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We read in the book Complete Bible History: From the Creation of the World Down to the Death of the Apostles, page 16:

When Noe awoke, and heard what had taken place, he cursed Ham in the person of his son Chanaan who, it is thought, had shared in his father's sin, declaring that he should be the servant of servants to his brethren....

But Sem and Japheth he blessed. Filled with the spirit of God, he [Noe] announced that from the race of Sem should spring the Redeemer, saying "Blessed be the Lord God of Sem, be Chanaan his servant."

To Japheth he said, ``May God enlarge Japheth and may he dwell in the tents of Sem.'' This meant that the children of Japheth were to be blessed in listening to the heavenly doctrine which was to come into the world through the family of Sem.

The above paragraphs are found here: https://ia800200.us.archive.org/16/items/CompleteBibleHistory1891/CompleteBibleHistory1891.pdf

QUESTION: Can anyone explain how from the above paragraphs it may be inferred that the promised Redeemer should "spring" from the race of Shem?

Thank you.

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    Seems like a retrospective comment to myself. There are hints of promise in Genesis but the author of the document would need to explain, in detail, why they make that assertion.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 29, 2023 at 20:57

3 Answers 3

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It can be shown from more than a few Old Testament sections that the line of descent from Noah via his son Shem, to Abraham and then the nation of Israel had significance, and that to do with later prophecies about a Redeemer.

Genesis 9:25-27 tells us quite a lot in Noah's prophetic words, but nowhere does he mention any Redeemer, let alone which line he would come through! It starts by telling us that Canaan's father was Ham, and it was Ham who disrespected Noah, his father, by telling his older brothers Shem and Japheth about their father's nakedness. So Noah, in cursing Canaan, indicated that Canaan's descendants would be even worse than Ham, and the O.T. certainly shows that that inference is warranted. Significantly, Canaanites were Caucasian - not blacks.

The blessing Noah pronounced was, significantly, on the Lord God of Shem. The chapter following, shows the table of nations from Shem, Ham and Japheth. Yet there is nothing there about Shem's line giving rise to any Redeemer.

Luke's gospel does trace it backwards to king David, then Abraham, then Shem, to Adam (3:23-38). Luke's genealogy is sufficient to show that Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, did indeed come through the line of Shem. There is no need to infer anything, because the New Testament told us, some 1,830 years ago, that that is the line of descent. But nobody said in the Old Testament that the Redeemer would come through the line of Shem. It's just that he did.

Another point is about why genealogical lists exist in the Bible. One view is that there are two genres of genealogies, one which is aimed at establishing someone's entitlement to a certain position, office or inheritance; the other aimed at establishing an unbroken chronology. The genealogies in Genesis 5 and 11, with their specific numbers and ages would place them in the second category or genre.

Luke verifies that the Genesis details show the line of descent of the Messiah (the Redeemer) but not with regard to his entitlement to a certain position, office or inheritance. Other parts of the O.T. show that. But the crunch point (for me) is that only looking at a natural, human line of descent for the man, Jesus, is to view the Redeemer with blinkers on. Only when the Word of God is revealed to be the uncreated, only-begotten Son of God, who came from heaven to be born as the virgin's child, can we grasp the significance of the O.T. statements about his position and office, as the only Redeemer qualified to deal with sin.

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  • Thank you for this answer.
    – DDS
    Jul 30, 2023 at 17:09
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In Genesis 9:27 (NLT), Noah says:

May God expand the territory of Japheth!
May Japheth share the prosperity of Shem,
and may Canaan be his servant.

Clearly he is ranking his sons, blessing Shem first and Canaan last.

One could infer that, if Noah knew that God would some day choose someone (Abraham) to form a nation to be his example to the world, and that God would someday send a Messiah to save the world, then one might conclude that this would likely happen through the line of Shem.

But the author's explicitly and assertively saying "This meant that …" is claiming far more than is justified.

It's almost certainly a case of eisegesis (reading one's beliefs into the scripture).

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This article says that the blessing on Shem by Noah was messianic:

http://www.aboutbibleprophecy.com/genesis_9_26.htm

The gist of the article is that the form of the blessing on Shem is echoed in later father-to-son blessings. The later blessings add clarity by which to interpret the former blessings. So the blessing on Shem was messianic, but only understood to be messianic in the context of the later blessings. This is Scripture interpreting Scripture, not eisegesis.

Going through the ESV, I checked every verse with the construction "God of X". When X is the name of the person, these are the only names ever used:

  • Shem
  • Abraham
  • Isaac
  • Jacob
  • Israel
  • David
  • Elijah
  • Hezekiah
  • Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego
  • Daniel

The last three are references made by foreign kings, with Hezekiah being mocked and the remaining ones being honored, but this honor of being named in a "God of X" construction was not given by a prophet. Even so, Hezekiah was in Jesus' genealogy.

This leaves Elijah alone as not being in the line of the savior. He is the exception that proves the rule: a person being honored by being named in the phrase "God of X" is being granted a title of being an ancestor of the messiah. In Elijah's case, as far as we know, he was childless (the Bible being silent on this), so there would be no confusion. However, Elijah is a type of Christ, as he raised people from the dead.

Note: Even Moses was not so honored.

Addition:

Of course, I forgot one last construction:

The God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He gets the full treatment.

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  • +1 Very interesting observation you introduce regarding the "God of X".
    – DDS
    Aug 1, 2023 at 22:18
  • @I.Chekhov - Thanks. I was certain I would be proved wrong when I checked, because I was certain there was "the God of Moses" somewhere in the Bible, much less some other personage. It surprised me. Aug 1, 2023 at 22:22

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