The Iron Rod Podcast
The Iron Rod Podcast
Iron Rod 034 - Noah's nakedness and women's hair

In this week’s episode, we take two hard-to-explain sections of scripture and try to make sense of them. The first is Noah’s nakedness from Genesis 9. Noah is drunk in his tent, Ham sees his father’s nakedness, and for some reason Ham’s son Canaan is punished as a result. The second is from 1 Corinthians 11 and has Paul explaining why women need to cover their hair when at church. Both stories demonstrate how trying to interpret scripture using “our” understanding can lead us astray.

Genesis 9:19-27

Abraham 1:21-27

Leviticus 20:11,20

Leviticus 18:1-8

Deuteronomy 22:30

Deuteronomy 27:20

2 Samuel 16:20-23

Genesis 35:22

Genesis 49:3-4

1 Corinthians 11:3-15

2 Nephi 31:3

Dr. Troy Martin, “Paul’s Argument from Nature for the Veil in 1 Cor. 11:13-15: A Testicle instead of a Head Covering” (Journal of Biblical Literature 123:1 [2004]: 75-84)

Bergsma and Hahn, “Noah’s Nakedness and the Curse on Canaan (Genesis 9:20-27)” (Journal of Biblical Literature 124:1 [2005]: 25-40)

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20 comments on “Iron Rod 034 – Noah’s nakedness and women’s hair

  1. We must be on a similar wavelength or something, because I was just researching this exact topic a little over a month ago, because I had always found the story of Cainan’s cursing to be strange but had always followed the church’s explanation despite it seeming wrong. Especially in light of people like Elijah Abel being ordained to the priesthood with Joseph’s permission even after the fullness had been lost. So I too looked into the discrepancy and actually found some article written by a preacher of another church, I don’t remember who it was, who pointed out the usage in the Law of Moses of the phrase “father’s nakedness”, so I did a keyword search like you guys did, and I agree that it appears that the reason Cainnan was cursed was because he was born of an incestuous union. I may be speculating a bit, but one can assume that if patriarchal priesthood is to be handed down through a certain line than this would be why Cainnan was cursed and not Ham, furthermore, even genetically speaking it’s possible Cainnan and his descendants would have genetic problems due to this inbreeding. However, due to all the grafting and mixing that has taken place throughout the millennia since then it is highly likely that all of us probably have some descent from Cainnan and from Abraham so it’s stupid and unscriptural to ban an entire race from holding the priesthood. Thus, we all have a legal right to the priesthood, but our hearts must be in the right place, and we still must be ordained. I think this is one reason mormons put such a big emphasis on knowing our priesthood line of authority, because it is a patriarchal priesthood that was restored and still lives on through the church even in its fallen state. Contrast this with the high priesthood that is without mother or father and without beginning or end of days. One is ordained to the High Priesthood by God’s voice out of heaven. This is what God wanted for all of his children but when the fullness was continually rejected he chose Abraham’s family to take a lesser priesthood with a knowledge of the fullness to the whole world so that in time the world would know the Gospel message that God himself would come down and save mankind. And that in the last days the fullness of the priesthood would be restored even the same priesthood that was in the beginning and that Zion would once more be on the earth.

    Isaiah 52 is key to what we are waiting for:
    1 Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean.

    2 Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.

    3 For thus saith the Lord, Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.

    4 For thus saith the Lord God, My people went down aforetime into Egypt to sojourn there; and the Assyrian oppressed them without cause.

    5 Now therefore, what have I here, saith the Lord, that my people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the Lord; and my name continually every day is blasphemed.

    6 Therefore my people shall know my name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak: behold, it is I.

    7 ¶ How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!

    8 Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.

    9 ¶ Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.

    10 The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

    11 ¶ Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.

    12 For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rearward.

    13 ¶ Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.

    14 As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:

    15 So shall he gather many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.

    Notice the JST changes verse 15 to say gather many nations and in D&C 113:7-10 we have the following explanations of Isaiah 52:

    7 Questions by Elias Higbee: What is meant by the command in Isaiah, 52d chapter, 1st verse, which saith: Put on thy strength, O Zion—and what people had Isaiah reference to?

    8 He had reference to those whom God should call in the last days, who should hold the power of priesthood to bring again Zion, and the redemption of Israel; and to put on her dstrength is to put on the authority of the priesthood, which she, Zion, has a right to by lineage; also to return to that power which she had lost.

    9 What are we to understand by Zion loosing herself from the bands of her neck; 2d verse?

    10 We are to understand that the scattered remnants are exhorted to return to the Lord from whence they have fallen; which if they do, the promise of the Lord is that he will speak to them, or give them revelation. See the 6th, 7th, and 8th verses. The bands of her neck are the curses of God upon her, or the remnants of Israel in their scattered condition among the Gentiles.

    I would challenge anyone to find a people that better fits the explanations given in D&C 113 than mormons do. Who else has a right to priesthood by lineage but lost the fullness?

    • They say “great minds think alike,” but they also say “fools seldom differ.” Unfortunately for you, I know how most people describe me and my doctrinal ideas!

      It is shocking just how many false narratives we have inherited.

  2. Loved this episode! Great work. This is one that really benefited me.

    I was always confused by God’s, “unalterable decree, that a remnant of [Noah’s] seed should always be found among the nations.” (Moses 7:52) I had a bunch of theories for this, but none convinced me I understood what God meant. Is it very likely that Ham introduced another seed into the earth. This does fit perfectly and make sense of the strange chapter of Genesis.

    All of this said, I recommend a recent article of mine where I conclude bloodlines do not matter; for when the people come unto the gospel, they “become” the seed of Abraham (D&C 84:34) so a remnant of Noah’s seed is contingent upon the inhabitants of the earth becoming ordained after the Lord’s own order, as was Noah. (Moses 8:19) The family of God from Adam to the present day is a family we become members to through accepting the gospel and becoming the sons of God.

    As for the long hair thing, I will think on this. I really thought it was a clear indication that God wants men to have short hair and woman to have long. I will listen to that segment again, because I’m not sure if you correctly understand–because their hair, “is given her for a covering.” (1 Cor 11:15) They weren’t to be covering their hair; the hair was the covering. I don’t think they considered hair sexual. I mean God surely didn’t, since this related to them praying unto God with a covering. So I don’t agree with this. If woman didn’t have long beautiful hair which had been given as a, “glory to her,” she might as well be shorn, because she wasn’t proudly covering herself–or her head (her husband)–with the glory of her hair.

    Interesting take on the cultural understanding of what hair might have been symbolic for, nonetheless.


    After listening again, I think I might you be onto something, even though I don’t agree with your conclusions. (Though I still don’t know if I still understand what you were trying to say.) If the woman’s head is the man (11:3) her long hair might represent her children. She is having children wherein the man cannot. As nature cannot allow a man to have “long hair” this cannot refer to hair on a head, because “nature” is teaching that man having long hair is a shame unto him. Nature *doesn’t* teach us that man are incapable of growing their hair long. Perhaps culturally, a man had long hair when he did not have a wife and children. When he did have a wife, his hair was short, and the wife would have long hair to represent her fulfilling the commandment as she multiplied and replenished the earth.

    Let us remember that the woman is the glory of the man. Her hair, (her children?), is the glory given of God. I don’t think Paul was a product of his times. Even if it’s been said that hair was a symbol of sex all those years ago, I don’t think that’s what the apostle was saying. The covering Paul advised was hair itself. He wasn’t saying to cover their hair, because men would get lustful viewing it. That’s a really odd way to look at it.

    So perhaps the idea that hair was a symbol of fertility has legitimacy, but I cannot agree with the assessment that hair had to be covered because it was “sensual” in their culture as shoulders seem to be in ours. I don’t think the Saints needed to observe strange practices because men of that day might have got riled up seeing the beautiful long hair of women…and this also doesn’t make sense that God wants woman to cover their hair to pray unto him. He only wants them to be covered; did God say he wanted their *hair* covered??

    Forgive me if I misunderstood what was said, but I did listen twice!


    • Trying to understand 2,000 year old science is tough enough, but adding difficult English translations doesn’t help. Remember that in verse 15, it says that a woman’s long hair is given her for a peribolaion. The KJV translators used the word covering, but peribolaion means testicle. So verse 15 seems to be saying, “just as a man is given testicles [to help with reproduction], a woman is given long hair [to help with reproduction].” The woman’s bare scalp is not shameful. In verse 6 Paul says that if she won’t cover her hair she should shave her hair, and then she can pray with her head uncovered. But since many consider shaving their hair to be shameful, they will keep their long hair and they should cover their hair. So this is about the hair itself. It get’s muddled with talk about the head, but it’s the presence or absence of hair that is the determining issue.

      The word “nature” might be easier to understand if you replaced it with “biology”. Verse 14, “doth not [biology] itself teach you that if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?” The paper I referenced goes into the significance of “nature”. They had this view of biology that included hair as part of the reproductive system.

      I agree that God didn’t consider uncovered hair to be inappropriate. This is a case where Paul is arguing cultural standards, not doctrine. It would be wrong to infer that God views uncovered women’s hair as morally wrong, just as thinking bare shoulders on women or beards on men are evil today. Culture does not shape doctrine, even though many will try to pervert the doctrine to support their cultural traditions. We’re not saying hair needs to be covered today. We’re saying that was a cultural practice from 2,000 years ago, not a doctrinal standard. Just because cultural practices appear in the scriptures doesn’t mean we have to obey them today. And there are cultural standards today that are being promoted as doctrine which are bogus. We should reject all of them as doctrine, for they have no doctrinal basis.

      • Interesting.

        I myself try to avoid deciphering scripture by appealing to original Greek and Hebrew, but I do enjoy hearing others research into it.

        I think this podcast is a perfect platform for an episode such as this. Great work guys.

        • Another passage relating to this and a previous podcast is section 74, where we see that Paul sometimes was just giving his own instructions and not necessarily commandments of the Lord:

          3 And it came to pass that there arose a great contention among the people concerning the law of circumcision, for the unbelieving husband was desirous that his children should be circumcised and become subject to the law of Moses, which law was fulfilled.

          4 And it came to pass that the children, being brought up in subjection to the law of Moses, gave heed to the traditions of their fathers and believed not the gospel of Christ, wherein they became unholy.

          5 Wherefore, for this cause the apostle wrote unto the church, giving unto them a commandment, not of the Lord, but of himself, that a believer should not be united to an unbeliever; except the law of Moses should be done away among them,

          So Paul often wrote about cultural issues which he felt were important even though it wasn’t necessarily a commandment from God, but him simply doing what he felt needed to be done to grow the church and keep peace among the members.

  3. Jessi H Jul 31, 2019

    I just started listening, but the Talmud?! Blech.
    Now, the Book of Jasher describes the theft of the garments of skins by Ham, so that may actually have some validity; I don’t know. I do know, however, that the skins were a representation of the covering of our sins by the shedding of Christ’s blood, not a “symbol of the priesthood”. At least, not to the degree that the LDS explanation proposes. Man, it really becomes obvious how authority-obsessed Mormonism is when you’ve realized the doctrine is way out of the way. Alright, back to the episode I go…

  4. Jessi H Jul 31, 2019

    Wow, that’s bad when the provided link actually contradicts what it’s meant to prove.
    As to the incestuous coupling, that fits perfectly with the origin story of the major gentile idolatrous religions practiced by the Babylonians, Egyptians, Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, etc.:

    Emperor/King is murdered and becomes the sun god, Widow Queen miraculously gives birth to the reincarnation of emperor/sun god (and savior of mankind through secret knowledge obtained in mystery schools), queen and her divine son have incestuous relationship, queen gains divinity through the sun, royalty mingles with deity, earth and heaven ruled by multiplicity of gods and demi-gods who play with humans for kicks. Nimrod-Semiramis-Tammuz, Osiris-Isis-Horus, the tale grows and carries over for generations across cultural bloodlines and borders through the Greeks and Romans.

    The capillary action and the word translated as “covering” were really helpful in regards to cultural context. And it wasn’t offensive. I find it much more offensive when women are treated like property and forcibly impregnated to breed out a people and take over bloodlines. (I love the Old Testament, but it can be a rough read sometimes, especially as a woman.)
    I came across something at some point in my informational travels that stated that prostitutes often had shorn heads, so Paul was saying, “don’t look like a prostitute.” I don’t know if that’s true or not, but if so, it would fit with the belief you discussed, as prostitutes would probably prefer not to get pregnant from their professional activities. I had thought it was more of a Fantine-type-situation-turned-cultural-norm, where selling her hair is the woman’s last desperate attempt to feed herself before resorting to the viles of sex work.
    Anyway, great work! These are tough topics and I appreciate you tackling them.

  5. Thirsty Sep 30, 2019

    It’s interesting that Joseph would say something different on the matter…

    “I do many things to break down superstition, and I will break it down”; I referred to the curse of Ham for laughing at Noah, while in his wine, but doing no harm. Noah was a righteous man, and yet he drank wine and became intoxicated; the Lord did not forsake him in consequence thereof, for he retained all the power of his Priesthood, and when he was accused by Canaan, he cursed him by the Priesthood which he held, and the Lord had respect to his word, and the Priesthood which he held, notwithstanding he was drunk, and the curse remains upon the posterity of Canaan until the present day.” (November 7, 1841.) DHC 4:445–446.

    What did Canaan accuse him of? Ham did no harm? Canaan was cursed still during the 1840’s? Yet this quote can’t be found in the JSP. ?

    However, this is oddly found from the minute of the Council of Fifty:

    The chairman [Brigham Young] called upon Er Hyde to relate to the council the story about how the negroes [p. [207]] … “O. Hyde stated … I then stated to them my views on such characters by telling them how the negroes come. I told them that in the council in heaven when Satan rebelled there were some who took an active part in the rebellion but [p. [208]] yet were too cowardly to be leaders in the rebellion with Lucifer and others. The leaders in the rebellion were hurled from heaven to hell and were doomed to remain without bodies, but the others whose crimes were not so great were cursed with blackness and became black spirits. When Cain murdered his brother Able on the earth the Almighty cursed him and put a mark on him, or rather turned him black to give the black spirits a chance to come and take bodies like themselves, and the black spirits taking the black bodies made the negroes.” [p. [209]]

    This was a speech of Elder Orson Hyde, Delivered before the High Priest’s Quorum in Nauvoo, April 27th, 1845

    • That’s a great find, Thirsty. Or rather, a great non-find. I went to JSP and tried several different searches trying to find anything close to that “quotation”, and drew a blank. That “quotation” is sill used in the Old Testament Seminary manual.

      • Thirsty Sep 30, 2019

        That’s odd, because that’s just where I pulled it from this morning.

        Here’s the link:

        • Sorry – I was referring to the Joseph Smith quote about Noah. The JSP search engine finds the quotation in the History of the Church, but nowhere else. Makes you wonder where the HC editors found this quotation.

          Sadly, the Orson Hyde quotation doesn’t surprise me at all.

      • Thirsty Sep 30, 2019

        I think maybe you were referring to the first quotation. I found it in TPJS p. 194

        Maybe JSP doesn’t have DHC, because I just did a search for

        I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth

        And came up dry. It too is on TPJS p. 194 and DHC.

        • Holy cow! Did you see the original manuscript for “the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth”? That quotation is in a micro font much smaller than everything else on the page. I’d sure like to know the reason behind that. And where is the source material for that quotation? Another great find, Thirsty.

          For those that want to see: look between lines 28 and 29 at

          • Thirsty Oct 1, 2019

            It seriously has cast a doubt in my mind that this was ever said by JS.

            I know it’s received a lot of criticism over the years for stating that the Nook of Mormon is the “most correct” book and we’d get closer to God but abiding by its precepts than by any other book.

            But what about the keystone? If Jospeh didn’t say this, what motive would Brigham and company have to promote this lie as if Jospeh said it? What power would they gain by having the Latter Day Saints believe it?

            Too many questions and doubts begin to arise.

            • I concur. I can’t see any benefit to creating this quotation for nefarious purposes. Yet the lack of an original source, and how it is written in the one source we do have, raises doubts about its authenticity. It is consistent with other scriptures that talk about the importance of the Book of Mormon. I had always assumed that was a verified quotation from Joseph given how often it is used (and I just used it this week in the podcast!). You burst my bubble! 😉 I’ll have to start using a disclaimer that Joseph “supposedly” said this.

  6. Not sure if anyone will see this at this late date, but I came across this curious passage in the JST:

    JST Genesis 7:85 And Noah was four hundred and fifty years old and begat Japheth; and forty-two years afterwards, he begat Shem of her who was the mother of Japheth; and when he was five hundred years old, he begat Ham.

    The wording here doesn’t sound like Ham has the same mother as Japheth and Shem. It’s odd that the text calls out that the second born had the same mother as the firstborn. Then there is nothing said about who the mother of Ham was.

    Noah had only one wife on the ark. Did his first wife die and he re-married and had Ham with her? Or was Ham’s mother someone other than Noah’s wife? Or were Japheth’s and Shem’s mother someone other than Noah’s wife (a handmaid)?

    In the first and third case, then it would be incestuous what Ham did. If the second, then it would be with Ham’s step-mother, still wrong. But it can help explain why Ham, the youngest son attempted to overthrow Noah as patriarch of the group by doing that. While Ham is the youngest of Noah’s sons, he may be the first born of the other woman who Noah had a child with. He was trying to claim the birthright, which he may have believed was his because his mother was different than his brothers’ mother.

    • That’s a great find! That verse differs significantly from the KJV equivalent (Genesis 5:32), so the JST adds a lot of information:
      And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

      The house of Israel had many similar stories of conflict over birthrights. Ishmael & Isaac had different mothers. Joseph and his older brothers had different mothers. Jacob and Easu were twins and still managed to fight over the birthright!

  7. First of all, THIS WAS A GREAT PODCAST. I learned a lot of new paralells in scripture from you on this one. Although, I do differ on your interpretation of Paul’s words. I actually see him as doctrinally teaching something versus a cultural teaching. As a woman, I take Pauls words opposite than you. This was all a battle over Priesthood (and under the new covenant, women are apostles and teachers, just as the men). In the same way that Samson’s long hair in the Old Testament “symbolically” represented a spiritual strength to him. when it was cut, his “authority/strength” was gone. The women in Old Testament times, also began adorning their hair with coins they received from their “dowry” as a wife, to show how much “gold” they were worth (hence the words in Isaiah about the outward adornments on the women when they dwell in sin).. Fast forward to the apostle Paul’s day: As an opposite occurs…the Jews began “outwardly” growing their hair long to “show” their spiritual strength in outward appearance, and the women are taught to cover their hair so that nobody knows how much they are “worth”. SO in “rebellion” to this outward “dressing” of spiritual authority, Paul himself takes a Nazareth vow and shaves his head. This is why Paul apparently seems to contradict himself when he says that women need to cover their hair, while also simultaneously saying in verse 14, that if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her. In walks Mary Magdalene with LOOSE hair washing and worshiping the feet of the savior (while simultaneously also being painted as a prostitute by later Catholic interpretations for generations after). She would have appeared EXACTLY as a women who took off her garments in MODERN lds culture. She would have looked like an adulterer. Now to the passages on the woman taken in adultery (which is often who mary was labeled as) what if she wasn’t found in actual adultery, but what if Mary Magdalene realized she was in spiritual adultery just like the entire nation of Israel (pharisees, scribes, and hypocrites) were. Her open rebellion by “removing that hair covering” or veil, would symbolically be the same thing that the apostle Paul did when Shorning his hair. Also, we have those passages in Malachi about the return of Elijah because the “priesthood” had gonna off in idol worship and “spiritual” (even temporal” adultery. Now we have a woman “revealing” their sin, when she removes her covering, and also has the language to explain what she knows.

    Then, we end up having a direct parallel to what I see Paul is actually saying. This woman, is gonna need a set of testicles, (i.e. spiritual endowment of power, or long hair, i.e power on her head vs 10). To fight of the “fallen: priesthood holders who may not only just be spiritual adulterers, but also real adulterers.. She’s gonna have to be able to defend herself when she exposes this hair, because they will accuse her of “literal” adultery, the very thing they are guilty of. And she’s guilty of spiritual adultery, just not that kind of adultery. (I also have a sexual and spiritual paralell to what goes on in the pineal gland when it’s opened to that whole analysis and sexuality).

    Btw, studies have been done in the present day, that show that women who wear more provocative clothing are LESS LIKELY to be raped in today’s society, because attackers view them as “stronger” women who will fight back. THis is a present day opposite to our cultural thinking. Are we protecting our women? No, i think we are leaving them open and exposed to “rape”, “sexual assault,” being cheated on, etc. with our cultural teachings and philosophies….(hence all the conference talks on the epidemic of pornography that they play like a broken record). Utah presently has one of the highest ratios for assault on women in the nation. Utah is 1 out of 3, and the nation is 1 our of 5. All of this puts Jesus message in perspective to me of him setting “free” the captives, and women following him wherever he goes. AND, its important to note, that Mary Magdalene (and other women) were the first eye witness of the resurrected Lord.

    Will you please send me a link for that article you read about the Greek translation of the word for “covering”. ???? I would love to study it.