On Noah’s Curse

After the great deluge had receded, Noah became a farmer and  also made wine. This delicious product had to be sampled once in a while, and overdoing the sampling can make one drunk. So, there he was lying in his tent, intoxicated, naked and fast asleep, when his son, poor Ham, happened upon him  incidentally, or perhaps even by God’s will. Obviously back in those days, it was an unforgivable transgression to see one’s father’s bareness. So, Ham reports to his brothers Shem and Japheth about their old man’s circumstances. And these two guys mercifully remedy the situation in their way. They approach Noah walking backwards, and they cover him with a piece of cloth.

The next day when Noah had sobered up and learned about his misadventure, he cursed Ham, oops, excuse me, rather Ham’s son Canaan, the patriarch of the Canaanites, with a horrible consequence: in eternity will he (they) be the servant(s) of Shem and Japheth.

The revealed word of God? No, thank you!

Interpretation: Bible scholars suggest that after their return from the Babylonian captivity in the sixth century BC, simultaneously with reconstructing the Jewish state and writing down the Torah for the first time, a state doctrine was to be developed. Among other things,the terrible cruelties committed during the conquest of the ”Promised Land” under Joshua, the judges and the kings had to be justified: Noah’s curse was only one of many fiats and orders God Yahweh visited on the Israelites. These poor wretches had no choice but to obey Yahweh’s will if they did not want to fall victim to his wrath. Thus to eradicate or enslave the Canaanites was by no means a despicable war crime, rather it was the heroic execution of God’s will. – And to add on a cynical accent, even today, there are fundamentalist television – evangelists, particularly in the Bible belt states, who do not shy away from justifying the enslavement of the Afro – Americans with the alleged fact that Ham was the forefather of the Black Africans. 

In addition to the moral grounds, for instance Noah’s (God’s?) curse on the totally innocent Canaan, there is enough evidence to say that the story of Noah’s ark was not derived from divine sources. Technically contemplated, it is extremely unlikely, that the entire fauna of the Earth could have found shelter in the floating abode, including the fodder for the approximately 200 days they had to stay there. Also, that Noah was able to build such a huge ship in the available time span is very hard to imagine, not to question the mere act in the first place. And if he had supernatural, divine assistance, that very fact would have been mentioned in the biblical text for sure.

The dimensions of the Ark are stated in cubits: length 300, width 50, height 30. With the average cubit’s metric equivalent assumed at 0.5 meter, its overall volume amounts to 56250 cubic meters. Furthermore if we guessed that the draught was about half the height, then we would have to imagine a stately ocean liner of  28000 tons displacement, about half the size of the ill-fated Titanic. There are people who believe in the literary authenticity of all biblical texts and driven by this conviction, they calculate mathematically that all the animals found sufficient space for their accommodation in Noah’s Ark, which we can leave undecided. But that Noah was able to gather all those animals and birds within seven days, according to Genesis 7, verses 4 & 10, nobody with common sense can take seriously. All the fleets in our modern days combined could not accomplish this master piece of logistics in such a short period of time, if at all. Think about the marsupials of Australia, the sloths, Jaguars, monkeys and snakes from Amazonia, the polar bears and moose in the arctic, the elephants, zebras, lions and ostriches from Africa, the tigers, wolves, camels and cobras in Asia, not to mention any flying birds. Even if the dry earth had been one vast, coherent continent (Pangaea was gone 100 Million years before), all the wildlife catchers and animal haulers of our modern world would not be able to pull off this feat. And the biblical text does not suggest any divine, supernatural intervention. But these “gaps” do not compromise the faith of the word for word believers. They can be filled with the necessary assumptions, i.e. God took care of the logistics; all it takes is humility and good will. 

It is so simple and marvelous!

More articles by:

March 21, 2019
Daniel Warner
And Now Algeria
Renee Parsons
The Supreme Court and Dual Citizenship
Eric Draitser
On Ilhan Omar, Assad Fetishism, and the Danger of Red-Brown “Anti-Imperialism”
Elizabeth Keyes
Broadway’s “Hamilton” and the Willing Suspension of Reality-Based Moral Consciousness
David Underhill
Optional Fatherhood Liberates Christians From Abortion Jihad
Nick Pemberton
Is Kamala Harris the Centrist We Need?
Dean Baker
The Wall Street Bailouts, Bernie and the Washington Post
Russell Mokhiber
The Boeing Blackout
William Astore
America’s Senior Generals Find No Exits From Endless War
Jeff Hauser – Eleanor Eagan
Boeing Debacle Shows Need to Investigate Trump-era Corruption
Ramzy Baroud
Uniting Fatah, Not Palestinians: The Dubious Role of Mohammed Shtayyeh
Nick Licata
All Southern States are Not the Same: Mississippi’s Challenge
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Sly Encouragement of Lawless Violence
Cesar Chelala
Public Health Challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean
March 20, 2019
T.J. Coles
Countdown to “Full Spectrum Dominance”
W. T. Whitney
Re-Targeting Cuba: Why Title III of U.S. Helms-Burton Act will be a Horror Show
Kenneth Surin
Ukania’s Great Privatization Heist
Howard Lisnoff
“Say It Ain’t So, Joe:” the Latest Neoliberal from the War and Wall Street Party
Walter Clemens
Jailed Birds of a Feather May Sing Together
George Ochenski
Failing Students on Climate Change
Cesar Chelala
The Sweet Smell of Madeleine
Binoy Kampmark
Global Kids Strike
Nicky Reid
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?: Requiem for a Fictional Party
Elliot Sperber
Empedocles and You and Me 
March 19, 2019
Paul Street
Socialism Curiously Trumps Fascism in U.S. Political Threat Reporting
Jonah Raskin
Guy Standing on Anxiety, Anger and Alienation: an Interview About “The Precariat”
Patrick Cockburn
The Brutal Legacy of Bloody Sunday is a Powerful Warning to Those Hoping to Save Brexit
Robert Fisk
Turning Algeria Into a Necrocracy
John Steppling
Day of Wrath
Robin Philpot
Truth, Freedom and Peace Will Prevail in Rwanda
Victor Grossman
Women Marchers and Absentees
Binoy Kampmark
The Dangers of Values: Brenton Tarrant, Fraser Anning and the Christchurch Shootings
Jeff Sher
Let Big Pharma Build the Wall
Jimmy Centeno
Venezuela Beneath the Skin of Imperialism
Jeffrey Sommers – Christopher Fons
Scott Walker’s Failure, Progressive Wisconsin’s Win: Milwaukee’s 2020 Democratic Party Convention
Steve Early
Time for Change at NewsGuild?
March 18, 2019
Scott Poynting
Terrorism Has No Religion
Ipek S. Burnett
Black Lives on Trial
John Feffer
The World’s Most Dangerous Divide
Paul Cochrane
On the Ground in Venezuela vs. the Media Spectacle
Dean Baker
The Fed and the 3.8 Percent Unemployment Rate
Thomas Knapp
Social Media Companies “Struggle” to Help Censors Keep us in the Dark
Binoy Kampmark
Death in New Zealand: The Christchurch Shootings
Mark Weisbrot
The Reality Behind Trump’s Venezuela Regime Change Coalition
Weekend Edition
March 15, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
Is Ilhan Omar Wrong…About Anything?