Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Noe's Nakedness & Curse of Canaan (1)

We at ABE Ministry decided to devote a post to this topic because it arose as a question in the comment section of this Crummy Blog.

Let's get right to it...Genesis 9:20-27

20 And Noe a husbandman began to till the ground, and planted a vineyard.
21 And drinking of the wine was made drunk, and was uncovered in his tent.
22 Which when Cham the father of Chanaan had seen, to wit, that his father's nakedness was uncovered, he told it to his two brethren without.
23 But Sem and Japheth put a cloak upon their shoulders, and going backward, covered the nakedness of their father: and their faces were turned away, and they saw not their father's nakedness.
24 And Noe awaking from the wine, when he had learned what his younger son had done to him,
25 He said: Cursed be Chanaan, a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
26 And he said: Blessed be the Lord God of Sem, be Chanaan his servant.
27 May God enlarge Japheth, and may he dwell in the tents of Sem, and Chanaan be his servant.

A Catholic Bible commentary compiled by the late Rev. Fr. George Leo Haydock, following the Douay-Rheims Bible.

Ver. 20. A husbandman. Hebrew, literally "a man of the earth." (Haydock) --- To till, perhaps with a plough, which he is said to have invented. (Menochius)
Ver. 21. Drunk. Noe by the judgment of the fathers was not guilty of sin, in being overcome by wine; because he knew not the strength of it. (Challoner) --- Wine, Though vines had grown from the beginning, the art of making wine seems not to have been discovered; and hence Noe's fault is much extenuated, and was at most only a venial sin. (Menochius) --- His nakedness prefigured the desolate condition of Christ upon the cross, which was a scandal to the Jews, and foolishness to the Gentiles. But by this folly we are made wise; we are redeemed, and enjoy the name of Christians. Sem and Japheth represent the multitude of believers, Cham and Chanaan the audacity and impudence of all unbelievers. (St. Augustine, contra Faust. xii. 24; City of God xvi. 2; St. Cyprian, ep. 63.[62.?] ad Cæcil.) (Worthington) --- Like the Manichees, modern heretics are very free in condemning many innocent actions of the Patriarchs. (Haydock)
Ver. 23. Neither ought we to be so quick-sighted in discovering the faults of any: which we often represent as real, when they are only apparent. (Haydock)
Ver. 25. Cursed be Chanaan. The curses, as well as the blessings, of the patriarchs were prophetical: and this in particular is here recorded by Moses, for the children of Israel, who were to possess the land of Chanaan. But why should Chanaan be cursed for his father's fault? The Hebrews answer, that he being then a boy was the first that saw his grandfather's nakedness, and told his father Cham of it; and joined with him in laughing at it: which drew upon him, rather than upon the rest of the children of Cham, this prophetical curse. (Challoner) --- Theodoret, q. 57. The children of Sem executed this sentence, in exterminating many of the Chanaanites under Josue. (Worthington) --- They perished for their own wickedness, which God foresaw, and revealed to Noe. Cham was severely punished by this denunciation of his children's misery. See Milton, xi. 754. xii. 27; Deuteronomy ix. 4. (Haydock)
Ver. 27. Enlarge Japheth. His name signifies latitude or enlargement. (Worthington) --- May he, God, according to some; but more probably Japheth, of whom the rest of the sentence speaks. (Haydock) --- This was verified by the extensive dominion of the children of Japheth, both in the islands and on the continent; more particularly, when the Romans subdued the Jews, and posterity of Sem. (Menochius) --- Referring all this to the Church, the Gentiles entered in, upon the refusal of the Jews, though preachers of that nation were the instruments of their conversion. Chanaan, in the mean time, cherished his slavery, and seeks not to obtain the liberty and glory of the sons of God, in which he is a figure of heretics, (Haydock) who serve to make Christians more upon their guard, and by persecuting them, exercise their patience and increase their crown. (Worthington)

And then ABE Ministry decided to do some checking around because, it was claimed, Dr. Hahn's exegesis was logical whereas Fr. Haydock's presumably was not.

Here is what ABE Ministry located at Dr Hahn's collection of articles ...






We invite you to read it before proceeding... 

OK. Were you surprised at all to discover the absence of any reference to Douay Rheims and the notes assembled by Rev Haydock?

Messrs Bergsma and Hahn aver;

Exegetes since antiquity have identified Ham’s deed as either voyeurism, castration, or paternal incest.  

And they proceed to eliminate all (well, not all as we shall see) but incest.

Were you at all surprised to see no reference to, say, The Catholic Encyclopedia?


(A.V. Ham). Son of Noah and progenitor of one of the three great races of men whose ethnographical table is given by Genesis 10. Wherever the three sons of Noah are enumerated in the Bible, Cham is placed between Sem and Japhet. We may gather, however, from Genesis 9:24 that this enumeration is not based on their age, since Cham is there spoken of as the "younger son" of Noah, as compared, apparently, with both his brothers. The only incident of the life of Cham after the deluge, which is recorded in the Bible, is that related in Genesis 9:21-24. Cham sees his father under the influence ofwine lying naked in his tent. He tells his brothers, who respectfully cover the patriarch. The sequel makes it plain that Cham was, on this occasion, guilty of great irreverence. For when Noah hears of the conduct of his sons he blesses Shem and Japhet, with their posterity, and he pronounces a curse, not on Cham, but on his son Chanaan and his descendants, predicting that they will be the servants of their bretheren. (For a fuller treatment of this point see ChanaanChanaanites.)

The Chamites

The natives and tribes which descent from Cham are enumerated in Genesis 10:6-20. They are divided into four great families: Chus, Mesram, Phuth, and Chanaan. The Cushites are found in the valleys of the Euphrates and Tigris, in Arabia, and also in Africa. Mesram is Egypt. Phuth, less known, seems to have occupied regions west of Egypt, particularly Libya. Chanaan comprised the numerous tribes whose country was subsequently occupied by Israel. The Chamites were, consequently, spread over an immense extent of territory. They founded the greatest empires of antiquity, Assyria,BabyloniaEgyptPhoenicia. In Asia they were early replaced or subjugated by Semites. In Africathey have been likewise overcome, in the course of time, by the races of Sem and Japhet. This subjection has meant, in general, the triumph of a higher civilization, purer morals, and a more spiritual religion. (See Lenormant, "Hist. ancienne de l'Orient", I, 96 sq.)

Well, the two authors did not rule-out this as orthodox exegesis and for good reason; they never even addressed it as a possibility even though the two sources I cited are well known among older Christian Catholics.

Is it possible that the two experts were ignorant of the Douay Rheims notes and the Catholic Encyclopedia entry?

It would seem so. 

In a follow-up post, ABE Ministry will copy and paste from the work of a monumental Catholic Genius and a Doctor of the Church and whose exegesis of this event they must also be ignorant of.

Strange days indeed.

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