Genesis 9

God's Repeated Directive

As the chapter begins, God blesses Noah and his family as he repeats his divine decree to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth. Noah is also to exercise dominion over the animal world which included using animals as well as vegetation for food. Regardless of what the practice was before the flood, the postdiluvian diet would include animals. The permission to eat meat should not result in a loss of respect for life. Humanity was permitted to shed the blood of animals, but they not given liberty to eat meat that had not been drained. The story is developing a theme as God teaches about the importance of blood in the divine economy. Human life is sacred because it bears the image of God. Murder is condemned, and the one who kills his neighbor shall incur divine and mortal judgment.

The Sign Of The Covenant

God establishes a covenant regarding the future of the humanity. This covenant is between God and every living thing. God promised that he would not destroy the world through a flood like creation had just experienced. The sign of the covenant was a rainbow. Every time a rainbow is seen, one may explain it through scientific terms of refraction and the dispersal of sunlight. However, the Christian knows that when a rainbow is formed, God sees it and remembers his covenant. This promise was for Noah and future generations.

In the poetical language of a German writer, “The rainbow, caused by the influence of the sun upon the dark clouds, would show to man, that what was from heaven would penetrate that which rose from earth; and as it spanned the gulf between heaven and earth, it would seem to proclaim peace between God and man; while even the circumstance that it bounded the horizon would symbolize, how the covenant of mercy extended to earth’s utmost bounds.
— Alfred Edersheim

The Sin Shift

The story makes a sudden shift and focuses on the sons of Noah. These men would serve as patriarchs for the peoples to come. This change will also shed light on the reality that sin had not been washed away by the water. Noah plants a vineyard drinks the wine from the vineyard and becomes drunk. It is possible that Noah was unaware of the intoxicating effects of the wine or neglected moderation after having been in the ark. Whatever the circumstances, the elderly father is passed out and exposed in his tent. God's covenant freshly sealed and sin was crouching at the door. Noah's son Ham acts in a wicked and vile way toward his father.

Ham would not have mocked his father, when overcome with wine, if he had not long before cast from his soul that reverence which, according to God’s command, children should cherish towards their parents.
— Martin Luther

Further Outlined

How distressing it must have been for this family after Noah sobered up. He curses his son and relegates him to be the servant of his brothers. The story of Noah is another Genesis. Noah is the second Adam. They shared the same occupation, sinned, and had their nakedness exposed. Sin is the curse and the promise to Adam is further outlined. The rescue would come through the line of Shem. The curse of sin would be eliminated but not through a flood. It would come from the offspring of a woman and through the line of Shem.