What do you do with a drunken Noah?

So, the flood which destroyed all of humanity was over and things became all quiet. What next? Noah – he planted a vineyard and then got drunk. Huh? First, why a vineyard? Why not an olive garden (with or without unlimited salad & breadsticks)? We know that little dove brought back an olive branch as evidence of dry land. What about wheat or barley or rice or citrus fruits? Perhaps, he farmed those other crops out to his sons because he knew what a vineyard would bring in a couple of years: a nice original vintage Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon!

Why did Noah drink to the point of passing out drunk? Perhaps as a novice drinker, he had a very low tolerance. With each cup, he liked the joyful effect and became more giddy and silly and dizzy and warmer and warmer, taking off his garments until – boom – he fell on the floor unconscious. Perhaps he intuited that increasing inebriation would take away the memory of the near-destruction of humanity (despite how violent or noisy they were). It must have been pretty traumatic. Perhaps he attempted a return to a time of human lack-of-knowledge of good and evil via the spirits (https://www.chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/3475426/jewish/Why-Noah-Planted-a-Vineyard-and-Got-Drunk.htm). Whatever the reason, his use of alcohol made his life somewhat unmanageable. How?

When Noah was passed out naked, his “small” son Ham “saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers…” Later, when Noah woke up, he cursed Ham’s fourth son Canaan to be a slave to his brethren. Hold up here! So your adult child saw you naked. . .big deal. Well – rabbis going back to the first centuries of the current era tried to explain what pissed Noah off. Looking at the Hebrew words used, they said Ham did more than “see” his father – but actually either castrated or sodomized him (https://www.sefaria.org/Sanhedrin.70a?lang=bi) perhaps in a domination move or to prevent Noah from fathering younger siblings. I think that’s a bit of a stretch, but the simple act of looking disrespectfully at a vulnerable person can be harmful and problematic. And Noah probably had quite a hangover, resulting in increased irritability to the point of cursing out his grandson (he couldn’t curse Ham since all the former occupants of the Ark were blessed by Elohim/Gods). Or perhaps the Yahwist and Priestly redactors were trying to create an ex post facto justification for the oppression of indigenous Canaanites.

No matter what the intention – the behavior resulted in some unpleasant family consequences: Noah engaged in a mind-altering activity which cut him off from his higher power and resulted in some insanity, interpersonal pain and intergenerational distress. It’s an ancient lesson: trust your high power as you understand it and make amends to those you have harmed.

Author: Jonkesstagram

GenX, he/him, interfaith, left-of-center, geja auxlang fan; hoping for a world of compassion and justice

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