What Did Ham Do?

Q. I know there are a number of different interpretations of Genesis 9:22. Could you give me your opinion? Thank you.

A. I assume you’re asking for my opinion because the Bible doesn’t give us a detailed description of the event in question.

Genesis 9:22 reads “And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside.” The Hebrew word translated nakedness here is different from the one used to describe Adam and Eve’s nakedness in Genesis 2:25. It gives us a hint that Noah’s nakedness was shameful, perhaps because of his drunken state, while Adam and Eve’s nakedness was innocent.

The fact that Ham didn’t restore Noah’s modesty, but ran out to tell his brothers about it resulted in Noah cursing a branch of his line. This indicates that Ham’s actions were also shameful. Beyond that no one knows. I’ve seen explanations all the way from simple disrespect to homosexuality to sleeping with his mother applied to Ham’s behavior. But the truth is that the Bible just doesn’t say, and when that’s the case it means we don’t need to know.

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