Monday, August 25, 2008

Noah's Nakedness in Genesis - A Case of Maternal Incest?

Genesis 9:20-27 (New International Version)

20 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father's nakedness and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father's nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father's nakedness.

24 When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, "Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers."
26 He also said, "Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem.
27 May God extend the territory of Japheth may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his slave."

Years ago I was listening to Catholic Apologist Scott Hahn and he brought up the situation where Ham, identified as the father of Canaan, “sees the nakedness of his father” Noah and all hell procedes to break lose. Ham's son becomes cursed and well one can make argument that we have been affected by that ever since.

I can recall those verses disturbed me because this seemed sort of odd that such major consequences could occur because of Ham seeing his dad naked ( or perhaps nekid as we say in the South) or even if this was a case of Voyeurism.

Dr Hahn explained this was not what it appears to be to our ears in the modern day. That this most likely was a case of maternal incest by the son.

There have been four theories over time what is going on here.

They are
1) Ham literally saw his father unclothed.
2) That Ham performed Castration on Noah
3) Ham engaged in an incestuous relationship with his mother (and this relationship produced Canaan)
4. Ham raped his father. (His father was drunk so he was unable to consent.)

It appears that views #3 and #4 have gained some currency over the years as Biblical Scholarship with more evidence of Maternal Incest coming to bear.

I have thought about this from time to time and wondered if Hahn every built his case for this besides just a 2 minute blurb on a tape.

Well in fact he has here at Noah’s Nakedness and the Curse on Canaan (Genesis 9:20-27),” with John Seitze Bergsma, Journal of Biblical Literature 124.1 (Spring 2005), pp. 25-40.

It is pretty fasicanting and this event if we accept the maternal incest theory makes others parts of the Scripture to become more illuminated. It is a pretty short and easy read and I would recommend it

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