The Sin of Ham
When we talk about Ham, we are not talking about eating ham, because it comes from a pig and it’s unclean. That’s a sin, according to Leviticus 11 and the animals that God lists as unclean — God made only some animals to be fit for food, but that is a whole other topic.
But this is not about that particular ham. It’s a different Ham entirely.
Now to find out who this Ham is we shall start off by reading in Genesis 6:9–13 (MEV):
“These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a just man and blameless among his contemporaries. Noah walked with God. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The earth was corrupt before God and filled with violence. God looked on the earth and saw it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. So God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh is come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. Now I will destroy them with the earth.’ ”
What we read here is we that Noah walked with God. He was a good man, righteous and blameless. We should look as well at what those words mean, just and blameless.
The word just is translated from the Hebrew word tsaddiyq, and means “just, lawful, righteous”. The word blameless is translated from tamiym, and is also translated as perfect, and means “entire, integrity, truth, without blemish, complete, full, perfect, sincerity, without spot, undefiled, upright, whole”.
At that time the Earth was becoming very corrupt, there were evil things going on, a lot of violence. These things were inspired by demons, who also created the Nephilim, as in Genesis 6:1–7 (ESV):
“When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, ‘My Spirit shall not abide in man for ever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.’ The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterwards, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown. The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.’ ”
The demons probably interfered with women, so that they gave birth to genetically-altered babies. These demons probably entered the fetuses in the wombs and possessed them, making their DNA change, so that they would be born as giants, and possessed by demons rather than having a human spirit. This led to much violence all over the world.
It was so bad that God decided he was going to wipe out virtually all of mankind because they just become so corrupt, so bad, so filled with violence — either through demon-possession or influenced by the demonically-inspired violence to become violent — that God said something like, “It is enough, I’ve had enough of mankind behaving so badly, who carry on sinning ever since Cain murdered his brother Abel, there’s been violence and this has got to come to an end.”
Then God told Noah what was going to happen. He chose Noah and his family, to save them. He told Noah to build an ark, a large box-like vessel to house eight people plus thousands of animals, birds, insects, and any other creature God wanted to save that could not live in the water.
Noah then built the ark, which perhaps took about 70 years to build. And he spent much time preaching to mankind to repent. But the people did not repent, and if those people repented surely they could have gone on to the ark as well. Or if others followed God, they must have been killed before the Flood. Noah’s father Lamech died five years before the Flood, and his father, Methuselah, who lived to be 969, died in the year of the Flood.
The Bible does not say anything specific about Noah’s sons, if they followed God or not, but they were going to be saved as part of Noah’s family. Noah and his wife and their three sons and their wives making eight people in total.
Read Genesis 7:6–7 (MEV):
“Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came upon the earth. And Noah went with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives into the ark because of the floodwaters.”
These eight people were saved in the ark, but I shall not go through all the details here, but we know that the floodwater was on the Earth for quite some time, several months, and then the waters receded and the ark landed on the mountains of Ararat, which were probably north of Israel or Iraq, not somewhere in Turkey as some people think.
As the waters receded further, the people came out of the ark and they found nice fertile soil which had all been watered recently. Obviously they had to start planting seeds and crops, because although they had food stored on the ark, that was probably going to run out soon.
They let the animals off and they went their own ways and ate whatever they found. I expect plants started to grow well after the waters receded and the Sun shone down again on the soil.
We can read about it in Genesis 9:18–29 (MEV):
“The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan. These were the three sons of Noah, and from them the whole earth was populated. Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank some of the wine and became drunk, and lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. So Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.
When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his younger son had done to him, he said, ‘Canaan be cursed! He will be a servant of servants to his brothers.’ He also said, ‘Blessed be the Lord God of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and may he dwell in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant.’
Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years. All the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years, and then he died.”
As we read through that we might think what did Ham do that was so bad?
Remember that the book of Genesis was written by Moses. He was recounting the things that happened in the past and he was writing for the people of Israel. He was telling the Israelites some of the things that happened historically, because Israel had to understand where they came from and where other people came from.
If you remember when the Israelites were about to enter promised land, they were told to go in and kill the people who lived there who were the Canaanites — descended from this person called who was the son of Ham. So is there some connection there between that and what Ham did.
Why did Moses point out in verse 22, “And Ham, the father of Canaan,” as if that was a very important thing? There must be some significance in there, but also in verse 22 we read that Ham saw “the nakedness of his father”.
You might be thinking that he saw his father naked — was that a big sin? Is that a terrible thing? But what really happened? What does the bible actually mean when it says “the nakedness of his father” which Ham saw?
When we get a difficult scripture like this, we really need to look elsewhere in the Bible for similar things that are saying the same kind of thing, but where they are clearer. If we look at a clear verse which is saying the same kind of thing, then maybe we can understand this difficult verse.
In Leviticus, which is a summary of laws God gave to the Israelites, which Moses wrote down, we see that Moses wrote some laws specifically to do with sex and marriage.
In Leviticus 20:11 (NKJV) we read:
“The man who lies with his father’s wife has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.”
Then in verse 20:
“If a man lies with his uncle’s wife, he has uncovered his uncle’s nakedness. They shall bear their sin; they shall die childless.”
And also in verse 21:
“If a man takes his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing. He has uncovered his brother’s nakedness. They shall be childless.”
We see when the Bible specifically says about uncovering a man’s nakedness. What was written by Moses in these laws talks about man having sex with that man’s wife. It is saying if you uncover your father’s nakedness that means you are having sex with your mother, or even step-mother.
If you uncover your uncle’s nakedness, it means you had sex with your aunt. Or you uncovered your brother’s nakedness it means you had sex with your sister-in-law. That is what the Bible says about that. We are looking only at the facts in the Bible, what the words actually state, what God inspired Moses to write. We are not looking for something difficult, when we read about Ham uncovering his father’s nakedness.
What Ham was doing, if we follow through what it says there when ham uncovered his Noah’s nakedness, he was not doing anything to Noah specifically, but it refers to Noah’s wife. The Bible is consistent. And when one author uses a metaphor like that in one place, you can be sure he means the same thing each time. God is not the author of confusion, and would not have inspired Noah to use the same term to mean different things in this kind of context.
So we see that what Ham was doing — he saw his father get drunk, and perhaps his mother was drunk as well, and they were in the tent. They were drunk and they were no doubt passed out, asleep, so it seems that Ham went in and actually had sex with his mother.
I do not think his mother consented to it. It was probably rape, Ham raped his own mother. But you could be thinking, “Why would he do that? That seems a very strange thing to do just because they got drunk.”
Now you also might wonder why did Noah get drunk in the first place? Surely Noah would know if you drink wine, how much to drink and be perfectly okay. There is no record of him being drunk before the Flood — and we already saw that Noah was righteous and blameless.
You have to consider what changed in the atmosphere, and where they were when they came off the ark. First of all, before the Flood, the atmosphere probably had a lot more oxygen, it was a lot more oxygen-rich, which could be why people lived a lot longer, over 900 years sometimes.
Also when they came out of the ark, they were in the mountains at a higher altitude than they were used to. When drinking alcohol somewhere and there is a lot of oxygen, you will not get drunk so quickly. But with less oxygen you will get drunk more quickly. If you drink alcohol in an aeroplane at a high altitude you are more likely to get drunk than if you are at ground level.
It is well-known that if you go up in the mountains and drink then you are going to get drunk very quickly, because there is less oxygen. Less oxygen can lead to hypoxia — which is a where there is insufficient oxygen going to the brain, which can also occur if you wear a face mask all the time.
You get that at a higher altitude or any lack of oxygen, which means if you drink alcohol you can become more intoxicated very quickly. So Noah probably did not have a clue what was going on, he felt okay when he came out of the ark. He wanted to have some wine — especially as it was often used in the past to purify water which might have otherwise been bad to drink — so he planted a vineyard.
After the grapes grew to maturity, he made some wine, drank it, and then, not realising there was less oxygen, especially because the atmosphere changed and he was at a high altitude, he got drunk very easily.
I do not believe he deliberately got drunk, I think he mistakenly got drunk because he did not understand that he was now going to get drunk very easily from drinking the alcohol in his wine. So he and probably his wife had some wine, maybe even as a celebration of staring a new world, a new peaceful world without violence or demons. But they very easily got drunk and passed out in the tent.
So then why did Ham go in and do this terrible thing that he did? In times past, especially in that part of the world, it was all about who is in charge of the family, tribe, or nation.
One man was in charge in this case — Noah was in charge, he was head of the family, and even of the whole human race. Because he was head of the family he was in charge. Eight people came out of the ark, having the whole world to themselves. Remember there are no other human beings around and they could all go out and settle wherever they wanted.
If there was disagreement between them and Ham thought Noah was no good, he could have just gone off to some other place; as the waters receded, more land became available and he could have just gone off on his own with his wife.
But he wanted to challenge his father, Noah. He wanted to usurp the authority of his father especially as perhaps he did not understand either how easy it was to get drunk, so when he saw his father drunk and thought, “This is disgusting, he is supposed to be the leader and he is drunk. I should be the leader.”
Ham had it in his heart all along to usurp his father and take over. But there was not much to take over, there were just eight people. He was only going to be in charge of seven people.
It is a bit like what happened with Satan, originally called Heylel. In Isaiah 14 it says that Heylel, called Luficer in Latin (the light-bringer) became very proud in his heart, and he wanted to usurp God, he wanted to overtake God’s throne and be above God. The same attitude came into Ham — he just wanted to take power just for the sake of it because he wanted to be in charge. Ham wanted to usurp Noah.
The thing that was around in ancient cultures was that if a man wanted to take control of a tribe he would go and sleep with that man’s wife, possibly even murdering that leader first if he had to. He might even take the leader’s wife for himself, showing everyone, “Look, I am better than him because I took his wife, and he did not stop me!”
This is what Ham was doing — he saw his chance when Noah was drunk, so he went and laid with Noah’s wife, his own mother, committing incest, which later on Moses very clearly points out is a terrible sin, inspired by God to write those laws down — laws which are still in force in most modern nations.
It is an absolutely disgusting thing even today, nobody in their right mind is going to do such a thing, other than those influenced by demons, and Ham did that because he wanted to take power and usurp authority.
If you look at King David now we see that had a son called Absalom, who was also very rebellious he wanted to take power before his due time. He wanted to take the throne away from his father, David. We can read about it in 2 Samuel 16:21–23, where it says that he went and had sex with his father’s concubines, on the advice of Ahithophel, in order to make his position much stronger.
This was usurping the power of his father. He wanted to take power away and show people that he was somehow better than the king, that he should be king because he had great confidence. He did it to make himself look strong and possibly to take the throne for himself as soon as possible. But, in the end, Absalom died because of his rebellion — God was not going to allow this usurper to be king in place of David.
Going back to the story about Ham, we see that Noah curses Canaan. That name actually means humiliation. When Moses was writing about this and he wrote that Noah cursed Canaan, that son was not actually born at that point. Because of what Ham did, he brought humiliation on himself and on the illegitimate son, born through incest and rebellion.
Moses was pointing out that Ham was the father of that man Canaan, especially as God had told the Israelites that when they entered the promised land they were to wipe out the Canaanites, as they were evil.
Obviously once Ham had raped his mother and Noah woke up and she woke up, Ham boasted about it to his brothers. No doubt when they went in and covered their naked mother, they told Noah what had happened. Then Noah cursed Ham’s unborn child because he knew this child was going to be born from an incestuous relationship. The child was going to be cursed because it was such a terrible thing that Ham did in the first place.
Noah there and then named the son Humiliation, because Ham had humiliated his own parents and brought humiliation to the whole family. So then of course he said Canaan be cursed, he will be a servant of servants to his brothers. That was just that one line of Ham’s descendants. Ham had other children by his lawful wife, and they went off to different places.
We see that the Canaanites were in the promised land before the Israelites came. They were all worshipping false gods and they had all kinds of sexual perversions — they were continuing like Ham had done to do things that were disgusting before God, which God forbade.
From Ham’s other sons, we see one son called Cush. No doubt his sons all knew what sin Ham had committed in his own family, and as we go through Ham’s family line, we see another man who appears to have committed the same sin.
We can read about him in Genesis 10:8–9 (NKJV):
“Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore it is said, ‘Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.’ ”
There is historical information that seems to suggest that Cush was the leader of a tribe, and Nimrod his son was in rebellion against Cush. Nimrod wanted to take control of the tribe, so he went and took his own mother, Semiramis. She was Cush’s wife, and Nimrod took her to be his own wife, and possibly killed Cush. We do not know exactly what happened, but it is the same kind of thing that his grandfather did. He followed in the pattern of his ancestor, thinking it was okay to go and have sex with your own mother and then be in charge of the tribe or family. That is the mindset of these people.
Anyone who is not following God could have a mindset like that — something so perverted and wrong and far from God that a person will end up going totally the wrong way.
Before Israel entered the promised land, God was going to send them in and Moses told them to go and kill this evil people, the Canaanites. Why does god say go and kill them all, even the women and the children? Because they were so incestuous and perverted and disgusting, that it was better for them to all be wiped out because what they were doing was just so disgusting to God. It was like what was happening before the Flood. God even told them to kill all the animals, suggesting that they had done disgusting things with animals, possibly breeding different types of animals with each other, which God forbids (see Leviticus 19:19).
We do not know exactly what happened but maybe a similar thing was happening before the Flood. Maybe Ham got the idea because people were doing that before the Flood even came. So then we see that the sin of Ham was really quite serious. It was really a terrible thing — he not only usurped his father Noah, he went against God, he raped his own mother, and he produced a son whose lineage was then cursed.
We need to learn from it and understand that we should not do anything as bad as what Ham did.
According to generally accepted ideas of skin colours of Noah and his sons and their wives, some people have used the curse Noah placed on Canaan to say that all the dark brown-skinned people are under a curse. But is this true?
Assuming that Noah was pink, and his wife, and that his sons were, and that Shem married a pink woman, Japheth married a yellow woman, and Ham married a brown woman, how could all the brown people be cursed, when Noah only cursed Canaan, whose parents were both pink?
Looking at history, at all colours, tribes, nations, etc., we see examples of slavery in all of them. We see people being cursed, and some being blessed, regardless of skin colours. The Canaanites were cursed because of how Canaan was conceived, and because his descendants refused to obey God, which Noah was inspired to see in advance and thus place the curse on him.
So when we look at the passage in Genesis 9 regarding Noah and Ham, it is not just that Ham saw nakedness and that was it, it was something really disgusting that happened so we need to understand that. We need to remember what Moses wrote elsewhere, which clearly shows that uncovering a man’s nakedness means to have sex with that man’s wife — it is not referring to having sex with the man nor just making someone naked.
When you get a difficult scripture you need look elsewhere in the Bible and when you see the same terminology being used and see if that then interprets the part that is hard to understand.
Hopefully we can learn from that and we can learn what the sin of Ham really was and understand that God wants us to be pure and perfect. And to understand about usurping authority. We have to be careful we do not usurp authority, especially the authority of God, and to always remain humble rather than being humiliated.