Psalms where David asks God to you know scatter the bones of his enemies over the ends of the earth or something. That’s a little more “poetic”.
The links you included were interesting, but don’t address my main point: The figurative interpretation requires that you completely ignore the context of the line. If the author meant to delicately broach the subject of incest or whatever, they would not have used the exact same phrase in a clearly literal sense in the very next line.
I guess I don’t agree that it is clearly a literal sense in the next line. If, as RSofaer said above, this is taught in a class where presumably the curriculum is based on the actual Hebrew, then that adds weight to the non-literal aspect. For instance, one of the links I posted suggested that Canaan homo’ed grandpa Noah (uncovered his nakedness) as a gesture of taking over the patriarchy and becoming the “head of the family”. Daddy Ham, being proud of his proactive boy, bragged about this to Uncle Shem and Uncle Japeth. They, to keep the previous order of things, threw in their support for grandpa Noah and preserved his dignity by hiding the evidence of the whole thing (covering his nakedness). Noah, upon waking from his drunken stupor, which could have been one night or could have been weeks later if he was like Robert Downey Jr, discovered the filial coup detat and cursed Canaan.
Hey I don’t know the answer. The only clear thing is that the Holy Spirit has seen fit to leave the interpretation of all this pretty vague, except that it happened. As recently as a week ago, I hadn’t ever heard any of this stuff either, so I just find it to be an interesting line of thought.
Here’s an explanation of this passage that doesn’t require nearly so many assumptions. The “maternal incest” interpretation reads way too much into it in my opinion. Additionally, this explanation relies on simply translating the Hebrew correctly rather than making several very speculative leaps.
Your other question concerning Ham and Canaan takes us to Genesis 9, verses 18 - 29. The Bible does not “whitewash” its record to make the people look better. Noah fell into the sin of drunkenness some time after the flood, and as a result of that drunkenness, lay naked in the tent. Ham’s sin is not just a casual glance at his unfortunate father. The Hebrew verb that is used there denotes more than a passing glance. It can also mean a prolonged look of satisfaction.
The verb translated “told” also has the connotation of telling something with glee and delight. Ham seems almost to relish in the sad consequences of Noah’s sin and is quick to gossip about it to his brothers. The actions of the brothers, in contrast, is one of love and respect for their father.
It is also important to note that twice in these verses, Ham is mentioned as the father of Canaan. This is important to understand the following verses. Canaan is the fourth son of Ham. Noah, filled with the Spirit of God, utters a prophecy containing both a curse and a blessing. Canaan is cursed. Noah foresaw that this son of Ham would be ensnared more deeply
in the immoral tendencies of his father. Subsequent Biblical history reveals that the Canaanite culture was indeed a society
marked by horrible moral and sexual depravity. Canaanite religion was a horrible combination of idolatry and adultery.
Temple prostitution was their way of honoring their idols. Noah predicted that for this reason, the predilection toward sexual sins and a eagerness to boldly relish such immorality, a curse would fall upon the Canaanites. Reading through the remaining historical books of the Old Testament reveals that the Canaanite immorality would be a snare tempting God’s people over and
It’s important to remember that the patriarchs really were “not kidding around.” By that I mean that there was an incredibly strict adherence to the traditional moral teachings (Moses had not yet been given the commandments) of honoring your father and mother. Noah and his family were literally the ONLY people saved from what God considered to be a world that have become horribly wicked. Although it may seem odd to us in our very loosey-goosey modern society that Noah would become enraged and pronounce a curse, it’s really not all that hard to understand in the context of the times. And since Noah was greatly favored by God, the idea that he was given foreknowledge of the way Canaan would turn out shouldn’t be seen as inconsistent with the rest of the narrative.
That link to the “revelation” says it is part of the Doctrine and Covenants. That means to Mormons it IS scripture, as much as if Moses wrote it. Speaking of Moses, that whole “now you have to wander in the desert, now you don’t” sort of sets the precedent for a fickle God who may very well be the type to say “Black people are cursed… oh, wait, now they aren’t.” Here’s where the atheists get to be smug little shits.
Heh, yeah it reads funny. But you know, especially with some of the stuff from the most ancient parts of scripture, the details aren’t always important. For instance, the Bible records how the ark of the covenant was to be X cubits wide, dep, and tall, but today we don’t really know what cubit they used (could be anywhere between 17-24 inches). There’s no doubt that it was important at the time, but for us today it isn’t a critical point.
Or another one: in Genesis, the earth covered in water was around before the six days of “creation”. Now whether this was due to the ruin/reconstruction gap theory or whether it was part of the first day or what have you - these are points of interpretation in an otherwise literal reading. The important point being that God, in fact, created the earth.
Well when I said that “dark skin” was part of scripture, I meant part of the literal written Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price. Alma 3:6, Abraham 1:26 (PoGP)
If spoken revelation later on (especially in response to human pressures) can override the originally “inspired” word, it kinda makes you wonder about that word. Just my opinion.