Oh brother...

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Deacon, Sep 30, 2012.

  1. Deacon

    Deacon
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    “Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born.” Genesis 10:21, AV 1873

    “And children were born also to Shem, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder.” Genesis 10:21, NKJV

    ***************************************

    “Also to Shem, the father of all the children of Eber, and the older brother of Japheth*, children were born.” Genesis 10:21, NASB95
    * Or the brother of Japheth the elder

    “To Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the elder brother of Japheth, children were born.” Genesis 10:21, ESV

    Who be first? Shem or Japheth? ...or doesn't it matter?

    Rob
     
  2. Van

    Van
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    Since I rely on the grammar of the NASB95, Shem came first and is the older brother of Japheth. The ESV and HCSB also concur. The NET footnote makes the technical argument from grammar for this conclusion.
     
  3. Deacon

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    So it is an error in the older translations corrected by advancing scholarship.

    How would you explain it otherwise?

    Rob
     
  4. franklinmonroe

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    Typically, the order given in genealogical lists is considered chronological (although not always-- see I Chronicles 1:28 where Isaac is listed before Ishmael). The order throughout Genesis for these Noah's sons is Shem first, then Ham, with Japheth last. This order could be taken to indicate that Shem is the eldest son. Also,1 Chronicles 1:4 has the order Shem, Ham, Japheth but then the passage continues to list Japeth's sons first, next Ham's, and finally Shem's.
     
  5. Van

    Van
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    Spot On!

    Rob, that is exactly my view, and have no other explanation.
     
  6. Logos1560

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    The 1560 Geneva Bible has the following rendering of Genesis 10:21

    Unto Shem also the father of all the sons of Eber, and elder brother of Japheth were children born.
     
  7. jonathan.borland

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    I think the Geneva is right here and also in many other places where it differs from the KJV. It was remarkably ahead of its time.
     
  8. preachinjesus

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    Ah, finally, a worthwhile thread!

    Here's an interesting twist, the NIV11: Sons were also born to Shem, whose older brother was Japheth; Shem was the ancestor of all the sons of Eber. (now in the notes the NIV11 provides room for the alternate translation)

    The JPS (Jewish Publication Society) gives a good rendering: Sons were also born to Shem, ancestor of all the descendants of Eber and older brother of Japheth.

    What is really interesting is the LXX's rendering: (LXX) Genesis 10:21 καὶ τῷ Σημ ἐγενήθη καὶ αὐτῷ πατρὶ πάντων τῶν υἱῶν Εβερ ἀδελφῷ Ιαφεθ τοῦ μείζονος

    As I read this, which might be wrong, the LXX views Japheth as the elder.

    Now that is really interesting, Second Temple Judaistic interpretation of the text renders the Hebrew differently than the latest textual scholars.

    The NET probably gives the best note on this (I'd have to check my technical Genesis commentaries) where it referes the grammatical rule to other instances in the OT. I'd prefer the more recent renderings.

    See, this is exactly why we need the languages.
     
  9. Deacon

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    "Shem, Ham, and Japheth" Ge 5:32; 6:10; 7:13; 9:18; 10:1; 1 Chron 1:4


    “And Sem the father of all ye childre of Eber and the eldest brother of Iapheth begat children also.” (Genesis 10:21, Tyndale Bible 1534)


    To throw a wrench in things, according to Ge 9, Ham is the youngest.

    “Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.”” (Genesis 9:23–25, ESV)


    Not surprisingly Calvin uses the Geneva bible's translation:

    21. Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber. Moses, being about to speak of the sons of Shem, makes a brief introduction, which he had not done in reference to the others. Nor was it without reason; for since this was the race chosen by God, he wished to sever it from other nations by some special mark. This also is the reason why he expressly styles him the ‘father of the sons of Eber,’ and the elder brother of Japheth. For the benediction of Shem does not descend to all his grandchildren indiscriminately, but remains in one family. And although the grandchildren themselves of Eber declined from the true worship of God, so that the Lord might justly have disinherited them; yet the benediction was not extinguished, but only buried for a season, until Abraham was called, in honour of whom this singular dignity is ascribed to the race and name of Eber. For the same cause, mention is made of Japheth, in order that the promise may be confirmed, ‘God shall speak gently unto Japheth, that he may dwell in the tents of Shem.’ Shem is not here called the brother of Ham, inasmuch as the latter was cut off from the fraternal order, and was debarred his own right. Fraternity remained only between Shem and Japheth; because, although they were separated, God had engaged that he would cause them to return from this dissension into union. As it respects the name Eber, they who deny it to be a proper name, but deduce it from the word which signifies to pass over, are more than sufficiently refuted by this passage alone
    Calvin, J., & King, J. (2010). Commentary on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis (Ge 10:21).

    Not “the brother of Japhet the elder”, but “the eldest brother of Japhet”. The former rendering is preferred by the LXX. Symm. Rashi and Ibn Ezra, J. D. Michaelis, and others, and adopted by our AV. Wright, C. H. H. (1859). Book of Genesis in Hebrew, with Various Readings, Notes, Etc.: Critical Notes (40). London; Edinburgh: Williams and Norgate.

    The most reasoned approach for the change from the Tyndale and Geneva's translations is expressed by H.C. Groves,

    THE BROTHER OF JAPHETH THE ELDER] According to the idiom of the Hebrew this may also mean the elder brother of Japheth. But as subsequently we are informed, that ‘Shem was one hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood’ (11:10), it follows that Japheth was the elder; for Noah was five hundred years old when he began to have children, and the deluge took place in the six hundredth year of his age. His eldest son must consequently have been one hundred years old at the time of the deluge; whereas we are expressly informed that Shem did not arrive at that age till two years after the deluge (Rashi). The translation of the text is supported by the versions of the Scpt. and Symmachus, and by the later critics, Michaelis, Dathe, Delitzsch. The translation, Shem the elder brother of Japheth, is supported by Knobel, Kalisch, Wright.
    Groves, H. C. (1861). A Commentary on the Book of Genesis (148–149). Cambridge: Macmillan and Co.

    Then I looked toward my favorite modern commentaries of Genesis.

    whose older brother was Japheth. The ambiguous Hebrew could also indicate Shem as the older brother. However, in light of the time frame indicated in Shem’s genealogy (see 11:10 in Book 5), Japheth is likely the older brother.
    Waltke, B. K., & Fredricks, C. J. (2001). Genesis: A Commentary (172). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

    The oldest brother of Japhet” reflects the modern consensus translation of אחי יפת הגדול. The adjective “oldest” modifies “brother.” LXX, Symmachus, Rashi, possibly the MT, and Cassuto suppose, however, that “oldest” modifies “Japhet.” Combined with the comment that Ham is the youngest, the former view makes the order in the family “Shem, Japhet, Ham” whereas the latter makes it “Japhet, Shem, Ham”; cf. Comment on 9:24.
    Wenham, G. J. (1998). Vol. 1: Genesis 1–15. Word Biblical Commentary (228). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

    This problem is more complicated than I thought.

    Rob
     
    #9 Deacon, Oct 8, 2012
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  10. jonathan.borland

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    Cloverdale (1535): And Sem which is ye father of all the children of Eber, & the elder brother of Iaphet, begat children also.
     
  11. Deacon

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    A Strict Literalist's Case for Japheth Being the Elder Brother

    What follows is the argument of H. C. Groves in his Commentary on the Book of Genesis (1861).

    **********************************

    “After Noah was 500 years old, Noah fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” (Genesis 5:32, ESV)

    [100 years later]

    “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.” (Genesis 7:11, ESV)

    “Then God said to Noah, “Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you.”
    “So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him.” (Genesis 8:15–16, 18, ESV)

    [Only Noah, his wife and the three sons with their wives came off the ark]

    “These are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Sons were born to them after the flood.” (Genesis 10:1, ESV)

    [The children were born after the flood]

    “These are the generations of Shem. When Shem was 100 years old, he fathered Arpachshad two years after the flood. And Shem lived after he fathered Arpachshad 500 years and had other sons and daughters.” (Genesis 11:10–11, ESV)

    [If Arpachshad was born two years after the flood, Shem would have been 102 years old - if he was the eldest]

    Therefore someone else other than Shem must have been born first; {it wasn't Ham - Ge 9:23-25} so it follows that Japheth born first, when Noah was 500 years old.

    Rob
     
  12. jonathan.borland

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    Hey Rob,

    That really doesn't prove anything except that Shem was born when Noah was 502 years old. It doesn't say whether Japheth was born before or after this time. What if Ham was born in year 503 and Japheth in 504? Gen 5:32, translated literally, might imply that Noah had triplets on his 500th birthday or during his 500th year, but we know that wasn't the case, so I wouldn't hold to a hard stance that Noah had to have had begotten someone on his 500th year, although he might have done so. Ham is not exactly said to be the "youngest" in Gen 9:24, but "young," i.e., "younger," which might simply mean younger than the oldest, which could be either Shem or Japheth. I checked some of the other examples given in the NET note in Hebrew and it satisfied my curiosity enough. Have you looked at them?
     
  13. franklinmonroe

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    All this seems to say is that sometime within the approximately 100 years following Noah's 500th birthday (and before the Flood) he fathered three boys. Taking into account that all three men were married at the time of entering into the ark, we might speculate that the youngest could be at minimum of 13 years old (but probably much older). So, the difference in ages could span as much as 80+ years.

    One thing to consider is that all three sons were not born in the same year unless the gestation period of humans was much shorter then; or else they were triplets (or at least there were twins)! Even if Shem & Japheth were twins or the sons were triplets there would still be an order of birth. Furthermore, I doubt that Noah had more than one wife.
     
    #13 franklinmonroe, Oct 11, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2012
  14. Mexdeaf

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    Logical answer to the thread title- "Where art thou?":laugh:
     
  15. franklinmonroe

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    "502" is rather precise. Does it really have to mean that a child was born immediately after Noah turned 500? Why couldn't Shem have been born, say, when Noah was 530? That is still "after" he became 500. That could make Shem only 70 years-old going into the ark.

    Also, does the phrase "after the flood" mean after the Flood began or after it subsided? (there is about a year difference between those two options); and does "fathered" mean concieved or actually delivered? (another 9 months difference).
     
    #15 franklinmonroe, Oct 12, 2012
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  16. Jerome

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    Wycliffe (CCCC MS 147) has Japheth as the elder brother.
     

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