Summary: A contemporary reader of the Bible is tempted to skip over these lists of obscure names, but that doesn’t minimize their importance. These obscure people founded the nations that throughout Bible history interacted with each other and helped to accomplished God’s purposes on this earth.
November 29, 2013
Commentary on the Book of Genesis
By: Tom Lowe
Lesson I.E.3: Noah Predicts the Future of His Sons. Gen. 9:18-29
Genesis 9.18-29 (KJV)
18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.
19 These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.
I.E.3: Noah Predicts the Future of His Sons All the people who ever lived since the Flood came from these three sons of Noah (Ge. 10.32[i]). The “one blood” of Acts 17.26[ii] is that of Adam through Noah. All the physical characteristics of the whole race were present in the genetics of Noah, his sons, and their wives. A contemporary reader of the Bible is tempted to skip over these lists of obscure names, but that doesn’t minimize their importance. These obscure people founded the nations that throughout Bible history interacted with each other and helped to accomplished God’s purposes on this earth. The descendants of Shem—the people of Israel—have played an especially important part on the stage of history. The descendants of Shem were the Semites (Shemites) from whom Abraham descended (Ge. 10.21-31; 11.10-26). Shem is mentioned first due to his place of leadership and prominence in God’s plans for mankind. His descendants were to be the spiritual leaders of men. God’s chosen ones of that line would teach the religion of Jehovah to the world. We know that the Messiah was to come from Shem’s line. Japheth was to be the father of one large branch of the Gentile world. His descendants would spread far and wide in their search for material gain and power. They would be prosperous and exceedingly powerful. Ham was to be the father of the other branch of Gentiles, including Egyptians, Ethiopians, Abyssinians, and similar groups.
Notice should be taken that one particular descendant of Ham is mentioned—Canaan the father of the Canaanites—Israel’s idolatrous antagonists. Why is he mentioned here? For two reasons. One reason we will see in a moment. Another reason is that when Moses wrote this record, the people of Israel were traveling to the land of Canaan, a land Abraham’s descendants would later take (Ge. 15.13-16[iii]), and it was encouraging for them to have this information regarding God’s judgment upon the people of Canaan—the focus of Genesis 10.
20 And Noah began to be a husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
In becoming a farmer, Noah followed the occupation of his father Lamech (Ge. 5.28, 29[iv]). While the Bible condemns drunkenness (Prov. 20.21[v]; 23.19-21, 29-35; Isa. 5.11; Hab. 2.15; Rom 13.13; 1 Cor. 6.10; Eph. 5.18), it doesn’t condemn the growing or eating of grapes, or the drinking of wine. Grapes, raisins, and wine were important elements in the diet of eastern peoples. In fact, in Old Testament society, wine was considered a blessing from God (Ps. 104.14, 15[vi]; Deut. 14.26) and was even used with the sacrifices (Lev. 20.13[vii]; Num. 28.7).
This is the first mention of wine in Scripture, but winemaking was practiced before the Flood, and Noah certainly knew what too much wine would do to him. Noah had picked the grapes, crushed them in the wine-press, put the juice in skins, and waited for the juice to ferment.
Both his drunkenness and nakedness were disgraceful, and the two often go together (Ge. 19.30-38; Hab. 2.15, 16; Lam. 4.21[viii]). Alcohol isn’t a stimulant, it’s a narcotic; and when the brain is affected by alcohol, the person loses self-control. At least Noah was in his own tent when this happened and not in public. But when you consider who he was (a preacher of righteousness) and what he had done (saved his household from death), his sin becomes even more repulsive. Though wine is said to cheer the heart (Jud. 9.13[ix]; Ps. 104.15[x]) and alleviate the pain of the curse (Prov. 13.6[xi]), it is also clear that it has disturbing effects. Here Noah lay drunk and naked in his tent. Intoxication and sexual looseness are hallmarks of pagans, and both are traced back to this event in Noah’s life. Man had not changed at all; with the opportunity to start a “new creation,” Noah acted like a pagan (Ge. 6.5[xii]; 8.21[xiii]).
Noah was described originally as a righteous man, and with good cause. He stood out conspicuously for his integrity in the midst of a corrupt generation. His virtue was not merely in avoiding the prevailing sins but in positive acts of courage and inconsistent faithfulness to God. It took courage to build an ark when everyone around him thought it was foolishness and to warn his neighbors about a looming flood when it had never rained before. Noah had to be in dead earnest in those days, a man of purpose, and a man of prayer.