Genesis 9:20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. 23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.
Noah was such a righteous man that my comments series serves him unjustly in mentioning only his birth, his having children, and the lowest moment of his spiritual life. But that’s how it is sometimes. The account of the Flood itself isn’t really On Beyond Sunday School.
In the passage cited above, Noah faces two charges: drunkenness and nudity. The drunkenness charge, I understand. It seems odd that KJV dedicates 9 words to the drunkenness charge and 61 words to his nudity. I really don’t understand why Noah is generally considered in commentary to be inappropriately naked. God never criticized Noah, and he was alone in his bedroom, and he intended to stay alone in his bedroom. Three of those 61 words in the account of Noah’s nakedness read “within his tent [or, if I may paraphrase: in his bedroom – implied by the testimony that Shem and Japheth made no attempt to re-situate him].” If Ham had not barged in on him, this wouldn’t have been a matter worth the discussion of the day – let alone recorded in eternal Scripture, which heaven and earth shall pass away before one jot or tittle therein is destroyed.
“Told” in Genesis 9:22 is not the usual word for tell. It is the causal form of the verb “to know” – to cause to know. It is generally used with regard to an announcement or a proclamation. Ham saw his father in a compromised state, and he called a press conference. This is a seriously more graphic scene than the topic casually coming up in conversation.
Abraham had his lies; Jacob was a conman; David would have spent most of his life under Church discipline had Matthew 18:15-20 been available at the time. And Noah had his vineyard. But I was never convinced that his choice or non-choice of sleepware – while he was sleeping in his bedroom – has any negative implication at all on Noah’s character.
There are some who believe that while Noah was unconscious, and before Ham bothered to make a spectacle of the matter, Ham had assaulted his father sexually. While that may seem terribly speculative, and while I’m not prepared to make that leap with the information available to me, it would explain Noah’s utter disapproval of “what his younger son had done to him (Genesis 9:24),” and it would explain why Noah got so angry to the point of cursing him (Genesis 9:25-26). If so, then Genesis 9, becomes the earliest record of homosexual activity among humans. But either way, Genesis 19 remains the earliest indisputable record.