Hebrew: שֵׁם —transliteration: Shem —meaning: name; renown
also known as: Sem (thus his descendants are known as Semites)
The words “brother of Japheth the elder” in Genesis 10:21 KJV (Genesis 10:21 NKJV) are perhaps more correctly rendered “the elder brother of Japheth,” as in the New American Standard Bible (Gen. 10:21 NASB and Gen. 10:21 ESV) and the Revised King James Version. Shem’s name is generally mentioned first in the list of Noah's sons.
Life and death
He and his wife were saved in the ark (Gen. 7:13).
But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it on both their shoulders and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were turned away [literally “backward”], so that they did not see their father’s nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him. So he said,
“Cursed be Canaan;
A servant of servants [i.e., The lowest of servants]
He shall be to his brothers.”
He also said,
“Blessed be the Lord,
The God of Shem;
And may Canaan be his [or their] servant.
May God enlarge Japheth,
And may he live in the tents of Shem;
And may Canaan be his [or their] servant.” —Gen. 9:23-27 NASB
Shem died at the age of 600 years, having been for many years contemporary with Abraham, according to the usual chronology. His life remarkably spanned the prediluvian world of Adam and the resulting worldwide violence and depravity. He experienced the worldwide flood judgment, having helped build a great Ark at God’s command (a huge barge filled with survival necessities and breeding pairs of animals), and then experienced post-diluvian world and the repopulation of Earth.
Semites or Semitic people is a term for descendants of Shem (Sem) who speak (or spoke) the Semitic languages, such as Hebrew, Aramaic (mostly Syrians), Arabic, Amharic, Tigrinya, Tigre, and Maltese. These languages share some words and roots. Altogether, Semitic languages are spoken by about 330 million people today.
- Father: Noah
- Mother: not named
Who was Mrs. Noah? What was she like? Learn about this rarely mentioned, but important woman.
- Brothers: Ham, Japheth
- Wife: not named
- Sons: Asshur, Elam, Lud, Aram
- Daughters: not named or numbered
- Descendants: Semites
Descendants of Shem
• Isaac • Jacob (aka Israel) Israelites • Esau (aka Edom) Edomites • Ishmael Ishmaelites mingled with Arab tribes • Lud Lydians • Aram (A-ram) Syrians
Shem’s place in the genealogy of Adam to Christ
Mary, mother of Jesus ← Heli (Eli) ← Matthat ← Levi ← Melchi ← Janna (Jannai) ← Joseph ← Mattathiah (Mattathias) ← Amos ← Nahum ← Esli ← Naggai ← Maath ← Mattathiah (Mattathias) ← Semei (Semein) ← Joseph (Yosef/Josech) ← Judah (Juda, Joda) ← Joannas (Joanna) ← Rhesa ← Zerubbabel ← Shealtiel ← Neri ← Melchi ← Addi ← Cosam ← Elmodam ← Er ← Jose (Joshua, Jesus) ← Eliezer ← Jorim ← Matthat ← Levi ← Simeon ← Judah ← Joseph ← Jonan ← Eliakim ← Melea ← Menan (Menna) ← Mattathah ← Nathan ← KING DAVID ← Jesse ← Obed ← Boaz ← Salmon ← Nahshon ← Amminadab ← Ram ← Hezron ← Perez ← Judah ← Jacob ← Isaac ← ABRAHAM ← Terah ← Nahor ← Serug (Saruch) ← Reu ← Peleg ← Eber ← Shelah ← Cainan ← Arphaxad ← SHEM (Sem) ← NOAH ← Lamech ← Methuselah ← Enoch ← Jared ← Mahalalel (Mahalaleel) ← Cainan ← Enosh (Enos) ← Seth ← ADAM (created by God).
- Deluge (the Flood
- What is the Tower of Babel? and what is its significance in world history?
- What is the confusion of tongues at Babel?
- Is there archaeological evidence of the Tower of Babel? Answer
- Is there any reference to the confusion of languages at Babel in early Mesopotamian literature? Answer
- Summary of the story of the Tower of Babel (in “God’s Story”)