Genesis 9:22
And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers without.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(22, 23) Ham . . . saw . . . and told.—The sin lay not in seeing, which might be unintentional, but in telling, especially if his purpose was to ridicule his father. His brothers, with filial piety, “take a garment,” the loose outer robe or cloak enveloping the whole body, and with reverent delicacy walk backwards, and lay it upon their father’s person.

Genesis 9:22. And Ham saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren — To have seen it accidentally and involuntarily would not have been a crime. But he pleased himself with the sight. And he told his brethren without — In the street, as the word is, in a scornful, deriding manner.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. The grown age of Ham was a great aggravation of this sin.

The father of Canaan: this is here added as a reason of Canaan’s curse, Genesis 9:25.

The nakedness, i.e. the secret parts, oft so called, as Leviticus 18:1-30, and elsewhere,

and told his two brethren without, who were then without the house or room where their father lay in that posture, whom he invited to that prospect. 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.

And Ham, the father of {p} Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and {q} told his two brethren without.

(p) Of whom came the Canaanites that wicked nation, who were also cursed by God.

(q) In derision and contempt of his father.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
22. Ham, the father of] Words probably inserted by the compiler (R). If so, in the original narrative there stood in this verse simply the name of “Canaan,” “and Canaan saw the nakedness.” Otherwise the curse pronounced upon Canaan, instead of upon Ham, in Genesis 9:25, is unintelligible (see note).

According to this view, the old tradition, from which these verses are derived, regarded “Canaan,” and not “Ham,” as the brother of Shem and Japheth.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. 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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