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Let’s read this account that occurred after Noah and his family left the ark after the flood.  Genesis 9:18-27 says, “And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.  These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread. And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.  God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.”

We see that after the flood that Noah became a husbandman, or a farmer.  He obviously grew grapes and on this occasion he drank too much of the wine he had made from his grapes.  He lay down in his tent, and was exposed.  He probably moved about in his sleep and his robe fell away from him.  Seeing Noah in this condition, Ham hurried to tell his brothers.  He was mocking his father for his sinful condition.  In respect to their father, Shem and Japheth would not even look at the nakedness of their father.  They took a garment and walked backwards towards Noah until they reached him.  They then covered him up.

Ham was disrespectful towards his father.  Upon finding his father in this condition, he should have covered him; instead, he made a mockery of him.  Later, the Fifth Commandment would address this type of behavior.  Exodus 20:12 tells us to, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.”  Because of this dishonor, Noah pronounced judgment upon Ham’s youngest son, Canaan.  What greater judgment could be passed upon Ham than to have his youngest son bear the burden of his sin?  What a tremendous blow to Ham’s conscience to witness his dear youngest son being punished for his own sin.

We might also look upon this judgment as an act of grace.  If this judgment had fallen on Ham, his entire family would have been subject to this act of servitude.  Ham had four sons, as we read in Genesis 10:6, “And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.”  So, by cursing Canaan, the punishment was limited to him, rather than all four of Ham’s sons.

What lesson do we learn from this incident?  If we find a brother or sister in Christ that has fallen into sin, we should not mock or spread rumors about that person.  No, we should minister to the needs of our fallen brother or sister and seek to restore them to the Lord as we read in Galatians 6:1-2, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.  Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”  (100.4)