There is a beautiful, historic scene in these verses, and then there is a puzzling and troublesome story in this chapter as well. Let’s take them both. The first is the story of the rainbow where we find God making a covenant with Noah. This is the first of many covenants that God makes with humanity. We will see the covenant that God makes with Abraham fairly soon and we will be able to juxtapose that one with the covenant that God makes in His Son Jesus Christ. In vs.13 we find the origin of the rainbow which is the sign of the covenant that God has made with us. It is interesting that God needs a mnemonic device to remind him to not destroy humanity. So at least we have that going for us.
The troubling story deals with Noah and his youngest son. Apparently Noah gets drunk and finds himself unconscious and completely naked. His youngest son finds him in a tent that way and tells his brothers. His brothers then cover him up with a blanket by walking backwards so that they would not see him. When Noah wakes up he is furious that this youngest son saw him naked. Or is that why he was really angry? We read that Scripture says that Noah was angry because of what his “youngest son had done to him.” That is a bit different from just seeing your father naked, which you would think wouldn’t elicit a curse of slavery upon you and your progeny in eternity. What did Ham do to him? We have no idea, but the punishment does not seem to fit the crime. Eternal punishment to slavery does seem a bit harsh.
But we find a story that deals with the Canaanites, of which Ham was the patriarch, in such a way that they are seemingly cursed throughout history because of what happened between Ham and the father. Keep in mind that the Canaanites are the historic enemies of the Israelites so I am sure that this story has served well in describing the why as to the hatred between the Israelites and the Canaanites. There needs to be a historic reason for the animosity between the people of God and the the people of Canaan and this story provides it.