We don’t really know what was so special about Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, but we do know that they have God’s blessing, and he has deemed them worthy of being remnants who will continue all humanity. No pressure. Verse 1 of Chapter 10 says many children were born to these three gentlemen. I know reading (and writing) ancestral histories can be a little ho-hum, but this chapter has loads of juicy bits. As a journalist, I often had to write summaries of upcoming agendas for city council and county commission meetings. It became a little monotonous week in and week out, but one day I needed to know when the council members voted on a particular issue, and I was able to look back and find exactly what I needed because I had recorded it in a historical document – the newspaper! I completely understood the importance of publishing these “boring” articles after that. Try to think of this as you read through historical passages such as this one and others, particularly in Numbers, Deuteronomy and some of the New Testament chapters.
Back to Noah’s boys. Notice this chapter starts with the descendants of Japheth, who is usually named last when speaking about Noah’s three sons. We always say Shem, Ham and Japheth, don’t we? And so far everything we’ve read has listed the boys in that order. So, why now does Japheth come first? Notice Japheth’s first descendant is Gomer. Gomer becomes a direct link to Jesus’ earthly ancestry, so remember Gomer. Remember, too, that God is famous for picking the less obvious leaders for preserving his remnants. David was just a young boy when God chose him as king. Joseph was second to youngest in his family, yet he was chosen (in sorta a weird and tragic way, yes) to serve God in Egypt. But first, there was Japheth, father of Gomer. I love also that Japheth’s descendants became seafaring peoples and spread out to various lands, each with their own language, clan and national identity. Can’t you just imagine this??? I like to think these are the natives of each country – the remnants, who often are mistreated, overlooked and abused, but they have survived. Few and far between, they have been preserved. I love to share this message of hope to natives who have been jilted by Christianity (and rightly so).
Ham’s descendants, on the other hand, are FULL of references to death and destruction – and God keeping his promise of cursing Canaan forever (ch. 9). If you’re familiar with future events recorded in the Bible, you’ll recognize some of these names. If you’re just starting this journey, record these names somewhere and watch for them in the future:
Nimrod – first heroic warrior on earth. Could this be the remnant of the half-gods/giants we contemplated in previous chapters?
Babylonia – God destroys
Ninevah – God destroys
Canaan – Israelites destroy (with God’s help and command, of course)
Sodom & Gomorrah – God destroys
These are just a few common places that have a world-wide reputation as being “bad.” They are all descendants of Ham, who instead of covering up his naked and drunk father, ran and blabbed to his brothers about what he saw. Yikes.
And then there is Shem, older brother of Japheth and father of Peleg, which means “division.” I’ll be honest, I know little about Shem or where the territories of “Mesha all the way to Sephar” are. Peleg sounds familiar, but I’m going to need to do some research on him. Let’s keep Peleg on our radars together and study up on him in the meantime.
Writing prompt: history
Do a little research on Shem, his descendants and their territories. Write a historical account about Shem’s life and the significance of the remnants he helped preserve.