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Genesis 9

God’s Covenant With Noah (9:1–17)

12–17 God reaffirmed His covenant with a sign, a rainbow (verse 13). Not only would the rainbow give encouragement to Noah and his family (and to ourselves), but it would also “remind” God of His promise never again to send a flood to destroy life on earth.42

The Sons of Noah (9:18–29)

18–19 Of Noah’s sons, Japheth was the oldest; his descendants are listed in Genesis 10:2–5. Ham was the youngest son, and from his descendants came the Canaanites, who settled in what was to become the “promised land” (Israel). Ham’s descendants are listed in Genesis 10:6–20. Shem was the middle son: God chose Shem’s line through which to establish the Hebrew nation, God’s “chosen people.” The descendants of Shem are listed in Genesis 10:21–31.43

20–23 These verses give an account of Noah becoming drunk and engaging in some kind of improper or immodest behavior: he lay uncovered inside his tent (verse 21). But worse than that, Noah’s son Ham saw it and went out and told his two brothers about his father’s shame. Instead of protecting his father’s honor, he besmirched it. In so doing, Ham dishonored his father and violated what was to become one of the major commands in Scripture: Honor your father and your mother (Exodus 20:12). But Japheth and Shem covered their father’s nakedness (verse 23)—his shame—and as a result, they gained their father’s blessing (verses 26–27).

24–29 But Ham was not blessed. Instead, Noah pronounced a curse on Ham’s youngest son, Canaan (verse 25). Noah must already have observed an evil disposition in Canaan, much like that of his father Ham. This curse was fulfilled centuries later when the Israelites (descendants of Shem) invaded the land of Canaan and subjugated the ungodly Canaanites living there; many of them became, in effect, slaves of the Israelites.

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