Answering Questions from the Blog “hessianwithteeth”: Genesis Part Three

One of the blogs I have begun following, entitled “hessianwithteeth” (HWT), has posted a series of articles entitled “Why I Can’t Agree with the Bible“. These articles basically list questions that the author has as she reads through the Bible, starting with Genesis. I will now attempt to answer some of the questions she has from the book of Genesis, using the criteria set forth in my introductory article.

iStock_000007789001Large

Questions? We all have them.

Previous articles in this series:

Answering Questions from the Blog “hessianwithteeth”: Genesis Part Two

Answering Questions from the Blog “hessianwithteeth”: Genesis Part One

Answering Questions from the Blog “hessianwithteeth”: Introduction

We go back to the nakedness being evil thing again when Ham, Noah’s son, sees Noah naked. So Noah curses Ham’s son Canaan (oh look, the Hebrew Canaanites) for Ham seeing him naked, and he praises his son Shem for covering him (though both of Ham’s brothers apparently covered him, so why did only one get praised?). How does Noah know what has happened to him since he seemed to immediately wake up and curse Canaan? Why is Ham seeing him naked (by accident) so bad that Noah curses his own grandson as punishment? Why does he curse Canaan instead of Ham?

 Unfortunately I do not have a whole lot of light to shed on this particular subject. However, I find myself in good company, as the research I’ve done and the questions I’ve asked have borne little fruit.  I will tackle these questions one by one and answer them as best I can.

HWT: “[Shem and Japheth] apparently covered him, so why did only one get praised?”

Actually, they were both praised (or, more accurately, blessed).

And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. (Gen 9:26-27)

HWT: “How does Noah know what has happened to him since he seemed to immediately wake up and curse Canaan?”

This is a good question, and the text does not reveal the answer overtly. It could be that by “awakened” the author is saying he sobered up from being drunk, and remembered what happened while he was drunk. Or, alternatively, his wife or other children may have informed him of what happened. These seem to be the simplest and most parsimonious answers.

HWT: “Why is Ham seeing him naked (by accident) so bad that Noah curses his own grandson as punishment?”

Here, you have made an assumption that is not contained within the text, i.e. “by accident.”

And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. (Gen 9:22)

Now granted, it doesn’t say it was on purpose either. However, because of the severity of the punishment, I am inclined to think it was more than an accidental peek. However, exactly what happened is definitely the $64 question. There are many hypotheses ranging from Ham castrating Noah to Ham sleeping with Noah’s wife (Ham’s mother). While I would call the castration hypothesis hogwash, at least the infidelity with Noah’s wife has some merit based on a phrase used later in the giving of the law.

Lev 18:8 The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness.

Lev 20:11 And the man that lieth with his father’s wife hath uncovered his father’s nakedness…

In the light of these verses it is plausible that Ham at least purposely saw his mother in a compromising position and that possibly more occurred than just his viewing of her. It would also explain why Shem and Japheth backed into the tent to cover up their mother, when that measure seemingly wouldn’t be absolutely necessary were it just their father who was in need of covering. At any rate, it would seem from the result (Noah’s cursing of Canaan) that the cause was more than an innocent viewing of Noah in a compromising position.

HWT: “Why does he curse Canaan instead of Ham?”

This is another mystery. Some have posited that Canaan was involved in the transgression in some way, but the text simply doesn’t give any indication to that effect. At this juncture, speculation could indeed run rampant, but given the lack of evidence in this account and the lack of further details later in the revelation, I think it is quite appropriate to say “I don’t know.”

I do have a counter question for you, however. When I initially asked you to narrow down the focus of your questions, and you said “These are the questions that I am most interested in having answered”, why did you choose these, in particular?

This passage and those like it are examples of the brutal honesty of the Bible. Noah was as much a hero as any man could ever hope to be. I mean heck, he literally SAVED HUMANITY from extinction. Yet, the last picture we see of this hero is an old man naked and drunk, and cursing his grandchild. Not a pretty picture, but the Bible tells it, warts and all. There is no attempt to cover up this dark period of Noah’s life, nor the problems of many other Biblical heroes such as Abraham and David, and even Peter and Thomas and other Apostles in the New Testament had their moments. Their flaws are not covered or glossed over, but are told about and dealt with honestly, for our benefit.

I’d love to discuss these things with you. Any questions and comments that are in line with this page’s Commenting Policy will be published and responded to (to the best of my ability).

For more information on how I keep my worldview informed please go to Cross Roads Church.

Advertisements
Leave a comment

10 Comments

  1. In the end, however one tries to interpret the Pentateuch one must bear in mind that these days, all serious scholars regard it as fiction.

    Like

    Reply
    • Hello Arkenaten and thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my article. As far as I know you are the first ancient Egyptian pharaoh who has visited my humble little blog. I’m flattered.

      You said “however one tries to interpret the Pentateuch one must bear in mind that these days, all serious scholars regard it as fiction.”

      Before I attempt a response, I’d like to ask you to clarify for me, what do you mean by that statement?

      Like

      Reply
      • There is nothing historical about it: There is no evidence for the Patriarchs, neither Moses, the Egyptian Captivity, the Exodus or the conquest of Canaan.
        It is regarded as fiction by all but fundamentalists and ultra Orthodox Jews.

        Like

        Reply
        • So, by your definition, “fundamentalists and ultra Orthodox Jews” are excluded from being serious scholars?

          Like

          Reply
          • When it comes to following evidence, my answer would be yes, I am afraid. Those that put faith before evidence would be excluded from being considered serious scholars in this regard.
            Even an archaeologist of the caliber of William Albright, whom I am sure you are aware of, was unable to fulfill his goal of proving thew bible correct.
            Sorry, but this is the way it is.
            Unless you have evidence to show otherwise, of course. And I am always willing to reconsider my point of view.

            Like

          • Fair enough. Perhaps at some time in the future I will write about the archaeological evidence that does and does not exist and the possible implications. At that time we might pick up this thread of conversation again. In the meantime I would, for the purposes of this particular conversation and in light of this particular article, direct you to my introductory article for this series of posts.

            https://faithatcrossroads.wordpress.com/2014/08/10/answering-questions-from-the-blog-hessianwithteeth-introduction/

            Like

          • You use the term, ”plausible explanations.”
            There are none other than fiction for the Pentateuch.
            You cannot seriously afford any credence to the Deluge, for instance? You are not so naive, surely? And certainly not as it is written – the whole world being flooded, and the two by two story and later the re-population of the earth by a single incestuous family?
            Please tell me you recognise this as nonsense, and any allusion to such a flood may lie in stories such as The Epic of Gilgamesh.

            Or the story of Creation at the beginning of Genesis?

            As I mentioned, only a Biblical literalist would do that and these people – such as Creationists of the Ken Ham ilk, are generally regarded as either somewhat simple-minded or so far gone in indoctrination that it will take a major paradigm shift to bring them back to ‘normality.’

            I feel a little sympathy for such folk, but my main concern is for children who are poisoned with such nonsense, ( read up on ACE schooling, if you like?) if they are able to outgrow it , fair enough. If not they often – based on the sampling one gets on the blogs and similar sites – become outright fundamentalists.

            Bottom line, there is no actual verifiable history to the Pentateuch and I urge you to read and study the Torah from a Jewish perspective, who are, after all the original compilers, and not from a flagrantly prejudiced Christian apologetic POV.

            Like

          • Arkenaten, to this point I have indulged you. However, I do have what I consider to be a fair commenting policy on my blog here:
            https://faithatcrossroads.wordpress.com/commenting-policy/

            Please note that the policy asks that the comments be “on topic” and most of your comments, frankly, have been either loosely related or anything but. I also ask that you be respectful, not just to me but to everyone you mention, including Ken Ham (and his “ilk”). If you have a disagreement with Mr. Ham, take it up with him, but my blog is not a platform for you to disparage his views.

            It is not possible to prove the whole of Christianity in comment boxes, and I am not inclined to try. If you would like to follow along with my blog, and comment specifically on the information and ideas presented in the articles posted, I welcome your interaction. If however, you continue to introduce commentary that has nothing to do with the information contained in the article, I reserve the right to withhold those comments.

            As I noted in the introductory article to this particular series, I have asked the reader to “suspend disbelief” just as one would when going to see a movie or read a work of fiction. I am not trying to argue the Bible’s veracity by answering these questions, but attempting to show that answers can be given that are internally coherent with both the narrative and with the Christian worldview. When I get around to posting articles that assert that those things the Bible says are actually true, I will be happy at that time to have discussion on the merits of the evidence presented.

            Again, thank you for your interaction and willingness to engage.

            Like

  2. Oh, and there a couple of comments awaiting moderation, just in case you missed them. Cheers.

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: