ויקח שם ויפת. אֵין כְּתִיב וַיִּקְחוּ, אֶלָּא וַיִּקַּח – לִמֵּד עַל שֵׁם שֶׁנִּתְאַמֵּץ בַּמִּצְוָה יוֹתֵר מִיֶּפֶת, לְכָךְ זָכוּ בָנָיו לְטַלִּית שֶׁל צִיצִית, וְיֶפֶת זָכָה לִקְבוּרָה לְבָנָיו, שֶׁנֶאֱמַר אֶתֵּן לְגוֹג מְקוֹם שָׁם קֶבֶר (יחזקאל ל"ט), וְחָם שֶׁבִּזָּה אֶת אָבִיו נֶאֱמַר בְּזַרְעוֹ כֵּן יִנְהַג מֶלֶךְ אַשּׁוּר אֶת שְׁבִי מִצְרַיִם וְאֶת גָּלוּת כּוּשׁ נְעָרִים וּזְקֵנִים עָרוֹם וְיָחֵף וַחֲשׂוּפַי שֵׁת וְגוֹ' (ישעיהו כ'):
ויקח שם ויפת AND SHEM AND JAPHETH TOOK — (literally, “And Shem took and Japheth”) It is not written here ויקחו ‘‘And they took”, but ויקח “And he took”, in order to teach regarding Shem that he devoted himself to this duty with more eagerness than Japheth. Therefore have Shem’s sons received the privilege of wearing the cloak that has fringes, and the sons of Japheth were privileged to receive honorable burial, as it is said, (Ezekiel 39:11) “I will give unto Gog (a descendant of Japheth) a place fit for burial [in Israel]”. But as for Ham who despised his father — of his descendants it is said (Isaiah 20:4) “So shall the king of Assyria lead away the captives of Egypt, and the exiles of Ethiopia (these were peopled by the children of Ham) young and old, naked and barefoot and with buttocks uncovered etc.” (Genesis Rabbah 36:6 and Tanchuma 1:2:15).
ופניהם אחורנית. לָמָּה נֶאֱמַר פַּעַם שְׁנִיָּה? מְלַמֵּד שֶׁכְּשֶׁקָּרְבוּ אֶצְלוֹ וְהֻצְרְכוּ לַהֲפֹךְ עַצְמָם לְכַסּוֹתוֹ הָפְכוּ פְנֵיהֶם אֲחוֹרַנִּית:
ופניהם אחורנית AND THEIR FACES WERE BACKWARD — Wherefore is it written a second time (that they turned themselves backward)? It is to tell us that when they came near to him and it was necessary for them to turn round in order to cover him they kept their faces turned away (Genesis Rabbah 36:6).