Let us begin by reading Genesis 9:18-23, “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.”

There are so many thoughts and suppositions about Noah begin drunk.  The Bible is absolutely silent, giving us no background concerning drunkenness.  This is the first time in the Bible that it is mentioned that someone got drunk.  Some say Noah was not responsible for his drunkenness because he did not understand about the fermentation process.  Some suppose that Noah suffered bad memories surrounding the flood and the death of so many people that he simply drank himself into oblivion to escape his thoughts.  Neither of these thoughts, or any other thoughts, are supported by the scriptures.

What is clear is that once Noah passed out exposed in his tent that his son, Ham, discovered his father and made a mockery of him by telling his brothers, Shem and Japheth, about what he had seen.  Shem and Japheth were very careful to maintain their father’s dignity.  They took a garment, walked backwards towards Noah, and covered him.  I do not believe that seeing Noah without clothes is the issue.  I’m sure over the years, Noah and his sons had all seen each other without clothes, possibly bathing in a stream, etc.  This had more to do with Noah being in a compromising position and how his sons reacted to seeing him this way.  Ham not only took pleasure in his father’s shame, but he also delighted to expose his father’s shame to others.

To say there were absolutely no consequences for Noah because of his drunkenness is not entirely correct.  Let’s read Genesis 9:24-27, “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.”  Somehow, once he awoke, Noah knew what his son had done.  Surely it must have broken his heart to know that his second born son had mocked him in such a way.  The curse that was placed upon Canaan was surely from the Lord for the Canaanites were denied any inheritance from Noah and were destined to become servants of Shem’s and Japheth’s descendants.  It must have been hurtful to Noah to realize this curse resulted from his own actions. 

The Canaanites developed and lived in the land of Canaan on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea.  After the Lord rescued the Israelites from Egypt, He sent them to fight against and take over the land of Canaan.  We read in Genesis 12:6-7, “And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.”  The Lord had promised His people the land of Canaan, so the Canaanites were defeated so the Israelites could possess that land. 

This is such a sad chapter in the story of a faithful man of God who ‘found grace in the eyes of the Lord’ (Genesis 6:8).  We are all subject to failing our Lord, but that does not mean we are defeated.  We read in Proverbs 24:16, “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again…”  There is always restoration to the Lord once we repent and confess our sins to Him (1 John 1:9), so that we can rise up again and continuing serving Him.  (468.6)