The Abomination to Uncover the Nakedness of the Father
YHVH prohibits that no one is to uncover someone else’s nakedness and more particularly the nakedness of the father and mother. This strict prohibition is included in the long list of sexual immoralities such as incest, adultery, fornication, rape, homosexual relations, and bestiality, which are explicitly forbidden in the Torah.
Adultery and fornication of both man and woman are against the sacredness of marriage as the Creator’s given appointment for the propagation of the human race. And although it is addressed primarily to the man and to the whole nation of Israel, it applies equally to the woman as to the man.
The family is the building block of human society, whereas the Torah is the foundation of it. The proper sexuality is the source of life and nothing is more intimate than the sexual act between a husband and a wife. When abused, nothing can be more degrading and destructive to the human soul, family, and society.
When the family is broken by degrading a person in the abomination of sexual immorality, the society will break too.
The sexual abominations according to the Torah
The moral laws in the Torah against the sexual immorality begin in Lev 18:2-5 with the prohibition of sexual abominations and with a straightforward warning to the children of Israel not to walk in the laws of the Egyptians and Kanaanites, but to walk in the laws of YHVH by which they should live.
YHVH pointed expressly that He had visited the nations in the land of Kanaan and found their iniquity intolerable because they had defiled the land by sexual perversions. He warned His children, the native and stranger who lives among them, that unless they adhere to the Torah He would drive them out, as He was about to drive out the Kanaanites before them that His Land would be defiled no more by sexual abominations.
And YHVH said,
So let not the land vomit you out for defiling it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you. For whoever does any of these abominations, those beings who do them shall be cut off from among their people. (Lev 18:24-29)
The laws against “to uncover the nakedness of the father”
The laws against sexual intercourse between persons closely related by blood or by marriage, i.e. incest, are introduced in Lev 18:6 with the explicit prohibition, descriptive of the nature of sexual sin, that no one is to approach anyone to “uncover nakedness”,
No one is to approach anyone of his own flesh to uncover his nakedness. I am Yehovah. (Lev 18:6)
The listing of various cases of sexual abominations in Leviticus 18 commences very appropriately with the prohibition of sexual perversions against a mother to designate this immorality as the most violative one.
This prohibition is known as ” do not uncover the nakedness of your father”.
The nakedness of your father or the nakedness of your mother you do not uncover. She is your mother, you do not uncover her nakedness. (Lev 18:7)
Sexual relation with a mother YHVH calls “to uncover the nakedness of your father”.
The term “the nakedness of your father” refers to the father’s wife who is also his mother, as it is said with a warning: “she is your mother, you do not uncover her nakedness”.
The other term used in verse 8 “the nakedness of your father’s wife” comes to include in the prohibition, the father’s wife who is not his mother, i.e. his step-mother. It refers to “your father’s wife” in Lev 20:11 where it is further said “a man who lies with the wife of his father has uncovered the nakedness of his father”.
This concept of the relation between “to uncover the nakedness of the father and the nakedness of the mother” is best understood if we look through the chiasmal structure of Lev 18:7-8:
A. The nakedness of your father or the nakedness of your mother you do not uncover. (Lev 18:7)
B. She is your mother, you do not uncover her nakedness. (Lev 18:7)
A. The nakedness of your father’s wife you do not uncover, (Lev 18:8)
B. it is your father’s nakedness. (Lev 18:8)
In the chiasmal structure, we see that statement A (in verse 7) parallels with statement A (in verse 8), and statement B (in verse 7) with statement B (in verse 8).
Hence, it is apparent in the chiasmus that to uncover “the nakedness of your father or the nakedness of your mother” equals to uncover “the nakedness of your father’s wife”, and “she is your mother” equals “it is your father’s nakedness”.
In other words, to uncover the nakedness of the father is to uncover the nakedness of the mother [biological or step-mother]. i.e. to have intercourse with her, as sexual intercourse is called uncovering the nakedness clearly seen in Eze 16:36 and Eze 23:18. The prohibition relates to both married and unmarried intercourse (see Lev 18:18; Lev 20:14, Lev 20:17, Lev 20:21).
Because your copper was poured out and your nakedness uncovered in your whoring with your lovers, and with the idols of your abominations, … (Eze 16:36)
And she uncovered her whoring and uncovered her nakedness. (Eze 23:18)
For more insight on the chiasmal structures in the Scripture, refer to the article “Chiasm in the prophetic Psalm 83“.
With that being said, we understand that the nakedness of the father is uncovered when the nakedness of his wife is uncovered, as husband and wife are one flesh (Gen 2:24).
Figuratively, this relation is further described in Deu 22:30 as uncovering of the husband’s robe, and in Deu 27:20, as removing the bedclothes of the husband’s bed, as the husband spreads his bedclothes over his wife as well as himself. And if the bedclothes are removed, his wife is uncovered as well as himself.
Therefore, by uncovering the bed the intimacy between husband and wife is violated, and the husband’s nakedness is violated as well as his wife’s nakedness. And when his wife’s nakedness is violated, the honor of the husband is violated as well, and his bed is defiled.
We find such an example of defilement of father’s bed in the case of Ya’akov whose bed was defiled by Reuven who by lay down with his father’s wife (Gen 49:4).
In a positive way, however, the uncovering of the husband’s bed is best seen in the Book of Ruth (Rth 3:1-10), which contains the most beautiful love scene in the Scripture, when Ruth approached the sleeping Boaz, uncovered him, and embraced him in his bed. From this love between the righteous Boaz and Ruth, King David would be born and ultimately the Messiah.
Incest described in the Torah
Sexual relations as described in Lev 18:7-18 are forbidden (1) with a mother or with a step-mother, (2) with a sister or half-sister, (3) with a grand-daughter, the daughter of either son or daughter, or with the daughter of a step-mother, (4) with an aunt, the sister of either father or mother, (5) with the wife of an uncle, (6) with a daughter-in-law or with a sister-in-law, (7) with a woman and her daughter, a mother-in-law (see also Deu 27:23), or a woman and her granddaughter, and (8) with two sisters (literally, two women, as the prohibition is against polygamy) while the other is alive.
Furthermore, a sexual act with a woman in her menstruation is also prohibited,
And do not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness in her monthly separation of uncleanness. And do not have intercourse with the wife of your neighbor, to defile yourself with her. (Lev 18:19-20)
YHVH lists the intercourse with a woman in her monthly uncleanness as a sexual perversion, even though she may be his own wife. This prohibition to uncover her nakedness in her monthly separation is immediately followed by the prohibition to have intercourse with the neighbor’s wife, thus the idea is introduced that to uncover the nakedness of a woman is to have intercourse with her.
In other words, we may sum up that any sexual relation with a relative either by blood or by law is strictly forbidden by YHVH.
We should recall here that the laws against sexual immoralities in Leviticus 18 are further detailed extensions of the 5th and the 7th Commandment of the Covenant of YHVH, as Yeshua said in Mat 22:36-40 that on the Covenant hang all laws in the Torah.
The 5th Commandment: Respect your father and your mother, so that your days are prolonged upon the soil which Yehovah your Elohim is giving you. (Exo 20:12)
The 7th Commandment: You do not commit adultery. (Exo 20:14)
As we already learned in Eze 16:36, to uncover nakedness, that is, to have sexual perversion, is also to whore with the abominable idols. This is derived from Levitucus 18,
And do not give any of your offspring to pass through to Molech. And do not profane the Name of your Elohim. I am Yehovah. (Lev 18:21)
To the sexual immoralities that defiles the bodies and the relations within the family a further prohibition is given regarding the spiritual whoredom or the prostitution with idols. This prohibition is expressed in the heathenish ritual of giving over a child to an idol by passing through fire.
This pagan practice of sacrificing children to idols is nothing less than spiritual whoredom with the idol Molech (see also Deu 18:10) who was worshipped by the Kanaanites by sacrificing their children through fire.
According to the 12th-century Tanak commentator Rashi (Shlomo Yitzchaki, 1040–1105), the hollow statue of Molech depicting a bull’s head was made of brass with his hands being stretched out. The heathens heated it from his lower parts making it red hot and put the child between his hands to be burned alive. While the child vehemently was crying out, the priests were beating a drum, that the father might not hear the voice of his son, and his heart might not be moved.
Furthermore, the Rabbinic tradition (see Yalkut Shimoni) says that the statue was divided into seven compartments, in one of which they put flour, in the second turtle-doves, in the third a female sheep, in the fourth a ram, in the fifth a calf, in the sixth an ox, and in the seventh a child, which were all burned together: a kind of fire-baptism, a perversion of the water baptism in the Torah.
The punishment for this cruel and brutal crime of murdering innocent children and whoring after idols is death, as seen in Leviticus 20, where the punishment for the crimes in Leviticus 18 are given.
The ancient Hebrews, however, did not stay idle but followed suit. From the time of King Ahaz, children were sacrificed by being laid in the heated arms of Molech and burned alive (Eze 16:20-21; Eze 20:31; Jer 7:31; Jer 32:35; 2Ki 23:10; 2Ki 16:3; 2Ki 17:17; 2Ki 21:6; Psa 106:37-38).
Today, this crime of sacrificing children to the evil one is called “late term abortion“, in which a child is being cut in pieces in the mother’s womb while still alive.
Homosexuality and bestiality
And do not lie with a man as with a woman, it is an abomination. And do not have intercourse with any beast, to defile yourself with it. And a woman does not stand before a beast to mate with it, it is a perversion. (Lev 18:22-23)
Again, we should not wonder that YHVH considers a homosexual act as perverted as a sexual act with an animal, aka bestiality.
It is forbidden to lie with man as with woman, i.e., to commit the crime of homosexuality, the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:5), to which the whole of the heathen were more or less addicted (Rom 1:27), and from which even the Israelites did not keep themselves free (Jdg 19:22).
One should not say that a homosexual act between women is exempted, because it is not explicitly listed among the sexual perversions. But, what we should say is that if it is forbidden for a man to lie with a man, as with a woman, then on the principle of reciprocity, it is forbidden for a woman to lie with a woman as with a man.
And in order to remove any confusion on the matter, the crime of homosexuality is followed by the crime of bestiality, thus equating them: “a woman does not stand before a beast to mate with it, it is a perversion“.
By the same token, the prohibition of bestiality is for men too; in other words, both homosexuality and bestiality are forms of sexual perversions equally pertaining to men and women.
That both sexual perversions denote a crime against YHVH is clearly seen in Lev 20:13 and Lev 20:15-16, where the punishments are given.
Lying with animals was a perversion connected in Egypt with the worship of the goat-god, where the women lay down before he-goats; but in pagan Rome the women lay down before dogs.
To uproot any sign of paganism, YHVH commanded the children of Israel to do and live by His laws, and not to walk in the laws of Egypt, which they just left. But for more insight of the life of the Israelites in Egypt, refer to the article “The Exodus from Israel’s whoring in Egypt“.
The sexual abominations above, which are nothing less than violations of the Covenant, were to be punished according to laws in Leviticus 20:
- whoever did not fear father or mother (Lev 19:3) and cursed them was to be punished with death (Lev 20:9).
- The same punishment was to be inflicted in case of adultery (Lev 20:10, see Lev 18:20),
- sexual intercourse with a father’s wife (Lev 20:11, see Lev 18:7-8) or
- with a daughter-in-law (Lev 20:12, see Lev 18:17),
- sodomy (Lev 20:13, see Lev 18:22),
- with a mother and her daughter (Lev 20:14, see Lev 18:17),
- lying with an animal, both the person and the animal are to die (Lev 20:15-16, see Lev 18:23),
- lying with a half-sister, that person will be cut off from his people (Lev 20:17, see Lev 18:9-11),
- also lying with a menstruous woman (Lev 20:18, see Lev 18:19).
It may look unfair and even cruel for some, but this is how this abomination was to be exterminated among His people. These are serious crime and not just carnal pleasures.
The curse of Noach
At the end of a year of floating on the surface of the waters of the Flood, the ark came to rest on the peak of the mountain. Noach opened the door and saw before him a world devoid of everything. The earth was empty of any living souls. He and his family were the mankind at that time. Silence was on the face of the earth and waters. No one survived the waters of the Flood.
One of the first thing Noach did was to plant a vineyard and grow the fruits of the vine. Then, he got drunk, perhaps, because the righteous Noach struggled with his feeling of guilt for not having done enough to convince the people to repent, and the only path before him was to escape from the harsh reality through drunkenness.
And he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Kanaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. (Gen 9:21-22)
So Shem and Yaphet took a garment, went backward with their faces turned away and covered the nakedness of their father.
And when Noach awoke and knew what Ham had done to him, he said, (Gen 9:23-24)
Cursed is Kanaan, let him become a servant of servants to his brothers. … (Gen 9:25-26)
Now, the interpretation of this passage is that Ham saw his father naked, and told his brothers.
He saw his father naked and told his brothers—that was his sin that deserved the curse?
Most definitely, seeing accidentally an old man naked is not something nice, but why would that be a sin, much worse—a sin that deserves a curse? There was nothing wrong that Ham had walked in the tent of his father to talk with him. And there was nothing immoral that he saw his father naked, if that was what happened.
Most evidently, there is something we miss in the context and perhaps in the translation.
So, what really happened that day that caused Noach’s curse on his son Ham? Perhaps, the key to the answer is in verse 21 and more particularly in the Hebrew word for “his tent”.
The Hebrew word for “tent” is אֹהֶל ohel. “In his tent”, as it appears in all translations, will be באהלו, where letter bet as a prefix of the word means “in” and letter vav as a suffix identifies the word “tent” as masculine singular: “in his tent”.
But this is not what we find in the Hebrew text. In verse 21, we find בתוך which means “in the middle of, or within”, and אהלה which means “her tent”, where letter mem at the end of the word identifies אֹהֶל as feminine singular: “her tent”. This is the Hebrew grammar.
Therefore, Noach was in his wife’s tent, not in his tent, when he got drunk and his son Ham “saw the nakedness of his father” to uncover it in his mother’s tent.
What we learned in this study, however, was that to uncover “the nakedness of the father” means to uncover “the nakedness of the mother” (see again Lev 18:7-8 how these two expressions are used interchangeably). Therefore, Ham did not see his father naked, but his mother, who most obviously might have drunk with her husband in her tent.
Hence, we may conclude that Ham raped his own mother, while Noach was incapacitated by too much wine.
And when Noach understood what his son had done to him, he cursed Ham’s son, Kanaan.
But why Kanaan and not Ham who violated his mother? Would we not expect that the curse should have been on Ham? What guilt did Kanaan commit to deserve the curse?
To understand this confusion, we should not assume that Kanaan had already been born at the time of the abomination, as it appears in the text, because there is no indication in the Flood story that he was in the ark, in the first place.
On the contrary, we are told that there were only eight people in the ark: Noach and his wife, and his three sons with their wives. Therefore, Kanaan must have been born after the Flood. That he was listed as the first born after the Flood should not have been accidental, but to tell us that he must have been born short after.
With that being said, we may restore the incident thus: Noach and his wife drunk in her tent and fell asleep. Ham walked in his mother’s tent and saw her naked. He took advantage of the incapability of her mother to perceive the reality and had intercourse with her mother; for a reason not given in the Torah, he raped her and she became pregnant.
Noach woke up to find out that his son violated his own mother. Noach must have felt humiliated, because his wife was defiled by his own son. After nine months, Kanaan was born, and Noach cursed him, because he was a child of incest that defiled his bed.
The curse of Noach is the earliest example in the Scripture of the term “to uncover the nakedness of the father”.
The fruit did not fall far from the tree and the Kanaanites lived up to the curse and became violent and immoral people. Their iniquities piled up and reached the heaven at the time Israel stood ready at the banks of the Jordan River.
But the curse on Kanaan did not stop there but continued, as we will continue in our next article.
May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days.