● Chapter 9
In this chapter is the beginning of a new Earth. The old Earth closed and the new began on new principles set down by Yahweh himself. The race of Man was to begin anew.
The Blessing of Noah
Gen 9:1: And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.
The Earth, now emptied of all Serpent seed, was to be repopulated. God blessed Noah and his sons, and commanded them to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth”. The Earth is the only planet God has given to Mankind to inhabit and to build families (cf. Psa.115:16).
Gen 9:2: And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.
In the beginning, God gave the Man, Adam, power to rule the Earth, to have dominion over all living creatures. The Man lived in harmony with the animals, and ruled over them with love and kindness for gentleness and docility were their principal characteristics. The lion dwelled with the lamb, the cobra with the mouse. Not one strong animal harmed a weak animal. The Man was their protection and comfort. Vegetation was the only source of food for all creatures as it was to the Man.
However, the Fall brought a discrepancy which affected all creation. God had taken the lives of a few animals and made coats out of their skins to clothe the Man and his Wife (Gen.3:21). Innocent animals died for the atonement of Man. The enmity put between the Woman and the Serpent (and between her seed and the Serpent’s seed) had surely caused a rift between the animals and Man. Cast out of the Garden of Eden, from the Presence of the Lord, Man lived in a totally different environment; no longer were the animals living close to Man or warming up to him, for now, there were dread and fear of him.
After the Flood, the dominion of Man over the animals changed completely. The bond between them was gone. Mankind had lost that power. The living creatures of land, air and sea were no longer subjected to Mankind. Even so, God made sure a part of the charter He gave to Adam remained in place — “the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.” The living creatures were delivered into Man's hand, and so Man could be master over them. For this reason, some creatures scatter when they see a man while others react with savage ferocity. Yet, there are still animals that would submit to Man's will to be employed in his service. All living creatures are placed entirely at the disposal of Man.
Gen 9:3: Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.
Noah and all his family members were told they could now eat of “every moving thing that liveth”, that is, “every creeping thing that liveth” – living (not dead) creeping creatures. (The Hebrew word for “creeping thing” is “remes”; the same word used in Gen.1:24-26.)
The KJV and some other versions, in translating “remes” as “moving creatures”, give the impression that every living and moving creature was then given to Mankind for food. However, prior to the Flood, Mankind did eat flesh (meat). What the words spoken to Noah and his family show is that Yahweh had now authorized that Man may eat meat. The use of the word “remes” (“creeping things”) shows that reptiles, the lowest in the animal kingdom, could now be eaten along with the other animals. The regulation of clean and unclean animals, as recorded in the Scripture – Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 – did not exist as yet, but the knowledge of what constitutes clean animals from unclean animals must have been revealed to Adam and passed on to Abel, Cain, and Seth, and down to their descendants.
As the words of God indicate: God had given Man all the herbs of the field for food, and then He gave him all animals, from the reptiles to the birds and the beasts of the fields, for food. Prior to God’s authorization, Man had been eating meat, but certainly not “creeping things” which are unclean. With careful study, the Scripture will attest to the fact:
1) Abel grew up to be a herder of flocks – such as sheep, goats and cattle, which are clean animals. Such animals are placid and gentle, easily domesticated. They were not kept and raised just for their wool or fur, and milk, as many so believe, but also for sacrifices. Sacrifices in worship were a part of the life of Mankind. Sacrifices were offered to Yahweh before there was a nation called Israel, a “covenant” nation under Yahweh. It was through Moses that Yahweh strictly instituted the different sacrifices into the worship of the children of Israel, under a priesthood ministry.
It is common sense to believe that Adam did offer sacrifices (of only clean animals) to Yahweh, and had taught Abel and Cain about it. True worship and sacrifices continued from one generation to the next. Noah offered burnt offerings to the Lord right after he left the Ark and touched dry land. True worship was never lost. Without doubt, there were different types of sacrifices offered by the pre-Flood Patriarchs and their descendants to Yahweh before the time of Moses. The three frequent offerings made to the Lord were: sin offering, peace offering and burnt offering. Burnt offering indicates that the sacrificial animal be burnt; no flesh is eaten (Gen.22:2; Exo.29:18). Sin offering is an offering whereby the priest who offers it will eat of the flesh of the offering (Lev.6:26; Eze.44:29). Before a form of priesthood was set up, the offerer himself was the priest, just as the born again saints of God today are priests unto God offering up sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving (1Pe.2:9; Rev.1:6). Peace offering is a freewill offering to Yahweh for a blessing, a deliverance or a fulfilled vow. The flesh of the sacrifice is to be consumed by the offerer (Lev.7:15-17).
While the descendants of Adam through Seth worshipped and offered sacrifices to Yahweh in spirit and in Truth, the descendants of Cain mixed theirs with idolatry and falsehood. Cainic burnt offerings might have included child sacrifices; child sacrifices were carried out by their religious descendants over this side of the Flood.
2) In Matthew 24:37-39 (cf. Luk.17:26-28), Jesus told His disciples the conditions that would exist on the Earth before His return. He said: “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”
There is nothing wrong with “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage”. What is wrong is that the people were taken up with the affairs of satisfying their sensual lives that they heeded not the signs of impending judgment. The foolish fallen “sons of God” (the Sethites) had given themselves over to corruption by inter-marrying with the “daughters of men” (the Cainites) resulting in giants being born (Gen.6:2,4). With such marriages the wickedness and evil thoughts of Mankind increased. The “eating and drinking” is, without doubt, not about the eating of the herbs of the field, fruits of the trees, and the drinking of the milk of cows, sheep and goats. Mankind’s sensual taste for meat had taken them to a new level of consuming every part of animal flesh, even the eating of its fat and blood (cf. Lev.3:17). Gluttony was the norm.
Interestingly, every creature of God was good for food then, as it is now (1Tim.4:4). It is left to Man’s rationale to partake only that which is beneficial to his well-being. It was only under Moses’ leadership that the Jews, under the Levitical Law, were forbidden to consume certain creatures.
With the authorization given for the eating of all animal flesh, warm and cold-blooded, the prohibition against the eating of blood was instituted.
Flesh and Blood
Gen 9:4: But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
Noah and his family were warned not to eat flesh with blood still in it, that is, the blood not being properly drained after it was slaughtered. Before the Flood, it must have been common to see the slaughtering of animals being violently handled by the “children of men”. The animals might have been roughed up, and strangled before being cooked, or, worst, being cooked alive so that the blood stayed in their flesh. Such savageries are not uncommon even today. Yahweh set down this prohibition to prevent cruelty to animals. He wanted Man to have proper respect for animal life. To slaughter an animal and see its blood drain from its body is to behold death, for the (breath of) life is in the blood. The shedding of blood is the shedding (slaughtering) of life. Yet, the death of the animal provides life to the person who eats it.
This prohibition of eating “flesh with the life” (which is the blood) was later modified for the children of Israel that they “eat the blood of no manner of flesh” (Lev.17:14) for Yahweh had given it to them “upon the altar to make an atonement” for their souls, “for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Lev.17:11). The sacrificing of innocent animals was performed by the hand of the Lord to cover Adam and his wife. An animal was sacrificed, blood was shed and a life was taken just so that its skin could clothe the Man; another animal also, to clothe the Woman. And so, God made the blood “an atonement for the soul” to take away sins. Bear in mind that it was not the skin covering that was an atonement for sin, but the shedding of blood (Heb.9:22). The skin was only a covering for the nakedness which Man became aware of when he fell short of the glory of God. Thus the skin speaks of the life an innocent animal gave so that Man might “live” in the eyes of God. Animals were not only sacrificed to appease the wrath of God, but were also eaten. This establishes the truth, that through an animal (the Serpent), death had struck the body of Man by the intermingling of blood (in fornication). The body of Man began to die (Gen.2:17; 3:4). Therefore, animals have to die to “compensate” the dying body of Man so he might “live” — literally as food for his body. It was in both these lines of thoughts – the blood and the life – that God forbade the eating of blood under the Law which He gave to Israel, His covenant people. By the Law, Israel was constantly reminded of the blood issue in the Fall of Mankind, and the requirement of the shedding of blood of an innocent life for the propitiation of sin (Lev.17:14; Deu.12:23; 1 Jhn.2:2; 4:10). Life is in the blood — our soul hangs upon the Life of God which was in the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Since the Great and True Sacrifice had been offered, the obligation of the Law ceases to the reason of it.
For centuries, this matter of the blood (coupled with food offered to idols - Acts 15:29; 21:25) has been misunderstood amongst many churches, and preachers have subjected their congregations to an unnecessary law. It is clear from the message of Paul’s epistles that he had a clear revelation that it was contrary to Grace to subject a Bible believer to the Law. He also knew that there were those who were either confused or had extreme opinion concerning the keeping of the Law. So he approached it with grace and understanding against those without the knowledge of the truth as he had.
Now, Paul gave the very best advice possible concerning food: “Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake. For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof” (1Cor.10:25-26).
Eat whatever food you want that is sold in the market without asking any question for conscience’ sake. If this is the true advice of an Apostle of the Lord, then the eating of anything — any food which the dietary law of Moses forbids in Leviticus 11, including blood, is not contrary to the Christian faith. If conscience troubles you about eating certain foods, then avoid eating them. Otherwise, as Paul said: “Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom.14:22b-23).
Some Christians may yet argue and exclaim, “But the blood is life! Life is in the blood!”
True, but what has that to do with the faith and the walk of a Christian?
“Oh, because Jesus shed His blood for our sins!”
True, but what has that to do with the eating of animal blood?
“Because if we eat the blood of animal, we are not respecting the Blood of Christ.”
Untrue. It is a presumptuous teaching. There is no such teaching in the Scripture. The single “law” first suggested by Apostle Peter and put forth to the Gentile believers by the Jerusalem council (Act.15:29) was the argument against the eating of blood among Christians.
Blood For Blood
Gen 9:5: And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man.
6: Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.
God requires an account of one’s lifeblood because Man was made in God’s image. Though the Man had sinned, God’s image is still on fallen Man, except that the image is now tainted. Human life is sacred and one should not frivolously consider the taking of life, whether it be another person’s or one’s own. God detests killing. (God strongly ingrained this law into His chosen nation, Israel - Exo.20:13; 21:12-23.) He even demands a beast that kills a man be put to death (Exo.21:28-32), which law is still observed in many nations. (Animal owners are responsible for their animals.) “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” Hence, the terror of punishment against any man who shed the blood of another man.
[Note: It is sad that many Christians have opinions that do not line up with God’s demands. Some disagree with, or do not believe in, capital punishment. Others go far in justifying their religious conscience with an argument to say, “Who are we human to judge and to put a man (a murderer) to death? Only God could do that.” It is one thing to have an opinion but it is another to excuse a death penalty when God had specifically commanded that “whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed”.]
In the beginning, Yahweh directly dealt with a murderer. He could have put Cain to death, but as there was no law yet implemented, God spared him (cf. Rom.2:12). Nevertheless, God judged Cain in a way befitting for shedding the blood of his brother, Abel, by a curse on the ground. Cain knew that he was in danger of death at the hands of certain men who would seek him out for the cursed ground. (See exposition in chapter 4.)
It was after the Deluge that God, the sole legislator-administrator of law, explicitly passed the judgment of a murderer into the hand of Man: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” It belonged to those who were divinely appointed to represent the authority and majesty of the Almighty (Rom.13:1). As Mankind increased and spread through the Earth, this law was observed in every established community of people, by the heads of tribes, villages, states, and countries, laying the foundation for civil government.
Having blessed Noah and his family, God once again reminded them:
Gen 9:7: And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.
Yahweh’s main concern was for the whole Earth to be populated with people. For the Earth to have a successful continuance of the human race, the Almighty condescended to establish a covenant with Noah and his sons and their descendants.
Gen 9:8: And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying,
9: And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;
10: And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.
11: And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.
Notice how God initiated the covenant: “I, behold, I” — words of the Almighty spoken with assurance and awe. When God makes a covenant, it cannot be annulled for He is faithful and will make good of it (cf. Gal.3:15-17; Num.23:19). This covenant was not only made with Mankind but extended also to every living creature of the Earth; God will never again destroy living creatures by the waters of the flood, and will never again ruin the land with a flood.
Gen 9:12: And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:
13: I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
14: And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:
15: And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
16: And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.
17: And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.
To strengthen His covenant, Yahweh gave Mankind a token, a sign. When He brings the clouds over the Earth, especially thick wet clouds, which Man have reason to fear the rain prevailing, He would mark His covenant by placing a colorful bow in the clouds. The bow would be a reminder to Yahweh Himself of His covenant. Never was there a bow in the sky before the Flood; those were days of cloudless skies. Neither did it rain for there were no rain clouds; only an aqueous layer of water clouded (covered) the Earth like a swaddling garment (Psa.104:6; Job 38:9a). However, after “all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened, and the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights” (Gen.7:11b-12), the Earth’s atmosphere was changed; “the fountains of the great deep”, the layer of water that swaddled the Earth like a garment, was no more. Only a portion of that water was lifted up to form rain clouds, and the rest was left on the Earth as water in the oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, subterranean caverns, snow and ice.
The Hebrew word for “bow” is qesheth. It means bending, arching, signifying toughness and strength as in a bow that is bent and ready to shoot an arrow. The bow is a weapon of terror as well as security. The bow in the cloud, however, has neither string nor arrow, and it is directed upwards, not towards the Earth. It is a natural bow created by the “Sun of Righteousness” whose Light strikes raindrops of blessing, not wrath, displaying a spectrum of seven beautiful colours of His majesty — Love, Truth, Holiness, Omnipotence, Omniscience, Mercy and Justice as He sits upon His Throne (Rev.4:3). The bow points also to the mediatorship of His only begotten Son who bowed Himself to Earth to redeem Mankind (Rev.10:1 cf. Mal.4:2). Each time God paints it in the cloud, He gives us comfort and assurance of His faithfulness in His covenant, established with His creatures on the Earth.
We should be thankful and mindful that Yahweh remembers His covenant with Noah and his descendants, whenever He places a rainbow in the cloud.
The Sons of Noah
Gen 9:18: And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.
19: These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.
Here we have the facts that Noah had only three sons — Shem, Ham and Japheth, and that from them the whole Earth was populated. Everyone born after the Flood came from them. We are all of the same blood, the “one blood” of Noah and his wife, Naamah (Act.17:26). It is not the “one blood” of Adam and Eve, for Cain, who was the seed of the Serpent through Eve, has his blood in Naamah. Therefore, the three sons of Noah possessed that one mixture of blood of Noah and his wife. The evil and beastly serpentine nature is present in the whole human race. (Recall the exposition in Genesis chapter 6.) These two verses essentially introduce a revelation to the mysteries concerning the sin of Ham, and why Noah cursed Canaan, in the rest of the chapter.
The Sin of Ham
Gen 9:20: And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
21: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
22: And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
23: And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.
24: And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
25: And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
26: And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
27: God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
A casual reading and study of this passage of Scripture would have the reader believe that the sin Ham committed against his father was one of the following: i) he ogled at his father’s naked body; ii) he made light of his father’s nakedness; iii) he forced himself upon his father. For the rest of the passage, the casual reader would conclude that Shem and Japheth immediately entered the tent, took a garment and with a very awkward manoeuvre, covered their father’s naked body; and, when Noah later awoke from his hangover, straight away he realized what Ham had done to him.
So what really happened? In order to understand, we must bear in mind that certain portions of the Holy Scripture were penned by the Spirit of God mysteriously to both hide and reveal the Truth. The truth may be carried in the form of a dual statement or a compounded statement, or even in the form of a parable. Such is the account of the sin of Ham in this passage of Scripture.
Notice that the passage emphatically begins with Noah becoming a husbandman (apparently he was no longer a herder of animals). He planted a vineyard and made wine. The statement calls our attention to the blight of Noah, for his heavy indulgence in wine making and wine drinking, to the state where he became drunk. (Noah’s interest in wine could have only come by what he had observed and tasted during the mixed community of people before the Flood, in which the Cainic lifestyle dominated the whole populace.) On one fateful day, Noah was very drunk, and his nakedness was uncovered within his own tent by his son, Ham. Ham saw the nakedness of his father. What really was the evil that Ham committed that got Noah to curse his son Canaan? And why Canaan? Why not Ham’s other sons? As a matter of fact, should not Ham be the one cursed instead? For a curse to be justifiable, Noah should either have cursed Ham’s eyes because he ogled at his nakedness, or cursed his brain (mental faculty) for he made light of his nakedness (as some believe). And, if Ham had forced himself upon Noah when Noah was drunk, then a curse upon Ham’s reproductive organ would be justified. Remember the Word says: “And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe” (Exo.21:23-25).
Next, the passage emphasizes Ham being “the father of Canaan”, not only in verse 22 but also in verse 18. Why such emphasis? Obviously to call for our attention (for “2” is the number of “witness”). Moses wanted us to be aware that Canaan was born of Ham as a result of the events that took place in these verses of Scripture he recorded. Ham did something evil that brought forth Canaan. What was it? And who was Canaan?
Canaan was a really bad seed produced out of Ham’s shameful act of sin (“uncovering...saw the nakedness of his father”) — sin of an unholy union. Canaan was a seed not of Ham and his wife (Mrs. Ham) but of Ham and his mother (Mrs. Noah, Naamah). This incestuous act brought forth the seed — Canaan, and Canaan brought forth GIANTS, this side of the Flood (Gen.10:15-19 cf. Gen.6:4). He was an accursed seed, just as Cain was a bad seed. Hence, Noah was justified in cursing Canaan. It could not be any plainer. This shows that Ham’s sin was not something else, like ogling at Noah’s naked body or/and making light of it, or that he had performed a homosexual act on Noah, which would mean Ham raped his father; these interpretations are commonly held by organized traditional churches.
Here is a plausible account of what happened on that fateful day. Noah had one drink too many of the wine he made and became totally intoxicated, stripping himself naked – that is, he uncovered himself – in his own tent. [Note: The nomadic tent is not like a Red Indian teepee or a camping tent.] Noah’s wife was in the tent. Perhaps, she was waiting for her husband and longing to have some time together with him. Along came Ham into the tent. He saw his father dead drunk and lying naked. Ham saw his mother there. What transpired at that moment of time was an opportunity for Satan to stir up the passion of both mother and son. Remember that Mrs. Noah was Naamah, a descendent of the Serpent race, a Cainite. Had Noah been too busy with the cares of his vineyard and the wine making that he had no time for his wife since the day they left the ark? Truly, in no less than four years (to grow wine grapes and produce wine) his indulgence of alcohol had numbed his senses, even the sense of passion for sexual love with his wife.
Now, observe how Moses worded the words in verse 21. Concerning the situation of Noah, the words written did not state that “he uncovered himself”. Rather, the words stated that “he was uncovered”. Notice the play of words? That’s right, “he was uncovered” in his tent — by someone. Who was it? “Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father.” That is, Ham uncovered his father’s nakedness. “None of you shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness: I am the LORD… The nakedness of thy father’s wife shalt thou not uncover: it is thy father's nakedness” (Lev.18:6-8). Ham committed incest with his mother within the tent of Noah — Ham uncovered the nakedness of his father within the tent of Noah. He uncovered what belonged to his father. He had uncovered and saw what was — his father’s nakedness. Verses 21-22 should be clear enough to have us understand that Noah’s nakedness was uncovered by Ham. Ham had uncovered the nakedness of his father’s wife and saw the nakedness of his father.
The laws of immoral relations were given to Israel in the Book of Leviticus (chapter 18). There are two keywords used to express illicit relations. They are “uncover” and “nakedness”. Together the two words conjugate to describe immoral relations. There is one other verse in Scripture that carries the same meaning (as detailed in the laws on immoral relations in Leviticus 18) but used figuratively. It is in Isaiah chapter 47. Read the whole chapter and see how Isaiah lamented for Babylon. He prophesied that Babylon was to be ravaged, brought down to a disgrace. Notice verses 2 and 3, especially the semantics of the two words “uncover” and “nakedness”, coupled with the phrase “thy shame shall be seen”.
Isa 47:2: Take the millstones, and grind meal: uncover thy locks, make bare the leg, uncover the thigh, pass over the rivers.
3: Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet thee as a man.
[Note: The expressions used in Habakkuk 2:15-16: “look on their nakedness” and “let thy foreskin be uncovered” have no similarity to the expressions used by Moses in his account of the sin of Ham in Genesis 9. Habakkuk was speaking of the shame of causing one’s neighbour to be drunk so that one may see their nakedness, that is, their pudenda. The Hebrew word used here for “nakedness” is maw-ore', used strictly for the exposure of one’s pudenda. But the word “nakedness” in Genesis 9 is er-vaw', is more than just the naked body and the pudenda. It conveys something literally, or figuratively, unclean: a disgrace or a blemish. Its root word is `arah, to demolish. When someone’s er-vaw' (nakedness) has been uncovered, he or she has been demolished, damaged, blemished, ravaged, disgraced. And Noah’s wife was blemished, and he was a destroyed man.]
After his incestuous affair with his mother, Ham must have felt remorseful enough to tell what he had committed to his two brothers. He did not laugh; he did not ridicule his father. Imagine the shock of his brothers when Ham told them plainly what he had done. The illicit affair between mother and son was a poignant one that affected not just Shem and Japheth. It must have affected Ham and his mother too. Ham was held responsible over his mother for his lack of self-control. He had shamelessly taken advantage of that moment when his father was in a despicable drunken state. Yes, Noah shamed himself for lost of self-control over his wine drinking. Ham shamed himself for shaming his father’s shame. Shame, O shame!
What did Shem and Japheth do when they heard what was told to them? They went to their father’s tent. Entering in, they saw their father still lying in a sorrowful spectacle on the floor, and their mother sitting in one area of the tent, undaunted and unconcerned. What a distressing sight. “And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.” So they took a garment, put it upon both their shoulders, walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father — is this what comes to mind just reading that verse of Scripture?
Notice the absurdity in the statement, when taken literally, the way the two brothers went about a simple task of covering their father with a garment. Firstly, note that it was not just any piece of cloth that was used to cover Noah. It was a garment, a mantle, an outer covering worn by a man. Yes, a mantle is tailored to cover (up) one’s body. A cloth (be it a table cloth, a bed sheet) is not. Secondly, note how the mantle was held by Shem and Japheth — they “laid it upon both their shoulders”. They did not each hold one end of it. They laid the garment upon both their shoulders; that is, they had to stand shoulder to shoulder, almost touching each other, with a part of the garment over each of their shoulders. Why did they do that, if that was what they did? And notice that they “went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward”. Why? Did they literally walk backward with a garment between them on their shoulders? Is not such an approach awkward and impractical to a simple task of covering a naked man? Would not a single person have easily performed such a simple task? Is seeing one’s father’s naked body a sin? If so, that would mean that no children could ever personally care for their own terminally ill parents.
The absurdity of the language should cause us to realize that Moses intended his readers to look beyond the mere act of covering the naked body of Noah. If you can understand the following two verses of Scripture you will be able to understand the usage of the expression, “laid it upon both their shoulders”.
Isa 9:6: For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
Isa 22:22: And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.
Clearly, the use of the expression, “took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders”, speaks of “taking the responsibility (duty, burden) upon themselves to cover up a secret”. In this case, both Shem and Japheth bore the responsibility of hiding (covering up) the sin of Ham’s act from their father. And the words “and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness” emphasizes that both Shem and Japheth were unlike their hot-headed brother, Ham (whose name means "hot, burning"), who went forward in sinning against their father while he was drunk.
[Note: A curse is put on the man and the woman who commits iniquity of an incestuous kind. They shall be barren, destitute of children, after committing such a sin. Moses wrote specifically:
Lev. 20:19: And thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother’s sister, nor of thy father’s sister: for he uncovereth his near kin: they shall bear their iniquity.
20: And if a man shall lie with his uncle’s wife, he hath uncovered his uncle’s nakedness: they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless [Heb: ‘ariyriy – bare, destitute (of children)].
21: And if a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness; they shall be childless [Heb: ‘ariyriy – bare, destitute (of children)].
Notice that Ham had no other children with his own wife after Canaan was born, the fruit of his incestuous act with his mother, Mrs. Noah. He became sterile.
Mrs. Noah had no other children by Noah other than Japheth, Ham and Shem. In truth , whether or not Noah had intimacy with her, she had become barren.]
Awaken to Reality
However, it was not long before Noah came to realize what Ham had done to him. “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.” This did not mean that upon waking up from his intoxication, Noah somehow had an understanding of what had taken place when he was out cold. We need to ask ourselves the question: How did Noah know what Ham did to him? It is easy to say that he knew it by divine inspiration. But is it really so; is that really true?
The word “knew” is a word that means “ascertained by seeing”. When Noah was clear-headed from his intoxication, he would just go about his chores. like other times before. Nothing was unusual and nothing called to his attention that day, that a shame had befallen him while he was drunk. But as the days passed, he noticed his wife was getting heavy in the “tummy”, and perhaps, his inquiries to “how, where and when” were haunting him. However, Shem and Japheth kept a tight-lip. Over time, things and events became clearer and Noah knew that the child within his wife was not his. Noah’s observation soon gave him a “wake-up” call; he finally awoke from his wine — a call to keep off wine. The lust of the flesh for wine was the cause of his humiliation.
Of the three sons, there was only one whom Noah knew, who could have humiliated him, to have seen his nakedness, and that was Ham. Ham must have been a “hot” child at a young age, and while growing up, exhibited some wayward behaviour. The Cainic genes were more dominant in him. So, when the time approached for the birth of the child, the members of Noah’s family were perhaps edgy. Finally the child was born, with one look at the child Noah knew that Ham was obviously the father. Calling his family together, he forced the truth out of them. Ham admitted to his guilt. Because of the variance, it gave Noah the right to name the son. Noah called him “a lowly person”, that is, “Canaan”, and he then pronounced a curse upon Canaan. [Note: Ham could have named his own son, but to name him thus is quite unlikely.]
Gen 9:25: And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
26: And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
27: God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
Noah was justified in cursing Canaan for Canaan was an accursed seed. If Canaan was not an accursed seed, the curse would have no effect (cf. Pro.26:2). Cursing Canaan affected Ham. It declared that Ham himself was a rogue, and that in him, in his descendents, there were to be troubles and sorrows.
The curse on Canaan was one of servitude, “a servant of servants” — slave of the most wretched kind, despicable, as his name Canaan so meant. Canaan was even servant to his own brethren, Cush, Mizraim, and Phut. History shows that Hamites, especially the Canaanites, were very self-willed. Though they were a formidable people with dominion and power, the Canaanites were an accursed people. The curse slowly but surely came upon them; and when the iniquity of Ham reached its zenith, about 900 years later, the Israelites put the Canaanites to the sword or under tribute (cf. Jos.9:23; Jdg.1:28-35). So fulfilled the words of Noah — “Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.”
Notice that Noah blessed the LORD (Yahweh) and called Him the God of Shem. From this blessing we see that Shem was chosen, whose lineage would come the Saviour of the world. Noah had declared that Shem and his descendants would be such as would evidence to all the world that Yahweh, the One True God, was the God of Shem. It was in the posterity of Shem that the Jews came, and the Jews were the only professing people that Yahweh had until Yahshua came. When speaking about the God of Shem, many pious Jews use the Hebrew word HaShem (meaning “The Name”) instead of יהוה – YHVH (Yahweh). How fitting, for Shem means Name, implying honor, authority, character, lofty — the Majestic Glory of Yahweh is in the tents of Shem (cf. Heb.12:22; Psa.110:3; Isa.60:1-3).
In the spirit of prophecy, Noah continued and upon Japheth, he said that God should broaden him. Japheth’s posterity was scattered far away from the localities of Shem and Ham — northward, northwestward and northeastward, and even to the isles (cf. Gen.10:5; Jer.25:22). The statement: “and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem” was uttered figuratively rather than literally. As the people of the three sons of Noah expanded, they warred against each other; and the conquerors would, no doubt, dwell in the lands of the conquered. Some of Japheth’s seeds, like the Grecians and the Romans, invaded Israel and dwelled in the territory of Shem. But the term “and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem” means that “he shall permanently stay, or reside, in the home of Shem”, speaking of Japheth (his people) coming to fellowship with Shem in the Glorious Gospel Light that belongs to Shem (cf. Rom.1:16; Eph.2:11-22; Gen.10:5; Isa.42:4. Note the expression in Psalm 84:10: “to dwell in the tents of wickedness” — “to fellowship with (and live in) wickedness”). Yahweh, the God of Shem, was in the tents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is in these tents, by the Gospel of Christ, that the Holy City, New Jerusalem is realized (Heb.11:9-10; Rev.21). Japheth’s posterity was blessed to see the Light early, and be a part of the blessed people of Shem. Ham’s posterity came very much later.
The blessing on Japheth ended, as was on Shem, that “Canaan shall be his servant”. Ham and all his sons grew up together being affected by the curse on Canaan. Troubles and sorrows followed them. They were as carnal as their father, Ham, and as defiant as Cain, and soon turned away from Yahweh to serve gods born out of their vain imaginations and deep superstitions. So backward were they, that they were easily made slaves by the might of Japheth for many generations, until the Gospel reached out to them wherever they were scattered.
Age of Noah
Gen 9:28: And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years.
29: And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.
Noah lived for an additional 350 years after the Flood, even though Yahweh declared that He would bring down the age of Man to 120 years. Shem, who was born before the Flood, died at the age of 600 years (Gen.11:10-11). His first three generations of children, Arphaxad, Shelah and Eber, would lived near to 500 years old (Gen.11:12-17). It was about 900 years later, at the time when the Law was given, that the age of Man was brought down to 120 years.
Noah died at the age of 950 years.