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Noach. Getting Drunk!

After Noah emerges from the Ark, we read the following disturbing story:

Noah, the tiller of the soil, began by planting a vineyard. He drank of the wine and became drunk, and he uncovered himself within his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a cloth, placed it against both their backs and, walking backward, they covered their father’s nakedness; their faces were turned the other way, so that they did not see their father’s nakedness. When Noah woke up from his wine and learned what his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan; The lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers.” (9:20-25)

Wine, drunkenness, humiliation, and a curse. This is not a positive story. There are many questions raised by this troubling episode, but I will focus on one simple question. Why did Noah get drunk? Why was getting drunk the first thing he did after the flood?

Here is one rather improbable approach by the Abarbanel:

"Before the Flood there were vines for eating, but not vineyards with rows upon rows of vines for wine production. Noach took saplings that he had kept on the Ark, planting them in rows to make wine. Maybe this is due to the fact that he gave up on life after the Flood, desiring to drink wine rather than water (reminiscent of the flood waters) so that he would never see water again!"

What I take from this passage is that the wine-drinking is a sharp reaction to the Flood. It is an act of escapism.

Many have noted that God encouraged Noah to continue the world after the Flood: “Be fruitful and multiply; abound on the earth and increase on it.” (9:7) But Noah seems to resist. He has no further children. He seems unwilling to bring children into the world.