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18 | And the sons of Noah 19 , These are the three sons that went forth of the ark, were of Noah: ? and of them was the Shem, and Ham, and Japheth : whole earth overspread. *and Har is the father of Ca- 20 And Noah began to be a
y ch. 5. 32. z ch. 10. 32. 1 Chron. 1. 4, &c. a ch. 3. 19, 23. & 4. 2. Prov. 12. 11.
X ch. 10. 6.
is the loken, &c. The remark of Jar- name that is above every name. 'Ham' chi the Jewish commentator on this signifies heat, probably in allusion to passage we think peculiarly plausible the hot and sultry regions which his and happy. He says that in what goes descendants were to inhabit. of 'Jabefore God had merely affirmed, in a pheth' the import is enlargement, the general way, that he would appoint the grounds of which appellation are exbow in the heavens as a sign of the plained below. We may remark, morecovenant, and that whenever it should over, that the order of mention here in future chance to appear it should be does not correspond with the order of 80 regarded, while there is no intima- age; for Japheth was undoubtediy the tion that one was actually visible at eldest and Shem the youngest of the the time. he thinks, for the three brethren.
But Shem is usually greater confirmation of Noah's faith, mentioned first because the birthright God suddenly overspread the western was conferred upon him.-Ham is sky with clouds, and causing the rain the father of Canaan. bow to appear, said to his servant, 'Be- Kenaan, from the root ya kâna, to hold, this is the sign of which I spake! | humble, to depress, to cause to stoop or Such at any rate is the usual force of bow down ; implying the depressive huthe demonstrative OT this.
miliation to whicla his descendants 18. The sons of Noah-were Shem, should be subjected. This remark of and Ham, and Japheth. To whatever Moses respecting Ham was doubtless it may be owing, the fact is undoubted, made with a special design; for living, that very many of the names of the as he did, when the Israelites, who deearly distinguished personages of Scrip- scended from Shem, were about to take ture are not only significant, but signi- possession of the land of Canaan, it ficant some way of the character or was of peculiar importance that they fortunes for which the individuals should be informed, that the people, themselves were remarkable. Wheth- whose country the Lord their God had er these names were bestowed by their given them to possess, were under a parents under some degree of prophet- curse from the days of their first faic influence, as suggested on Gen. 4. 2. ther. As Ham had several sons be-5. 29, or whether the original names sides Canaan, there seems to be no were gradually superseded and other other assignable reason for his being appropriate ones substituted by their particularly specified here than that now posterity in after times, is uncertain. suggested. That the fact is so, however, the names 19. Of them was the whole earth of Noah's sons afford one of many overspread. Heb. dispersed, scatpalpable proofs. 'Shem' signifies name, tered ; spoken of the earth figuratively, and doubtless points to the circum- unless as some critics understand it, stance of his superior distinction over 'earth' is here used in the sense of in: his brethren, especially from his being habitants of the earth, the container for the progenitor of Him who inherits a l the contained. The ancient versions
husbandman, and he planted a vineyard :
21 And he drank of the wine,
b and was drunken ; and he was uncovered within his tent.
b Prov. 20. 1. 1 Cor. 10. 12.
all give an equivalent rendering, though fiery force, it warms the blood, it the Syr. includes both senses ;-'From mounts to the brain, it leads reason these were mer. divided in the earth.' captive, it overpowers every faculty, it The fact mentioned would seem to ex- triumphs over its lord. How often clude the idea that Noah had any more have arts been invented which have children born after the flood, as some proved fatal to the inventors ! Hunter. have maintained.
21. And he drank of the wine and 20. Noah began to be a husbandman. I was drunken. This language is, alas! Heb.7278,70-8 a man of the ground. too plain to stand in need of expository Thus in the Heb. idiom a soldier is comment. He that runs may read, termed' a man of war;' a shepherd, 'a and he that reads must grieve. It was man of cattle;' an orator, “a man of very lawful for Noah to partake of the words,' &c The language does not fruits of his labour; but he sinned in necessarily imply that he had not fol- drinking to excess. He might not inlowed the occupation of a husband- deed have been aware of the strength man before. The original for begin' of the wine, or his age might have renboth in Heb. and Gr. is often redun- dered him sooner affected by it.. At dant, being applied to one who conuin- any rate, we have reason to conclude ues or repeats an action begun before. from his general character, that it was Thus, Christ is said, Mark, 11. 15, to
a fault of inadvertence, one in which begin to cast out,' and Luke, 12. 1, to he was overtaken, and of which he af'begin to speak,' for which in the par- terwards bitterly repented. 'Who would allel places he is said only, Mat. 21. 12, look to have found righteous Noah, the to cast out,' and Mat. 16.6, to speak.' father of the new world, lying drunk in So likewise it is said Gen. 6. 1, when his tent? Who could think that wine men began to multiply,' though we should overthrow him that was preserknow they had multiplied before this, ved from the waters ? That he who and were already very numerous. Here could not be tainted with the sinful exthen the meaning is simply, that Noah amples of the former world should bebegan to cultivate the ground after the gin the example of a new sin of his deluge and, among other agricultural own? What are we men if we be left to operations, he planted a vineyard, and vurselves! While God upholds us, no was perhaps the first who invented temptation can move us; when he presses for extracting the juice of the leaves us, no temptation is too weak to grape and making wine in this man- overthrow us. God's best children
If so, the increased quantities have no fence for sins of infirmity. procured, or the augmented strength of Which of the saints have not once the beverage, may account for the effect done that whereof they are ashamed? produced by drinking it upon Noah. Yet we see Noah drunken but once.
Behold the juice of the grape in a new One act can no more make a good man state; possessing a quality unheard of unrighteous, than a trade of sin can before. Eaten from the tree, or dried stand (consist) with regeneration.' Bp. in the sun, it is simple and nutritious, Hall. - Was uncovered within his like the grain from the stalk of corn; tent. Heb. 173174 gira in the midst of pressed out and fermented, it acquires a l(the) tent; the original haying nothing
22 And Ham, the father of ces were backward, and they saw Canaan, saw the pakedness of his not their father's nakedness. father, and told his two brethren 24 And Noah awoke from his without.
wine, and knew what his young23 · And Shem and Japheth er son had done unto him. took a garment, and laid it upon 25 And he said, Cursed be both their shoulders, and went Canaan; ea servant of servants backward, and covered the naked shall he be unto his brethren. ness of their father: and their fa
c Ex. 20. 12. Gal. 6. 1.
d Deut. 27. 16. Josh. 9. 23.
1 Kings, 2. 20, 21.
to answer to 'his' in our translation. 22. And Ham-saw the nakedness of Indeed the use of the collect. sing. is of his father and told his two brethren. such incessant occurrence in Hebrew, However sinful it was for Noah thus to that it is by no means certain that a expose himself, it was still more so for single tent is here intended. It may be Ham, on perceiving his situation, to go that he lay on the ground in the open out and report it with malignant pleasair in the midst of a number of tents, ure to his brethren. For that he did where he happened first to be discov- so, we cannot but infer from the sequel. ered by Ham. Thus while in 2 Sam. He was now in all probability about an 7. 6, God says, 'Whereas I have not hundred years old, and the act therefore dwelt in (any) house since the time that could not have been one of mere childI brought up the children of Israel outish levity. It was undoubtedly a known of Egypt, even to this day, but have and voluntary instance of gross disrewalked in a tent and in a tabernacle,' spect, or contemptuous deportment to1. e. have dwelt tentwise; we read in wards his aged parent, and as such the parallel passage 1 Chron. 17.5, 'For justly gave occasion to the malediction I have not dwelt in an house since the that followed.-'Ham is here called day that I brought up Israel unto this the father of Canaan,' which intimates day; but have gone from tent to tent that he who was himself a father, and from (one) tabernacle (to another).' should have been more respectful to As to Ham's telling his brethren with him who was his father.' Henry. out, this may mean simply that he told 24. And Noah awoke, &c. Finding them in the fields or in the vineyards, himself covered, when he awoke, with or any where without the spot where a garment which he had no recollection the several tents happened to be of having spread over him when he pitched. But whatever were the laid down, he would naturally make inplace, it was the position that constitu- quiries concerning it of his sons, and ted the degradation. "Noah had no thus would learn from Shem and Jasooner sinned but he discovers his na- pheth all that had happened. It is un. kedness, and hath not so much rule of necessary to suppose any supernatural himself as to be ashamed. One hour's revelation in the case. -I Knew what drunkenness bewrays that which more his younger son had done unto him. than six hundred years' sobriety had Heb. 7007 732 his little son. As Ham modestly concealed. He that gives in the enumeration of Noah's sons is himself to wine is not his own : what invariably placed between the other shall we think of this vice, which robs two, the presumption is, that he was a man of himself and lays a beast in between them in age; and consequent his room?' Bp. Hall.
ly that he is here called 'younger' or little not in literal truth but in com- sion is fair, that as nothing is said of parative dignity. His conduct on this Ham personally in the sentence utteroccasion had so degraded him that ed, his conduct, though highly criminal, Shem and Japheth were both preferred merely afforded an occasion for the before him, and in this sense we think prompting of one of the most signal it is that he is here denominated little' prophecies contained in the Scriptures. or young,' an epithet that would oth- In like manner we suppose the indiscreerwise sound strangely as applied to a tion of Hezek iah in displaying his person already an hundred years old. treasures to the embassadors of the king Still is is a point on which we cannot of Babylon, Is. 39. 6, was not so truly speak with confidence.
the cause as the occasion of the severe 25. And he said, Cursed be Canaan, denunciation and the actual heavy &c. The important prophecy here re- judgment that followed. (2.) As to corded, which is remarkable for the the connection between the incident fulness and extensive reach of its mean- here mentioned and the predicted doom ing, involves several particulars requir- of Canaan, it is especially to be borne ing a minute and critical investigation, in mind, that here, as in hundreds of which may perhaps swell our remarks other instances in the Scriptures, indi. somewhat beyond their usual dimen- diduals are not so much contemplated sions. The first inquiry that naturally as the nations and peoples descending arises respects the procuring cause of from them. As the blessings promised such an apparently severe denuncia- were not to be confined to the persons tion, and that too a denunciation direct- of Shem and Japheth, so the curse de ed not against Ham, the real offender, nounced was not to be restricted to the but against Canaan his son, who does person of Canaan, but was to alight not appear from the text to have had upon his posterity centuries after he any agency in the transaction. On
But the judgments of this head we may remark, (1.) That God are not inflicted upon men irrespecthe act of Ham was rather the occasion tive of their moral character, nor have than the cause of the prediction against we any reason to think that this preCanaan. At the most, his sin was that diction was ever fulfilled upon the Caof irreverence and unbecoming lerity naanites themselves, any farther than towards his aged parent, and this, as their own sins were the procuring though by no means a slight offence, causes of it. Noah therefore uttered can yet be scarcely conceived to pos- the words from an inspired foresight sess such peculiar enormity as to draw of the sins and abominations of the after it so dire a malediction not only abandoned stock of the Canaanites. upon the offender himself, but upon his Now it is clear from the subsequent posterity down to distant generations. history that the peculiar and characterIt is moreover worthy of note, that istic sins of that people, the sins which Noah does not expressly say that be- in an especial manner incurred the dicause Ham had done so and so, there- vine indignation, were closely allied to fore should his offspring be accursed; the sin which immediately prompted not to mention, that if Ham's maledic- Noah's denunciatory prophecy. It was tion is to be referred entirely to his the uncovering of nakedness(0775837) want of filial reverence, Shem's bless- or in other words, the prevalence of ing, on the other hand, ought to he as the most flagrant corruption, licentiousdistinctly ascribed to his piety towards ness, and debauchery of manners. In his parent. But this evidently is not proof of this we have only to turn to tho case. We think then the conclu- the eighteenth chapter of Leviticus, where the black specification of the Canaanites came to the full, Melchizleading crimes of the Canaanites is giv- I edek whose name was expressive of en, and we cannot fail to be struck with his character, 'king of righteousness,' the coincidence even in the very point was a worthy priest of the most high of the language of the description; the God; and Abimelech whose name imwhole concluding with the solemn in- ports 'parental king pleaded the integjunction, v. 24, 25, 'Defile not ye your- rity of his heart and the righteousness selves in any of these things : for in all of his nation, Gen 20, 4-9, before God, these the nations are defiled which I and his plea was admitted. Yet both cast out before you. And the land is these personages appear to have been defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity Canaanites. The import of this prethereof upon it, and the land itself vom- diction will be still further developed as iteth out her inhabitanis.' We may we proceed. - TA servant of servants therefore justly regard the conduct of shall he be unto his brethren. Chal. Ham towards his father as 80 far 'working servant. That is, a servant an image or sample of the future reduced to the lowest degree of bondage iniquitous conduct of the Canaan- and degradation. It is an Hebraic idiom ites, that it should very naturally conveying a superlative idea like holy of be made, under the prompting of holies, king of kings, vanity of vanities, inspiration, a suggesting occasion of song of songs, &c. The terms “brother,' the curse now pronounced. (3.) This 'brethren,' were used by the Hebrews view of the subject, while it makes the for more distant relatives ; and this burden of the prediction to centre more prophecy more especially entered on a especially upon Canaan, does not utter- course of fulfilment about eight hun. ly exclude Ham from all participation dred years after its delivery, when the in it, inasmuch as no father can fail to Israelites, the descendants of Shem, be deeply affected with the prospect of subdued the Canaanites and took posa child's calamities. Omniscience per session of their country. The predichaps saw that Ham's sin was not suf- tion was still farther accomplished, ficiently aggravated to subject him just when the scattered remnants of those ly to any severer punishment than the tribes were expelled by David and setknowledge of the future lot of this por- tled in those parts of Africa which first tion of his posterity. But at the same fell under the dominion of the Romans, time, it is worthy of remark, that al- the undoubted descendants of Japheth. though the sentence here recorded was Canaan therefore was in early ages the to spend itself mainly upon the de- slave of Shem, and in later times of scendants of Ham in the line of Ca- Japheth ; and in this way is the diffinaan, yet it is an historical fact, that culty arising from the possible suppothe curse of servitude has signally fal- sition that Canaan was to be in bondlen upon other branches of his poster- age to both his brethren at once, effectity, of which the fate of the African ually removed. He first bowed to the race is a standing evidence; but how rod of one, and then, some centuries far we are to refer that fact to the afterwards, to that of the other. effects of Noah's curse, on this occasion, 26 Blessed be the Lord God of Shem. is not clear. (4.) The prediction is ot These words are to be regarded as far to be cunsidered as necessarily affect- more than a simple expression of Noah's ing individuals, or even communities thanks to God for the pious act of Shem; proceeding from Canaan, so long as for in this sense Japheth's conduct they continued righteous. In Abra- was entitled to equal commendation, ham's days, before the iniquity of the l and God could not, on this ground alone
was no more.