Living in the tents of Shem.

Noah’s words to his sons In Parshah Noach, (Gen 9:24ff), we read the words of Noah to his three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, after Ham has ridiculed his father for lying drunk and naked in his tent. When he wakes and discovers what has happened, Noah says: “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.” He also said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.” Now this passage raises more questions than you could poke a stick at, but I really only want to deal with a couple of them now. The main question I want to focus on arises from Noah’s words to his third son. “May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem”. So what question does this statement create? In the ESV translation quoted, it is quite obvious – Japheth will live in the tents of Shem. But in the Hebrew, it is not so clear. The text reads : יַפְתְּ אֱלֹהִים לְיֶפֶת, וְיִשְׁכֹּן בְּאָהֳלֵי-שֵׁם and a word by word […]

Genealogies – words of hope

When we look at Genesis 5 and we see the genealogy of Adam, we wonder why on earth should we bother reading it; what hope do we have of understanding the purpose of all these names? Why bother with all these unpronounceable names? To answer that we should have a look at where these names have come from. In Genesis 4, and we saw the cycle of sin gaining intensity and momentum. From the disobedience of Adam and his wife, we have seen that rebellion fester into hatred and murder, then moving out further into a whole society that turned its back on God and sought independence from Him. And at the end of that story we saw a glimmer of hope at the birth of Seth, when people once again began to call upon the name of the Lord. Now in Genesis 5, the story takes a bit of a break, and the writer seems to stand back, catch his breath and think about what has happened so far. This genealogy marks the end of the first section of the story, and it summarises what has gone on before. In the original oral version of this story, this may […]