Gen 9:18-29

From Feast upon the Word ( Copyright, Feast upon the Word.
(Redirected from Gen 9:21-25)
Jump to: navigation, search

The Old Testament > Genesis > Genesis 1-11 > Chapter 6b-9 > Verses 9:18-29
Previous page: Verses 8:20-9:17                      Next page: Chapter 10-11a

This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


This heading should be brief and may include an outline of the passage. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

The relationship of Verses 9:18-29 to the rest of this chapter is discussed at Chapter 6-9.


This heading is for more detailed discussions of all or part of a passage. Discussion may include the meaning of a particular word, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout the passage, insights to be developed in the future, and other items. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Verse 22[edit]

  • Saw the nakedness of his father. Some scholars think that Ham is punished (verses 24-25) for some unchaste act that is described euphemistically as "saw the nakedness of his father" (see related links below). Others argue that the text should be read more literally: Ham not averting his eyes to his father's nakedness like his brothers did (v. 23) shows disrespect for his father and for God's law of chastity (cf. Lev 20:17 and Hab 2:15); see Cassuto reference below).

Verse 25: Why is Canaan cursed?[edit]

Verses 9:22-24 describe actions by Ham that may be deserving of a curse, but the curse is directed toward Canaan not Ham. There are at least four different ways this verse can be been interpreted:

(1) Posterity bears consequences. One view is that Ham's posterity will bear the consequences of Ham's act, either because the blessing in verse 1 cannot be reversed for some reason, or because the punishment for Ham should fit the crime: if Ham caused Noah not to have a fourth son, then Ham's fourth son Canaan is appropriately cursed.

(2) Canaan really means Ham. Another view is that although the name of Canaan is mentioned, the reference is really to Ham, Canaan's father. One conjecture is that the text was changed historically "to conform to the fact that the Canaanites were subjugated by the Israelites."

(3) Canaan was the transgressor. Another view is that Canaan was the transgressor, or at least involved in the iniquity against Noah. This view can be found in traditional Jewish literature more modern scholars (see the Cassuto reference below for details).

(4) People of Canaan cursed. Cassuto argues that Ham represents the Canaanite people who were guilty of sexual immorality. Thus "[t]he Canaanites were to suffer the curse and the bondage not because of the sins of Ham, but because they themselves acted like Ham, because of their own transgressions, which resembled those attributed to Ham in this allegory."

(The Cassuto reference below gives more details on each of these interpretations, arguing that the fourth makes the most sense.)

Points to ponder[edit]

This heading is for prompts that suggest ways in which all or part of this passage can influence a person's life. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

I have a question[edit]

This heading is for unanswered questions and is an important part of the continual effort to improve this wiki. Please do not be shy, as even a basic or "stupid" question can identify things that need to be improved on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →


This heading is for listing links and print resources, including those cited in the notes. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Verse 22: What did Ham do to Noah?[edit]

  • Maternal incest? The following article discusses three main theories that have been proposed for why Noah cursed Ham, (1) voyeurism, (2) castration, or (3) paternal incest, then proposes and argues for a fourth alternative, viz. maternal incest. John Bergsma and Scott Hahn, "Noah's Nakedness and the Curse on Canaan", Journal of Biblical Literature, v. 124(1), pp. 25-40.
  • More literal reading: See Cassuto, p. 150.
  • Stealing Noah's garment. Hugh Nibley in Temple and Cosmos pp. 128-130 discusses some history of a sacred garment and how Book of Jasher 7:27 relates that Ham stole the garment from Noah.
  • Castration. According to one version of Jewish legend, Noah went to the tent of his wife in a drunken state and Ham disrespectfully related to his borther's his father's attempt to have a fourth son (Noah already had one more son than Adam had, according to legend). Ham also attempted "to perform an operation upon his father designed to prevent procreation" (see Legends of the Bible by Louis Ginzberg (1909), p. 80). See also the Zohar 73b (available online here as v. 2 Noach 38:31); the Pritsker edition (ISBN 0804747474) notes, "According to Rav (BT Sanhedrin 70a), Ham castrated his father, thereby eliminating the covenantal sign of circumcision" (pp. 434-5).

Verse 25: Why is Canaan cursed?[edit]

  • Jewish legend. According to one version of Jewish legend, Noah could not curse Ham for his disrespectful acts toward him because Ham was included in the blessing God conferred after the flood. So Noah cursed Ham's last-born son because Ham had prevented Noah from begetting a younger son than the three he already had. See Legends of the Bible by Louis Ginzberg (1909), p. 80.


Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves, such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word. In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources are preferable to footnotes.

Previous page: Verses 8:20-9:17                      Next page: Chapter 10-11a