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Character Studies
Noah & Sons
Noah & sons

Genesis 6:5-10:6

The epoch which involved Noah and his sons is one of the most controversial points of the
Bible, not only with unbelievers, but even amongst believers.

Noah

• Pre-Flood

Genesis 6:5-22

Noah out of all the people upon the earth, found grace in the sight of God.

2 Peter 2:1-10

• Flood

Genesis 7:1-8:14

Was the flood a regional phenomenon, or was it world-wide?

• Post-Flood

Genesis 8:15-10:6

The rainbow was a sign that the world would not be destroyed again by water, not that it would
not be destroyed (
2 Peter 3:1-15).

Even though a righteous man, Noah was not faultless, or sinless.

All attempts to place skin color origins with the sons of Noah are an attempt
to place the “curse of Ham” upon the negro race, and an attempt to justify
racism. They are wrong. Even major resource material is subject to this error.

Shem

The eldest son of Noah, from whom the Jews, as well as the Semitic ("Shemitic") nations in
general have descended…. Shem, who is called "the father of all the children of Eber," was born
when Noah had attained the age of 500 years (Ge 5:32). Though married at the time of the
Flood, Shem was then childless. Aided by Japheth, he covered the nakedness of their father,
which Ham, the youngest brother, had revealed to them; but unlike the last, Shem and Japheth,
in their filial piety, approached their father walking backward, in order not to look upon him. Two
years after the Flood, Shem being then 100 years old, his son Arpachshad was born (Ge 11:10),
and was followed by further sons and daughters during the remaining 500 years which
preceded Shem's death. Noah's prophetic blessing, on awakening from his wine, may be
regarded as having been fulfilled in his descendants, who occupied Syria (Aramaic), Palestine
(Canaan), Chaldea (Arpachshad), Assyria (Asshur), part of Persia (Elam), and Arabia (Joktan). In
the first three of these, as well as in Elam, Canaanites had settled (if not in the other districts
mentioned), but Shemites ruled, at some time or other, over the Canaanites, and Canaan thus
became "his servant" (Ge 9:25-26). The tablets found in Cappadocia seem to show that
Shemites (Assyrians) had settled in that district also, but this was apparently an unimportant
colony. Though designated sons of Shem, some of his descendants (e.g. the Elamites) did not
speak a Semitic language, while other nationalities, not his descendants (e.g. the Canaanites),
did.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Some have attempted to make Shem the father of “dark-skinned peoples.”

Japheth

The immediate descendants of Japheth were seven in number, and are represented by the
nations designated Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Mesech, and Tiras; or, roughly, the
Armenians, Lydians, Medes, Greeks, Tibarenians, and Moschians, the last, Tiras, remaining still
obscure. The sons of Gomer (Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah) were all settled in the West
Asian tract; while the sons of Javan (Elisah, Tarshish, Kittim and Dodanim or Rodanim)
occupied the Mediterranean coast and the adjacent islands.

3. His Place among the Sons of Noah:

In Ge 9:27, as in other passages, Japheth occupies the Ge 3:1-24rd place in the enumeration of
the sons of Noah, but he is really regarded as the Ge 2:1-25nd son, Ham being the youngest. In
the genealogical table, however (Ge 10:1 ff), the descendants of Japheth are given first, and
those of Shem last, in order to set forth Semitic affinities at greater length. Though this would
seem to indicate that the fair races were the least known to the Jews, it implies that the latter
were well disposed toward them, for Japheth was (ultimately) to dwell in the tents of Shem, and
therefore to take part in Shem's spiritual privileges.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Some people have tried to make Japheth the “father of fair-skinned people.”

Ham

The youngest son of Noah, from whom sprang the western and southwestern nations known to
the Hebrews. His name first occurs in Ge 5:32, where, as in Ge 6:10 and elsewhere, it occupies
the second place. In Ge 9:18 Ham is described as "the father of Canaan," to prepare the reader
for Ge 9:25-27, where Noah, cursing Ham for having told Shem and Japheth of his nakedness,
refers to him as Canaan….

The name given, in Ps 105:23,17; 106:22 (compare Ps 78:51), to Egypt as a descendant of
Ham, son of Noah. As Shem means "dusky," or the like, and Japheth "fair," it has been
supposed that Ham meant, as is not improbable, "black." This is supported by the evidence of
Hebrew and Arabic, in which the word chamam means "to be hot" and "to be black," the latter
signification being derived from the former….

Of the nationalities regarded as descending from Ham, none can be described as really black.
First on the list, as being the darkest, is Cush or Ethiopia (Ge 10:6), after which comes
Mitsrayim, or Egypt, then PuT or Libyia, and Canaan last. The sons or descendants of each of
these are then taken in turn, and it is noteworthy that some of them, like the Ethiopians and the
Canaanites, spoke Semitic, and not Hamitic, languages--Seba (if connected with the Sabeans),
Havilah (Yemen), and Sheba, whose queen visited Solomon. Professor Sayce, moreover, has
pointed out that Caphtor is the original home of the Phoenicians, who spoke a Semitic
language. The explanation of this probably is that other tongues were forced upon these
nationalities in consequence of their migrations, or because they fell under the dominion of
nationalities alien to them. The non-Sem Babylonians, described as descendants of Nimrod
(Merodach), as is welI known, spoke Sumerian, and adopted Semitic Babylonian only on
account of mingling with the Semites whom they found there. Another explanation is that the
nationalities described as Hamitic--a parallel to those of the Semitic section--were so called
because they fell under Egyptian dominion. This would make the original Hamitic race to have
been Egyptian and account for Ham as a (poetical) designation of that nationality.

International Standard  Bible Encyclopedia

Some have assume that Ham is the “father of black people.”

The Curse of Ham

Genesis 9:20-27

In an attempt to subjugate the negro race, some have attempted to hi-jack Noah’s curse on
Ham. However, notice what that curse said: (Genesis 9:25)
And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a
servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.  (KJV)