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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: Was Noah Responsible for His Drunkeness?

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Don Stewart
The Bible says that after the Flood Noah got drunk.

And Noah began to be a farmer, and he planted a vineyard. Then he drank the wine and was drunk, and became uncovered in his tent (Genesis 9:20,21).

Noah And Adam

This event probably happened about twenty years after the Flood since Canaan, the son of Ham, was evidently a young man. He was not born until after the Flood was over.

As we examine this drunken episode we find many similarities between it and Adam and Eve's Fall in the Garden of Eden. First, God planted a garden in Eden while Noah planted a vineyard. There was a similar outcome when Noah ate the fruit and became naked. The effects of sin were still evident after the Flood. Noah's sin, like Adam's, was seen in his nakedness.

Not His Fault

Was Noah responsible for this event? There are two basic ways in which this episode has been interpreted. There is a large group of Bible students that do not blame Noah for becoming drunk.

They believe the episode was due to either Noah's advanced age or an inadvertent mishap. They contend that the fault was not his at all. The conditions of the world were so drastically changed after the Flood that Noah did not realize that the fruit of the grapes, from which he had previously drunk, would become alcoholic. He did not know that certain foods would ferment when exposed to the direct rays of the sun. This view presupposes a water vapor canopy around the earth that collapsed at the Flood. Those who hold the view that it was not Noah's fault note that God, nowhere in Scripture, calls this episode sin.

Acted Like Unbeliever

Many commentators feel that Noah was responsible for his sin of drunkenness. The Bible says that wine, when it is abused, will have detrimental effects. The account of Noah's drunkenness is a case in point. Not only did he become drunk, there may have been some sexual looseness that accompanied his drunkenness. Though Noah was a righteous man and was helping to repopulate the newly cleansed world, he still had the capacity to act as a pagan as this episode shows.

Not Consistent With Facts

In addition, the theory that Noah would not have known about fermentation of grapes is inconsistent with the fact that juice or other food will ferment in a dark place out of the reach of sunlight. Also, there is not always a comment by God as to whether any specific act recorded in Scripture is sin.


There is a difference of opinion among Bible interpreters as to whether Noah was responsible for his drunkenness. Since the Bible only gives the episode without any comment, it is impossible to be certain about the fault involved.

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