Genesis 9:20
And Noah began to be an farmer, and he planted a vineyard:
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(20, 21) Noah began to be an husbandman.—Rather, Noah, being a husbandman (Heb., a man of the adâmâh), began to plant a vineyard. Noah had always been a husbandman: it was the cultivation of the vine, still abundant in Armenia, that was new. Scarcely aware, perhaps, of the intoxicating qualities of the juice which he had allowed to ferment, he drank to excess, and became the first example of the shameful effects of intemperance.

Genesis 9:20. And Noah began to be a husbandman — (Hebrews a man of the earth,) a man dealing in the earth, that kept ground in his hand and occupied it. Some time after his departure out of the ark he returned to his old employment, from which he had been diverted by the building of the ark first, and probably after by the building a house for himself and family. And he planted a vineyard — And when he had gathered his vintage, probably he appointed a day of mirth and feasting in his family, and had his sons and their children with him, to rejoice with him in the increase of his house, as well as in the increase of his vineyard; and we may suppose he prefaced his feast with a sacrifice to the honour of God. If that were omitted, it was just with God to leave him to himself, to end with the beasts that which did not begin with God: but we charitably hope he did. And perhaps he appointed this feast with design, in the close of it, to bless his sons, as Isaac, Genesis 27:3-4, “That I may eat, and that my soul may bless thee.”9:18-23 The drunkenness of Noah is recorded in the Bible, with that fairness which is found only in the Scripture, as a case and proof of human weakness and imperfection, even though he may have been surprised into the sin; and to show that the best of men cannot stand upright, unless they depend upon Divine grace, and are upheld thereby. Ham appears to have been a bad man, and probably rejoiced to find his father in an unbecoming situation. It was said of Noah, that he was perfect in his generations, ch.Then comes the prediction Genesis 9:20-27, which has a special interest, as the first prophetic utterance of man recorded in the Old Testament. The occasion of it is first stated. Noah becomes "a man of the soil." If he was before a mechanic, it is evident he must now attend to the cultivation of the soil, that he may draw from it the means of subsistence. "He planted a vineyard." God was the first planter Genesis 2:8; and since that time we hear nothing of the cultivation of trees until Noah becomes a planter. The cultivation of the vine and the manufacture of wine might have been in practice before this time, as the mention of them is merely incidental to the present narrative. But it seems likely from what follows, that, though grapes may have been in use, wine had not been extracted from them. "And was drunken." We are not in a position to estimate the amount of Noah's guilt in this case, as we do not know how far he was acquainted with the properties of wine.

But we should take warning by the consequences, and beware of the abuse of any of God's gifts. "Ham the father of Kenaan." It is natural to suppose, as some have done, that Kennan had something to do with the guilt of this act. But there is no clear indication of this in the text, and Kenann's relationship to Ham may be again mentioned simply in anticipation of the subsequent prophecy. Ham is punished in his youngest son, who was perhaps a favorite. The intention of this act is eminently pure and befitting dutiful sons. "The garment." The loose mantle or shawl which was used for wrapping round the body when going to sleep. The actions of the sons in this unpleasant occurrence, especially that of Ham, give occasion to the following prophetic sentence: "His youngest son." This seems plainly the meaning of the phrase הקטן בנו benô haqāṭān, "his son, the little." He must be regarded here as contrasted with the other two, and therefore distinguished as the youngest.

The manner of Scripture here is worthy of particular remark. First, the prediction takes its rise from a characteristic incident. The conduct of the brothers was of comparatively slight importance in itself, but in the disposition which it betrayed it was highly significant. Secondly, the prediction refers in terms to the near future and to the outward condition of the parties concerned. Thirdly, it foreshadows under these familiar phrases the distant future, and the inward, as well as the outward, state of the family of man. Fourthly, it lays out the destiny of the whole race from its very starting-point. These simple laws will be found to characterize the main body of the predictions of Scripture.

20. And Noah … planted a vineyard—Noah had been probably bred to the culture of the soil, and resumed that employment on leaving the ark. i.e. Was a husbandman, as he had been before. The verb to begin doth oft abound, and is applied to him that continueth or repeateth an action begun before. Thus Christ is said to begin to cast out, Mark 11:15, and to begin to speak, Luke 12:1; for which in the parallel places he is said only to cast out, Matthew 21:12, and to speak, Matthew 16:6. And Noah began to be an husbandman,.... Or "a man of the earth" (c), not lord of it, as Jarchi, though he was, but a tiller of the earth, as he had been before the flood, and now began to be again; he returned to his old employment, and which perhaps he improved, having invented, as the Jews (d) say, instruments of husbandry; it may be, the use of the plough, which made the tillage of the ground more easy; he was expert in husbandry, as Aben Ezra observes, and which, as he remarks, is great wisdom; and though he was so great a man, yet he employed himself in this way:

and he planted a vineyard; not vines, but a vineyard; there were vines before scattered up and down, here one and there another, but he planted a number of them together, and set them in order, as the Jewish writers say (e); and some of them (f) will have it that he found a vine which the flood brought out of the garden of Eden, and planted it; but this is mere fable: where this plantation was cannot be said with certainty; the Armenians have a tradition that Noah, after quitting the ark, went and settled at Erivan, about twelve leagues from Ararat, a city full of vineyards; and that it was there he planted the vineyard, in a place where they still make excellent wine, and that their vines are of the same sort he planted there (g); which contradicts what Strabo (h) says of the country of Armenia, its hills and plains, that a vine will not easily grow there.

(c) "vir terrie", Montanus. (d) Zohar, apud Hottinger, Smegma Oriental. p. 253. (e) Ben Melech in loc. so Abarbinel & Bechai, apud Muis, in loc. (f) Targum Jon. in loc. Pirke Eliezer, c. 23. (g) See Tournefort's Voyage to the Levant, vol. 3. p. 178. Universal History, vol. 1. p. 261. (h) Geograph. l. 11. p. 363.

And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
20. And Noah began to be an husbandman] This expression is an extremely awkward rendering of the strange Hebrew, which is literally “And Noah began man of the soil and planted,” &c. Better, “And Noah the husbandman began and planted a vineyard,” i.e. was the first to do so.

“The husbandman,” lit. “man of the soil,” LXX ἄνθρωπος γεωργὸς γῆς. This description of Noah introduces him in a new capacity. The present section seems to be taken from a distinct tradition concerning the primaeval time, in which Noah appears as the founder of agriculture and of vine cultivation.Verse 20. - And Noah began to be an husbandman. Literally, a man of the ground. Vir terror (Vulgate); ἄνθρωπος γεωργὸς γῆς (LXX.); Chald., נְּבַר פָלַח בְּאַרְעָא = vir co-lens terram; agriculturae dediturus. Cf. Joshua 5:4, "a man of war;" 2 Samuel 16:7, "a man of blood;" Genesis 46:32, "a man of cattle;" Exodus 4:10, "a man of words." And he planted a vineyard. So Murphy, Wordsworth, Kalisch. Keil, Delitzsch, and Lange regard ish ha Adamah, with the art., as in apposition to Noah, and read, "And Noah, the husbandman, began and planted a vineyard," i.e. caepit plantare (cf. Gesenius, 'Gram.,' 142, 3; Glass, Sacrae Philologiae, lib. 3. tr. 3. can. 34). Neither interpretation presupposes that husbandry and vine cultivation were now practiced for the first time. That Armenia is a wine-growing country is testified by Xenophon ('Anab.,' 4:4, 9). That the vine was abundantly cultivated in Egypt is evident from representations on the monuments, as well as from Scriptural allusions. The Egyptians say that Osiris, the Greeks that Dionysus, the Romans that Saturn, first taught men the cultivation of the tree and the use of its fruit. The second occurrence in the life of Noah after the flood exhibited the germs of the future development of the human race in a threefold direction, as manifested in the characters of his three sons. As all the families and races of man descend from them, their names are repeated in Genesis 9:18; and in prospective allusion to what follows, it is added that "Ham was the father of Canaan." From these three "the earth (the earth's population) spread itself out." "The earth" is used for the population of the earth, as in Genesis 10:25 and Genesis 11:1, and just as lands or cities are frequently substituted for their inhabitants. נפצה: probably Niphal for נפצה, from פּוּץ to scatter (Genesis 11:4), to spread out. "And Noah the husbandman began, and planted a vineyard." As האדמה אישׁ cannot be the predicate of the sentence, on account of the article, but must be in apposition to Noah, ויטּע and ויּחל must be combined in the sense of "began to plant" (Ges. 142, 3). The writer does not mean to affirm that Noah resumed his agricultural operations after the flood, but that as a husbandman he began to cultivate the vine; because it was this which furnished the occasion for the manifestation of that diversity in the character of his sons, which was so eventful in its consequences in relation to the future history of their descendants. In ignorance of the fiery nature of wine, Noah drank and was drunken, and uncovered himself in his tent (Genesis 9:21). Although excuse may be made for this drunkenness, the words of Luther are still true: "Qui excusant patriarcham, volentes hanc consolationem, quam Spiritus S. ecclesiis necessariam judicavit, abjuciunt, quod scilicen etiam summi sancti aliquando labuntur." This trifling fall served to display the hearts of his sons. Ham saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. Not content with finding pleasure himself in his father's shame, "nunquam enim vino victum patrem filius resisset, nisi prius ejecisset animo illam reverentiam et opinionem, quae in liberis de parentibus ex mandato Dei existere debet" (Luther), he just proclaimed his disgraceful pleasure to his brethren, and thus exhibited his shameless sensuality. The brothers, on the contrary, with reverential modesty covered their father with a garment (השּׂמלה the garment, which was at hand), walking backwards that they might not see his nakedness (Genesis 9:23), and thus manifesting their childlike reverence as truly as their refined purity and modesty. For this they receive their father's blessing, whereas Ham reaped for his son Canaan the patriarch's curse. In Genesis 9:24 Ham is called הקּטן בּנו "his (Noah's) little son," and it is questionable whether the adjective is to be taken as comparative in the sense of "the younger," or as superlative, meaning "the youngest." Neither grammar nor the usage of the language will enable us to decide. For in 1 Samuel 17:14, where David is contrasted with his brothers, the word means not the youngest of the four, but the younger by the side of the three elder, just as in Genesis 1:16 the sun is called "the great" light, and the moon "the little" light, not to show that the sun is the greatest and the moon the least of all lights, but that the moon is the smaller of the two. If, on the other hand, on the ground of 1 Samuel 16:11, where "the little one" undoubtedly means the youngest of all, any one would press the superlative force here, he must be prepared, in order to be consistent, to do the same with haggadol, "the great one," in Genesis 10:21, which would lead to this discrepancy, that in the verse before us Ham is called Noah's youngest son, and in Genesis 10:21 Shem is called Japhet's oldest brother, and thus implicite Ham is described as older than Japhet. If we do not wish lightly to introduce a discrepancy into the text of these two chapters, no other course is open than to follow the lxx, Vulg. and others, and take "the little" here and "the great" in Genesis 10:21 as used in a comparative sense, Ham being represented here as Noah's younger son, and Shem in Genesis 10:21 as Japhet's elder brother. Consequently the order in which the three names stand is also an indication of their relative ages. And this is not only the simplest and readiest assumption, but is even confirmed by Genesis 10, though the order is inverted there, Japhet being mentioned first, then Ham, and Shem last; and it is also in harmony with the chronological datum in Genesis 11:10, as compared with Genesis 5:32 (vid., Genesis 11:10).

To understand the words of Noah with reference to his sons (Genesis 9:25-27), we must bear in mind, on the one hand, that as the moral nature of the patriarch was transmitted by generation to his descendants, so the diversities of character in the sons of Noah foreshadowed diversities in the moral inclinations of the tribes of which they were the head; and on the other hand, that Noah, through the Spirit and power of that God with whom he walked, discerned in the moral nature of his sons, and the different tendencies which they already displayed, the germinal commencement of the future course of their posterity, and uttered words of blessing and of curse, which were prophetic of the history of the tribes that descended from them. In the sin of Ham "there lies the great stain of the whole Hamitic race, whose chief characteristic is sexual sin" (Ziegler); and the curse which Noah pronounced upon this sin still rests upon the race. It was not Ham who was cursed, however, but his son Canaan. Ham had sinned against his father, and he was punished in his son. But the reason why Canaan was the only son named, is not to be found in the fact that Canaan was the youngest son of Ham, and Ham the youngest son of Noah, as Hoffmann supposes. The latter is not an established fact; and the purely external circumstance, that Canaan had the misfortune to be the youngest son, could not be a just reason for cursing him alone. The real reason must either lie in the fact that Canaan was already walking in the steps of his father's impiety and sin, or else be sought in the name Canaan, in which Noah discerned, through the gift of prophecy, a significant omen; a supposition decidedly favoured by the analogy of the blessing pronounced upon Japhet, which is also founded upon the name. Canaan does not signify lowland, nor was it transferred, as many maintain, from the land to its inhabitants; it was first of all the name of the father of the tribe, from whom it was transferred to his descendants, and eventually to the land of which they took possession. The meaning of Canaan is "the submissive one," from כּנע to stoop or submit, Hiphil, to bend or subjugate (Deuteronomy 9:3; Judges 4:23, etc.). "Ham gave his son the name from the obedience which he required, though he did not render it himself. The son was to be the servant (for the name points to servile obedience) of a father who was as tyrannical towards those beneath him, as he was refractory towards those above. The father, when he gave him the name, thought only of submission to his own commands. But the secret providence of God, which rules in all such things, had a different submission in view" (Hengstenberg, Christol. i. 28, transl.). "Servant of servants (i.e., the lowest of slaves, vid., Ewald, 313) let him become to his brethren." Although this curse was expressly pronounced upon Canaan alone, the fact that Ham had no share in Noah's blessing, either for himself or his other sons, was a sufficient proof that his whole family was included by implication in the curse, even if it was to fall chiefly upon Canaan. And history confirms the supposition. The Canaanites were partly exterminated, and partly subjected to the lowest form of slavery, by the Israelites, who belonged to the family of Shem; and those who still remained were reduced by Solomon to the same condition (1 Kings 9:20-21). The Phoenicians, along with the Carthaginians and the Egyptians, who all belonged to the family of Canaan, were subjected by the Japhetic Persians, Macedonians, and Romans; and the remainder of the Hamitic tribes either shared the same fate, or still sigh, like the negroes, for example, and other African tribes, beneath the yoke of the most crushing slavery.

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