GENESIS 9:20-24  


 

Genesis 9:20-27
5-part audio study starts here:
The Gibeonites5/Genesis 9:20-27,part1

V. 20-21
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 physical senses.

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.

V. 22
Ham arrives:

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 as well.
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 and respect.
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 of scripture

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 be mentioned.
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 volitional responsibility.

V. 23
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 authority.

V. 24
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 POSSIBLY indicate 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.

Verse 25
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.
A. Personal:
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.
         (Is. 8:20)

Thus, a total dependence on your own resources instead of Godís resources.
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 57:21,
      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 curse.
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 left Egypt.
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 and timing.
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).
Genesis 10:19
In two sub-steps about 430 years after the flood.
1. Genesis 14, Partial judgment on the 5 cities of the valley by the Chedorlaomer coalition.

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.

Verse 25
2. A servant of servants: This refers to the general "servitude" status of the Canaanite people.
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.

Verse 26
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 lineage.

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 elohim.

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 interpretation here.
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 Israelite man.
1. Rahab: Joshua 2:9-11; She Married Salmon, Mat. 1:5.
2. Ruth: 4:13-22

B. Collectively:
1. 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.

 The Kenites: See Topics K

2. 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 Yahweh 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 in Him.
The Gibeonites: See Topics G

Verse 27
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 verb.
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 Shem.

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 saving grace.


Return to Commentary Index


 
     

 

 

©Ron Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it,
but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's consent.

 

Home | Recent Additions | Studies | Commentary

 

Prophecy | Articles | Topical | About Us