Shem (//; Hebrew: שֵׁם Šēm; Greek: Σήμ Sēm; Ge'ez: ሴም, Sēm; "renown; prosperity; name"; Arabic: سام Sām) was one of the sons of Noah in the Hebrew Bible as well as in Islamic literature. Genesis 10:21 refers to relative ages of Shem and his brother Japheth, but with sufficient ambiguity to have yielded different English translations. The verse is translated in the KJV as "Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born.". However, the New American Standard Bible gives, "Also to Shem, the father of all the children of Eber, and the older brother of Japheth, children were born."
Shem, son of Noah
Genesis 11:10 records that Shem was 100 years old at the birth of Arphaxad, two years after the flood; and that he lived for another 500 years after this, making his age at death 600 years.
Islamic literature describes Shem as one of the believing sons of Noah. Some sources even identify Shem as a prophet in his own right and that he was the next prophet after his father. In one Muslim legend, Shem was one of the people whom God made Jesus resurrect as a sign to the Children of Israel.
The 1st-century historian Flavius Josephus, among many others, recounted the tradition that these five sons were the progenitors of the nations of Elam, Assyria, Chaldea, Lydia, and Levantine, respectively.
The associated term Semitic is still a commonly used term for the Semitic languages, as a subset of the Afro-Asiatic languages, denoting the common linguistic heritage of Arabic, Aramaic, Akkadian, Ethiopic, Hebrew and Canaanite-Phoenician languages.
According to some Jewish traditions (e.g., B. Talmud Nedarim 32b; Genesis Rabbah 46:7; Genesis Rabbah 56:10; Leviticus Rabbah 25:6; Numbers Rabbah 4:8.), Shem is believed to have been Melchizedek, King of Salem whom Abraham is recorded to have met after the battle of the four kings.
According to Genesis 10:22-31 (Jewish Publication Society Translation of 1917):
- 22 The sons of Shem: Elam, and Asshur, and Arpachshad, and Lud, and Aram. 23 And the sons of Aram: Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Mash. 24 And Arpachshad begot Shelah; and Shelah begot Eber. 25 And unto Eber were born two sons; the name of the one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name was Joktan. 26 And Joktan begot Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah; 27 and Hadoram, and Uzal, and Diklah; 28 and Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba; 29 and Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab; all these were the sons of Joktan. 30 And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest toward Sephar, unto the mountain of the east. 31 These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations. 32 These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations; and of these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.
Excerpts from Genesis 11:10-27— (Jewish Publication Society translation of 1917):
- 'Shem was a hundred years old, and begot Arpachshad two years after the flood. ... Arpachshad lived five and thirty years, and begot Shelah. 13 And Arpachshad lived after he begot Shelah ... Shelah lived thirty years, and begot Eber. ... Eber lived four and thirty years, and begot Peleg. ... Peleg lived thirty years, and begot Reu. ... Reu lived two and thirty years, and begot Serug. '... Serug lived thirty years, and begot Nahor. ... Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and begot Terah. ... Terah lived seventy years, and begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran. ... and Haran begot Lot.
Book of JasherEdit
A rabbinic document that surfaced in the 17th century, claiming to be the lost Book of Jasher provides some names not found in any other source.
Book of LukeEdit
Early biographies of the Islamic prophet MuhammadEdit
The following family tree contains information from the Hebrew Bible, without data from any other sources. According to Luke 3, an additional figure named Cainan is the son of Arpachshad and the father of Shelah.
- Scott B. Noegel and Brannon M. Wheeler (2002). "Shem". In the Historical Dictionary of Prophets in Islam and Judaism. p. 301
- Stories of the Prophets, Ibn Kathir, Story of Jesus
- Genesis 5:32, 6:10; 7:13; 9:18,23,26-27; 10; 11:10
- Ibn Ishāq, Sīrat Rasūl Allāh, tr. A. Guillaume (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 3
- Kishik, David (2018). The Book of Shem: On Genesis before Abraham. Stanford University Press.