Church of God, New World Ministries

Bible Q & A

Q. Why was Canaan so horribly cursed because Ham happened to see his father, Noah unclothed? What was so evil about seeing “the nakedness” of his father?
A. There was more than just “looking” involved in this tragic circumstance! Notice Genesis 9:24: “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had DONE unto him!”

There was an illicit sexual act committed here. Noah was very drunken and did not realize what was occurring. In such a stupor, someone took advantage of Noah and committed an act of sodomy with him.

It appears as though Ham was the one responsible. But the truth is he was not! When we learn what Ham actually did and who was really responsible for the act of sodomy any problems with these verses clear up.

Notice again, Genesis 9:24: “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.” Ham was not Noah’s younger son! He was his middle son. See Genesis 10:1. So whoever this was in verse 24, it clearly was not Ham.

Ham merely looked on or “saw the nakedness” of Noah (Gen. 9:22).He did not do anything to his father. Notice, he immediately told his brothers and they covered him. The difficulty is purely grammatical. First, let us notice Exodus 34:28. In this scripture we have a similar grammatical difficulty. It reads: “And he (Moses) was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.”

In other words, it is unclear as to whom the “he wrote” refers! This is the same problem we face in Genesis 9:24. Armed with this information, we can now solve the problem in Genesis.

We read, picking up the account in verse 22: “And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his (that is, Ham’s) younger son had done unto him. And he said, “Cursed be Canaan.”

First, notice how Canaan is mentioned twice in the account. The pronoun “his” properly refers to Ham’s not Noah’s son. But we can prove from Scripture that Canaan was really the “younger son” of Ham. The answer is found in Genesis 10:6: “And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.” So Canaan was not punished for what Ham did. He was punished for his own sin!
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