Easton's Bible Dictionary
a name; renown, The first mentioned of the sons of Noah
( Genesis 5:32 ; 6:10 ). He was probably the eldest of Noah's sons. The words
"brother of Japheth the elder" in Genesis 10:21 are more correctly rendered "the
elder brother of Japheth," as in the Revised Version. Shem's name is generally
mentioned first in the list of Noah's sons. He and his wife were saved in the
ark ( Genesis 7:13 ). Noah foretold his preeminence over Canaan ( Genesis 9:23
- 27 ). He died at the age of six hundred years, having been for many years contemporary
with Abraham, according to the usual chronology. The Israelitish nation sprang
from him ( Genesis 11:10 - 26 ; 1 Chronicles 1:24 - 27 ).
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
(name), The eldest son of Noah. ( Genesis 5:32 ) He was
98 years old, married, and childless at the time of the flood. After it, he, with
his father, brothers, sisters-in-law and wife, received the blessing of God, (
Genesis 9:1 ) and entered into the covenant. With the help of his brother Japheth,
he covered the nakedness of their father and received the first blessing. ( Genesis
9:25 - 27 ) He died at the age of 630 years. The portion of the earth occupied
by the descendants of Shem, ( Genesis 10:21 , 10:31 ) begins at its northwestern
extremity with Lydia, and includes Syria (Aram), Chaldaea (Arphaxad), parts Of
Assyria (Asshur), of Persia (Elam), and of the Arabian peninsula (Joktan). Modern
scholars have given the name of Shemitic or Semitic to the languages spoken by
his real or supposed descendants. [HEBREW]
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
shem (shem; Sem):
1. Position in Noah's Family:
His Name: The eldest son of Noah, from whom the Jews, as well as the Semitic ("Shemitic")
nations in general have descended. When giving the names of Noah's three sons,
Shem is always mentioned first (Genesis 9:18 ; 10:1, etc.); and though "the elder"
in "Shem the brother of Japheth the elder" (Genesis 10:21 margin) is explained
as referring to Shem, this is not the rendering of Onkelos. His five sons peopled
the greater part of West Asia's finest tracts, from Elam on the East to the Mediterranean
on the West. Though generally regarded as meaning "dusky" (compare the Assyr-Babylonian
samu--also Ham--possibly = "black," Japheth, "fair"), it is considered possible
that Shem may be the usual Hebrew word for "name" (shem), given him because he
was the firstborn--a parallel to the Assyr-Babylonian usage, in which "son," "name"
(sumu) are synonyms (W. A. Inscriptions, V, plural 23, 11,29-32abc).
2. History, and the Nations Descended from Him:
Shem, who is called "the father of all the children of Eber," was born when Noah
had attained the age of 500 years (Genesis 5:32). Though married at the time of
the Flood, Shem was then childless. Aided by Japheth, he covered the nakedness
of their father, which Ham, the youngest brother, had revealed to them; but unlike
the last, Shem and Japheth, in their filial piety, approached their father walking
backward, in order not to look upon him. Two years after the Flood, Shem being
then 100 years old, his son Arpachshad was born (Genesis 11:10), and was followed
by further sons and daughters during the remaining 500 years which preceded Shem's
death. Noah's prophetic blessing, on awakening from his wine, may be regarded
as having been fulfilled in his descendants, who occupied Syria (Aramaic), Palestine
(Canaan), Chaldea (Arpachshad), Assyria (Asshur), part of Persia (Elam), and Arabia
(Joktan). In the first three of these, as well as in Elam, Canaanites had settled
(if not in the other districts mentioned), but Shemites ruled, at some time or
other, over the Canaanites, and Canaan thus became "his servant" (Genesis 9:25
, 26). The tablets found in Cappadocia seem to show that Shemites (Assyrians)
had settled in that district also, but this was apparently an unimportant colony.
Though designated sons of Shem, some of his descendants (e.g. the Elamites) did
not speak a Semitic language, while other nationalities, not his descendants (e.g.
the Canaanites), did.
See HAM; JAPHETH; TABLE OF NATIONS.
T. G. Pinches
ark, bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, blessing, covered naked noah, noah's ark, oldest son of noah, shem