“Ruthless killer.” “Merciless ruler.” “Chief idolator.” These are just some of the names that I’ve come to be known by. And that’s okay; I’ve gotten used to them. I’ll even admit that I kind of deserve them. Some of those titles, anyway.
Before you go calling me names, though, it’s only fair that you familiarize yourself with all the details . . .
I was born into a strange time, a kind of post-Flood era.1 Grandpa Ham had survived on the ark, and together with his family went about repopulating the world. The scene was fresh then, and people were ripe for all kinds of new ideas. I think I sensed this as a kid, and it laid the seeds for some interesting innovations that I brought about later on.
Being the youngest child, I received preferential treatment from my father, Cush. If you’ve read the opening chapters of Genesis, you are probably familiar with the special cloaks that G‑d had made for Adam and Eve. Well, they had somehow survived the Flood, had been stolen from Great-Grandpa Noah by Grandpa Ham, and had been given to Poppa Cush. Since I was his favorite, he entrusted them to me.2
One thing is for sure: They helped out with my popularity rates. Animals had this strange reaction to these garments: upon sight of them, they would fall helpless at my feet. As you can imagine, hunting competitions weren’t much of a challenge for me, and before I knew it I had attracted quite a sizeable following of fans and devotees.3
What’s with “before the L‑rd”? It’s kind of like saying “in the whole wide world” in Bible talk.5Nowadays, historians would write, “He was the mightiest hunter of his times,” which, mind you, is a description I’m not exactly ashamed of. (There are some other interpretations of “before the L‑rd”; we’ll get to them later.)
I know you’ve all heard rotten things about me, but, ironically, I started out as a devoutly religious person.6 Truth is, pretty much everyone back then was religious.7 The Flood was still fresh in people’s minds—I was born only 95 years after it ended—and no one was exactly looking for a repeat.
My cloak came in handy for religious purposes, too. I’d go out, hunt animals, and offer them as sacrifices to G‑d. Remember that I was called a “trapper before the L‑rd”? Some commentators understand this to be referring to my religious days, back when I was still on the straight and narrow.8