Genesis 9: A New Start

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 20–21


Genesis 9 tells the story of Noah and his family leaving the ark and helping Heavenly Father fulfill His purposes for His children. Because they were the only family on earth, they were a family in a similar situation as Adam and Eve. Noah’s family, however, had the benefit of knowing the temporal and spiritual history between Adam and the Flood. Considering what you know about why the Lord flooded the earth, what would you be very careful about doing in your life if you were in Noah’s family? What would you be sure to teach your children?The opportunity for Noah and his family to start over in a world cleansed of wickedness is symbolic of the opportunity we receive when we are baptized—we get a chance to start over again and be more diligent in following Heavenly Father’s plan. Just like the rainbow became a reminder of God’s love and mercy to Noah’s family, the sacrament can be a frequent reminder of how the Lord has provided a way for us to gain eternal life through the Atonement.

Understanding the Scriptures

Genesis 9:1–17

Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth (v. 1)Have children 
Delivered (v. 2)Given 
Green herb (v. 3)Plants 
Sheddeth man’s blood (v. 6)Kills another person 
Cut off (v. 11)Destroyed 
Token (vv. 12–13, 17)Sign 
For perpetual generations (v. 12)From now on 

Genesis 9—Help from the Joseph Smith Translation

As you read Genesis 9 you will get additional insight by reading each reference from the Joseph Smith Translation for this chapter.

Genesis 9:18–29—A Confusing Story about Noah

We likely do not have all the details of this story of Noah’s drunkenness. We do know that the Lord never condemned Noah for this incident even though He condemned drunkenness elsewhere in scripture. In Old Testament times, when juice of the grape (called wine) was stored, it would naturally ferment over time and could cause intoxication. But fermented grape juice is very different from what the Bible calls “strong drink.” Strong drink was made from various fruits and grains and was intentionally intoxicating. Noah’s drunkenness after drinking “wine” was likely unintentional.

We are also uncertain as to what happened in Genesis 9:22 when “Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father” and why, in verse 25, Noah cursed Canaan as a result. Some believe that the garment involved was taken because it had special religious significance and may have been a representation of Noah’s priesthood. If Canaan, or Ham, took the garment, the cursing may be related to Abraham 1:26–27 where we read that the descendants of Ham were “cursed … as pertaining to the Priesthood” (v. 26).

The Prophet Joseph Smith added: “I referred to the curse of Ham for laughing at Noah, while in his wine, but doing no harm. Noah was a righteous man, and yet he drank wine and became intoxicated; the Lord did not forsake him in consequence thereof, for he retained all the power of his priesthood, and when he was accused by Canaan, he cursed him by the priesthood which he held, and the Lord had respect to his word, and the priesthood which he held, notwithstanding he was drunk, and the curse remains upon the posterity of Canaan until the present day” (History of the Church, 4:445–46).

When we seek to obtain or use the blessings of the priesthood dishonestly, we will be cursed, and we will lose opportunities, blessings, and power. For example, people who obtain the priesthood or priesthood ordinances by lying about their worthiness will not receive the blessings of those ordinances but will lose blessings. We cannot deceive the Lord.

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity A as you study Genesis 9.

Activity A iconWhat Is Your “Rainbow”?

Noah and rainbow
  1. 1.

    The Lord gave Noah a sign, or reminder, of the covenant He made. The sign helped Noah remember how merciful the Lord was to him. Write about something that reminds you how merciful the Lord is to you.

  2. 2.

    How can the sacrament be to us what the rainbow was to Noah?