“What was the ‘nakedness of Noah’?” (i.e. what exactly was “the sin of Ham”?)- Genesis 9:20-27.
In Genesis 9:20-27, Noah plants a vineyard, gets drunk, and ends up naked. Ham, his son, sees his father’s nakedness and tells his brothers, who proceed to cover Noah. What is the “sin of Ham” that is found in this passage? Genesis 9:22 reads “and Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of this father and told his two brothers outside.” This is where the sin occurs. Davis, our textbook author, does not really offer any theory of Ham’s sin other than Ham was involved in the disgrace of Noah (128). Davis, very implicitly, suggests that maybe Ham had offered Noah a drink and pressured him into a state of drunkenness as Davis is quick to suggest Habakkuk 2:15 and that is why Noah curses him when he awakens (Davis 128). Kenneth Matthews (New American Commentary) brings to light that there has been many interpretations of verse 22, and a few include: Ham’s act was a sexual offense; Ham castrated Noah therefore rendering it physically impossible for Noah to have any more children; Ham involved Noah in a homosexual act (Matthews 418-419). Matthews’ own interpretation suggests another possibility of what Ham’s sin was. Matthews says, “Ham’s reproach was not in seeing his father unclothed, though this was a shameful thing (Hab. 2:15), but in his outspoken delight at his father’s disgraceful condition” (Matthews 419). Nakedness was shameful in the Hebrew culture and by telling others of Noah’s nakedness was to bring about much shame and disgrace. Shem and Japheth, unlike Ham, treated Noah with the proper respect of a parent (by covering him up), which is demanded in the Fifth Commandment (Honor your father and mother- Ex. 20:12). Ham should have immediately covered Noah up as his brothers had done and because he went to share this shameful state, Noah pronounced a curse upon Canaan (Gen. 9:24-25). I agree with Matthews’ analysis of Ham’s sin: He gloated and delighted in his father’s shame and disgrace when he should have simply covered him up and went on about his business.
Davis, John J. Paradise to Prison: Studies in Genesis. Salem, WI: Sheffield Publishing Company, 1975.
Matthews, Kenneth A. The New American Commentary: Genesis 1-11:26. Vol. 1A. Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1996.