To begin at the start of this series, click here
As we have looked at the three sons of Noah in this series, lets now take a look into how each was designed with a role and what some standard things that each son does and then some stereotypes of each son. Again, stereotypes are not necessarily negative. They are a caricature of a person with broad sweeping generalities meant to point you in a general direction. They are not meant to be a pinpoint accurate definition of any one person. Furthermore, with the lines of Shem, Ham and Japheth intermarrying there is a blurring of these standards and stereotypes, but I think you will get the point as you read this blog post.
As we have looked at the sons of Noah to this point we can see where the Bible says that they were going to be spreading out across the planet and now lets look at how they have influenced us in the last 500 years.
Ham was spun to the ends of the Earth as a part of the destruction of the Tower of Babel in order that their God designed purpose be fulfilled. On the map above you can see that virtually every corner of the planet was touched if not inhabited by the line of Ham. Ham was always on the move early on, especially in the Americas. As a descendant of the line of Ham, the Native Americans in both North and South America, traveled far and wide to populate these massive continents. For more you can look back at the last post here. Ham has the distinct responsibility of being the master craftsman. He was set apart from the brothers to create and build for them. His true strength is in just figuring out how to do things. This is the same line of people who created a world superpower in the middle of the desert, Egypt. This is the same line of people who decided to not continue on after arriving in Siberia/Alaska and settle in the frozen tundra, Eskimos and other native groups. This is the same line of people who settled vast swaths of jungle in Central and South America all while building enormous cities and pyramids from rock not found at the locations where these structures were being erected, Aztecs/Mayans/Toltecs/etc. The same line of people who had amazing highways and cities at the top of the Peruvian Andes and held much of a continent in their power, the Incas. You see, Ham is about creating and building. Technology is his strength and his Achilles heel. Ham, when not being influenced by his brother Shem, is left to find objects to satisfy his natural desire to worship. Ham utilizes idols, mostly made after the natural world and sky, as well as many animals and even other people. There is a sense that Ham has somewhat of a difficult time with the abstract, as indicated by his desire to worship the seen world. When Ham is not being aided by his brother Japheth, he becomes a wandering person of emotions and territory. He sees a desire to protect his family and village as paramount because neighboring clans desire to take from him what he has collected, hunted, discovered. A caste system is easier to set up in Ham’s world. And the desire for a simpler life is always there but conflict doesn’t seem to be very far away. Ham tends to lean towards a collectivist ideal. He identifies as a family, clan, or village before he identifies as an independent person. Ham had a heyday at one time, but as you can see from the map above, Ham’s world influence has waned in favor of Japheth. It doesn’t mean Ham is gone, it means that God’s sovereign time for Ham as the leader of the three has ended and Japheth’s has risen. That won’t last forever though, as we know that end time prophecy puts Shem back into a major starring role as the world wraps up.
Shem is the brother donned with the responsibility of carrying and keeping the light of the coming and prophesied messiah for the three brothers. Unfortunately, that makes Shem a key target for pride. It also means that Shem typically is not highly gifted in creating or building, often borrowing from Ham’s ideas. Shem, when he gets hyper focused on his role, turns into a tyrannical religious dictator, using the cover of religion to subjugate the masses. Shem is very concerned with faith, but can easily cross over to fanatic when he is not near Japheth (more on that to follow). Shem, when he is by himself, has a hard time not creating rules and regulations, setting up religion. In fact, of the largest and most widespread of the religions on Earth, the big three come from Shem: Judaism, Christianity & Islam. Shem wants to be known for his zeal of religion & faith. Shem seeks to be a leader but has difficulty knowing where leadership crosses over into despotism. As you can see from the map above, the ideologies of Shem have spread across the planet as they have interacted with much of the line of Ham. Shem sees himself as one of many but seeks to be identified as a member, he wants to feel included.
Japheth is the brother who is tasked with helping create government and equality among the brothers. He has a strong desire for fair and balanced justice. We see this carried out in the early democratic movements in Europe. But once Japheth is separated from Shem he loses the focus of the messiah as the goal. We also see this as Japheth travels the world, exploring and spreading Christianity but getting further and further from the “tents of Shem”. He then forgets who God is and names man as god. Once that happens then Japheth quickly devolves into humanism. This is where “if it feels good do it” mentality has risen from in Western culture. Japheth is gifted in taking the technology of Ham and putting it through what we call the scientific method to understand what Ham has done, turn it into a science, and then improve it. Japheth is the brother where democracy originates, but only as long as he is still dwelling in the tents of Shem (that is keeping his focus on the messiah). Japheth tends to be the independent person, often seeking ways to be seen as a person in their own context and not in the context of the community.
So, as we have now studied these three sons of Noah, and we understand better who they were, where they went, and what they have done, lets look at what they will do. If you can glance up above for reference, what are some people who fit the stereotypes of each brother? Use the lists below to think of your responses. I would love for you to participate and reply with your answers and why!
- Makes man a god
- Improves technology of others
- Seeks justice and equality
- Settled lands already settled
- Helped spread the gospel of Jesus from just the Near East and Southern Europe to the ends of the planet
- Independent instead of collective
- Makes nature into gods
- Makes technology, often not even sure how he did what he did
- Seeks to be in charge but often lacks the ability
- Quickly left the Ark and was spread to the ends of the Earth, slowly making his way back towards the Fertile Crescent
- Is just now becoming a force for faith in Jesus across the globe
- Collectivist, thinking of self last
- Makes religion god instead of God
- Borrows tech from others
- Wants to be in charge but as a part of the religion, not the people
- Did not move far from the Ark
- Original bearer of the hope of the coming messiah, now more concerned with religion itself
- Wants to be considered a member of the group, smaller individual tendencies
So post your stereotypical Ham, Shem and Japheth’s and lets keep the discussion going!
To start at the beginning of this series, click here