|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:18-23 The drunkenness of Noah is recorded in the Bible, with that fairness which is found only in the Scripture, as a case and proof of human weakness and imperfection, even though he may have been surprised into the sin; and to show that the best of men cannot stand upright, unless they depend upon Divine grace, and are upheld thereby. Ham appears to have been a bad man, and probably rejoiced to find his father in an unbecoming situation. It was said of Noah, that he was perfect in his generations, ch.
Verse 22. - And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness. Pudenda, from a root (עָרָה) signifying to make naked, from a kindred root to which (עָרם) comes the term expressive of the nakedness of Adam and Eve after eating the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:7). The sin of Ham - not a trifling and unintentional transgression" (Von Bohlen) - obviously lay not in seeing what perhaps he may have come upon unexpectedly, but
(1) in wickedly rejoicing in what he saw, which, considering who he was that was overcome with wine, - "the minister of salvation to men, and the chief restorer of the world," - the relation in which he stood to Ham, - that of father, - the advanced age to which he had now come, and the comparatively mature years of Ham himself, who was "already more than a hundred years old," should have filled him with sincere sorrow; "sed nunquam vino victum pattern filius risisset, nisi prius ejecisset animo illam reverentiam et opinionem, quae in liberis de parentibus ex mandato Dei existere debet" (Luther); and
(2) in reporting it, doubtless with a malicious purpose, to his brethren. And told his two brethren without. Possibly inviting them to come and look upon their father's shame.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father,.... Which, had it been through surprise, and at an unawares, would not have been thought criminal; but be went into his father's tent, where he ought not to have entered; he looked with pleasure and delight on his father's nakedness: Ham is represented by many writers as a very wicked, immodest, and profligate creature: Berosus (i) makes him a magician, and to be the same with Zoroast or Zoroastres, and speaks of him as the public corrupter of mankind; and says that he taught men to live as before the flood, to lie with mothers, sisters, daughters, males and brutes, and creatures of all sorts; and that he actually did so himself, and therefore was cast out by his father Janus, or Noah, and got the name of "Chem", the infamous and immodest:
and told his two brethren without; he went out of the tent after he had pleased himself with the sight; see Habakkuk 2:15 and in a wanton, ludicrous, and scoffing manner, related what he had seen: some of the Jewish Rabbins (k), as Jarchi relates, say that Canaan first saw it, and told his father of it; and some say (l), that he or Ham committed an unnatural crime with him; and others (m), that he castrated him; and hence, it is supposed, came the stories of Jupiter castrating his father Saturn, and Chronus his father Uranus: and Berosus (n) says, that Ham taking hold of his father's genitals, and muttering some words, by a magic charm rendered him impotent: and some (o) will have it that he committed incest with his father's wife; but these things are said without foundation: what Noah's younger son did unto him, besides looking on him, we are not told, yet it was such as brought a curse on Canaan; and one would think it would be more than bare sight, nay, it is expressly said there was something done, but what is not said, Genesis 9:24.
(i) Antiqu. l. 3. fol. 25. 1.((k) In Bereshit Rabba, sect. 36. fol. 32. 1.((l) Some in Jarchi. (m) Pirke Eliezer, c. 23. Some Rabbins in Ben Gersom & Jarchi in loc. (n) Antiqu. l. 3. fol. 25. 1.((o) Vander Hart, apud Bayle Dict. vol. 10. Art. "Ham", p. 588.
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