Cover the Shem!
20 Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded[a] to plant a vineyard. 21 When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked.
24 When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said,
“Cursed be Canaan!
The lowest of slaves
will he be to his brothers.”
26 He also said,
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Shem!
May Canaan be the slave of Shem.
27 May God extend Japheth’s[b] territory;
may Japheth live in the tents of Shem,
and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.”
The story is well known and well played out in the Bible. Noah plants a vineyard (must have been a good one!), harvests from it and makes wine (must have been very good wine!), drinks it on his own and shamelessly gets drunk to the point of copying and pasting his ancestor Adam’s image before sin (nakedness). He crawls, or rolls, into his tent and possibly sleeps till afternoon the next day.
Out of possible concern, Ham goes to check on his father and finds him still in an alcohol induced comatose state and the brother goes out, narrates the story to the siblings and possibly goes elsewhere to tell the story, and he got cursed for it.
For many years I failed to see the offence Ham committed. I furiously rebutted the guilt until the aspect of covering the shame hit me today. Ham was shamelessly guilty!
- It was not Ham’s fault that Noah got drunk
- It was not his faut that Noah lost sense of decorum
- It was not his fault that he walked into his father’s tent
- It was not his fault that he saw his father’s nakedness
All these aspects speak to things that were not his fault in the whole episode, but Ham missed the critical point, that is, what he did the moment he walked in on his father’s compromised stature.
- Ham chose to walk out. Big mistake. He made no effort to address the anomaly. He became the media that will record a disaster unfolding and go on to broadcast it – no remedial action taken!
- Ham chose to broadcast the shame. He did not seek to get help to correct the anomaly but chose to publish it, possibly out of glee.
- Ham did not seek to be part of the solution because even when the brothers walked in reverse to cover their still drunk and comatose father, there is no record of him being there.
So, when Noah finally came to and found himself under the cover of a garment not belonging to his closet, his sought an explanation and he meted out the curses and blessings.
The lesson from this is that the best way of helping someone is taking positive action, holding their hand, salving their wound and covering their shame. Many persons have been mortally wounded because of Ham characters who walked into their naked moments and made sure the world knew, without even trying to restore the modesty of the exposed persons.
In the military, the unwritten code is that we leave no one behind, whether wounded or dead (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15027570410006228#:~:text=Many%20military%20organizations%20use%20the%20code%2C%20%E2%80%98Leave%20no,behind%E2%80%94alive%20or%20dead%2C%20they%20will%20be%20brought%20home). The mantra shows that even at the moment of frailty, the standing comrade’s cover might be the difference between death and life for the wounded soldier.
If we are going to heal our society, families, and relationships, we need not bail out of the Noah tent without trying to remedy the nakedness. Rather be accused of trying and failing, than for failing to act.
We need to broadcast less and carry the salving box more. That way we will have more healed souls than curse laden characters ready to curse everyone in their way.
And lastly, it is not the drunken state and shame of the society that should be walked away from and broadcast. It is the unction to cover shame and redeem each other that should be preoccupy us.
Cover the Shem! (Read shame) and do no Ham! (read harm).