What does Genesis 9:24 mean?
ESV: When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him,
NIV: When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him,
NASB: When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him.
CSB: When Noah awoke from his drinking and learned what his youngest son had done to him,
NLT: When Noah woke up from his stupor, he learned what Ham, his youngest son, had done.
KJV: And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
NKJV: So Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him.
Verse Commentary:
The previous verses describe Noah getting drunk and passing out naked inside his tent (Genesis 9:21). His son Ham walked in, saw his father naked, left the tent, and told his brothers what he'd seen (Genesis 9:22). Shem and Japheth took measures to cover their father without looking at him.

Now, Noah wakes up. He either remembers what happened or someone tells him. The limited details given in this passage make it unclear, exactly, if Ham intended any harm or dishonor to his father. Some scholars suggest that in this era, to see another's nakedness is to shame him and to become superior to him in a sense. It is possible that Ham thought telling his brothers what he had seen would elevate his status in some way. Instead, as the following verse reveals, the opposite will happen.

This verse, told from a narrator's perspective, refers to Ham's actions as "what [Ham] had done to Noah." Beyond Noah's opinion, Scripture clearly indicates that Ham has done something immoral or inappropriate to his father. Whether this is something as simple as seeing Noah naked without helping him, or something more sinister, the passage does not explicitly say. However, the Hebrew verb here is an active one: implying a purposeful action, not just a passive one. Ham does something more than simply see Noah, but we cannot say for sure what that was.

It's interesting that the text calls Ham Noah's youngest son. It's easy to assume that Ham was the middle son, since the names are always listed as "Shem, Ham, and Japheth" (Genesis 9:18; Genesis 6:10). The Hebrew term used here is haqā'tān, which can mean "youngest," but can also mean "smallest" or "least" or even "unimportant." Scholars suggest this might mean Ham was the smallest son, or simply that the usual ordering of the names is not by age.
Verse Context:
Genesis 9:18–29 comes immediately after God has established his promise to never again destroy all life with a flood. This includes a sign: the rainbow. The passage reintroduces Noah's three sons as the fathers of all the people of the earth to come. This passage also states that Ham was the father of Canaan. Next, we're told the embarrassing story of when Noah became drunk and lay naked in his tent. After seeing Noah uncovered, Ham went out and told his brothers about it. When Noah woke up, he cursed the descendants of Ham's son Canaan to be subservient to the descendants of Shem and Japheth.
Chapter Summary:
Chapter 9 describes God's interactions with Noah and his sons following the flood. First, God gives blessings and instructions, including the command to reproduce and fill the earth. Next, God makes a unilateral covenant with humanity and animals never to end all life with a flood again. He offers the rainbow as a sign of this promise. Finally, Noah prophesies about the future of his son's descendants after an awkward episode in which Ham talks to his brothers about seeing Noah passed out drunk and naked.
Chapter Context:
Chapters 6, 7, and 8 describe God's destruction of the world in a massive flood. Now, in Genesis 9, Scripture describes God's dealings with Noah and his sons following the flood. First, God blesses them and gives specific instructions, including the command to fill the earth. Next, God expands on His promise to never again end all life on earth a flood. Finally, Noah curses Ham and blesses Shem and Japheth after Ham tells his brothers about seeing Noah passed out drunk and naked. Chapters 10 and 11 will sketch out the history of mankind from Noah to Abraham.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
Accessed 5/21/2024 1:08:22 PM
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