The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/ LDS/ Mormons | Blacks and the Priesthood Ban: Noah, Ham, and the Priesthood Curse–What Really Happened?
In the Bible we read of the story of Noah and Ham, and Canaan’s priesthood curse:
18 ¶And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.
19 These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.
20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.
24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
26 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
Because of Ham’s telling his brothers that his father was naked, Canaan, the son of Ham, was cursed with no priesthood. What?? Why?
What did Ham really do? Why didn’t Noah curse Ham instead of his son? Are the children punished for the sins of their fathers? Is there more to this story?
Sure, it’s simply possible that Ham didn’t just tell his brothers, but perhaps mocked Noah, or such.
Now, here are two other chapters in the Old Testament dealing with “nakedness”:
6 ¶None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the Lord.
7 The nakedness of thy father, or the nakedness of thy mother, shalt thou not uncover: she is thy mother; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
8 The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father’s nakedness.
15 Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy daughter in law: she is thy son’s wife; thou shalt not uncover her nakedness.
19 Also thou shalt not approach unto a woman to uncover her nakedness, as long as she is put apart for her uncleanness.
20 Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour’s wife, to defile thyself with her.
10 ¶And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.
11 And the man that lieth with his father’s wife hath uncovered his father’s nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
12 And if a man lie with his daughter in law, both of them shall surely be put to death: they have wrought confusion; their blood shall be upon them.
18 And if a man shall lie with a woman having her sickness, and shall uncover her nakedness; he hath discovered her fountain, and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood: and both of them shall be cut off from among their people.
In light of these Leviticus verses, I wonder, was there something sexual that was done? Was there something similar to Lot being drunk and his daughters taking advantage of that in a wicked way (Genesis 19)?
(Note: only Canaan was cursed, not the other sons of Ham and his wife.)
And if so: was it really Noah, or Noah’s wife? (See Leviticus 20:11 above.)
Was it really Ham, or Ham’s wife?
Did Ham, worried or mad about his father’s attitude towards his wife, seeing his father drunk, send his wife in to have sexual relations with him, and bear Noah’s fifth child? Would Noah dare refuse to give the priesthood to this son?
We read that eight specific people were saved on the ark (in other words, nothing about any of Noah’s grandchildren having been born yet); that this wicked act occurred at least a few years (if not more) after the Flood; and that Canaan is Ham’s fourth and last child.
Also, though it seems he said those things immediately afterward, it’s possible that he said them much later, just that they were connected.
If the child that came from this act, Noah’s son, were Canaan, is that why he specifically was cursed by Noah to not have the priesthood?
Or did Ham or Canaan have illicit relations with Noah?
Or was Canaan already grown, and Canaan was already sexually deviant like his dad, and that’s why he was cursed?
Or is there something even greater—before, or after—that added to this event, and effected the curse? Had something already happened between Noah and Ham, perhaps regarding his marriage to someone outside-the-covenant, and this was Ham’s retribution or revenge?
My best speculation: It is possible that the curse and mark of Cain were “supposed to” be passed on to Ham’s children through his wife, but that Noah took them away from Ham’s children; but after the incident, the curse was returned to and added upon Ham’s last child, Canaan, possibly for a part–directly or indirectly–that he had in the incident. In other words, “How could a redeemed son of God commit such a dirty and in-the-face sin toward one who had originally helped redeem and blessed him greatly?” And thus Canaan fell back under the original curse, and more.
Hugh Nibley’s comment, quoted in the Old Testament Institute Manual:
“(4-20) Genesis 9:20–27. Why Did Noah Curse Canaan in This Event When He Was Not Even Present?
The account of Noah’s “nakedness” and the role his sons played in the event is a puzzling one, especially the part in which Noah awakens and pronounces a curse upon Canaan, the son of Ham (see Genesis 10:6), who does not even seem to be present at the time.
Hugh Nibley discussed some of these ancient writings and their implications for the passage in Genesis:
“Incidentally the story of the stolen garment as told by the rabbis, including the great Eleazer, calls for an entirely different rendering of the strange story in Genesis  from the version in our King James Bible. They seemed to think that the ’erwath of Genesis [9:22] did not mean ‘nakedness’ at all, but should be given its primary root meaning of ‘skin covering.’ Read thus, we are to understand that Ham
took the garment of his father while he was sleeping and showed it to his brethren, Shem and Japheth, who took a pattern or copy of it (salmah) or else a woven garment like it (simlah) which they put upon their own shoulders, returning the skin garment to their father. Upon awaking, Noah recognized the priesthood of two sons but cursed the son who tried to rob him of his garment.” (Lehi in the Desert and the World of Jaredites, pp. 160–62.)
Therefore, although Ham himself had the right to the priesthood, Canaan, his son, did not. Ham had married Egyptus, a descendant of Cain (Abraham 1:21–24), and so his sons were denied the priesthood.”
(It seems that last sentence is incorrect: as far as we know, Canaan was cursed, but not his three older brothers.)
After writing this, I searched on the internet, and there are many sites with similar possible insights and explanations, such as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curse_of_Ham. I encourage anyone interested to do their own searches. I did not find anything like the last paragraph, however.