Genesis 9:21
And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21) He was uncovered is, literally, he uncovered himself. It was no accident, but a wilful breach of modesty.

Genesis 9:21. And he drank of the wine, and was drunk — It is highly probable he did not know the effect of it before. And he was uncovered in his tent — Made naked to his shame.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.Then comes the prediction Genesis 9:20-27, which has a special interest, as the first prophetic utterance of man recorded in the Old Testament. The occasion of it is first stated. Noah becomes "a man of the soil." If he was before a mechanic, it is evident he must now attend to the cultivation of the soil, that he may draw from it the means of subsistence. "He planted a vineyard." God was the first planter Genesis 2:8; and since that time we hear nothing of the cultivation of trees until Noah becomes a planter. The cultivation of the vine and the manufacture of wine might have been in practice before this time, as the mention of them is merely incidental to the present narrative. But it seems likely from what follows, that, though grapes may have been in use, wine had not been extracted from them. "And was drunken." We are not in a position to estimate the amount of Noah's guilt in this case, as we do not know how far he was acquainted with the properties of wine.

But we should take warning by the consequences, and beware of the abuse of any of God's gifts. "Ham the father of Kenaan." It is natural to suppose, as some have done, that Kennan had something to do with the guilt of this act. But there is no clear indication of this in the text, and Kenann's relationship to Ham may be again mentioned simply in anticipation of the subsequent prophecy. Ham is punished in his youngest son, who was perhaps a favorite. The intention of this act is eminently pure and befitting dutiful sons. "The garment." The loose mantle or shawl which was used for wrapping round the body when going to sleep. The actions of the sons in this unpleasant occurrence, especially that of Ham, give occasion to the following prophetic sentence: "His youngest son." This seems plainly the meaning of the phrase הקטן בנו benô haqāṭān, "his son, the little." He must be regarded here as contrasted with the other two, and therefore distinguished as the youngest.

The manner of Scripture here is worthy of particular remark. First, the prediction takes its rise from a characteristic incident. The conduct of the brothers was of comparatively slight importance in itself, but in the disposition which it betrayed it was highly significant. Secondly, the prediction refers in terms to the near future and to the outward condition of the parties concerned. Thirdly, it foreshadows under these familiar phrases the distant future, and the inward, as well as the outward, state of the family of man. Fourthly, it lays out the destiny of the whole race from its very starting-point. These simple laws will be found to characterize the main body of the predictions of Scripture.

21. And he drank of the wine, and was drunken—perhaps at the festivities of the vintage season. This solitary stain on the character of so eminently pious a man must, it is believed, have been the result of age or inadvertency. Either through ignorance and inexperience of the nature and strength of that liquor, or through the infirmity of the flesh, which was tempted by its great and, to him, new pleasantness, and by the refreshment he found in it under the weary labours of his body, and the sad thoughts of his mind, for the desolate condition of the world.

He was uncovered, either to relieve himself against the heat of the climate and season, or from his negligence and carelessness; which might easily happen, because men’s garments at that time were loose, as they were in the following ages, when breeches were not in common use, and therefore were peculiarly prescribed to the priests, Exodus 28:42 Ezekiel 44:18-19. And he drank of the wine, and was drunken,.... Either not being acquainted with the strength of it, as is thought by many; or having been used to weaker liquor, as water; or through the infirmity of his age; however, he was overtaken with it, and which is recorded, not to disgrace him, but to caution men against the evil of intemperance, as well as to encourage repenting sinners to expect pardon: and this shows that the best of men are not exempted from sin, nor secure from falling; and that though Noah was a perfect man, yet not as to be without sin; and that whereas he was a righteous man, he was not so by the righteousness of works, but by the righteousness of faith:

and he was uncovered within his tent; being in liquor when he laid down, he was either negligent of his long and loose garments, such as the eastern people wore without breeches, and did not take care to wrap them about him; or in his sleep, through the heat of the weather, or of the wine, or both, threw them off.

And he drank of the wine, and was {o} drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.

(o) This is set before us to show what a horrible thing drunkenness is.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. and he drank] The representation is that of the man who first made wine out of grapes, and drinking of it in ignorance was overcome by its potency. No blame is attached to him.Verse 21. - And he drank of the wine. יַיִן; "perhaps so called from bubbling up and fermenting;" connected with יָוַן (Gesenius). Though the first mention of wine in Scripture, it is scarcely probable that the natural process of fermentation for so many centuries escaped the notice of the enterprising Cainites, or even of the Sethites; that, "though grapes had been in use before this, wine had not been extracted from them" (Murphy); or that Noah was unacquainted with the nature and effects of this intoxicating liquor (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Keil, Lunge). The article before יַיִן indicates that the patriarch was "familiar with the use and treatment" of the grape (Kalisch); and Moses does not say this was the first occasion on which the patriarch tasted the fermented liquor (Calvin, Wordsworth). And was drunken. The verb שָׁכַר (whence shechar, strong drink, Numbers 28:7), to drink to the full, very often signifies to make oneself drunken, or simply to be intoxicated as the result of drinking; and that which the Holy Spirit here reprobates is not the partaking of the fruit of the vine, but the drinking so as to be intoxicated thereby. Since the sin of Noah cannot be ascribed to ignorance, it is perhaps right, as well as charitable, to attribute it to ago and inadvertence. Six hundred years old at the time of the Flood, he must have been considerably beyond this when Ham saw him overtaken in his fault, since Canaan was Ham's fourth son (Genesis 10:6), and the first was not born till after the exit from the ark (Genesis 8:18). But from whatever cause induced, the drunkenness of Noah was not entirely guiltless; it was sinful in itself, and led to further shame. And he was uncovered. Literally, he uncovered himself. Hithpael of גָּלַה, to make naked, which more correctly indicates the personal guilt of the patriarch than the A.V., or the LXX., ἐγυμνώθη. That intoxication tends to sensuality cf. the cases of Lot (Genesis 19:33), Ahasuerus (Esther 1:10, 11), Belshazzar (Daniel 5:1-6). Within his tent. Ἐν τῷ οἴκῷ αὐτοῦ (LXX.). The second occurrence in the life of Noah after the flood exhibited the germs of the future development of the human race in a threefold direction, as manifested in the characters of his three sons. As all the families and races of man descend from them, their names are repeated in Genesis 9:18; and in prospective allusion to what follows, it is added that "Ham was the father of Canaan." From these three "the earth (the earth's population) spread itself out." "The earth" is used for the population of the earth, as in Genesis 10:25 and Genesis 11:1, and just as lands or cities are frequently substituted for their inhabitants. נפצה: probably Niphal for נפצה, from פּוּץ to scatter (Genesis 11:4), to spread out. "And Noah the husbandman began, and planted a vineyard." As האדמה אישׁ cannot be the predicate of the sentence, on account of the article, but must be in apposition to Noah, ויטּע and ויּחל must be combined in the sense of "began to plant" (Ges. 142, 3). The writer does not mean to affirm that Noah resumed his agricultural operations after the flood, but that as a husbandman he began to cultivate the vine; because it was this which furnished the occasion for the manifestation of that diversity in the character of his sons, which was so eventful in its consequences in relation to the future history of their descendants. In ignorance of the fiery nature of wine, Noah drank and was drunken, and uncovered himself in his tent (Genesis 9:21). Although excuse may be made for this drunkenness, the words of Luther are still true: "Qui excusant patriarcham, volentes hanc consolationem, quam Spiritus S. ecclesiis necessariam judicavit, abjuciunt, quod scilicen etiam summi sancti aliquando labuntur." This trifling fall served to display the hearts of his sons. Ham saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. Not content with finding pleasure himself in his father's shame, "nunquam enim vino victum patrem filius resisset, nisi prius ejecisset animo illam reverentiam et opinionem, quae in liberis de parentibus ex mandato Dei existere debet" (Luther), he just proclaimed his disgraceful pleasure to his brethren, and thus exhibited his shameless sensuality. The brothers, on the contrary, with reverential modesty covered their father with a garment (השּׂמלה the garment, which was at hand), walking backwards that they might not see his nakedness (Genesis 9:23), and thus manifesting their childlike reverence as truly as their refined purity and modesty. For this they receive their father's blessing, whereas Ham reaped for his son Canaan the patriarch's curse. In Genesis 9:24 Ham is called הקּטן בּנו "his (Noah's) little son," and it is questionable whether the adjective is to be taken as comparative in the sense of "the younger," or as superlative, meaning "the youngest." Neither grammar nor the usage of the language will enable us to decide. For in 1 Samuel 17:14, where David is contrasted with his brothers, the word means not the youngest of the four, but the younger by the side of the three elder, just as in Genesis 1:16 the sun is called "the great" light, and the moon "the little" light, not to show that the sun is the greatest and the moon the least of all lights, but that the moon is the smaller of the two. If, on the other hand, on the ground of 1 Samuel 16:11, where "the little one" undoubtedly means the youngest of all, any one would press the superlative force here, he must be prepared, in order to be consistent, to do the same with haggadol, "the great one," in Genesis 10:21, which would lead to this discrepancy, that in the verse before us Ham is called Noah's youngest son, and in Genesis 10:21 Shem is called Japhet's oldest brother, and thus implicite Ham is described as older than Japhet. If we do not wish lightly to introduce a discrepancy into the text of these two chapters, no other course is open than to follow the lxx, Vulg. and others, and take "the little" here and "the great" in Genesis 10:21 as used in a comparative sense, Ham being represented here as Noah's younger son, and Shem in Genesis 10:21 as Japhet's elder brother. Consequently the order in which the three names stand is also an indication of their relative ages. And this is not only the simplest and readiest assumption, but is even confirmed by Genesis 10, though the order is inverted there, Japhet being mentioned first, then Ham, and Shem last; and it is also in harmony with the chronological datum in Genesis 11:10, as compared with Genesis 5:32 (vid., Genesis 11:10).

To understand the words of Noah with reference to his sons (Genesis 9:25-27), we must bear in mind, on the one hand, that as the moral nature of the patriarch was transmitted by generation to his descendants, so the diversities of character in the sons of Noah foreshadowed diversities in the moral inclinations of the tribes of which they were the head; and on the other hand, that Noah, through the Spirit and power of that God with whom he walked, discerned in the moral nature of his sons, and the different tendencies which they already displayed, the germinal commencement of the future course of their posterity, and uttered words of blessing and of curse, which were prophetic of the history of the tribes that descended from them. In the sin of Ham "there lies the great stain of the whole Hamitic race, whose chief characteristic is sexual sin" (Ziegler); and the curse which Noah pronounced upon this sin still rests upon the race. It was not Ham who was cursed, however, but his son Canaan. Ham had sinned against his father, and he was punished in his son. But the reason why Canaan was the only son named, is not to be found in the fact that Canaan was the youngest son of Ham, and Ham the youngest son of Noah, as Hoffmann supposes. The latter is not an established fact; and the purely external circumstance, that Canaan had the misfortune to be the youngest son, could not be a just reason for cursing him alone. The real reason must either lie in the fact that Canaan was already walking in the steps of his father's impiety and sin, or else be sought in the name Canaan, in which Noah discerned, through the gift of prophecy, a significant omen; a supposition decidedly favoured by the analogy of the blessing pronounced upon Japhet, which is also founded upon the name. Canaan does not signify lowland, nor was it transferred, as many maintain, from the land to its inhabitants; it was first of all the name of the father of the tribe, from whom it was transferred to his descendants, and eventually to the land of which they took possession. The meaning of Canaan is "the submissive one," from כּנע to stoop or submit, Hiphil, to bend or subjugate (Deuteronomy 9:3; Judges 4:23, etc.). "Ham gave his son the name from the obedience which he required, though he did not render it himself. The son was to be the servant (for the name points to servile obedience) of a father who was as tyrannical towards those beneath him, as he was refractory towards those above. The father, when he gave him the name, thought only of submission to his own commands. But the secret providence of God, which rules in all such things, had a different submission in view" (Hengstenberg, Christol. i. 28, transl.). "Servant of servants (i.e., the lowest of slaves, vid., Ewald, 313) let him become to his brethren." Although this curse was expressly pronounced upon Canaan alone, the fact that Ham had no share in Noah's blessing, either for himself or his other sons, was a sufficient proof that his whole family was included by implication in the curse, even if it was to fall chiefly upon Canaan. And history confirms the supposition. The Canaanites were partly exterminated, and partly subjected to the lowest form of slavery, by the Israelites, who belonged to the family of Shem; and those who still remained were reduced by Solomon to the same condition (1 Kings 9:20-21). The Phoenicians, along with the Carthaginians and the Egyptians, who all belonged to the family of Canaan, were subjected by the Japhetic Persians, Macedonians, and Romans; and the remainder of the Hamitic tribes either shared the same fate, or still sigh, like the negroes, for example, and other African tribes, beneath the yoke of the most crushing slavery.

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