Noah is one of the influential Bible characters. He found favor in God’s eyes as God spared him with his family from the floods. If you have followed his story, you will realize he placed a curse on one of his son’s generations, Ham, which leads you to question, what did Ham do to Noah?
According to Genesis 9:22-27, We get an account of how Ham wronged his father. The scripture implies that Ham saw his father naked when he was drunk. Furthermore, he informed his brothers, who covered their father with a blanket. From this incident, Noah cursed Ham’s son.
What arguments do religious scholars give that suggest Ham raped Noah? What was the issue of Ham seeing Noah’s nakedness? Why do some religious scholars believe that Ham had sex with his mother? What are the grounds for the argument that Ham castrated Noah? If Ham sinned against his father, why did Noah curse Canaan and not Ham? Read the article below to get all the answers.
What arguments do religious scholars give that suggest Ham raped Noah?
From the events in Genesis 9:22-24, we find out how Ham disrespected his father. Interpreting the texts gives us details on how Noah got drunk and undressed as he slept in the tent. His son mocked him. However, scholars and Jewish interpreters believed that Ham raped his father.
Some interpreters read into the verse Genesis 9:22, And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside; to mean sex. They base their argument on that “nakedness” means sex in euphemism, as interpreted from verses with a similar term. We see this in Leviticus 18:6 None of you shall approach anyone of kin to him to uncover nakedness. I am the Lord.
They argue that Moses uses the term uncover their nakedness in his books to refer to sex. However, other scholars have come out to oppose this notion. They argue that these phrases differ; Genesis 9:22 speaks of “saw the nakedness,” while Leviticus 18:6 speaks of “uncover nakedness.”
They add that in Genesis 9:23, the two brothers walked backward and covered their father’s nakedness, which has no hidden meaning. It refers to looking away from seeing the nakedness of their father. In verse 21, it mentions Noah uncovered himself while in the tent. It can mean one thing; he was without clothes.
Had Ham raped Noah, the details may have been more explicit than saying he mocked his father. Other scholars argue that if Ham had only mocked his father’s nakedness, why was the punishment so adverse? Also, they claim that had Ham only looked at his father, how would he have known after awakening what he had done to him?
While this may raise questions, we should remember in the scripture honoring parents is fundamental, as is one of the Ten Commandments. Any form of disrespect would attract punishment. Therefore, we cannot hold the truth in these arguments of Ham possibly raping his father.
What was the issue of Ham seeing Noah’s nakedness?
The scripture guides us to honor our parents, Exodus 20:12 Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you. Therefore, when Ham saw his father’s nakedness, it was disrespectful even in the eyes of God.
Leviticus 18:7 You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father, which is the nakedness of your mother; she is your mother, you shall not uncover her nakedness. God instructed Moses to relay to his people; He told him to warn people against uncovering the nakedness of their parents. If this was one of God’s guidelines, it stresses the seriousness of Ham’s wrongdoing towards his father.
Genesis 9:22 And Ham, Canaan’s father, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers outside. After witnessing his father at his point of weakness, he made fun of him instead of helping. Unlike him, his brothers Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it upon their shoulders, and walked backward and covered their father’s nakedness; they turned their faces away and did not see their father’s nakedness.
Genesis 9:24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a slave of slaves shall he be to his brothers.” Given the adversity of the situation, Noah cursed Ham’s son.
Why do some religious scholars believe that Ham had sex with his mother?
The various understandings of the actual happenings that occurred when Noah was drunk. Some scholars believe Ham committed incest with his mother when his father passed away. They believe that the curse given to Ham’s son resulted from the incident; they perceive that the son was born from the occurrence.
It is yet another exciting conclusion. Other interpreters have come out to disagree with this statement. Some questioning, had Ham committed incest with his mother, why would he inform his brothers? If that had been the case, he should have kept it to himself as it was shameful.
Also, others have come out disregarding the theory that Canaan resulted from Ham and his mother committing incest. Regarding the scripture Genesis 9:22, Ham had Canaan before the incident. Therefore, we cannot fully account for Canaan’s curse due to incest.
What are the grounds for the argument that Ham castrated Noah?
Some base their arguments on Ham having castrated his father. They claim that Noah could not sire a fourth child after the incident since his son had castrated him. As with other claims, teachers of the scripture have contested this idea.
Had this been the case, the verse would have read differently, showing what Ham had supposedly done. For something as serious as that, Noah would have woken up from his sleep; in this case, he realized what his son had done after waking up.
The scholars who support this argument imply that the Bible mentions Ham’s actions as “what his youngest son had done to him.” After that incident, no more has been mentioned about Noah having more children.
If Ham sinned against his father, why did Noah curse Canaan and not Ham?
Ham disrespected his father. However, he did not receive punishment from his father directly. Genesis 9:25 He said, cursed be Canaan; a slave of slaves shall he be to his brothers.” Noah placed a curse on Ham’s son Canaan.
According to some scholars, Noah cursed Canaan instead of Ham since he was the product of incest between his wife and son. Therefore, he cursed the offspring that reminded him of the incident. However, as argued earlier, Canaan had already been born into the world before the incident. Therefore, we cannot ascertain this claim as valid.
Others argue that Noah cursed Canaan in line with the prophecies of forefathers who saw suffering among Canaanites. It could be true, but the curse in question resulted from the incident between Ham and his father, Noah.
Also, some believe Noah cursed Canaan at the end of his life, which does not agree with texts that only mention the declaration of when the incident happened. The curse resulted from what Ham had just done, which called for immediate action.
Noah judged Ham’s descendants; it was not a direct punishment to Canaan but rather to the future generation of Ham paying for the consequences of his action. And as Noah declared, Ham’s descendants became slaves of Shem’s descendants.
Shem was blessed as he covered the nakedness of his father in contrast to what his brother did; look and mocked their father, thus deserving punishment. Genesis 9:26 also said, “Blessed by the Lord my God be Shem, and let Canaan be his slave.
In another interpretation, Noah had blessed his three sons, and God had also found favor in Noah and his household. Genesis 7:1 Then the Lord said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation. Since he had blessed them, it was not possible to undo the blessings and curse them; therefore, the next generation took the fall.
Other scholars claim that Canaan was the first to see Noah’s nakedness and, upon which, called the father who caused further humiliation. However, this is not certified as the scripture is clear on Ham being the first to see his father’s nakedness.
Canaan was Ham’s fourth son and equally his favorite child, as the chapter mentions him several times, emphasizing Ham being his father. Therefore, punishing Canaan would affect Ham as he was his favorite.
Why was Canaan cursed instead of Ham?
Why did Noah curse Ham/Canaan?
Did Ham have sex with his mother?
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.