Noah after the Flood

Posted: March 8, 2018 in Genesis, Uncategorized

Genesis 8-9, “Noah After the Flood”

Fans of radio might remember the familiar stylings of Paul Harvey. A newsman and commentator from 1952-2008, Harvey was probably best known for “The Rest of the Story.” It was always fun to listen to Harvey spin his tale, with the details becoming a bit more interesting, only to find an often humorous twist – which was the rest of the story.

Something similar might be said of Genesis 8-9. There is hardly an American alive that isn’t at least somewhat familiar with the fact that the Bible speaks of a man named Noah who built an ark, surviving a global flood. What many people might not know is: what happened after the rains stopped falling. What, for Noah, was the rest of the story? Genesis 8-9 tell us.

Remember leading up to this point was God’s mercy in the midst of His judgment. Although Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, earning for them (and for us) death, God gave mercy & grace through the promise of a future Savior. Although Cain sinned by murdering his brother Abel, God gave mercy by allowing Cain to live in exile. Although mankind sinned to such an extent that the entire planet of earth was corrupted & all life needed to be destroyed, God gave mercy by saving a remnant. God showed His grace to Noah, gave Noah and his family all they needed to survive, and even shut them into the ark, delivering them from the judgment and death all around them. Although the wrath of God was terrible, the mercy of God was abundant!

Yet God’s mercies didn’t cease the moment the rains stopped. God continued to lead Noah, guiding him & his family, and God gave Noah (and all humanity) the promise of life. God’s mercies would always continue – we just need to avail ourselves of Him.

Genesis 8

  • Noah waits upon God (8:1-19). Noah the sailor.

1 Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark. …

  1. That “God remembered Noah” is not to say that God ever forgot Noah. It’s simply a Hebrew expression meaning that God turned His primary attention to Noah. It means that God knew Noah, the animals, and all of their needs. Now that the major work of judgment had been completed, the next part of His plan could continue.

… And God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided. 2 The fountains of the deep and the windows of heaven were also stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained. 3 And the waters receded continually from the earth. At the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters decreased.

  1. Although different scholars count the days in different ways, it seems that the rain stopped after 40 days, but the floodwaters as a whole remained at their peak for 150 days. All totaled, this is a little over 6 months, which vs. 4 accounts for…

4 Then the ark rested in the seventh month, the seventeenth day of the month, on the mountains of Ararat. 5 And the waters decreased continually until the tenth month. In the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen.

  1. Midway through the 7th month (i.e. over 6 months / 190 days), the waters decreased enough for the ark to stop floating. The receding of water always takes time – much more so in this case, considering how much water was on the face of the earth.
  2. Where did the ark come to rest? “On the mountains of Ararat.” There is debate as to what this means. There is indeed a singular mountain known today as “Mt Ararat,” but there’s no way to know whether or not this is the same mountain. Considering the Hebrew for “mountains” is plural, it’s possible that the Bible refers to a general mountain range known at the time as “Ararat,” making the specific identification of the mountain all the more difficult today.
    1. Through the years, there have been various expeditions to potential ark-locations, with some explorers sending back various pictures of what appears to be wooden-structures. That said, there’s no way to positively identify any of these things as the ark of Noah, nor are there enough independent researchers who can corroborate the findings. Considering the age of the ark, it is fully possible that the entire structure has rotted and decomposed over time. Ancient archaeological finds are rare in the first place; ancient structures left fully exposed to winds & elements are especially hard to find. (Besides – if men did find the actual ark, there’s little doubt we would find a way to worship it in corrupt idolatry. People did that for centuries in the Middle Ages with other supposed holy artifacts. We would likely do the same with this.)
    2. Question: do we have to find archaeological evidence of the ark in order to know that the ark & flood are historically true? Absolutely not. Absence of evidence is not the same thing as contrary or conflicting evidence. Besides, there is evidence of a flood, as seen in the universality of the flood tales in every ancient culture around the world (among other pieces of evidence). The Bible has proven itself true too many times for us not to give it the benefit of the doubt.
    3. At the end of the day, we need not put our hopes of the truth of the Bible in the sensational claims of men; we can simply look to the resurrection of Jesus and know that it’s true. Our faith is in God; not the news headlines.

6 So it came to pass, at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made. 7 Then he sent out a raven, which kept going to and fro until the waters had dried up from the earth.

  1. The ark may have been on the ground, but Noah wasn’t in hurry to get off. He remained there forty more days before even checking the outside. Why? In all likelihood, he still saw lots of water everywhere. The boat may have been grounded, but it doesn’t mean that he could navigate his surroundings. Besides, God had shut him inside, no doubt God would be the One to let him know when it was time to leave.
  2. Instead of leaving, Noah simply tries to get some more information. It wasn’t as if he could turn on the news or look at his smartphone. He needed something that was able to scout out the situation and bring him some indication of what was going on. A bird would be perfect for the job; he just needed the right bird. Frustratingly, the raven was not it. The raven was more than happy to fly around, but ultimately it was useless.
    1. Interestingly, ravens were later considered in the law of Moses to be unclean. (Lev 11:15) Perhaps this was one reason why it was useless to Noah. Noah needed information about the work and leading of God; he couldn’t get it from unclean sources.

8 He also sent out from himself a dove, to see if the waters had receded from the face of the ground. 9 But the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, and she returned into the ark to him, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her, and drew her into the ark to himself.

  1. Unlike the raven, the dove was useful. Doves would later be appropriate for use in Hebrew sacrifice & worship, so perhaps there is a parallel here as well. Interestingly, when the Holy Spirit appeared at Jesus’ baptism, He took the form of a dove. Doves have been used by God in ways that ravens have not. Whether or not this is because of Noah’s experience, or if Noah’s experience verifies God’s use of doves is unknown – but there is certainly a Biblical pattern.
    1. As with the unclean raven, the success of the clean dove might emphasize the fact that when we want to do God’s work, we need to do it God’s way. We have to have God’s power through the Holy Spirit. Attempts to work for God in our flesh will always be futile; we need God’s power & word!
  2. The raven flew in circles; the dove flew reconnaissance. The 1st flight brought back nothing. There was nowhere to land, so the dove simply came home.

10 And he waited yet another seven days, and again he sent the dove out from the ark. 11 Then the dove came to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth; and Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth. 12 So he waited yet another seven days and sent out the dove, which did not return again to him anymore.

  1. The 2nd flight brought back a leaf and a message. How would the dove know to bring back a leaf? Why wouldn’t it have dropped it along the way? On the face of it, it doesn’t make sense. How many birds have you witnessed flying around with leaves in their mouths? It’s not natural behavior. Thus, there must be a supernatural explanation: it was directed by God to act this way. The olive leaf was a divine message to Noah – it was news from God letting him know that the time was near.
  2. The 3rd flight ended without the dove’s return. Had the dove become as useless as the raven? Not at all. This too, was news – it was evidence that the dove had found a new home. It didn’t have a reason to return to the ark, because it was able to land somewhere else where there was food and provision.
  3. Just as life changed for the dove, life was about to change for Noah! The time of the flood had ended. The original author (as interpreted by Moses) sums it up in vss. 13-14…

13 And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, that the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and indeed the surface of the ground was dry. 14 And in the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dried.

  1. Roughly 11 months after the deluge began, the event was over. The waters had receded, and the earth was ready for use once again.
  2. Even then, Noah waited. Notice that it was the first day of the first month that “the waters were dried up from the earth.” Finally, this could be verified by Noah via a visual inspection. Yet it wasn’t until almost the very end of the second month (the 27th day) that Noah left. Why hadn’t he? He was waiting upon the direction of the Lord. 15…

15 Then God spoke to Noah, saying, 16 “Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. 17 Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you: birds and cattle and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” 18 So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him. 19 Every animal, every creeping thing, every bird, and whatever creeps on the earth, according to their families, went out of the ark.

  1. When God said “Go,” Noah went…but not a moment before. This wasn’t Noah being lazy; this was Noah being obedient. Remember that all of this was brand-new – nothing like this had ever happened before (or since). All Noah knew was that God had given him instructions to build, so he built. God gave him instructions to receive the animals, so he received. God was the One to shut him in the ark, so Noah (logically!) thought to stay there until God told him otherwise. But when God said to move, he did. Noah was fully obedient to all of God’s command.
    1. This isn’t an excuse for us to do nothing until we receive a specific “word from heaven.” We’ve already been given commands from the Lord Jesus: to make disciples of the nations, to love one another, to forgive one another, to pray continually, etc. There are days we definitely need wisdom from God as to how to proceed, but we already have His command in many areas. Like Noah, we need to be obedient!
  2. When Noah left the ark, everything left the ark. Nothing was to remain. Nor did the Lord leave the inhabitants of the ark without instruction. They were to “be fruitful and multiply.” This was the same command God had given mankind at the very dawn of creation (Gen 1:28); it is repeated here to Noah and the rest as a grand illustration of how the earth had been given a new start by the Lord.
  • Noah worships God (8:20-22). God appeased & soothed.

20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

  1. Once Noah left the ark, what was his very first act? Worship! There’s no mention of Noah building himself a house, or starting his new life & career. There is time for that later. For now, the most important thing was to worship God & thank God for His deliverance & provision.
    1. Worship was a priority for Noah; it ought to be a priority for us!
  2. Not just any Noah worshipped God according to God’s desires and word. Notice Noah “took of every clean animal and of every clean bird.” Although the specific instructions regarding burnt offerings are not given to the Hebrews until the days of Moses, at the very least, Noah understood which animals were & were not considered clean. God had instructed him on this when the animals were originally gathered for the ark (Gen 7:2-3). Noah clearly understood that it was from those animals that he needed to draw for sacrifice.
    1. Worship needs to be done according to the word!

21 And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.

  1. God was pleased with the offering, as He “smelled a soothing aroma.” Have you ever noticed that when you smell something really good, it sets you at ease? Like when you walk into a house smelling of freshly baked cookies – it relaxes you & makes you feel comforted. Studies have been done showing how our olfactory senses (smell) are tied with our emotions. Perhaps this is one way in which we’re made in the image of God. Repeatedly the Bible testifies how sincere obedient sacrifices rise to God as a “sweet aroma to the Lord.” There’s something about that smell that pleases God, soothing Him – something that is peaceful and quieting.
  2. Question: was God’s anger soothed with this offering? God’s righteous anger had been satisfied with His judgment in the flood. The whole reason the flood had come was because God’s justice needed to be accomplished, and the vast wages of death needed to be paid. That was done & complete, signified by the fact that floodwaters had receded. Noah’s sacrifice wasn’t done for atonement; it was done for worship. God’s pleasure here was because Noah was worshipping Him, as all mankind ought to have been doing all along.
    1. We don’t worship God to earn our salvation; that’s been accomplished by the sufficient work of Jesus. We worship God to glorify Him & bring Him pleasure.
    2. God is pleased with sincere worship!
  3. In addition to His pleasure, God also makes a promise: He would never again “destroy every living thing,” as He did in the flood. More will be said about that when God formally makes His covenant promise with Noah. At this point in the text, the idea is only introduced. The main point here is the contrast between men & God. Since Genesis 3, there was strife between God & men. Adam sinned, and God cursed the ground. Mankind continued to sin, and God destroyed all life through the flood. This cycle would not continue, as God declared the future. Mankind would always be evil, but God would always choose to be merciful. “The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” – mankind is inherently & unwaveringly evil. No one does good, no not one (Rom 3:12). We are born into sin, and apart from the miraculous work of God through Jesus, we repeatedly choose to sin. That is simply who we are, and what we do. If God chose to interact with us today as He interacted with mankind during the days of Adam and Noah, He would have to repeatedly destroy the earth with every generation! Yet He doesn’t. Why? Because God chooses something different: God chooses mercy – God chooses life.
  4. How long will God make this choice? As long as it takes.

22 “While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.”

  1. Although at first glance, this might appear to be an eternal promise, it’s not. Notice the qualification at the beginning: “while the earth remains.” Perhaps a more literal translation of the Hebrew might be, “Yet all the days of the earth,” implying that the number of days the earth has is limited. To adapt the normal translation, the earth will not always remain/endure. At some point, the end will come (although only God knows when that may be).
  2. Until that point, God promises His mercy & life. “While the earth remains,” the seasons will continue changing, the earth will continue turning, and the years will not be ceased. Life will go on. For one reason, and one reason alone: the mercy of God!
  3. FYI, God’s promise in Genesis 8 ought to inform us on our response to the doomsday claims of false prophecy teachers, as well as atheistic environmentalists. Should we be looking for a gigantic asteroid to destroy all life on earth? Should we fear global warming as a world-ending event? No. The earth will keep turning, and life will continue…all up until the point that God determines it will not. Life as we know it on earth will change, but it will change according to God’s timetable; not our own.

Genesis 9

  • God’s promise/covenant (9:1-17). Promise of life.

1 So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.

  1. God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply” is repeated, with the additional explanation to “fill the earth.” It will be given one additional time more before this section is finished, which goes underscores its importance. Any command of God is important to be followed, but when God gives it three times, it is crucial! From the perspective of Noah, it makes perfect sense. After all, Noah and his sons were the sole remnant of humanity remaining upon earth. The primary reason they were saved was for the purpose of repopulation. After all, if God had desired, He could have simply reformed a new Adam from the dust of the ground. Noah and his sons were by no means required for humanity to exist. What they were required for, was for God’s promise of a future Messiah (Seed of the woman) to continue. If God had completely started over, His promise to Adam & Eve would have been null & void, and that’s impossible as God’s word is always Thus, Noah and his sons had to multiply; it was essential to the hope of our salvation.
    1. BTW – We have a similar command as that of Noah and his sons: the Great Commission. Matthew 28:19–20, “(19) Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20) teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” What is this, other than the command to be fruitful & multiply? As disciples of Jesus, we are to make other disciples of Jesus. We are to multiply ourselves among every nation, filling the earth. …
  2. As for Noah and the animals, all of them were originally commanded to multiply – but that’s where many of the similarities end. Mankind’s relationship with the animals was to drastically change. 

2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that move on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. 3 Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs. 4 But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.

  1. Animals now had a new fear: humans. Why? Because animals now had a new predator: humans. Recall that prior to Noah, the only food God had given to mankind was plant-life. Actually, at the very beginning, plants were the only food that God gave to all living creatures, human or animal (Gen 1:29-30). Whether or not that continued with the animals past the Fall is unknown, but it was certainly that way for humans. That’s not to say humans were always obedient in this. Of the line of Cain, a descendant by the name of Jabal was the father of nomadic ranchers (Gen 4:20). Presumably, he raised livestock for some form of slaughter, most likely as food. Even so, God’s stated command to humans was for a vegetarian diet…all until this point. Now, things changed & God gave animal meat as food.
  2. What God did not give was animal blood as food. The blood of the animal represented the life of the animal, and the life (and the blood) belongs to God & God alone. 

5 Surely for your lifeblood I will demand a reckoning; from the hand of every beast I will require it, and from the hand of man. From the hand of every man’s brother I will require the life of man. 6 “Whoever sheds man’s blood, By man his blood shall be shed; For in the image of God He made man. 7 And as for you, be fruitful and multiply; Bring forth abundantly in the earth And multiply in it.”

  1. In the sad event of Cain & Abel, the blood of Abel cried out to God from the ground (Gen 4:10). God knows when blood is shed, and He will not be blind to crimes of violence. He may have promised not to destroy the earth, but He did not promise to forsake His justice. Man was made “in the image of God,” so it’s no wonder that God takes the crime of murder seriously. An attack on man is an attack upon God’s own character & nature. It is the ultimate act of rebellion against one’s Creator.
  2. Interestingly, the prohibition against shedding blood is put side-by-side with the final repetition to be fruitful & multiply. Why? Because it frames the idea perfectly. Don’t take life; give it. We are made in the image of God, so we ought to act according to the character of God. God’s desire is not that life be lost (His will is that none should perish), but that life be received. As His special creation & His people, we are to act in the same way. Instead of stealing life from someone, we are to give it. The closest physical act that mirrors this is childbirth – thus, be fruitful & multiply.
    1. As a general principle, this doesn’t mean that married people are obligated to continually bear children until our bodies give out. It does mean we are to act according to the benefit of others, rather than their detriment. We can either be life-takers, or life-givers. Which more reflects the character of our Lord Jesus? 

8 Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying: 9 “And as for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you and with your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you: the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you, of all that go out of the ark, every beast of the earth.

  1. Remember that a covenant is an agreement – like a contract, but stronger. God had promised to make His covenant with Noah, prior to the flood & all the judgment (Gen 6:18). He had guaranteed life to Noah, saying what He would do in the future when He established His covenant. Here, the covenant is actually established. God kept His word, and make His unbreakable commitment to Noah.
  2. Note that it’s more than Noah; God made His covenant with all living things. In one respect, Noah had a specific covenant that belongs to him & his family (that of the Messiah, which was the point of Gen 6:18); here the covenant dictates how God will interact with all the earth, which is why everyone & everything is included.

11 Thus I establish My covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

  1. Never another flood! Although we have had untold number of floods throughout history in almost every continent on the planet (Antarctica excepted?), we’ve never seen a global flood like the one of Noah’s day. What happened then has never happened again. God promised it, and His promise is good.
  2. That said, God never promised no future destruction; just a future flood. Remember, the days of the earth are limited. When the end comes, because of God’s promise, it won’t be a flood; it will be fire. 2 Peter 3:10, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” To be sure, there will be much destruction that precedes this event, during the 7 years of the Great Tribulation… Yet at its ultimate conclusion, the heavens and earth will be totally remade into a new creation. It doesn’t happen via a washing of water, but of a purification by fire. Our God is a consuming fire (Hb 12:29); His own personal holiness will remake the universe into what He had intended for it all along.

12 And God said: “This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth.

  1. Covenant sign: the rainbow. This doesn’t expressly say that rainbows never existed prior to the flood; it simply affirms that the rainbow was specifically set apart by God after the flood. (Though it could have been created in this moment. The Bible simply doesn’t specify.)
  2. How long would this sign last? As long as the earth is here, so is the rainbow. As long as there are rainbows, we have continual reminders of God’s continual mercies.
    1. Modern culture desires to repurpose the rainbow. Popularly speaking, it has been adopted as a sign of the homosexual movement (rainbow flags, etc.). Never forget its original purpose! Mankind always twists what God gives for good. One day it’s the rainbow – the next day, it’s the cross as it’s used for nothing more than jewelry or a generic sign of someone’s death. Don’t let pop culture inform you as to what things mean; turn to the word of God. What God has given for good – what God has given to point us back to Himself – let us continually use these things for His given intent!

14 It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; 15 and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”

  1. God sees; God remembers. When He sees the rainbow, He remembers His promise. When living things see the rainbow, we remember His promise. That’s the whole point of having a sign accompany covenants. It was to be a reminder of the promise that was made. Be it the rainbow – circumcision – the Sabbath…all of these are reminders of God’s promises to His people.
    1. There’s one more given in the New Testament: the blood of Jesus via the cup of communion. That is a visible sign of the promises we have in God!
  2. In a similar way, God sees & remembers. He sees the sign of His covenant on us, when He sees us clothed in the righteousness of Christ. He sees us included in the new covenant of forgiveness & grace when we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. He sees those signs, and He remembers.

17 And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

  1. Again, this is a divine covenant between God and all things, “all flesh.” And it is! Think about it: do only Christians benefit from the mercies of God as demonstrated through the rainbow? Of course not. Believers & non-believers benefit from God choosing never to destroy the earth through a global flood. Every living creature (human or animal) is included in these covenant blessings.
    1. It also means that every single person has the opportunity to know God in His mercy. They don’t have to be removed from Him. They can know Him in His grace through Jesus!

With Noah off the ark, and the whole events of the flood wrapped up, the book of Genesis gives us a bit of a postscript. Noah and his sons were to go repopulate the earth, hopefully setting an example of righteousness for future generations. Were they successful? That’s what the remainder of Chapter 9 describes…

  • Noah’s legacy (9:18-29). Farmer Noah curses his son.

18 Now the sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And Ham was the father of Canaan. 19 These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole earth was populated.

  1. The earth was repopulated (the details of which are described in Chapter 10). At this point, we’re only told of one child of the next generation: Canaan, who bears importance because of the events of the text.
  2. Interestingly, we only read of descendants of Shem, Ham, and Japheth; not Noah. Technically, we’re all descended from Noah, but it seems that the only sons he personally sired were the three that boarded the ark with him. As to why he did not have more children (especially after the command of God) is unsaid. It’s not likely that Noah was purposefully disobedient, and it’s quite possible that this was God’s desire all along. We simply don’t know the reason why.

20 And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. 21 Then he drank of the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent.

  1. Noah’s post-flood career choice is unsurprising. Mankind had originally been commissioned as farmers (Gen 2:15), and no doubt this was Noah’s lifestyle prior to being called into shipbuilding service. He probably went back to what he had always known.
  2. What is surprising is what he did as a farmer. Planting a vineyard was normal, as was drinking the wine – but drunkenness would probably have been out of character for Noah. Remember that Noah was considered a “just man, perfect in his generations,” (Gen 6:9). That doesn’t mean he was 100% sinless; only that sin didn’t stick to him. His general lifestyle wasn’t one of sin, but of honoring & walking with God. The event described here fits more of the people who lived around Noah prior to the flood; not Noah himself.
  3. Again, Noah wasn’t absolutely perfect. He was just in much of the grace of God as any of us – and he found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Gen 6:8). Everyone has their “off” days, and this seemed to have been Noah’s. What he did wasn’t absolutely terrible, but it certainly wasn’t wise. For the most part, he kept to himself in his tent, but he set an awful example for his sons, potentially helping one of them stumble into awful sin.
    1. That’s part of the problem with so-called “victimless sins.” We think the only person we harm is ourselves, but our witness is damaged, and who can know what the ramifications of that will be?

22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. 23 But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.

  1. Ham was the first son of Noah to discover his father in his uncovered state. That in itself wouldn’t have been a problem. If he had walked in & immediately walked out seeking help for his father, surely nothing more would have been said or written. What’s implied by the text is something far different. In some unknown way, Ham dishonored his father. Speculation abounds as to what he did, but there’s no way to know. At the very least, he tattled on his father to his two brothers. He brought enough shame to his father to spur his brothers into action. Think of it: Ham could have simply warned his brothers not to enter the tent, or even guarded the entrance to guard his father’s dignity. Instead, he spread the news – perhaps even gloating over it all. The bottom line: he dishonored his dad.
  2. The contrast was with Shem and Japheth. They honored their father by covering his “nakedness,” taking pains to do so in a way that they wouldn’t even see Noah’s situation for themselves. What they did was born out of love & respect – they did to their father what they surely would have wanted done for themselves.
    1. Love doesn’t gloat over sin; it covers it.
    2. We see this in the gospel! Jesus doesn’t expose our sin for all the world to see; He covers it with His sacrifice & His blood.

24 So Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him.

  1. Apparently although Noah was drunk, he wasn’t completely passed out. Once he sobered up, he was able to remember what had happened. Again, the Bible doesn’t tell us exactly what Ham did to humiliate his father, but something Noah “knew what his younger son had done to him.
  2. That’s when Noah takes action, as the priestly head of his household. 

25 Then he said: “Cursed be Canaan; A servant of servants He shall be to his brethren.” 26 And he said: “Blessed be the LORD, The God of Shem, And may Canaan be his servant. 27 May God enlarge Japheth, And may he dwell in the tents of Shem; And may Canaan be his servant.”

  1. Just as Ham dishonored the generation before him, Noah cursed the generations after him. Ham is punished through the prophetic announcement placed on his son, Canaan. Canaan was to forever be in subjugation to the other two clans of Noah’s sons, being a “servant of servants” to them.
  2. Question: why did Noah punish Canaan, rather than Ham? God’s word later speaks of how God does not punish the son for the sins of the father (Ezek 18:20). God is just, and each person has to account for his/her own sin. Even so, sometimes sons & daughters do follow in the examples set by their fathers & mothers. God’s word is also clear that sins of the fathers often visit the third and fourth generation of their children (Exo 20:5). That would seem to be (at least part of) the case here. Ham had sinned, but the effects of Ham’s sin would endure. Ham’s actions simply revealed Ham’s character, and this was what he was passing on to his children – something that would not be without consequence.
  3. Ultimately, we need to recognize that Noah was not simply speaking as a parent, but as a prophet. What he declared here was actually the decree of God. Canaan was cursed and did serve as conquered servants to the descendants of Shem. After all, among the descendants of Shem were the Israelites (i.e. “Semitic” peoples), and when God brought them into the Promised Land, they conquered the Canaanites. What was prophesied by Noah was later fulfilled in the days of Moses & Joshua. (And it still has ramifications today!)

28 And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years. 29 So all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years; and he died.

  1. With this note, it appears that Noah was the third oldest man recorded in Scripture. Jared had lived to be 962 (Gen 5:20), and Methuselah lived to be 969 (Gen 5:27). Noah had been 500 years old by the time he bore children, and 600 years old at the time of the flood. He had lived long enough to see corruption on the earth, the cleansing brought through God’s judgment, and the continual mercies of God in the days that followed. He may not have been perfect, but he lived life to the full!


The mercies of God are amazing! God took Noah through the flood – God gave him guidance via the dove – God gave him instruction & a commission to fill the earth – God was pleased with his worship – and God promised him life. Did Noah deserve any of it? Of course not – he struggled with sin just like all of us (as seen in his later life). But God still gave it. God promised His covenant of life, and He made it available to all the world.

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