Noah is arguably the first hero to those who observe Judeo-Christian traditions.
When the descendants of Adam and Eve slid down that slippery slope of wickedness, God found favour in Noah.
From Genesis Chapter 6 (New Revised Standard Version) :
5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. 6And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7So the Lord said, ‘I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created — people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.’ 8But Noah found favour in the sight of the Lord.
Most people know what happened next. God told Noah that he planned to destroy everyone on earth. He then gave Noah instructions on how to build an ark, told him to fill it with his family and a pair of every animal on the planet, and then made it rain for forty days and forty nights.
“And the waters swelled for one hundred fifty days… At the end of one hundred fifty days the waters had abated; and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.”
Everyone and everything come out of the ark, Noah builds an alter and sacrifices some animals, and God makes a rainbow.
Here’s Where It Gets Weird
From Genesis Chapter 9:
20 Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. 21He drank some of the wine and became drunk, and he lay uncovered in his tent.
This is a detail that most children from Christian homes won’t remember from Sunday school.
It gets weirder…
22And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. 23Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backwards and covered the nakedness of their father; their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25he said,
‘Cursed be Canaan;
lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers.’
26He also said,
‘Blessed by the Lord my God be Shem;
and let Canaan be his slave.
27 May God make space for* Japheth,
and let him live in the tents of Shem;
and let Canaan be his slave.’
This is truly one of the oddest stories in the Bible. There obviously are a lot of details that have been excluded.
The New Oxford Annotated Bible offers some annotations based on hundreds of years of scholarly research.
22-23: Some have speculated that Ham had sex with his father, since nakedness refers to incestuous behaviour in Lev. 20.17. Nevertheless, a more common expression for sexual intercourse in Leviticus is “uncover nakedness” (e.g., 18.6, 20.18) or “lie with” (e.g., 20.11-12). Moreover, the description of Ham’s brothers’ contrasting behaviour in v. 23 (their faces were turned away) makes clear that the problem with Ham’s behaviour was that he did not look away.
The annotations note that passing out naked was not uncommon in the old days.
In the ancient Near East, sons were expected to protect the honour of their father through caring for him when he was drunk (with no negative judgment being attached to getting drunk). Ham here does the opposite, both looking upon his father naked and telling his brothers about it. Such behaviour is an example of the same kind of breakdown of family relationships that was seen in ch 3 (see 3.8-13, 16-19n.) and ch 4 (see 4.1-15n.).
Volumes have been written about this. But we’ll leave it at that.
Anyways, Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah” opens today.
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