Friday, February 5, 2010


Genesis 9:27 (NIV) has this to say about Japheth: "May God extend the territory of Japheth; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his slave." Japheth's name sounds like the Hebrew word for 'extend', and he certainly seemed to live up to this name, as his territory extended up into Eurasia. One of the most intriguing aspects of the pronouncements which Noah made concerning Japheth is that he would 'live in the tents of Shem'. My immediate thoughts concerning this statement were that perhaps this meant that the peoples of these two brothers would intermarry. Another interpretation is that the Japhethites would share in the spiritual blessings given to Shem. Perhaps both aspects are implied.

One thing that nags me concerning the statements made by Noah concerning these three brothers (Shem,Ham and Japheth) is that, most likely, people from all three lineages intermarried, so how are we to interpret the statements made concerning each brother? Certainly there had to be God-fearing people even among Ham's descendants, and ungodly elements within both Shem and Japheth's peoples, so we can't be too quick to write off anyone just because he/she comes from a certain line. It may be that these pronouncements are meant to be a general characterization of these lines.

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