In Genesis 9, Noah gets out of the boat, plants a vineyard, makes wine, gets drunk and seemingly shames himself. Not judging – I’ve been there before. His youngest son seems to have compassion on this situation and covers the man with his brothers assistance. I’m thinking that deserves a ‘thanks for taking care of me son’ type of response but it ends poorly with a serious curse over his family to be perpetual slaves. Can this be explained without awkward contrivances and rationalizations or is this just one of those things we have to accept and go along with?
It was Noah’s youngest son Ham who discovered Noah’s nakedness and told his older brothers who covered their father. From Genesis 9:24 it appears that Ham did more than just see his father naked. It says Noah awoke and discovered what his youngest son “had done to him”. We’re not told what it was, but it had to be a pretty serious thing for Noah to pronounce a curse on Ham’s descendants.
More importantly, God honored Noah’s curse. Many centuries later the sons of Shem, now called the Israelites, conquered the sons of Canaan and made them servants. And from Genesis 10 we can see that the descendants of Japheth (today’s Caucasians) populated most of the world, eventually including the land of Shem’s descendants, and also reduced the descendants of Canaan to servitude.
Most scholars agree that Ham had to have done much more than just see his father naked to cause such far reaching consequences.