5-part audio study starts here:
The Gibeonites5/Genesis 9:20-27,part1
It is possible and in fact, commonly believed,
that the changed "physical" conditions of the earth is the cause
for the "fermentation" effect on the grape juice. Thus, Noah would
be unaware of the negative effects the fermented juice would have on his
Noah became drunk and careless. He did the normal
pass-out routine for drunkenness and in the process discarded his robe.
So he is lying in his own room sprawled out naked
on the floor or possibly on his sleeping area.
1. Ham is a believer ignorant of truth and grace.
2. He is negative to his father's authority.
3. He is negative to his father's teaching.
4. But he is under that authority and has been
hearing the teaching all his life.
5. He is resentful and rebellious but has never
been able to truly find fault with his father until now.
6. Ham enters Noah's tent and sees his father's
condition quite by accident. There is no blame or guilt at this point.
7. But the context indicates that Ham saw his opportunity
to put his father "in his place" and accordingly, rejoiced in
the shame and helplessness of Noah.
8. But private gloating holds little satisfaction.
So he makes public not only Noah's condition but his own attitude of rebellion
9. Those who abide in darkness, walk in darkness
and are blind to the light of truth. This includes moral objectivity.
10. In his blindness he assumes that his brothers
will join with him in this gloating of a "victory" over Noah.
11. He has no capacity to understand that they
just might not feel as he does.
12. And so they, being positive to truth and Noah's
authority, reject Ham's rebellion and express the opposite attitude of love
13. That proper attitude and action is first reflected
in what the brothers did in covering Noah.
14. Secondly, it is reflected through the teachings
a. Ex. 20:12; 21:17
b. Lev. 20:9; Deut. 27:16
c. Deut. 21:18-21
d. Pr. 20:20; 30:11-14
e. Pr. 13:1; 15:5
f. Eph. 6:1-2
15. The statement of the deed:
a. Ham SAW the nakedness of his father.
The word is rAa, which means simply to see something.
b. He did NOT UNCOVER the nakedness of his father.
This was NOT a homosexual act.
The word for "uncover" is gAlAh and is often used to indicate sexual
activity. Lev. 18:6-18 and 20:11ff.
c. Uncovering usually connotes sexual activity
and accordingly must certainly involve the idea of "seeing,"
as at Lev. 20:17.
d. But "seeing" does not automatically
indicate that some type of sexual activity took place. The context must
indicate that such activity took place by the use of the term "uncovered"
or some other explicit language.
16. RE: the theory that Canaan
is the offspring of sex between Ham and his mother.
1. There is no mention of Canaan's mother in the genealogy.
I think it is a safe assumption that if that were the case, it would certainly
2. The narrative of the incident makes no mention of any sexual sin at all.
Neither a homosexual act nor a violation of Noah's wife. The observations about
the two verbs involved apply here as well.
3. It is obvious to me that the sin of Ham was an act of total disrespect and
dishonoring of Noah's moral and spiritual authority. Looking upon Noah's
nakedness, ridiculing him and then boasting about it.
The two brothers avoided any HINT of such disrespect by avoiding even LOOKING.
4. The incident and the "curse" revolves around what happened in the tent while
Noah was alone and not some later "suggested" coitus between Ham and his mother.
5. The pronouncement of natural consequences upon Canaan has to do with HIS OWN
perpetuation of moral and spiritual rebellion.
A child is not blamed, judged or "cursed" because of what his/her parents did.
The 4-generation curse of Ex. 20:5 is upon "those who hate me." Personal
Shem and Japheth acted opposite to what Ham did and indicate
their respect for both the authority and the teaching of Noah.
1. Ham's act was rebellious disrespect, not homosexuality.
2. The act of his brothers, designed to offset
Ham's act, does not logically do a thing if Ham's act was physical.
3. But if, as is the case, Ham's act was rebellion
against authority and truth, this act by his brothers rebukes him and testifies
to their own positive attitude toward God's established moral design.
4. Another indication of the character of this
crime is found in Noah's prophecy. The content of his teaching has nothing
to do with homosexuality, but everything to do with moral and spiritual
The Hebrew narrative here is very simple with clauses
being joined with the simple "waw" which basically means "and."
1. And Noah awoke: not "when." This is
important because what he KNEW about what happened is NOT "when"
he awoke, but what he learned after he awoke.
2. From his wine: yayin (LXX = eknepho + apo oinos)
3. And knew: yAda - means to know or to LEARN.
(Brown Driver Briggs Lexicon, page 393)
4. What Ham had done to him:
a. This is the only factor that could
a homosexual act.
b. But again, the context is simple and centered
around the issue of moral and spiritual authority, not a sexual sin.
c. This word "did" does not demand a
physical act but can apply to Ham's expression of attitude as he himself
related it to his brothers.
d. And then, it says he knew what HAM had done.
So obviously, someone else had to tell him what had happened. How else
would he know WHO did it?
e. By way of comparison
that does not really offer any proof one way or the other, we can see a
similar situation at Genesis 19:32-35. The daughters of Lot made him drunk
and then had sex with him two nights in a row. And the narrative indicates a
similar degree of drunkenness so that "he did not know when she lay down or
when she arose." He would become of it later, obviously when the two
daughters were found to be pregnant.
1. Cursed be Canaan: The verb is a qal passive participle from Arar. It
is used to make a statement.
It refers to the natural and applied consequences of
rejecting Godís policies.
There are two aspects to this curse.
Specifically realized upon "those who hate Me" as
at Exodus 20:5.
A summary of the personal curse is seen at Psalm 119:21.
The curse is basically enslavement to the spiritual darkness in which you live.
1. The darkness system: Eph. 2:2 with 5:8a
2. The sin nature: Eph.. 2:3; Ec. 7:29
3. John 12:35 and 1 John 2:11: darkness has blinded the eyes.
Thus, a total dependence on your own resources instead of
Proverbs 1:29-31 compared with Job 29:3.
1. And locked into the process of soul destruction.
Proverbs 1:32; 8:36; 11:17; 14:12.
The corpse in the soul of Psalm 5:9.
2. And of course no peace in the soul. Isaiah
ďThere is no peace to the wicked.Ē
3. The darkness process described:
Ephesians 4:17-19; Romans 1:18-23
Godís specific attitude: Romans 1:24-28; Ps. 119:118, "You
have rejected those who wander from Your statutes."
B. The family curse or
4-generation curse. Although Ham himself will personally experience the
consequences of his sin, it is the family curse that is in view at Genesis 9:25.
The curse on the line of Ham
extended to Canaan is
perpetuated through the rebellion and unbelief of individuals.
It is not a racial curse, that is, not a curse on any particular race. There is
no teaching in Scripture that suggests the existence of any kind of racial
It is a proclamation of the law of sowing and reaping applied to each individual
of Ham's descendants who reject Yahweh's spiritual and moral principles taught
by Noah and Shem.
Those principles were amplified to the newly created nation of Israel after they
The principle is stated in the second commandment with the statement, "visiting
the iniquity of the fathers onto the children unto the third and fourth
generations OF THOSE WHO HATE ME." Exodus 20:5
This states the principle of the 4-generation curse or the family curse, but
clearly recognizes that it is realized ONLY with individuals who volitionally
reject Yahweh - "of those who hate me."
Proverbs 30:11-17 shows the progression of this "iniquity" for 4 generations and
shows how it relates to Ham's sin of dishonoring his father.
See topic: The Family Curse
The sin nature that we all possess has a natural tendency to be independent from
authority. If it is not countered through parental and societal instruction it
will lead to moral and spiritual anarchy. And the rebellious tendency will
intensify through genetic drift.
SEE TOPIC: Genetic Drift
Part of the family curse is the
physical judgment on the spiritual rebels. That is, ultimately a removal or
neutralization of the offenders out from society so that the world does not fall
into utter chaos.
This of course, is an action that is totally according to God's perfect wisdom
1. In the case of the Canaanites, the judgment is in two stages.
A. Judgment on the cities of the valley at the end of the first 4-generation
cycle (About 430 years after the statement of the curse).
In two sub-steps about 430 years after the flood.
1. Genesis 14, Partial judgment on the 5 cities of the valley by the
2. Genesis 19:1-25, 4 cities of
the valley destroyed by God.
Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim.
B. The ultimate destruction of
the Canaanites at the end of the 2nd 4-generation cycle about 430 years later;
430 years after God established His covenant with Abram.
At the time that God gave to Abraham the Palestinian land grant, "the iniquity
of the Amorites was not yet full,"
(Gen. 15:16). 430 years after God established His covenant with Abram, the
iniquity of the Amorites had become full; the Canaanites had become saturated
with moral and spiritual rebellion which was expressed by idolatry and all kinds
of sexual perversion (Deut. 12:31).
The 4-generation curse had been perpetuated for two cycles. The second cycle
produced a greater immorality and godlessness and that is why the judgment of
Deut. 7:1-2 was pronounced upon the inhabitants of the land of Canaan.
1. One 4-generation cycle from the prophecy of Noah until the promise to Abram.
430 years. At that time, "the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full."
2. One cycle from the promise to Abram to the start of the judgment on the
Amorites at the establishment of Israel as a nation. 430 years.
2. A servant of servants: This refers to the general "servitude" status of the
After the destruction of the Canaanites by the Israelites, which was ultimately
concluded during David's reign, they never again reached any kind of cultural or
national prominence. All descendants of the Canaanites have been subservient to
other nations and cultures to this very day.
A few of their descendants existed during the reign of Solomon, and these were
pressed into service as forced laborers. 1 Kings 9:20-21.
1. Praised be Yahweh, the God (elohim) of Shem:
The verb is bArak and means to pronounce or benefit or praise.
When used as an expression TO God it can only mean to praise. Man cannot
pronounce good to God - only praise.
This proclamation of praise to Yahweh also recognizes Shem as a faithful
representative of God's truth. He is the evangelistic agent to promote God's
word and the Messianic promise, as well as being the progenitor of the Messianic
2. And let Canaan be THEIR
servant: Statement of the specific spiritual blessing that will come upon SOME
of the Canaanites as they become believers in Yahweh and serve the Messianic
line as perpetuated by Shem.
3. THEIR servant. Lit: let Canaan be a servant to them. The pronoun attached to
the particle (le) is plural and must refer back to a plural antecedent.
The only plural antecedent is ELOHIM - the plural form of God that indicates the
plurality of the Godhead.
There is no basis for ignoring the plural pronoun and making it a "his" and
refer it to Shem. Nor is it necessary to make the plural refer to the
descendants of Shem.
4. Elohim sometimes takes a singular pronoun or verb and sometimes takes a
plural pronoun or verb.
5. The Keil and Delitzsch commentary acknowledges this construction as a plural
suffix to the particle, but does not even suggest a reference back to the plural
6. Likewise at verse 27, "Let Canaan be THEIR servant" (Lit: let Canaan be a
servant to them). The plural refers to elohim. Although it is possible that the
plural pronoun can refer to both Japheth and Shem as they are both mentioned in
the verse. However, at verse 26, it seems that elohim is the only viable
antecedent to the plural pronoun. And it sees best to me to make the same
See Study on the plurality of God
7. Servant to Shem and Japheth:
To interpret it this way still provides an invitation for Canaan's descendants
to embrace the Messianic promise as it is represented by Shem and by extension,
promoted by Japheth.
8. Blessing in servitude. For
those individuals and family units who chose to accept Yahweh as the true God,
servitude was service to God, the nation and the tabernacle.
A. Individually, two women who trusted in Yahweh were embraced by the nation of
Israel and actually became ancestors of the Messiah through marriage to an
1. Rahab: Joshua 2:9-11; She Married Salmon, Mat. 1:5.
2. Ruth: 4:13-22
The Kenites were a sub-clan of the Midianite people who lived in Canaan and were
believers in the Messianic promise. After the Exodus, they became associated
with the nation of Israel and were exempt from the judgment mandate against the
peoples of Canaan. Throughout Israel's history the Kenites were faithful to
Yahweh and served Him in various ways within the nation.
Kenites: See Topics K
The Gibeonites were a socio-economic group of
Amorite and Hivite people composed of 4 cities in central Canaan.
They heard of the
victorious advance of Israel over the peoples of the land in the name of Yahweh.
They recognized and accepted that Yahweh was indeed the God of the universe and
that He had authority over the land of Canaan. They did not know exactly what to
do about that understanding, however they DID know that they needed to align
themselves with God's people, the nation of Israel.
The Gibeonites trusted in the Messianic promise; were accepted by Israel and by
and became exempt from the judgment mandate against the peoples of Canaan. Later
they became personal servants to the tabernacle. Their story is one that shows
the love and mercy of Yahweh that is expressed towards those who put their trust
The Gibeonites: See Topics G
1. May elohim (plural) enlarge Japheth:
The verb is a hiphil imperfect/jussive of PhAtah as a third person singular.
Many times elohim will take a singular verb, but sometimes it will take a plural
As far as the historical and geographical "enlargement" of Japheth, much has
been written, which can only be summarized here. according to sources, Japheth's
geographical growth far exceeded that of his two brothers extending North, East
and west into Asia and Europe.
This can be verified by independent studies, the details of which are not
pertinent to my analysis of the passage.
2. Let him dwell: the verb is
shAkan as a qal imperfect/jussive.
The translation depends on how the interpreter views the sentence. It can read
either, "he shall dwell" or "let him (may he) dwell."
The real issue is the meaning of "dwell in the tents of Shem."
It seems to refer to some kind of blessing upon Japheth through
association with Shem.
With the jussive interpretation we have within the prophetic proclamation of
Noah, an INVITATION to the peoples of Japheth and even to Ham's descendants, to
embrace the truth of the Messianic promise as represented by the descendants of
No matter how extensive was the
geographical advance of Japheth (or for that matter, the descendants of Ham), it
is the advance of the Messianic promise that brought true spiritual blessing and
happiness. Whether through the positive influence of Solomon's kingdom or the
later divine discipline on the nation of Israel, the Messianic message was
carried to the lands of Japheth. From, Babylon to Persia, to Greece, to Rome,
and to the final arrival of the person of The Promise, Jesus - the ONLY source
for true spiritual blessing for all people is to dwell under the canopy of Shem.
That is, to trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
2. And let Canaan be Their
servant. Another jussive idea expressing a desire for the descendants of Canaan
to embrace spiritual blessing through acceptance of Shem's spiritual authority.
The acceptance of God's policy for relationship is spiritual servitude - it is
serving God - it is serving elohim.
Now we can debate whether the "their" refers to both Japheth and to Shem. But I
see no reason to find them as the antecedent when there is a perfectly fine
antecedent in elohim at the start of the verse, "may elohim enlarge."
I have already established that SOME of Canaan's descendants found spiritual
blessing through acceptance of the Messianic promise. And indeed, the provision
still extends for all people to submit in servitude to God's sovereignty and
Return to Commentary Index