Some of the names/generations have been removed to save space. Please refer to your own copy of the Scriptures for a complete listing of Noah’s descendants through his sons, Japheth, Shem and Ham.
Gen. 10:1-5 – “This is the account of Shem, Ham and Japheth, Noah's sons, who themselves had sons after the flood. The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech and Tiras…(From these the maritime peoples spread out into their territories by their clans within their nations, each with its own language.)” (emphasis added)
- “Maritime people” are those who travel by water – boats, ships, etc. Were Japheth and his sons the adventurers? Or did they simply hate all the family squabbles and escape to the high seas? Whatever the cause of their occupation as sailors, realize that the craft of building boats was handed down from Noah – knowledge from the Most High. Also consider this. If you were Japheth, would you EVER want to get back on a boat? Would you be willing to re-visit your days of testing, remembering the sounds of the earth’s destruction, people’s cries. Or perhaps Japheth described the journey of the ark in such great detail that his descendants wanted to experience the life of faith, setting out on a vast expanse of water, trusting God to lead them to lands they couldn’t see.
- Ham’s sons became mighty warrior/hunters, but who was there to war against? Noah’s other sons – Japheth and Shem. Japheth sailed away, so Shem’s descendants bore the brunt throughout history of Ham’s vengeance. Note the similarities between Ham’s sons and Adam’s wayward son, Cain (Gen. 4:17-24) from the names “Cain” and “Canaan” to the magnificent cities they built in their own honor. Though it seems Nimrod’s hunting abilities were originally devoted to the Lord, the ambition of his descendants caused God’s judgment to fall on their great Tower of achievement (Gen. 11).
Gen. 10:21-32 – “Sons were also born to Shem, whose older brother was Japheth; Shem was the ancestor of all the sons of Eber. The sons of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud and Aram…Arphaxad was the father of Shelah, and Shelah the father of Eber. Two sons were born to Eber: One was named Peleg, because in his time the earth was divided; his brother was named Joktan…These are the sons of Shem by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations. These are the clans of Noah's sons, according to their lines of descent, within their nations. From these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.” (emphasis added)
- Notice that in the account of Shem’s descendants, no specific tradition or profession is mentioned. Shem’s line is defined by the condition of the world in which God positioned them. Peleg was named such because his father’s heart was tuned to what God was doing in the world around him – the division of Babel. We’ll discover later that Abram, Isaac and Jacob came from Shem’s lineage…leading to Jesus Christ, the ultimate God/Man Savior of every tribe and tongue. Shem’s family was called to keep their hearts tuned to the world around them and listen for God’s direction.
Lord, serving you doesn’t always have a well-defined, clear-cut path or definition. I know that some are called to serve you with their vocation, but we don’t all have to be a preacher or missionary to serve You full-time. Accept every thought, every word, every deed as my offering to You. Teach me to think of my daily activities as Your calling, Your positioning of my life for Your service. I don’t want to run away from conflict as Japheth might have or let ambition ruin what could be a pleasing offering – as Ham’s descendants did. I want to be a student of my culture and understand how You are working…and join You there. Let it be so, Lord, in my heart, in my words, and in my actions.