Gen. 9-10: Ham’s Son Bears the Sins of His Father

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When last we saw Noah, he and his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth had just exited the Ark. They had slaughtered one each of probably dozens, if not hundreds, of species of “clean” animals, burning the corpses so God could smell the sweet, sweet smoke (Gen. 8:20-21). God decides here to never “. . . again curse the ground for man’s sake, because the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth”.

Yes, that’s right, God points out that His own creation is evil! But if God knows that people are evil, and that’s the way He made them . . . wait, how does that work, exactly?

In Genesis 9, God commands Noah and his sons to repopulate the earth, and tells them that “every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you”.

Some speculate that humans ate no flesh before this point. After all, the first humans were given “every herb bearing seed . . . and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed” for food. (Gen. 1:29)

Wait a minute . . . Noah was commanded by God to take seven of every “clean” animal and two of every “unclean” animal into the Ark. This references cleanliness for consumption. How did Noah know what was “clean” or “unclean”, if people didn’t eat meat?

God doesn’t God spell out what is “clean” and what is “unclean” until Leviticus 11, talking to Moses, hundreds of years after Noah’s death!

There being six of every “clean” animal left, and two of every “unclean” animal, the eight humans (Noah, sons, and wives; I’m assuming one wife per man, but the Bible doesn’t specify) apparently had plenty to eat. Noah, knowing he would live several hundred more years (350 years after the Flood, Gen. 9:28), and having no brothels to go to and no cable TV, decided he needed a drink.

Let’s see how that worked out.

Genesis 9: 18-27

18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.

19 These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.

Noah: So drunk, his pants fell off.  Image: Giovanni Bellini, c. 1515

Noah: So drunk, his pants fell off. Image: Giovanni Bellini, c. 1515

20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:

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.

24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.

25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.

26 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

Summary: Ham saw his father naked. He ran outside and told his brothers about it. His brothers, knowing that wieners are shameful creations of God that we should recoil from in horror, covered Noah with a garment. In fairness and fatherly love, Noah cursed Ham’s son, Canaan, to be “a servant of servants unto his brethren”.

How does this square with later pronouncements by God, in Deuteronomy 24:16 and Ezekiel 18:20, which specifically state that sons shall not bear the sins of their fathers?

Genesis 10 explains where the children of Shem, Ham, and Japheth moved within the region. Not much of a story there . . . or is there?

This article, originally published at Secular News Daily, explains the Creation Museum’s take on the subject. You see, Canaan — son of Ham, the servant of servants — moved into what is now northern Africa.

Slaves came from where? Africa.

Europeans and early Americans used Genesis 9-10 to justify importing dark-skinned black folk — a demonstration of the Curse of Ham — into Europe and North America for use as slaves.

Anthony Pagden writes,

This reading of the Book of Genesis merged easily into a medieval iconographic tradition in which devils were always depicted as black. Later pseudo-scientific theories would be built around African skull shapes, dental structure, and body postures, in an attempt to find an unassailable argument–rooted in whatever the most persuasive contemporary idiom happened to be: law, theology, genealogy, or natural science — why one part of the human race should live in perpetual indebtedness to another.

Discussion Questions:

God didn’t interfere when Noah cursed Ham’s son, Canaan, and let Ham off scot-free, even though it appears Canaan was nowhere near at the time of the alleged wiener-sighting. So, it must have been fine with Him. But how does that square with the things He has said about the sons not bearing the sins of their fathers, and also with basic ethics?

Was Noah behaving ethically?

Do you know anyone who still believes black people should be slaves because Ham’s father looked at Noah’s wiener? Could it be your Mommy or Daddy, or maybe your grandfather?

Extra Credit: Ask your Daddy or your pastor whether, if you looked at his wiener, he’d make your son and all your son’s descendants slaves. After all, it’s the Biblically correct thing to do!

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