Genesis 9

God reiterates the command to Noah and his 3 sons, in the same words as offered the original humans: be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. The Noahic covenant is different from the Adamic one: vegetarians may now become carnivores, and non-human creatures should fear the humans.

There is a kasrut limit on eating live pieces carved off a still-living beast. Either humans or animals who kill a human shall have some punishment. Prohibition of murder or other killing is punished by vengeance – but not by vendetta. The rationale is found in the ‘image of God’ reasoning.

The covenant is marked by a bow, (as in ‘bow and arrow’, not ‘ribbon tied in a bow), a rainbow, hung up and pointed away from the humans, with no immediate threat.

Immediately, the tale turns to farce: Noah makes wine from the vine, and passes out drunk in his tent. His middle son violates his privacy, sees his father’s shame, and gossips it to his brothers. They show greater respect, and approach Dad walking backwards with a blanket. Shem will be a host to Japeth, the chosen peoples.

There’s some polemic about how some peoples have always been crude, and others couth. The legend insults Canaanites – but in the next chapter, as Ham is associated with Africans, the invidious reading of racial inequality is given a pretext. What did you hear?

Who is your daddy? Ham, Canaan, Egypt, Africa. Shem, Mesopotamia and Asia. Japeth, the nomadic chosen people. The story was never intended to be

read by outsiders about strangers, but only by those who claim first person identity with one of the brothers (and later with one of the 12 brothers)