Parashat Noach: Genesis 6:9-11:32
Maftir: Numbers 28:9-15
Haftarah: Isaiah 66:1-24
I will respond to a question that I received this week concerning the Torah portion. In Genesis chapter 9, Noach drinks wine and becomes intoxicated and uncovers himself in his tent. His son Ham saw this and told his two brothers, who in turn decided to cover up their father’s nakedness while they walked backwards as not to look upon their father. When Noach woke up, the text states that he knew what his youngest son Ham had done and because of this, he cursed the offspring of Ham, the Canaanites. The question that I received was simply what did Ham do that was wrong in the eyes of Noach and apparently HaShem’s eyes too, seeing that the Canaanites were indeed cursed?
Noach getting drunk and removing his clothes was, of course, sinful. However, one needs to remember that he did so in the privacy of his tent. This does not make it acceptable, but Ham should not have exposed this sin to his brothers. In doing so, it made Noach’s sin known to others. One is taught by Yeshua that if someone sins, it is acceptable to go to him alone and admonish him in love. No where is one told to make others aware of this sin. Of course if the sin is against another and the offender will not repent, the offended party may take one or two others to convince the individual of this sin.
In the situation from the Torah reading, Noach did not sin against another person, hence there was no need to make it known to Shem and Yafet. The lesson of this passage is clear: it is wrong to tell other people about the sin of someone else. Notice that Ham did not play a role in covering up his father. Some commentators understand this as revealing that Ham was more interested in telling his brothers about their father’s sin than the sin itself.
The language of the text is most telling,
“And when Noach awoke from his wine and knew what his younger son had done to him.” Genesis 9:24
This verse clearly states that Ham intended to do something against Noach. Every believer should be cautioned that his actions and words are not to expose the sinfulness of another, but to truly be a blessing to another and an influence for godliness. We all need to remember that it is the Holy Spirit Who convicts people of sin; often we need to step aside and wait for Him to do His work.
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