After the flood, Noah began to farm the land by planting a vineyard. The result of his toil was the fruit of the vine, wine. While the first mention of wine is not without its negative connotations, we should not conclude that, due to its abuse here, the Bible consistently or without exception condemns its use (cf. Deuteronomy 14:24-26; I Timothy 5:23).
There are several scriptures that indicate wine may be beneficial in a few situations. It has also been proven to be so today. It is the abuse that becomes a sin.
Many have been troubled at the deplorable condition of Noah, the man who before the fall was described as a “righteous man, blameless in his time” (6:9). Some have suggested that fermentation may not have occurred until after the flood, and that Noah was simply suffering the innocent results of his inventive efforts.
While we should not seek to excuse Noah, we must recognize that Moses did not emphasize the guilt of Noah, but rather the sin of Ham. Some have suggested various types of evil took place within Noah’s tent. While the language employed might leave room for certain sexual sins (cf. Leviticus18). I do not personally find any reason for assuming any misconduct on the part of Noah beyond the indiscretion of drunkenness and its result in nakedness. Perhaps the best description of Noah’s conduct and condition is that of the word “unbecoming.” In the military, if an officer did something immoral, etc., he (or she) could be charged with “Conduct unbecoming an officer.”
I am impressed, though, with the way in which Moses reported this incident, with a minimum of details and description. To have written any more would have been to perpetuate the sin of Ham. Hollywood would have made a movie out of it, taking us inside the tent in wide-screen HD. Moses intentionally leaves us outside of the tent with Shem and Japheth.
It would seem that Ham and his two brothers were alerted to Noah’s condition so that all three of them were standing outside the tent: “And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside” (Genesis 9:22).
While Shem and Japheth refused to go inside, Ham had no reservations about entering the tent. Whatever the failing of Noah, remember, he was inside his own tent, in the privacy of his own tent (9:21). That is the way Shem and Japheth wanted to keep it.
Ham had his own idea. He entered in, violating the principle of privacy, yet not to assist his father but to be amused at his expense.
Ham did nothing to preserve the dignity of his father. He did not see to it that Noah was properly covered. Instead he went outside to his two brothers and graphically described the folly which had overtaken their father. It seems to me that Ham also may have encouraged Shem and Japheth to go into the tent to see this for themselves.