Friday, December 14, 2007

Noah's Nakedness and the Curse on Canaan

I've been chock full of links lately simply because I've been so busy. This time it's a link to an article that appeared in JBL (Spring 2005) concerning Genesis 9:20-27. I think Drs. Bergsma and Hahn have argued for an interesting interpretation - maternal incest on the part of Ham. Really intriguing. Give it a read!

Noah's Nakedness and the Curse on Canaan (Gen. 9:20-27)


Bryan L said...

Haven't read the article but I think this is what John Walton argues for in his NIVAC Genesis commentary seeing the reference to Ham seeing his father's nakedness or seeing him uncovered (whatever it says) as a euphemism for having sex with his father's wife (which is as you said maternal incest). If you've never checked out that commentary I highly recommend it. He offers many original interpretations.

Bryan L

Anonymous said...

I haven't read thr article either but I know that rabbinic interpreters have theorized that Ham either castrated Noah or sexually abused him. See b. Sanhedrin 70a or Rashi's commentary on vs. 20.

Josh McManaway said...

Yeah - the thing about that is: there's no indication that a son would castrate his father in order to usurp him. The paternal incest theory has come back into vogue, and Bergsma and Hahn take that into account, but show why maternal incest is much more likely.

mike said...

Darrell Pursiful discusses the Hahn-Bergsma paper here:

Theocoid said...

Hmmmm. Robert Alter argues that it's a euphemism for an act against Noah himself. Keep in mind that Ham, the father of the Canaanites. Alter mentions this in the footnotes of this chapter in The Five Books of Moses.

Moonshadow said...

I'm glad to know that Hahn can write articles of this caliber because I am so dissatisfied with his more popular volumes.

Waltke goes with "prurient voyeurism" (see Hab. 2:15), seeing it as a form of domination, homosexual in nature. Canaan is cursed because God has already blessed Ham as a righteous survivor of the Flood (9:1). "As the youngest son wrongs his father, so the curse will fall on his youngest son." (p. 150).

According to Sarna, verse 22 is taken literally in the earliest postbiblical traditions, a position supported by verse 23. "On the other hand, the verbs of verse 24 and the severity of Noah's reaction suggest that the Torah has suppressed the sordid details of some repugnant act." (p. 66).

If that's so, then we can't hope to know it.