Ham sodomized his father, Noah? The most likely correct interpretation of Genesis 9:20-25 KJV?

Is the following the most likely correct interpretation?

And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. (Genesis 9:20-25 KJV)

None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the LORD. (Leviticus 18:6 KJV)

Near of kin - See the margin. The term was evidently used to denote those only who came within certain limits of consanguinity, together with those who by affinity were regarded in the same relationship.

To uncover their nakedness - i. e. to have sexual intercourse. The immediate object of this law was to forbid incest. — Albert Barnes

None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him — Very great laxity prevailed amongst the Egyptians in their sentiments and practice about the conjugal relation, as they not only openly sanctioned marriages between brothers and sisters, but even between parents and children. Such incestuous alliances Moses wisely prohibited, and his laws form the basis upon which the marriage regulations of this and other Christian nations are chiefly founded. This verse contains a general summary of all the particular prohibitions; and the forbidden intercourse is pointed out by the phrase, "to approach to." In the specified prohibitions that follow, all of which are included in this general summary, the prohibited familiarity is indicated by the phrases, to "uncover the nakedness" [Lev_18:12-17], to "take" [Lev_18:17, Lev_18:18], and to "lie with" [Lev_18:22, Lev_18:23]. The phrase in this sixth verse, therefore, has the same identical meaning with each of the other three, and the marriages in reference to which it is used are those of consanguinity or too close affinity, amounting to incestuous connections. — Robert Jamieson

The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.

The nakedness of thy father's wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father's nakedness.

The nakedness of thy sister, the daughter of thy father, or daughter of thy mother, whether she be born at home, or born abroad, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover.

The nakedness of thy son's daughter, or of thy daughter's daughter, even their nakedness thou shalt not uncover: for theirs is thine own nakedness.

The nakedness of thy father's wife's daughter, begotten of thy father, she is thy sister, thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.

Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's sister: she is thy father's near kinswoman.

Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother's sister: for she is thy mother's near kinswoman.

Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy father's brother, thou shalt not approach to his wife: she is thine aunt.

Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter in law: she is thy son's wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.

Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy brother's wife: it is thy brother's nakedness.

Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter, neither shalt thou take her son's daughter, or her daughter's daughter, to uncover her nakedness; for they are her near kinswomen: it is wickedness.

Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time.

Also thou shalt not approach unto a woman to uncover her nakedness, as long as she is put apart for her uncleanness.

And the man that lieth with his father's wife hath uncovered his father's nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

And if a man shall take his sister, his father's daughter, or his mother's daughter, and see her nakedness, and she see his nakedness; it is a wicked thing; and they shall be cut off in the sight of their people: he hath uncovered his sister's nakedness; he shall bear his iniquity.

And if a man shall lie with a woman having her sickness, and shall uncover her nakedness; he hath discovered her fountain, and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood: and both of them shall be cut off from among their people.

And thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother's sister, nor of thy father's sister: for he uncovereth his near kin: they shall bear their iniquity.

And if a man shall lie with his uncle's wife, he hath uncovered his uncle's nakedness: they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless.

And if a man shall take his brother's wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother's nakedness; they shall be childless. (Leviticus 18:7-19;20:11;20:17-21 KJV)

I've been taking it that way. However, shifts in usage can be subtle.

Moses though is credited with writing the first 5 books of the Bible: Genesis and Leviticus both being part of those. Why would he shift the meaning so dramatically unless he didn't understand the first usage in Genesis. Could there have been a break in understanding and a large enough shift from the time of Noah to Moses that one should not "overreach" or "stretch" Ham's behavior to include such a level of depravity? It remains to be seen.

The main point here though is that much of the language of the Bible is figurative. That figurativeness works in both directions. That though is another post.

This issue came up because the Bible doesn't specifically use the terms "homosex" or "homosexuality" (specifically coined well after the Bible was written but the concept was not altered; the prohibition was there and remained/remains; "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." — Leviticus 18:22 KJV). In the Gospels though, Jesus does condemned fornication and adultery. Of course, sex between members of the same sex certainly constituted fornication, as they were never considered to be married under the law — secular or otherwise.

In the earliest Church (James and Paul), the issue of where to draw the line concerning Mosaic law and Gentile converts to Christianity arose specifically over circumcision. It never came up concerning homosexuality because the mere idea of entertaining such a notion (allowing it) was too far beyond the pale — still is, and always shall be, in the real Church.

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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