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20 “Cursed be anyone who has relations with his father’s wife, for he dishonors his father’s bed!”(A) And all the people shall answer, “Amen!”

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20 Noah, a man of the soil, was the first to plant a vineyard. 21 He drank some of the wine, became drunk, and lay naked inside his tent.(A) 22 Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness, and he told his two brothers outside. 23 Shem and Japheth, however, took a robe, and holding it on their shoulders, they walked backward and covered their father’s nakedness; since their faces were turned the other way, they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah woke up from his wine and learned what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said:

“Cursed be Caanan!
    The lowest of slaves
    shall he be to his brothers.”(B)

26 He also said:

“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem!
    Let Canaan be his slave.
27 May God expand Japheth,[a]
    and may he dwell among the tents of Shem;
    and let Canaan be his slave.”

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Footnotes

  1. 9:27 In the Hebrew text there is a play on the words yapt (“expand”) and yepet (“Japheth”).

Turbulent as water, you shall no longer excel,
    for you climbed into your father’s bed
    and defiled my couch to my sorrow.(A)

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[a]None of you shall approach a close relative[b] to have sexual intercourse. I am the Lord. [c]You shall not disgrace your father by having intercourse with your mother.(A) She is your own mother; you shall not have intercourse with her. You shall not have intercourse with your father’s wife, for that would be a disgrace to your father. You shall not have intercourse with your sister,[d](B) your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether she was born in your own household or born elsewhere. 10 You shall not have intercourse with your son’s daughter or with your daughter’s daughter,[e] for that would be a disgrace to you. 11 You shall not have intercourse with the daughter whom your father’s wife bore to him in his household,(C) since she, too, is your sister. 12 You shall not have intercourse with your father’s sister,(D) since she is your father’s relative. 13 You shall not have intercourse with your mother’s sister, since she is your mother’s relative. 14 You shall not disgrace your father’s brother by having sexual relations with his wife,(E) since she, too, is your aunt. 15 You shall not have intercourse with your daughter-in-law;[f](F) she is your son’s wife; you shall not have intercourse with her. 16 You shall not have intercourse with your brother’s wife;[g](G) that would be a disgrace to your brother. 17 You shall not have intercourse with a woman and also with her daughter, nor shall you marry and have intercourse with her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter;(H) they are related to her. This would be shameful. 18 While your wife is still living you shall not marry her sister as her rival and have intercourse with her.(I)

19 You shall not approach a woman to have intercourse with her while she is in her menstrual uncleanness.(J)

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Footnotes

  1. 18:6–23 These laws deal with illicit sexual behavior. Lv 20:10–21 reiterates most of these cases, with penalties. Cf. also Dt 27:15–26; Ez 22:7–12. The ordering of the cases in Lv 18 seems to be: blood relatives (vv. 6–13), those related by marriage (vv. 14–18), then other cases (vv. 19–23).
  2. 18:6 Close relative: this refers to a blood relative and includes those not specifically mentioned in the list, such as one’s own daughter and a full sister. Have sexual intercourse: lit., “to uncover nakedness.”
  3. 18:7–8 Cf. the story of Reuben lying with Bilhah, his father’s concubine and Rachel’s maid (Gn 35:22; 49:4).
  4. 18:9, 11 Cf. actual or possible marriage to a half sister in Gn 20:12 and 2 Sm 13:13.
  5. 18:10 Daughter incest is found in the story of Lot (Gn 19:30–38).
  6. 18:15 Judah had intercourse with his daughter-in-law Tamar (Gn 38), but did not know her true identity until her pregnancy was discovered.
  7. 18:16 This refers to cohabiting with one’s sister-in-law not only while the brother is alive, but also after he is dead. Dt 25:5–10 allows for the marriage to the wife of a brother when that brother died without a male heir. Cf. Gn 38:6–14. It was the violation of this law of Leviticus which aroused the wrath of John the Baptist against Herod Antipas (Mt 14:4; Mk 6:18).

11 If a man disgraces his father by lying with his father’s wife,(A) the two of them shall be put to death; their bloodguilt is upon them.

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10 In you are those who uncover the nakedness of their fathers; in you those who coerce women to intercourse during their period.(A)

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