Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham and Japeth. There is this curious incident with the three of them and their father that has puzzled commentators for over 2000 years. In the story, after disembarking from the ark, Noah planted a grapevine and produced wine. On one occasion he got drunk and his son Ham encountered him. Ham emerges from Noah's tent and tells the other two brothers about the scene. Those other two get a piece of cloth, walk backwards towards their father, and cover him. When Noah emerges the next day, he is very angry with Ham and offers a curse, not on Ham, but rather on his son Canaan and his descendants. How curious!
Certain questions arise. What was so egregious about Ham's act? Why was Noah so mad about it, and why did he choose not to curse Ham, but to curse Ham's son, Canaan, and all of his descendants?
Many explanations have been offered here. FIrst off, it is seemingly implied that the egregious act was not honoring his father by 1) not averting his eyes, 2) not covering him, and 3) gossiping about what he had just seen. Now, this interpretation is not a reflection of a definitive translation of the pertinent lines of Torah, but they are suggestive of this analysis. Further, it was considered really poor form to look on another's genitals at that time, and to go and talk about what one had seen would be all the more provocative and outrageous. So, maybe Ham was worthy of being cursed, but then why Canaan, not Ham?
Who else has noticed that Noah's grandson has the same name as the people who occupied the land that the Israelites were to invade at the end of a forty year journey through the desert? Is that just coincidence? Is it possible that the story has Noah cursing Ham as a justification for the occupation of a land and the domination of its people by the Israelites either at that time, or more likely after the fact? It's a phenomenon we have seen so many times over the course of history. A tribe, nation or people uses story (or a particular story) to justify actions that might otherwise make them feel very uncomfortable for having engaged in them. It's called propaganda. And lest we doubt this, the Israelites, per the story, descended from Shem, one of Noah's other sons, so here again, just like the Isaac and Ishmael story that comes not so far in the future, we have a story of family dysfunction that leads to an outcome that supports the ascendancy of the Israelite tribe at the expense of another.