“And Noah began to be a husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.”
Hmm…a naked, drunk Noah? Resembles more of the morning-after scene from a frat party rather than a righteous servant. And doesn’t this seem a little less than “righteous?” St. Paul tells us not to even keep company with a drunkard (1 Cor. 5:11), but Noah plants a vineyard and makes wine as soon as he steps off the ark!
It doesn’t stop there. Then the story just gets weird: Noah’s son, Ham, sees his father naked and runs to tell his brothers. The two brothers are respectful. They turn their head, cover their father with some clothes, and leave. When Noah wakes up from his drunken stupor, he gets pretty upset so he curses his grandson. What gives? His son was the one that exposed his nudity, not his grandson. And was Noah so embarrassed by his little incident that he had to curse someone to make himself feel better?
This story used to trouble me as a Christian. I had one pastor tell me that the story was about homosexuality. When I asked why Noah cursed Canaan instead of Ham (the one that would have violated his father), this pastor was at a loss.
Of course he was; he didn’t have a clue that this story was about the soul of every human being, not something that literally happened.
It amazes me how Christians can believe that a Biblical story as strange as this one is literal. For example, Creation Outreach posts on their webpage that:
Noah Got Drunk! And Naked! – God Never Faults Him! –Neither Does Anyone in the Bible! –Why?
“BECAUSE OF THE IMMENSE SIGNIFICANCE OF NOAH AND THE ARK, AND THE GREAT FLOOD, AND SURROUNDING CIRCUMSTANCES IN GOD’S PLANS!”
I don’t mean to be rude, but I don’t even think that qualifies as a real answer. The real reason God or anyone else in the Bible never faults him is because it didn’t happen. There was no vineyard, no wine, and no night of debauchery followed by an X-rated morning.
Intoxication and Our Higher Natures
If none of this literally happened, then why put it in the story? If you’ve read my last post, then you know Noah’s flood is about achieving higher consciousness. It’s all allegory meant to teach us what we have the potential for. So how does cultivating grapes and getting drunk off the wine fit in?
This is actually a very logical way to make the story unfold once you understand the symbols. In ancient cultures, grapes often symbolized the spiritual fruit of love and wisdom. Naturally, he would plant such a noble fruit. If grapes represent the spiritual fruit of love and wisdom, it would also be logical for him to ingest it. Getting drunk off the wine symbolizes his lower nature becoming paralyzed (intoxicated) by the fruits of his higher nature. The lower nature then loses its power! Since Noah has been transformed by his higher nature (as symbolized through his being raised above the floodwaters in the ark), the very next act after the floodwaters have abated would be to cultivate the vine. His higher nature is filled with love and wisdom (the grape and the vine). The fact that Noah even became a husbandman of the vine signifies experience. The cultivation process signifies his experiences manifested on the physical plane through which he gained higher consciousness. Remember that it is experience which causes the soul to spiritually mature.
The Meaning of Vine and Wine
The vine represents the same attributes as the “Tree of Life.” It’s the divine life flowing from above to all the planes of life, such as the physical, below. Christ is the ultimate vine.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandmen” (John15:1).
Christ, or the higher self, infuses the lower self with divine life!
We can see parallel meanings in the myth of the Greek god Dionysus, the god of wine. At one point he was killed, dismembered, and then served as wine for sacramental drink to worshippers. Since Dionysus also represents the qualities of the higher nature—as god of the vine— he infuses these qualities into his worshippers as they symbolically drink him.
Psalm 80:8 also gives us an interesting representation of the vine. It states:
Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen and planted it.
In the above scripture the heathen that he casts out for Israel represent the lower nature. He plants life in the Promised Land, or the higher mind of the individual. This is wisdom and love.
Ham and Canaan
So what is Noah’s and Ham’s little incident about? Why the big deal when Ham sees his father naked?
First let’s break down what “nakedness” means in scripture. Nakedness represents purity and the objective mind, free from limitations one often expresses through the ego. Remember that Adam and Eve were naked in the Garden. They were also pure and undefiled by Satan (the ego).
The fact Noah gets drunk just means he is filled with the higher aspects of wisdom and love, beyond the ego. The fact that he is naked further establishes his higher objective consciousness.
In the last post I mentioned that Shem represented will, Ham is action, and Japheth is wisdom. Understanding these symbols also explains why the Biblical writer shows Ham dishonoring his father. Action encompasses desire. Ham exposes the nudity of his father because this is what the desires of our lower nature do. But the higher qualities of the soul take action, wisdom (Japheth), and the true will (Shem) of the higher nature to overcome the lower nature.
When Noah learns what Ham did, he cursed Canaan because Canaan is the son (manifestation) of desire. Noah wasn’t really cursing him in the way that we think of a curse. He was exposing what would happen to the desires of the lower nature when ruled by the higher. That’s why part of his curse also states:
“…Blessed be the LORD God of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant” (Gen. 9:26).
Shem, the will of the higher nature, should always rule over the lower nature.
Part of Noah’s curse continues:
“God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant” (Gen 9:27).
God always enlarges wisdom (Japheth) in the hearts and minds of souls when the higher self is ruling. Wisdom should always rule the lower nature also.
Once again we can see that when the Bible is interpreted properly, it makes sense. Literally, the strange dealings of Noah after the Flood mean nothing to us, but when we read the story for its spiritual meaning veiled beneath the literal interpretation, we come to understand the deeper meaning for the development of the soul.