“Off The Derech” N is for Knowledge: Genesis 3: 9:20

College football rivalries have created great insults. There is the classic, “what does the “N” stand for on Nebraska helmets?” Knowledge of course.

Two stories from the book of Genesis touch the notions of “nakedness” and “knowledge.” Concepts concerning the moral compass are also revealed. The moral compass has been defined as “an internalized set of values and objectives that guide a person with regard to ethical behavior and decision-making.” Dictionary.com

The Adam and Eve story involving their consumption of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is as follows:

“And the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes, and the tree was desirable to make one wise; so she took of its fruit, and she ate, and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. And the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves and made themselves girdles. And they heard the voice of the Lord God going in the garden to the direction of the sun, and the man and his wife hid from before the Lord God in the midst of the trees of the garden. And the Lord God called to man, and He said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I am naked; so I hid.” And He said, “Who told you that you are naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” And the man said, “The woman whom You gave [to be] with me she gave me of the tree; so I ate.” Genesis 3:6-12

Adam and Eve’s consumption of the fruit from tree of the knowledge of good and evil led them to recognize that they were naked. They now had a moral compass. They corrected their problem with nakedness by fashioning their own clothes. Thus, they were no longer naked. Despite being clothed, Adam lies to go that he was afraid because he was naked. The truth was that Adam was obscuring the fact that they had eaten the fruit. The two were not hiding their nakedness per se, they were hiding their bad act. One can argue that his answer was a lie. He was not naked. He was hiding because of his bad act. Thus, one bad act set in motion another bad act. Thus, is a moral compass compass weakened when one engages in a bad act? Does one bad act lead to additional bad acts?

Noah’s post flood story is one of nakedness.

The story is as follows:

“And Noah began to be a master of the soil, and he planted a vineyard.
And he drank of the wine and became drunk, and he uncovered himself within his tent.
And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness, and he told his two brothers outside.
And Shem and Japheth took the garment, and they placed [it] on both of their shoulders, and they walked backwards, and they covered their father’s nakedness, and their faces were turned backwards, so that they did not see their father’s nakedness.
And Noah awoke from his wine, and he knew what his small son had done to him.
And he said, “Cursed be Canaan; he shall be a slave among slaves to his brethren.”
And he said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem, and may Canaan be a slave to them.
May God expand Japheth, and may He dwell in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be a slave to them.”

Noah’s tale is exceedingly complicated. He gets drunk and then he uncovers himself within his tent. In those times, was one’s tent a place of privacy where it was appropriate to be naked? Or, was a tent a place in which there was the reasonable expectation of visitors and as that one would remain clothed?

The tale, in the end, is one of irrationality. It is Ham, the father of Canaan, who walks into the tent and sees the Noah’s nakedness. Ham enlists Shem and Japheth to assist in covering Noah’s nakedness in a respectful way. Canaan, Ham’s son, was not present and not an actor in what occurred! Noah, however, arises to condemn Canaan and curse him. Was this accusation one of irrationality? Was his intoxication the source of this false assertion? Is this story a lesson on how intoxication can cloud one’s moral compass? Is this a story a cautionary tale of how a moral compass can be so broken by intoxication to the point that an innocent can be accused of wrongdoing? In the end, the product of intoxication was that an innocent was cursed and made to be a slave. Is this an eternal message about the problem of substance abuse?

These two stories capture how conduct can impact the moral compass. Bad acts and intoxication can compromise one’s moral compass. The knowledge within these stories was hidden by the nakedness. So, we end this discussion with a “K.”

Be well!!

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I am a practicing lawyer and long term admirer of the bible

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