IS THE BIBLE AGAINST HOMOSEXUALITY?
A scholarly response on what the Hebrew and Aramaic Bible says concerning LGBTI people.
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20. Canaan's Iniquity and Ḥam's Sin!
THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED BASED ON ALL OF THE DATA THAT I HAVE STUDIED:
- "And Noaḥ began [to be] a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. And he drank of the wine, and became drunk, and he was uncovered within his tent." (Gen. 9:20-21). - "And he rejoiced and drank of this wine, he and his children, with great joy. And it became evening and he entered into his tent. He laid down intoxicated (drunk) and he slept. And he was uncovered in his sleep (while he slept) in the midst of his tent." (Jubilees 7:8-9) Cenaan uncovered his grandfather Noaḥ while he was drunk and passed out. We don't know the specifics of how he did that but if Noaḥ had stripped down to just a loin cloth, then that would have been an easy feat. Cenaan could have also cut through Noaḥ's tunic or maybe disrobed him since he was inebriated. I believe Cenaan did this instead of his father Ḥam because Noaḥ cursed Cenaan specifically - the culprit. Cenaan would have uncovered his grandpa and also seen him naked. Ḥam only saw his father Noaḥ naked and a curse wasn't put on him. So an accidental seeing wasn't the problem. The problem was that Noaḥ was dishonored by being disrobed and possibly disrespected and mocked. Then the incident was published about. That was a big deal back then for the ruler of the family. A father's honor was his children's honor and his shame was their shame.
- "And Ḥam, the father of Canaan (Cenaan), saw the nakedness of (er-vath) his father, and he told his two brothers outside." (Gen. 9:22)- " Ḥam saw his father Noaḥ naked (a-rum); and he went out and told his two brothers outside." (Jubilees 7:10) We see from Jubilees that when Ḥam saw the nakedness of his father; those words are to be taken literally. They are not a figure of speech for him sleeping with his mother. Ḥam didn't need his brothers to cover up his father. He could have done that himself. It seems like he was either laughing (or was disgusted) and went and told his two brothers. Ḥam could have also just walked out of the tent and acted like he never saw anything and not told his two brothers about the incident. He could have also disciplined his son Cenaan and told him to go cover up Noaḥ, not do that deed again and not to speak of that act to anyone. All of that and maybe more was Ḥam's sin. (Jub. 22:28-29) says: "For on account of the sin of Ḥam, and on account of the iniquity of Cenaan, all his seed (descendants), and all his remnant, and the residue of the survivor (escaped one), shall be annihilated* (destroyed). ..."
* The verb root SHA-MAD is in the Niphal imperfect conjugation in Shlomoh Rabin's Translation. YISH-SHA-MED means: "shall be exterminated." That conjugation also matches R.H. Charles' English Translation of the Ethiopic text. However, the Hebrew text on sefaria.org and he.wikisource.org have an extra letter between the "Y" and the "SH" letters. The letter VAV shouldn't be there.
- "But Shem and Yepheth (Japheth) took the garment (ha-sim-lah), and they caused [it] to be placed on the shoulder of both of them, and they went backwards (backwardly) and covered the nakedness of their father. ..." (Gen. 9:23). - "But Shem took his garment and arose, and he and Yepheth removed his garment (sim-la-tho) from on their shoulder, [their] faces turned away, and they covered the nakedness of their father ..." (Jubilees 7:11) We are told from Jubilees that "the garment" that covered Noaḥ's nakedness was Shem's garment (clothing). The ha (the) does appear in the Hebrew text of Genesis but it is often not translated in English translations. - Interpreting the whole context literally as Ḥam SEEING Noaḥ's nakedness and the two brothers not trying to SEE his nakedness would make the literal meaning of them covering his nakedness also make sense versus them covering Noaḥ's wife's nakedness. She could have covered herself up after any consensual sex or rape. - "And Noaḥ recovered (sobered up) from his wine and he knew (realized, found out) what his youngest grandson did to him." (Gen. 9:24).- "And Noaḥ awoke from his sleep and he knew (perceived) everything which his youngest grandson did to him." (Jubilees 7:12). The Hebrew word ben "son" can also refer to a "grandson," which I believe is the case here. Context determined that. Cenaan committed the deed and is also the grandson (i.e. son) which Noaḥ curses in the next verse. A person curses the offender(s) everywhere in the Bible. Notice that Jubilees says that Noaḥ knew everything which his youngest grandson did to him. The word everything isn't in the Genesis account but is part of this story. This leads me to believe that Cenaan didn't just uncover Noaḥ and see him naked. He likely reviled or mocked him also. I'll explain later how I reached that conclusion but it is possible that Cenaan saw that righteous Noaḥ was drunk and uncovered him to shame him for his sin. We see this type of shaming for sin in the Bible elsewhere. (Rev. 16:15) says this: "Behold, I shall be coming like a thief. Blessed is he who is awake (watchful) and keeps his garments, so that he shall not walk naked and they shall see his shame (genitals)." - Soldiers were suppose to stay awake during their shift to watch. If they fell asleep, then they were shamed by being uncovered.
- 'And he said: "Cursed [be] Cenaan. He shall be a servant of (among) servants to his brethren (relatives).' (Genesis 9:25)- 'And he reviled (cursed) his grandson and said: "Cursed [be] Cenaan. He shall be a servant of (among) servants to his brethren (relatives).' (Jubilees 7:13) The Hebrew word vay-qal-lel in Jubilees means: "& he reviled, cursed, made contemptible, treated with contempt." It isn't found in the Genesis account. This word leads me to believe that Cenaan and possibly Ḥam did the same thing to Noaḥ. Usually a person reviles the person who reviled him. God said this: "I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you ..." (Compare: Gen. 12:3; Jub. 12:28; 31:33).
- "And he said: "Blessed [be] YHWH, the God of Shem, and Cenaan became his (or their) servant. God enlarged (made wide) Yepheth and He dwelt in the tents of Shem; and Cenaan was (became) his (or their) servant." ' (Genesis 9:26-27) - "And he blessed Shem: "Blessed [be] YHWH, the God of Shem, and Cenaan became his servant. And God enlarged (made wide) Yepheth and God dwelt in the tents of Shem; and Cenaan was his servant." ' (Jubilees 7:14-15) The Hebrew text literally says ".. and Cenaan became (was) a servant to him (or to them)" [2x]. The Hebrew word la-mo can be plural or singular; especially when a person's name can represent the individual and his descendants. Thus it can mean "to him (his)" or "to him or them (his or their)." The "m" represents "them" while the "o" represents "him." Technically and specifically, lo means "to him" and lahem means "to them." However, the "m" is also in the word bam "them;" which follows certain verbs. Lastly, La-mo is sometimes translated as "to them" and "to him (it)" in the Aramaic and Greek translations. Jubilees has the word lo "to him (his)" [2x] in both of those places. It's okay to narrate this same story that way since Shem and Yepheth are both singular nouns. No information is lost or changed. A reader could also understand those names as also referring to their descendants; even with the singular "his (its)" pronoun. Jubilees lets us know that it is actually He [God], that dwelt in the tents of Shem. That idea isn't totally foreign to the Hebrew Bible. God said this: "Let them make Me a sanctuary and I shall dwell in the midst of (be-toch) them." (Ex. 25:8). Be-toch is often used as a alternate word for be in same statements. Their meaning is close enough to label them as synonyms. The sanctuary was actually a tent back then. See also (Ex. 29:45-46; 40:35; Num. 5:3; etc.) Thus the latter statement doesn't say: "and he [Yepheth] dwelt in (be) the tents of Shem ... - Yepheth (Japheth) was already living (dwelling) in his upper territory when the ark rested on the mountains of Ararat, in modern day Turkey. So, since Noaḥ spoke in the past tense, he could not have meant that Yepheth dwelt in Shem's tents or territory right then. It could have happened later though, since his descendants were Madai (Media), and Jubilees states that Madai later requested to dwell in Shem's territory (Jub. 10:50-51). To get that point across, most English translations have mistranslated these verses in the future. - Shem and Ḥam both had to travel downward to their territories. Cenaan could in fact have served his brothers during Noaḥ lifetime and maybe later; since he was in between them all. Noaḥ could have both cursed Cenaan and blessed him. Cenaan may have been designated to serve Shem and Yepheth plus subsequently YHWH God.
"And Ḥam knew that his father reviled (cursed) his son and he parted (separated, severed) from his father. He and his sons with him. [He parted] with Cush (Ethiopia) and Miẓrayim (Egypt) and Put (Libya or Axum) and Cenaan." (Jubilees 7:16) Apparently Ḥam couldn't have prevented the inevitable or the fulfillment of Noaḥ's words. Cenaan was given a land of inheritance in the south (Africa). However, he decided to dwell in Shem's territory instead. That went against his own father's and brothers' wishes and rebukes. He wouldn't listen to them (Jubilees 10:41-48). Note: Shem was the firstborn of Noaḥ (Jubilees 4:47; 10:20). The Bible also lists Noaḥ's sons in the same order (i.e. Shem, Ḥam, Yepheth), according to their birth at (Gen. 5:32; 6:10; 7:13; 9:18; 10:1; 1 Chron. 1:4). We also know Shem is the oldest because Shem is said to be the "OLDER brother of Yepheth (Japheth)" (Gen. 10:21). In Hebrew grammar, when a noun is in the construct state and has an adjective, the adjective is definite and comes after the following second noun. So the statement: "Shem ... the older brother of Yapheth" in correct Hebrew grammar would be worded as it is as: "Shem .. [the] brother of Yapheth, the older." The words "the older" describe "[the] brother [Shem]" not "Yapheth." Some examples of that grammatical rule are at: (Deut. 11:7; Jud. 1:13; 2:7; 3:9; 9:5; 2 Ki. 15:35; 2 Chron. 27:3; Neh. 3:30; Jer. 13:9; 36:10; Ezek. 10:19; 11:1; etc.). - Deut. 11:7 says: "... every great act of YHWH which He did." But in the Hebrew, that reads as: "...every act of YHWH, the great, which He did." Notice the statement isn't saying: "...every act of the great YHWH." - That's one example for you to visually see from my references; but the other citations follow the same guideline (rule). The Book of Jubilees got the birth order of Noaḥ's sons correct; according to the Bible. However, the Book of Jasher (Yashar), KJV, etc list Japheth as the oldest brother. They got that wrong from a misunderstanding of (Gen. 10:21). The author (or forger) of Jasher also got it wrong by listing "Ḥam" as the youngest son. That author thought that since Noaḥ cursed "his youngest son" (Gen. 9:24); that meant Ḥam was Noaḥ's youngest son. The problem with that logic is that the word qa-tan means: "younger, youngest, small, etc." If Noaḥ was referring to Ḥam, then that just means that the KJV mistranslated the word qa-tan as "youngest" when it should have been translated as "younger." The Bible is clear that Ḥam is the middle, and hence "younger" son.
Is the Bible Against Homosexuality? by Preacher Mattai © 2016. All rights reserved.