Summary of passage: Noah’s sons are Shem, Ham, and Japheth and from them came the people who were scattered over the earth. Noah got drunk and naked. Shem & Japheth covered him up. Noah cursed Ham (the father of Canaan and the one who told of his nakedness) when he found out he had tattled to be slaves to his brothers. At the same time, he blessed his other sons, asking for Canaan to be Shem’s slaves and Japheth’s territory to grow and live in Shem’s tents as Canaan is Shem’s slaves as well.
Noah died at age 950.
12a) It seems to me Shem and Japheth loved their father more. They didn’t tell of his situation but instead did their best to cover up their father. Proverbs says “love covers over all wrongs” so even if getting drunk was wrong love makes it disappear.
b) Proverbs 17:9 says “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” Ham told his brothers (and not in a loving way–in a mocking way) of his father’s nakedness and what happened to him (which we don’t know) and Shem and Japheth covered their father’s offense in love. When Noah wakes, he is so mad he curses Ham and his descendants–in effect separating the brothers because like Cain and Abel I’m sure jealousy and dissension arose amongst them.
God does not like the man who stirs up dissension amongst brothers. It appears there was something else going on here we just don’t know about. I think there was dissension before this incident. Sibling rivalry if you will. Either way love was missing in Ham’s heart.
c) Personal Question. My answer: I should respond in love. Not engage in gossip.
13) Noah curses Canaan to be slaves to his brothers. Commentators say that Genesis 9:27 predicts the Messiah coming that God (Jesus) will dwell in the tents of Shem. The land of Canaan is the land where Sodom and Gomorrah lie and is known for its evil. It is also the land Moses will flee to and the land God gives Abraham. So in one way it could be a warning not to mix with the Canaanites.
We don’t know why Ham was condemned and the others were blessed. Many believe there was underlying sin here that something bad (such as sexual abuse) happened to Noah while he was sleeping and Ham boasted of it to his brothers. However, all of this is speculation. All we know is what the Bible says: Ham boasted; Shem and Japheth covered with love; Noah’s reaction.
Conclusions: The lesson I got out of this is the difference in acting out of love or acting out of self and how gossip, boasting, and pride lead to dissension between close friends. Whatever happened Shem and Japheth loved their father more and were blessed because of their actions. This is my take-away: love leads to blessings.
Question 13 is a challenge because even bible commentators don’t agree on what the curse means and its implications.
An interesting lengthy paper on the curse found here:
Interesting Side Note: This curse is what was used to justify slavery of Africans who were believed to be the descendants of Ham and thus preordained to be slaves. This is what was believed and taught by early Americans. I found this fascinating because early Americans (and others who enslaved) truly believed this verse justified their actions. Great example of how misinterpreting the Bible can have devastating consequences or the pitfalls of using the Bible to justify extreme behavior.