Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What Is the Sin of Ham?

Like many of us I usually remember Noah for building the Ark, and of course being the one chosen to survive the Great Flood. I also would remember him being drunk, because it was interesting to read of a man of God in that state. The one thing that never really stood out to me was the sin of Ham. Several commentators will refer back to rabbi saying that the sin of Ham was sexual in nature. That is a little hard to believe, the text does however say he saw his father’s “nakedness”. The Hebrew word being used here for “nakedness” is rwh, this word is used fifty-two times in the Old Testament, and 49 out of 52 it is translated nakedness, the other times it is translated indecency or naked. Two of the strongest views about this subject, or at least well argued were Bruce Waltke and John H. Walton.

Walton takes the stance that we can possibly infer from the text that Noah was not alone in his tent saying, “Since the “nakedness of the father” can include the nakedness of the mother and since the nakedness of the father is a euphemism for coitus (throughout Lev. 18 and 20), is it possible that both Noah and his wife have become drunk and, falling in to unconsciousness after intercourse, lie exposed in the tent?” (Walton 2001, 348) He also goes onto suggest that the sin of Ham is hinting at impregnating his mother.

I do believe that Bruce Waltke makes a much more believable point in saying, “His voyeurism, however, is of the worst sort. Voyeurism in general violates another’s dignity and robs that one of his or her instinctive desire for privacy and for propriety. It is a form of domination. Ham’s, however, is perverse, for his homosexual voyeurism. Worse yet, he dishonors his father, whom he should have revered in any case (Ex.21:15-17; Duet. 21:18-21; Mark 7:10), and then increases his dishonor by proclaiming it to others.” (Waltke 2001, 149)

Basically the sin of Ham was the dishonor of viewing his father naked and then trying to include his brothers in the same dishonor by telling them of the state of their father. Some commentators go onto say that the reason Noah curses Canaan is due to the perverse nature of Ham, and the Canaanite peoples adopted a similar attitude and lifestyle.

Waltke, Bruce K. Genesis- A Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001.

Walton, John H. The NIV Application Commentary on Genesis. Grand Rapids,MI: Zondervan, 2001.


A Brief Look at Melchizedek

If you are like me when you read this part of Genesis, you might say “Who in the world is Melchizedek?” There is no other mention of him in Genesis anywhere and he is only mentioned two more times in all of Scripture with those being Psalm 110:4; and Hebrews 7. We are not told much about him, but the controversy that surrounds him is very interesting, there are some people who will tell you he was just a man mentioned in passing or he was in fact Shem, others will say he was a Christophany, and lastly some will say that he was a foreshadow of the coming Christ.

Let us take a closer look at this man, his name Melchizedek means “righteous king”. He was not only the king of Salem (which means peace), he was also a priest of the Most High God. Now concerning Salem most commentators agree that it was probably ancient Jerusalem.

Pastor John MacArthur says this about Melchizedek, “The lack of biographical and genealogical particulars for this ruler, whose name meant “righteous king” and who was a king-priest over ancient Jerusalem, allowed for later revelation to use him as a type of Christ (cf. Ps 110:4, Heb7:17,21)… The use of El Elyon (Sovereign Lord) for God’s name indicated that Melchizedek, who used the title two times (vv. 18,19), worshiped, served, and represented no Canaanite deity, but the same one whom Abram called Yahweh El Elyon (v. 22)” (MacArthur 2005, 34) Pastor MacArthur makes some very valid points, ones which are hard to argue against. He also mentions how Melchizedek was probably a greater figure in that time than Abram himself.

John Walton in his commentary on Genesis takes a very firm stance, pointing out, “In the Talmud (b. Ned. 32b) and Targum Neofiti, Melchizedek is identified as Shem.” In support of his views of the king of Salem, Walton goes on to say, “The author of Hebrews is not drawing his information on Melchizedek solely from the Old Testament; he is also interacting with the traditions known to his audience. … As a result there is nothing in Hebrews or anywhere else to suggest that we need to believe that Melchizedek was anything other than the Canaanite king he is depicted as in Genesis 14.” (Walton 2001, 426-27) Walton makes his point rather clear that he believes that Melchizedek was nothing more than a regular king with whom Abram ate a meal.

Warren Wiersbe also speaks of Melchizedek’s Christ likeness, saying, “Hebrews 7 and Psalm 110 both connect Melchizedek with Jesus Christ, the “King of peace” and the “King of righteousness” (85:10). Like Melchizedek in Abraham’s day, Jesus Christ is our King-Priest in heaven, enabling us to enjoy righteousness and peace as we serve Him (Isa.32:17; Heb 12:11). Certainly we can see in the bread and wine a reminder of our Lord’s death for us on the cross.” (Wiersbe 2007, 65)

Throughout all of my readings the best conclusion that I can come to is that Melchizedek was a great king and priest who loved and served the Lord (El Elyon). John MacArthur and Warren Wiersbe have the strongest points, in believing that he was more than a mere earthly king but an allusion to the coming Christ. The largest support for this view is found in Hebrews 7, showing how Christ is in the line and a greater Melchizedek.

MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Bible Commentary. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2005.

Walton, John H. The NIV Application Commentary on Genesis. Grand Rapids,MI: Zondervan, 2001.

Wiersbe, Warren W. The Wiersbe Bible Commentary. Colorado Springs,CO: David C. Cook, 2007.