Was Shem older or younger than Japheth?

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Pastor_Bob, Aug 17, 2007.

  1. Pastor_Bob

    Pastor_Bob
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    Genesis 10:21 Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born. (KJV)

    Genesis 10:21 To Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the elder brother of Japheth, children were born. (RSV)

    Some modern versions translate the text to read that Shem was older than Japheth. The Masoretic Text favors the KJV reading. The context of the passage also favors Japheth being the eldest brother of the three.
     
  2. Deacon

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    And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
    Genesis 6:10 ESV

    The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.)
    Genesis 9:18 ESV

    Japheth, as the last son mentioned, we would presume to be the youngest of the three.

    But then we read:
    When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son [Ham/Canaan] had done to him,
    Genesis 9:24 ESV


    The Hebrew word is elementary “ha-gadol”, literally “the great”.

    So the question is, who is older, Shem or Japheth?

    It’s not a question of the Masoretic text favoring one over the other, they both use the same text.

    Some modern translators believe that “great” modifies the word “son”; earlier translators believed it modified “Japheth”.

    The NET Bible [LINK] notes:

    Rob
     
    #2 Deacon, Aug 18, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 18, 2007
  3. Bob Alkire

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    I was always taught that Shem was the older and looking in the books I have here in my study, it seem to have the same point of view, maybe that is why I have these books and believe Shem is the older.
    If I'm reading Gen. 10:21 correctly, it is saying Shem is Japheth elder. I too use the KJV, but on this one it looks like the RSV has it easier to read and understand.
     
  4. Bro. Williams

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    I do not purpose this post to be directed with malice, but I do have an honest question.

    Would this fall under

    1 Timothy 1:4 Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do. (?)
     
  5. Mexdeaf

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    I suppose it would if genealogies were the topic of discussion but I think it is a translational issue being discussed.
     
  6. Bro. Williams

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    You might be right there, it was only a question. I do hope no one takes it as a slam.
     
  7. Scarlett O.

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    I hope that you don't interpret this post to be directed with malice, but I have an honest comment.

    This is a prime example of taking scripture out of context. Paul is not saying never to discuss fables and never to discuss genealogies or raise questions about them.

    He is talking to Timothy and he has implied in verse 3 that some people are believing in another doctrine.

    What false doctrine was that? The belief that one could research one's Jewish ancestry to a fault and determine the virtue and piety one's Jewish ancestors and deem oneself righteous their were of this tribe or that tribe. Apparently there were also legends and fables about various ancestors that could not be proven nor disproven and people were banking their righteousness on those unproven, unscriptural stories.

    He reminds Timothy in verse 7 that faith is the key and that some people have depended on vanities of the flesh, such as being teachers of the law, to bear witness to their righteousness. He said that these people were ignorant of the truth of what they were teaching.

    This passage isn't telling Christians not to study the genealogies of the bible. If we are to take this verse completely out of context and believe that we are not to study or raise study questions about the genealogies of the bible, then why are there genealogies in the bible in the first place.

    The genealogies as well as John 3:16 is the supernatural, Living Word of God.

    The same Paul that wrote this verse also said that ALL scripture is profitable....for various reasons.

    There is nothing wrong with the OP and nothing wrong with discuss the genealogies of the bible for further understanding as well as the poetry or the history.

     
  8. Deacon

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    I'm not sure I follow you, what do you mean?

    It looks to me like a simple chiasm.
    1, 2, 3, 4, // 4', 3', 2', 1',

    These are the generations of the sons of Noah (1), Shem (2), Ham (3), and Japheth (4). Sons were born to them after the flood.
    Genesis 10:1 ESV (numbering added)

    verse 2 The sons of Japheth (4)...

    verse 6 The sons of Ham (3)...

    verse 21 To Shem (2)...

    verse 32 These are the clans of the sons of Noah (1)

    Rob
     
  9. Bro. Williams

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    I don't take this with malice at all. In fact, I am aware of the context and meaning of the verses I quoted as well. My post was just a question in regards to if others considered it to fall under such a category. Despite what some think, I am not always abrasive and confrontational (not stating you believe this, but some do).

    If you are still curious as to why I brought it up, it is for the reason that I took the Op in a sense of genealogy (not translation), and the fact that the question is somewhat endless and does certainly generate questions (about Jewish lineage at that). Now, to the extent of gain and edification, I assume we will see about that concerning the outcome and remainder of the thread. Please don't misunderstand, there are numerous other things that I am sure I take part of that are far more pointless than specifically what the verse I mentioned falls under. Honestly, it was simply a question.
     
  10. EdSutton

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    Does it matter in any way? :confused:

    Ed
     
  11. franklinmonroe

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    It just may be one of many ambiguities of the Bible. Here's an example (Judges 1:13, KJV)--
    And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, took it: and he gave him Achsah his daughter to wife.​
    So, is Caleb's younger brother Othniel or Kenaz? It's really ambiguous.
     

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