But he built the ark, too!

Talking contemptuously about people's shortcomings is a destructive habit easy to fall into; and we may find we do it most often concerning the people closest to us or those who are accomplishing something good in the world.

Noah was certainly a good man. But one day his son Ham—"father of Canaan," as the Bible calls him—found Noah drunk and naked in his tent. The story in Genesis (9:20–27) says Ham went out and told his two brothers, Shem and Japheth, who picked up a robe, backed into the tent, and covered their father, leaving without even glancing at him. Later Noah cursed Canaan, because he was the son of the man who had seen him and talked about it—but he blessed Shem and Japheth.

It is interesting that not Ham but Canaan was the one cursed in this story, which clearly explains on moral grounds the later historical triumph of Israel over the Canaanites. But there is a further lesson to be learned from the behavior of the three brothers.

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God's child naturally
October 9, 1978

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