Genesis Chapter 9 The Rainbow to the sin of Ham

Jun 26th, 2009 | By | Category: Genesis, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Genesis Chapter 9 The Rainbow to the sin of Ham

Gen. 9:1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.

God’s words to Noah are similar to those spoken to Adam. Although verse 1 starts a new chapter, God’s words followed Noah’s sacrifice of the last chapter and thus occurred shortly after leaving the Ark.

Gen. 9:2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.

Now the animals, the birds, and the fish would fear man. Their former affinity for man would be replaced by a dominion of fear.

“Into your hand are they [animals, birds, and fish] delivered.” This statement gives the thought of man now having a dominion of fear. Beasts could devour man, and some became carnivorous. Before the Flood, man had a fruit and vegetable diet. That diet would now be supplemented with meat (verse 3). By the end of the Kingdom, conditions will be reversed. Man, animals, and birds will again eat just fruit and vegetables, including the tree of life.

Gen. 9:3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.

“Every moving thing,” clean and unclean, could now be eaten—whatever was found edible.

Later, after the Law was instituted, even locusts were eaten, for they were clean insects. While Genesis chapter 7 mentions clean and unclean animals being brought into the Ark and thus makes a distinction, it was God who made the selection of the animals, birds, etc., and caused them to come to Noah. Therefore, we should not assume that Noah knew all the distinctions regarding clean and unclean that later became part of the Law. With God at that time calling some animals clean and some unclean, Noah would have realized that distinction but not the symbolic reasoning and detail given subsequently in the Law. When Noah offered of every clean beast and fowl after the Flood, it was because of the multiplicity of pairs, and not because he understood so much.

We should keep in mind that much of the Book of Genesis was written later by Moses. Adam would not have known about the six Creative Days—at least there is no evidence that he knew. Proof of a later writing or recording of past incidents is that some towns in Genesis have dual names (the old name and the name at the time the Book of Genesis was written).

Gen. 9:4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.

The animals, etc., had to be killed and the blood drained (kosher style) before they could be eaten. Man could eat meat but not while the blood was in it. This prohibition meant that man could not eat animals that had been dead for a while, for the blood would separate and clot and thus could not be drained. For example, an individual could not eat an animal that had been killed by another animal and left, or an animal that had died by itself. The individual had to kill the animal and drain the blood quickly before it separated and clotted. There were sanitary or health reasons for this injunction, but the primary reason is the symbolic one. Since God gave this prohibition, it was to be obeyed—whether or not the reasons behind it were understood.

Similarly, Adam and Eve were not to eat of the forbidden fruit. Knowledge alone will not save man. Knowledge must be according to God’s terms. Obedience to God’s law is necessary.

From the standpoint of man (not the Jew or the Christian), the following is the symbolic reason for forbidding the eating of blood. In the Kingdom, man must “eat” the spiritual flesh, the bread of life, that is, Jesus. In the Memorial, the Christian partakes of the bread and the wine. When Jesus said, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you,” he was referring to symbolic flesh and blood, but Genesis 9:4 is talking about literal blood (John 6:53). The cup that Jesus and the Church partake of will never be offered to the world. Man in the Kingdom will partake of Christ’s merit (the bread) but not his blood. Hence this instruction to Noah symbolically pertains to the Kingdom Age. Incidentally, the Noachian Covenant will change somewhat as we go along.

Gen. 9:5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man.

If a beast killed a man, the beast had to be put to death by man. But man could kill a beast for food. This distinction showed that the blood in man had a special importance; hence a beast was not to kill a man and eat him with his blood. The blood in man was more important than the blood in an animal.

If a man was murdered, the murderer was to be put to death. Thus the penalty for murder was death. However, killing in war was not considered murder (an exception about war was added to the Law). Accidents, which were spelled out later, were also an exception. With war, when God told the Israelites to slay others, the principle usually applied of iniquity having already come to the full in those individuals. Thus there was a retribution factor. When a murder occurred, the surviving brother could kill the murderer. Under certain circumstances, the term “brother” could be broadened to be more inclusive.

Gen. 9:6 Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.

Verse 6 teaches capital punishment—a man’s life for a man’s life. Murder, the taking of a life, was prohibited because God had created man in His own image. A man’s life is more precious than the “golden wedge of Ophir” (Isa. 13:12). The golden wedge of Ophir refers to a large structure that had a peaked arch in which a golden stone of sterling quality was wedged. This very valuable gold-wedge keystone was a marvel of the ancient world.

Gen. 9:7 And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.

Verses 1-7, which were spoken on one occasion, began and ended the same way. The repetition indicated that God would bless the multiplication of the human race.

Gen. 9:8 And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying,

God gave the following formal statement to Noah and his sons. The wives were considered as being included in their husbands (Gen. 2:24).

Gen. 9:9 And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;

God will similarly make a covenant with Jesus and the Church. After the Time of Trouble (the Flood) at the end of this age, Jesus and his Church will awaken men from the tomb and deal with them. The Church will be able to populate the universe, as was said to Rebekah, a symbol of the Church: “Be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them” (Gen. 24:60).

When the feet members are changed, they will be caught away to meet the Lord in the air. This change is not a physical catching away but a literal transfer into a new body to meet the Lord in the air.

Gen. 9:10 And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth. Gen. 9:11 And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.

In other words, in addition to there not being another flood to destroy all flesh, a guarantee is implied that never again will God destroy everyone—by any means. Jesus promised that the days will be cut short in the future; hence there will be survivors of the Time of Trouble (Matt. 24:22).

Comment: Since no rain had fallen prior to the Flood, and since man’s first experience with rain was the cataclysmic Flood, it was merciful of God to make this promise to never again bring a flood to destroy all flesh. Otherwise, each time the sky darkened and it rained hard, the people would have wondered if another judgment was coming.

Reply: An element of mercy is implied. God will not destroy all flesh again.

Gen. 9:12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:

Gen. 9:13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.

The rainbow was the token or sign God gave to assure His promise to man and the animals that all flesh would not be extinguished henceforth. Notice, however, that this promise applied to the bird and the animal species that were on the Ark. Therefore, dinosaurs, for example, will not be preserved. Certain species will become extinct, but not those on the Ark. Not only was this occasion the first time a rainbow appeared, but its appearance was an indication that climatic conditions were different after the Flood.

A rainbow, which consists of the sun shining on many droplets of water in the atmosphere, is usually seen after a storm when the sun is shining. A rainbow is really a circle, as would be seen from an airplane. Like a ring, a rainbow symbolizes a covenant. The thought of the circle is “never ending.” Revelation 4:3 says that God’s symbolic throne has an emerald-like bow around it. Again the portent is hope, a promise, and a covenant.

God’s promise to Noah was an unconditional, one-sided covenant. Notice the repetition of at least three witnesses saying the rainbow is God’s sign that He will never again destroy all flesh.

The Abrahamic Covenant was also made and repeatedly reaffirmed—and even confirmed with an oath (Heb. 6:13,14).

Gen. 9:14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:

Gen. 9:15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

Gen. 9:16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

Here is another witness that God will never again destroy all flesh by a flood or, by implication, any other means.

Gen. 9:17 And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

At this point, God caused the rainbow to appear and Noah actually saw it. In verses 12-16, God said He would bring the rainbow and then promptly followed through. In other words, as God was explaining what the rainbow would signify—that it would be a symbol of a covenant—the bow appeared, and He said, “This is the token … which I have established.”

Gen. 9:18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.

“Ham is the father of Canaan” is like a preface, which will become more meaningful later.

Q: Ham was the father of Cush and Canaan, and both sons were significant. Nimrod was born through Cush, but was Canaan singled out here because his posterity were the ones the Israelites subsequently had to battle (see Gen. 10:15-18)?

A: Yes, we will probably have a discussion on this point later.

Gen. 9:19 These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.

“Of them [Shem, Ham, and Japheth] was the whole earth overspread.” Here is a clue that at least parts of Genesis were written many years later. Certain historical fragments were handed down, and Moses put together some parts and Ezra other parts. Regardless of race or nationality, the entire human family after the Flood can be traced back to Noah through one of his three sons.

Gen. 9:20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:

Verse 20 implies the passage of time, for it would take at least three years for a vineyard to be planted and to produce grapes. This verse also fulfills an earlier prophecy. Lamech named his son Noah and said that Noah would “comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.” (See comments under Genesis 5:29.) Noah’s carpentry expertise in building the Ark would now enable him to invent farming implements to reduce the labor in tilling the soil.

Since Noah planted a vineyard, we know that he intended to stay in that area for a while. He would not eat the fruit for one season and then move on. That area was to be his residence.

Gen. 9:21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.

Hebrews chapter 11 commends Noah for his righteousness, and so does the Apostle Peter.

Historically and traditionally, he is also known for his righteousness and holiness and for being just (although the latter trait is described with different words).

Noah partook of the fruit of the vine and became drunk, a condition that was unexpected. Unbeknownst to Noah, fermentation had taken place because of the changed conditions after the Flood. In the drunken state, Noah lay naked in his tent.

Gen. 9:22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.

Seeing the nakedness of his father, Ham told his two brothers without.

Gen. 9:23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.

The implication is that Ham mocked his father when informing Shem and Japheth. Then Shem and Japheth discreetly took a garment, put it on their shoulders, went into the tent backwards, and covered Noah’s nakedness. Their actions in covering their father indicated they were in a more proper heart condition than Ham at that time. Hence Ham’s attitude and his lack of participation in covering Noah were the reasons the curse was subsequently put on Canaan.

Comment: This incident of Ham’s lack of respect, coupled with Elisha’s being followed by a group of children who mocked his bald head and two “she bears” killing them in retribution, shows the respect God requires (2 Kings 2:23-25). Since that segment of Elisha’s life is a Kingdom picture, it shows the respect that must be accorded the Ancient Worthies. God’s standard is very high for those walking in His paths of righteousness.

Reply: Yes, the principle is there.

Verse 22 is the first recorded incident of Ham’s impropriety. Noah was approximately 600 years old, and his three sons were about 100 years old. Unfortunately, youth does not respect age as much as it should. The Ten Commandments say, “Honour thy father and thy mother” (Exod. 20:12). We honor them not because they are perfect or model parents—they may or may not be—but we are to give them due respect. If they are far from model parents and yet we want to obey this commandment, then we should approach them in an endearing attitude of respect but call attention to the wrong they are doing. We should use a respectful manner rather than bluntly charge them. The Law does not encourage the blind honoring of parents when they may be wrong or wicked, but a general deference should be shown.

Neither Noah nor Ham knew that wine fermented. Hence Ham judged the situation on circumstantial evidence, probably attributing Noah’s sloppy attitude to his age. The ridiculing followed. Respect should have been shown, for not only was Noah Ham’s father, but also it was because of Noah’s righteousness that the Ark had been built and his sons saved.

When Shem and Japheth heard about Noah, they never looked at him to verify Ham’s report but simply covered their father in a discreet way. They probably reasoned that regardless of how or why this had happened, Noah was righteous. They could not explain the drunkenness, but Noah’s past life and deeds more than offset this one incident. Based on God’s dealing with Noah, they did not want to cast any reflection on their father, even though they could not explain the current situation. All four—Noah, Ham, Shem, and Japheth—may not have known that the wine had caused Noah’s drunkenness until afterwards, when they reflected on the incident. The lesson is that we should not be too precipitous in judging others. We should give them the benefit of the doubt until we are sure. But when sure, we should take a stand.

Q: Why didn’t fermentation occur previously?

A: The bacterial content is transmitted more readily when moisture is in the air. The breaking of the last canopy at the time of the Flood produced an acidulous condition of the atmosphere that tended toward ferment and also directly affected human longevity. The ferment changed the character of the grape product, making it alcoholic.

Respect for the human body has changed today too. Now nakedness is flaunted by some. A question will be, What about the nakedness in Eden? But the Edenic condition occurred before sin and before the fall. Since that time, man cannot look at nakedness and be impervious. Fallen flesh is fallen flesh.

Comment: Matthew 24:37-39 speaks about the days before Noah, saying that the people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. “Drinking” in that context was simply partaking of liquids; it had no reference to alcoholic beverages because there was no fermentation prior to the Flood.

Reply: Yes, Jesus was referring to ordinary everyday activities, which were completely permissible under normal circumstances. His emphasis was on the people’s ignorance of the coming Flood. They did not believe Noah.

Gen. 9:24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.

Obviously, when Noah awoke, Shem and Japheth told him what had happened and what Ham had done. Perhaps Noah saw the garment covering when he awoke and began to ask questions. He would have been mortified to realize his condition, and eventually Shem and Japheth would have said they covered him.

Gen. 9:25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.

Verse 25, which shows that Canaan had already been born, is another clue that some time had passed since the Flood.

Q: Why was the curse on Canaan and not on Ham himself?

A: The sins of the father were visited upon the children—that was the principle. In the Kingdom, that principle will be changed.

Why did the curse come upon Canaan and not on another son? The four sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Phut, and Canaan (Gen. 10:6). Although Canaan was mentioned last because of the curse, he was probably the firstborn. As the firstborn, Canaan would logically receive the curse. Also, for Canaan to be the last son born, too much time would have elapsed after the Flood. Surely the effects of fermentation were discovered in the first several years. Shem’s first son, Arphaxad, was born two years after the Flood (Gen. 11:10). Following the Flood, God had ordered Noah and his sons to be fruitful and multiply, and they did. The planting of the vineyard could have taken up to five or six years but not 20.

If Canaan was Ham’s firstborn, the penalty would have hit Ham hard. Ham’s laughing at Noah may have been simply a disrespectful attitude rather than malicious intent, yet from God’s standpoint, that was a reflection on faithful Noah. Ham mocked—he did not overly mock.

Despite what it seems, the penalty was not an undue punishment. Consider the Law: If a child manifested an attitude of disobedience and disrespect to his parents, he was to be stoned to death. Ham’s mocking was a serious offense from the standpoint of God’s respect for Noah. Ham got a very strong lesson for the curse to rest on his dear baby son.

Gen. 9:26 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

Noah’s words, “Blessed be the LORD God of Shem,” show that of the three sons, Shem had the priority. The emphasis is on God: “Blessed be the LORD God!” Noah was saying that Shem would be his successor. As God had dealt with Noah, so that same God would be the Lord God of Shem (in contradistinction to the other two sons). Japheth was the oldest, Shem was next, and Ham was the youngest. “And Canaan shall be[come] his [Shem’s] servant.”

Gen. 9:27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

“God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem.” It was as if Shem were the honored host and Japheth enjoyed the hospitality. Stated another way, Shem was the householder, and Japheth could dwell there as a friend or associate. In honor, Shem was first, Japheth second, and Canaan third.

Verses 26 and 27 have a significant historical impact. Being very poetically expressed in the Hebrew, these two verses are a prophecy of the development of the age of faith. A great test comes on the natural progeny of Shem and Japheth in succeeding chapters—and also on the spiritual progeny many years later.

Noah’s statements regarding Shem and Japheth were prophetic utterances. During the building of the Ark, Shem probably manifested a more filial attitude, but these statements were really God’s prediction. Although Noah was in harmony with the prophecy, he did not understand it.

The clause “God shall enlarge Japheth” is a play on words. The word “enlarge” is related to “Japheth.” It was like saying, “Japheth, your name is more significant than Noah realized when he gave it to you.” Some feel that Japheth was given the name because of his stature, and in mythology and ancient tradition, Japheth was very large and very strong. However, the “enlarging” mentioned under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit goes far beyond that natural trait; it pertains to stature in other senses of the word.

Q: Does Canaan’s curse indicate the start of the black race?

A: We will wait a little on that question and first study Cush and Nimrod. The Flood had ended shortly before, and God gave a rainbow promise. Noah planted a vineyard and unintentionally got drunk. Simple pronouncements followed. To answer the question, we will have to read the next two chapters, which are based on the dispersion of the races in different ways.

Q: The King James marginal reference for “enlarge” is “persuade.” In the concordance, the Hebrew word is pathah. Is this alternate definition a hint as to what would happen and the test that would come?

A: There is so much information, and the study is so difficult that we had better wait. The Genesis account is like an acorn or a seed. Genesis means “beginning,” and a seed is a beginning. The statements are so compressed in the Book of Genesis that the rest of the Bible is the unfolding. Genesis starts with the perfection in Eden followed by the fall, and the Book of Revelation ends with restoration. The Millennial Age will be an upright condition with a return to Edenic conditions. In between is the story of mankind with terrible things happening.

Genesis is like the seed, and way down on the stream of time is the flower. As the hymn goes, “The bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be its flower.”

Canaan was to be the servant of both Shem and Japheth. Shem and Japheth were both blessed, but Japheth’s blessing was on a secondary level.

Gen. 9:28 And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years.

Gen. 9:29 And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.

Noah’s total age was 950 years. He lived 350 years (about one third of his life) after the Flood.

A radical change occurred in individuals born after the Flood in that their life spans were much shorter. Noah’s years post-Flood were much longer than Abraham’s entire life, for example.

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