"Now the sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem and Ham and Japheth; and Ham was the father of Canaan. These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated. Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it upon both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away, so that they did not see their father's nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him. So he said, Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants he shall be to his brothers." He also said, Blessed be the Lord ,The God of Shem;
And let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth,And let him dwell in the tents of Shem; And let Canaan be his servant."
Noah after the flood planted a vineyard in the field of his new dwelling. Soon after the grape were havested, Noah began making wine and started drinking wine and became drunk. The Bible reveals several passages where God warns about the dangers of wine. (makes a mockery) In this case, his drunkeness led to "self-exposure" (Habakkuk 2:15 and Lamentations 4:21). Noah, now in a "drunken stupor" took his clothes off while inside his tent and eventually passes out from intoxication. Ham upon entering the tent and saw his "exposed" father "naked" which in and of itself would have simply been "incidental" if, out of respect, Ham would have immediately covered up his father, then, just as quickly left the tent and told no one what he saw. Instead, he chose to tell his brothers Shem and Japheth.
Some "research" findings regarding this incident said there are some scholars that beleive Ham may have garnered some sort of "sensual pleasure" in what he saw and may have enjoyed looking. Now, the obvious question naturally arises: Since Ham was directly responsible for the curse being pronounced in the first place, why then did Noah in his embarassment and anger place a "servant's" curse on his son Canaan and not on Ham who was the perpetrator?
Canaan, according to the Nelson Bible Dictionary was the “composite” tribe of the children of Ham, consisting of tribes as the Jubusites and the Zemarites. In most other commentaries, Canaan was the youngest son to Ham and the “curse” Noah pronounces on Ham’s youngest son and future generation s in the Hamitic line has sparked many arguments and controversies. It appeared that Ham either had a disdain for his father lying naked in a drunken stupor or it pointed to something deeper in the personality of Ham.. God in his infinite wisdom knew the personality of the Canaanites even before they were a people. The passage in Genesis 9:18- 23 also is an illustration of the spiritual condition of man and how he shows respect or lack of and piety to God. When God exposes himself to us, not as a drunken man but in pure holiness and righteousness, man in his sinful walk and disdain for correction will publicly ridicule God, just like they did Jesus hanging on the cross making statements like “He saved others but he couldn’t save himself!
The following excerpt from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Genesis 9:18- 23 gives us some insight into the mind of Ham when he saw his father uncovered: Ham's impudence and impiety: He saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren, v. 22. To see Noah this way accidentally and involuntarily would not have been a crime; but:
1. He pleased himself with the sight, as the Edomites looked up on the day of their brother (Obadiah. 12), pleased, and insulting. Perhaps Ham had sometimes been himself drunk, and reproved for it by his good father, whom he was therefore pleased to see thus overcome. Note, It is common for those who walk in false ways themselves to rejoice at the false steps which they sometimes see others make. But charity rejoices not in iniquity, nor can true penitents that are sorry for their own sins rejoice in the sins of others.
2. He told his two brethren without (in the street,a s the word is), in a scornful deriding manner, that his father might seem vile unto them. It is very wrong to:
A. To make a jest of sin according to Proverbs 14:9, and to be puffed up with that for which we should rather mourn, according to 1 Corinthians 5:2
B. To publish the faults of any, especially of parents, whom it is our duty to honor.
Noah was not only a good man, but had been a good father to him; and this was a most base disingenuous requital to him for his tenderness. Ham is here called the father of Canaan, which intimates that he who was himself a father should have been more respectful to him, that is (Noah) who was his father.
Adam Clarke’s commentary added this observation concerning Genesis 9:22- 25 :
God had wise and powerful reasons to induce him (Cain) to the sentence the of perpetual servitude, and to allot to the others prosperity and dominion. Besides, the curse pronounced on Canaan, the curse neither fell immediately upon himself nor on his worthless father, but upon the Canaanites; and from the history we have of this people found in Leviticus 18:20 and Deuteronomy 9:4 and 12:31, we may ask; Could the curse of God fall more deservedly on any people than on these? Their profligacy was great, but it was not the effect of the curse; but, being foreseen by the Lord, the curse was the effect of their conduct. But even this curse does not exclude them from the possibility of obtaining salvation; it extends not to the soul and to eternity, but merely to their bodies and to time, though, if they continued to abuse their liberty, resist the Holy Spirit, and refuse to be saved on God's terms, then the wrath of divine justice must come upon them to the uttermost. How many, even of these, repented, we cannot tell.
Often times, it is true when we are overtaken in a fault, we would rather see another person walking in the same shameful manner as we are, especially if that person is held in high esteem and was instrumental in confronting us in chastisement for our wrongdoing. Whether this is true or not in the case of Ham, it is inferred. Whatever the case, Ham showed his father a gross lack of respect by his response to the nakedness of his father. Ham chose not to keep his father’s shameful condition private or to cover his father up since being drunk and possibly passed out. He chose instead to make Noah’s condition public to his brethren as to add more shame and ridicule upon a man who was already in a shameful state. Ham was the “youngest” son of Noah and “obviously” the most spiritually immature of the three had a problem with sensuality of the worse kind. It is believe that Canaan was cursed possibly for the following 3 reasons:
1. As Ham was the “youngest’ son of Noah, Canaan was the youngest son of Ham, so the “spirit” of the father’s (Ham) sin naturally fell upon the younger son (Canaan) because he would have been most affected by the behavior of the father. Ham named his son Canaan which meant “the submissive one” and it is alleged by Matthew Henry that Ham was a tyrant and many times forced his son Canaan to live out his name through cruel acts toward his son.
2. Canaan possible was already living to some degree in the same sinful manner like his father. It’s alleged that Canaan was (in lifestyle) living and possessed the same type of
disrespect Ham had toward Noah..
3. Noah in pronouncing the family blessings or curses was given insight by God pertaining to the character traits of Canaan and saw a future of servitude within the Canaanite race.
The problem with the Canaanites becoming “perpetual servants” (depending upon your interpretation of this passage) is, the “curse” that God pronounced upon the Canaan and his future generations was based sole upon the “deplorable conduct” stemming from the act of Ham and possibly his son against Noah, their father and grandfather respectfully while in a drunken state. It stemmed also from the “deplorable behaviors” God knew would come out of the future generations of Canaan’s people, but not because of their race or the race as a whole. Anytime any of the Canaanites repented and changed their life and wicked behavior to a life in keeping with the ways of God,” the curse” that God pronounced was no longer in effect to those who repented...