Q. I had never read Gen 9:24 in the way I did until after reading a commentary about it and wondered if you’d confirm or correct that interpretation.
What I’d read was that Ham committed a homosexual act upon Noah and that was what “Noah knew what his son had done to him” and why, in verse 25, he cursed Canaan. Is this correct or just speculation on the part of the commenter? Thanks for any clarification.
A. There’s no evidence to indicate that Ham committed a homosexual act upon Noah, and frankly, I think it’s highly unlikely. Noah was Ham’s father, Ham was married, and homosexuality was punishable by death. Remember, the entire population of Earth had just been destroyed for such disregard for God’s Law.
More likely, Ham had shown disrespect for his father in invading his privacy and then a crass immaturity in telling his brothers about what he had seen. Behavior like this would become a violation of the 5th commandment. The fact that they demonstrated the proper behavior by turning their heads and covering their father is meant to contrast their actions with his.
In cursing Ham’s sons Noah was not punishing them for their father’s sin, but rather saying that this immaturity of Ham’s would become even worse in the generations that followed him and cause them to be subjugated by his brothers’ descendants.
The lesson that many miss from the passage is that this is the first mention of wine in the Bible. An interpretation tool called “The Principle Of First Mention” holds that the context surrounding the first mention of an important issue often contains valuable lessons. The first mention of wine includes the drunkenness that caused Noah’s immodesty. For that Noah is responsible, and though he lived another 350 years the Scriptures contain no further reference to him. This is not meant as a prohibition against wine, but rather a warning on the dangers of drinking to excess.