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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature
Shem (name), one of the three sons of Noah (), from whom descended the nations enumerated in , sq., and who was the progenitor of that great branch of the Noachic family (called from him Shemitic or Semitic) to which the Hebrews belong. The name of Shem is placed first wherever the sons of Noah are mentioned together; whence he would seem to have been the eldest brother. But against this conclusion is brought the text , which, according to the Authorized, and many other versions, has 'Shem the brother of Japheth the elder;' whence it has been conceived very generally that Japheth was really the eldest, and that Shem is put first by way of excellency, seeing that from him the holy line descended. But this conclusion is not built upon a critical knowledge of the Hebrew, which would show that 'the elder' must in this text be referred not to Japheth but to Shem, so that it should be read 'Shem… the elder brother of Japheth.'
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Shem'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature". https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/kbe/s/shem.html.