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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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SHEM . The word signifies ‘name,’ which can also denote ‘fame,’ ‘renown’ (cf. ‘the men of name,’ Genesis 6:4 ). Possibly it is an abbreviation; cf. Shemuel (Samuel), ‘name of God.’ In one of the two traditions combined in J [Note: Jahwist.] ( Genesis 6:18 f., Genesis 10:21-31 ) Shem, the ‘son’ of Noah, is the eponymous ancestor of several peoples, occupying, roughly speaking, the central portions of the known world. P [Note: Priestly Narrative.] has a parallel list in Genesis 11:10-26 . It is clear that Shem (from which is formed the frequently used title Shemites or Semites ) stands merely for a geographical division, for some of the nations traced to him e.g. Elam, and Lud (probably Lydians) are certainly not Semitic. In the other tradition ( Genesis 9:20-27 ) ‘Shem’ stands for a people in Palestine the Hebrews, or some portion of them with whom ‘Japheth’ lived in close conjunction, and to whom ‘Canaan’ was subjugated. See Ham.

A. H. M‘Neile.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Shem'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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