Genesis 9:18-29 Life Begins Again

Shem and Japheth cared for their father’s dignity,

The flood is over. Everyone is busy making new lives for themselves. Noah gets into a spot of trouble and two of his boys help him out.

You would think that God would only fill His story with “happily ever after” endings and perfect people. Noah was the only one left that was truly righteous at the time of the flood. I don’t know if this was because his father and grandfather had walked away from God or because God knew His own timeline and that they would not be alive when He sent the flood. But today we see that Noah was human and prone to indulge in sin, just like the rest of us. I think God demonstrates that ALL people are fallible so we can have hope for our own lives.

We aren’t told how long after the flood this incident happens but it is long enough for Noah to tend a vineyard and for Ham to have four sons. The youngest one is the one mentioned in our story today. After reading today’s story and the next days, I FINALLY discovered the birth order of Noah’s three sons. Shem is the oldest, Japheth is the middle son and Ham is the youngest. Just in case you were curious like me. Anyway, back to our story.

Noah and his sons had been ship builders. We don’t know if this was their trade originally but it was certainly their “job” for long enough to construct the ark. After the flood Noah changed his profession and pastime. He was now a gardener. He grew a vineyard. He was good enough at this task to be able to have a good harvest and to use the fruits of that harvest to make wine. And it was apparently a good vintage because he indulged a bit too much. He got drunk on his yield.

I have a question. Did things ferment before the flood? Did Noah partake of the “fruit of the vine” before the flood? Was that fruit intoxicating? Some have proposed that the flood actually triggered decay in our world. That would include the fermentation process. Was Noah ever drunk or even “tipsy” before the flood?

Whether or not Noah had imbibed to the point of being drunk before, he had not fallen to this level of behavior before. This time he lost all inhibitions. Fortunately his inhibitions stayed within the confines of his own home, but his state was visible to those who went into his home. We are not told if they lived in tents or houses at this time. (I wonder if they used part of the ark to construct homes for themselves.) Ham saw him when he came to visit.

Ham could have covered him up and kept quiet about the whole thing. But he did neither. Ham showed no concern for Noah’s dignity. He went to his brothers and described the whole scene to them, in detail. Shem and Japheth were shocked by what they heard but they had compassion on their father.

Not only did these two cover their father’s nakedness, they did it without looking at his state. They demonstrated respect for their father. I also believe that they told no one about the events that took place.

I’m curious how Noah knew what Ham had done when he woke up. Did someone tell him? Was he semi-conscious during the events? Or maybe Ham had left something behind during his visit that clued Noah in. However he found out, Noah was furious with his youngest son’s behavior.

Something of note here is Noah’s punishment against Ham. He didn’t punish Ham directly. He spoke a curse against his youngest son. Talk about the sins of the father affecting the sons! Did Noah choose Ham’s youngest because Ham was his youngest? Maybe he chose Canaan because he was Ham’s favorite. Could it be that this was the one who popped into Noah’s mind first? We aren’t really told why the choice of this child but we do see Noah’s words lived out MANY generations later. Did the descendants of all involved remember this promise throughout the generations? Did they act on this prophecy of Noah and try and put Canaan “in his place”?

Canaan was to serve “his brothers” as punishment for Ham’s sin. Canaan would also serve Shem’s descendants and Japheth’s. As the descendants of Shem would be the Israelites, this was also a prophecy for MUCH later; when Israel drove the Canaanites from the promised land. God has a way of using men’s mouths to tell of what will happen down the road. And those proclamations come at some of the strangest moments. All in His time! Wait for it…

Father God, thank You for Your faithfulness. You not only brought this family through but You cared for them for the rest of their lives. Thank You that You care about mine just as much. THANK YOU that You share stories of disaster too. I would feel TOTALLY incapable of being any use to You without those stories. I like knowing that you don’t have to be perfect to be perfectly loved. I wonder what more You hold in store for me and for my children. Eagerly awaiting the “next step” in our adventure.

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