From Genesis 8-11
After being saved from the flood. Noah gets drunk and sleeps naked. His sons treat the incident in different ways. Have a look and see what happens.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
The fall of mankind has progressed and is now systemic. The LORD is grieved that so many have been corrupted and that every inclination of their hearts is evil (Gen 6.5-7). Noah is a noted exception (Gen 6.8-9). In light of the corruption of man, the LORD God resolves to send a flood to wipe everything out (Gen 6.11-13). Scorched earth. He gives Noah instructions for how he can escape the destruction. Noah obeys and is saved (Gen 6.14-8.19). The LORD makes a one sided covenant, the first in the scriptures, vowing not to destroy the earth again (Gen 8.20-17).
Today’s passage is a fresh beginning.
18 The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed. (Gen 9.18-19)
‘From these the people of the whole earth were dispersed’. There is no one else left. It a bit like Adam and Eve, all the world’s population have come from this small family. The question is, have the problems of sin and death been resolved?
20 Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. 21 He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. (Gen 9.20-21)
The consumption of alcohol is regulated in the scriptures. In the Old Testament drinking and becoming merry or drunk is not condemned (Ecc 9.7; Gen 43.34; Ruth 3.7; 2 Sam 11.13). In the New Testament Paul takes a tougher stance against getting drunk. Drinking a little is encouraged (1 Tim 5.23). But becoming drunk and losing control over yourself is prohibited (Eph 5.18). People who make a regular practice of getting drunk will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6.10; Gal 5.21). Noah became drunk and that probably why he lay uncovered, his private parts exposed.
22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, (Gen 9.22-24)
When Noah woke up, he ‘knew what his youngest son had done to him’ (Gen 9.24). Consider Noah’s before and after state. Explicitly the only difference is that he is now covered. Is this what he was upset about? How would he know who did what? Unless we assume Noah had some inclination about the character and nature of his sons. The text earlier says, Ham ‘saw the nakedness of his father’ (Gen 9.22).
Seeing someone naked is not a sin. Anyone married or have children? As a suggestion, an interpretation I’ve read a few times is that its possible Ham sexually abused his father and this is what Noah knew had been done to him. Horrible. Reading between the lines ‘uncovering the nakedness’ of someone is a reference to sex (e.g. Lev 18.6-19; Ruth 3.4). We cannot know for sure, but sin is still rearing its ugly head in mankind. Sin always has consequences (1 Tim 5.24).
25 he [Noah] said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.”
26 He also said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant.
27 May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.” (Gen 9.25-27)
Ham doesn’t get cursed, his son Canaan does (Gen 9.25). The generations of Ham are cursed (cf. Ex 34.7b). The nature of the curse is they will serve their brothers families. Family pecking order. Even further, the line of Canaan will serve all the other family lines. Ham’s line just got demoted from second in line to last.
28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29 All the days of Noah were 950 years, and he died. (Gen 9.28-29)
Story of Israel
The pronouncement places a curse on Canaan relative to his status within the family. He will be fruitful and multiply, but his descendants will be slaves. In similar ways the pronouncement on Adam and Eve placed a curse that impacted their status with regard to food. They would have food but would have to work hard to get it. The reason why the curse on Canaan is preserved is almost too obvious to mention. Both times Ham is mentioned by name, the text informs us that he is the father of Canaan. Within Genesis, we can conclude that the author is more interested in Canaan than he is in Ham. He implies that the Canaanites got off on the wrong foot from the beginning; thus, it is no surprise that by the time of Moses and his audience, they have earned the wrath and punishment of God. This concept in turn gives the Israelites at the time of Joshua a broader perspective about the Canaanites. (Walton, J.H., 2001. Genesis, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.)
Story of Jesus
In the gospel, Jesus recognises all are under condemnation for their sin.
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” (Jn 3.16-21)
Thankfully that is the reason why he died. To take on the curse (Gal 3.13-14), so that we may go free.
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