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Ham and healing

From the May 2014 issue of The Christian Science Journal

The Bible account of Noah and the ark shows him at his finest hour as a man of epic courage and dedication to God. But after the flood, Noah’s story takes a less heroic turn. Genesis 9:20–23 tells us that back on dry land, he became a farmer, planted a vineyard, and got drunk with wine.

One of Noah’s three sons, Ham, found him lying drunk and naked in his tent. Ham reported this to his two brothers, Shem and Japheth, but he did nothing to help his father. By contrast, Shem and Japheth acted with compassion. The Bible says they were unwilling to look on their father’s nakedness. Respectfully keeping their faces turned away, they laid a garment on their shoulders and backed into Noah’s tent with it to cover him.

At times when we or others seem to lose our poise and wholeness, whether because of an accident, disease, or sin, this story of Noah and his sons can point the way to healing. The sons illustrate two opposite attitudes toward problems. One, represented by Ham, sees man as material, and human frailty as reality. In the Glossary of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy defines Ham as “corporeal belief; sensuality; slavery; tyranny” (p. 587). Ham-like thoughts leave one stuck in problems and do nothing to help restore peace and wholeness.

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