Roots of BitternessWorld Events

Roots of Bitterness: Middle Eastern Conflict and the Division of Nations

Before we fully explore the significance of Canaan, we must also address a few other items.

First, it would appear Persia is an odd insertion into the list, but it’s not.  Ezekiel 27 shows another alliance between Persia and Noah’s descendants.  In fact, we’ll discover Persia is in the middle of land settled by Shem’s descendants.

“The word of the LORD came to me: ‘Now you, son of man, raise a lamentation over Tyre [present-day Lebanon], and say to Tyre, who dwells at the entrances to the sea, merchant of the peoples to many coastlands, thus says the Lord GOD: “O Tyre, you have said, ‘I am perfect in beauty.'”… ‘Persia and Lud and Put were in your army as your men of war. They hung the shield and helmet in you; they gave you splendor'” (Ezekiel 27:1-3, 10 ESV).

As referenced in the previous post, Put is the son of Ham, Noah’s second son.

Lud is the son of Noah’s firstborn, Shem.

“To Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the elder brother of Japheth, children were born. The sons of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram” (Genesis 10:21-22 ESV).

Genealogies are often overlooked, but it’s evident the names are recorded for a purpose.  In exploring the importance of Canaan, it is equally important to understand the role of Shem’s son Aprachshad.

That leads me to the second item that needs to be addressed.  Where did Noah’s descendants settle after the flood?

Unfortunately, the Bible isn’t too precise.

“The sons of Noah who went forth from the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the people of the whole earth were dispersed” (Genesis 9:18-19 ESV).

Then, in what seems like an odd side story from Genesis 9, Noah gets drunk and Ham sees him naked.  When Noah wakes up, he imprecates a curse on Canaan.

“When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said, ‘Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.’ He also said, ‘Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant'” (Genesis 9:24-27 ESV).

Although Noah’s curse upon Canaan is important, it is just one part of the greater story…

Back to where Shem, Ham and Japheth settled.

Genesis 10 offers both a genealogy and a brief description of where each family settled.

Although these description are admittedly vague, we find greater detail in the Book of Jubilees, a book of antiquity found among Bible fragments know as the Dead Sea Scrolls, recovered from the Qumran Caves in the West Bank of Israel between 1946 and 1956.

The real division of nations happened after the destruction of the Tower of Babel, recorded in Genesis 11 and Jubilees 10.

Jubilees 8 and 9 offer a detailed breakdown of the division of land agreed upon by Noah’s sons, along with the oath they swore to uphold.

In a very broad overview, Japheth and his descendants were allotted the Northern region, effectively from Eastern Turkey/Western Armenia (Ararat region) Northward into Georgia and Southern Russia and Westward through Europe to Spain.

Shem and his descendants were allotted the central region from the Mediterranean Sea (Southern Turkey to the North and Egypt to the South) Eastward toward Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, even into Saudi Arabia.

Ham and his descendants were allotted Northern Africa, from the Red Sea to the Atlantic.

That’s were the roles of Ham’s son Canaan and Shem’s son Aprachshad begin to shape future events.  As we’ll explore in the next post, Canaan didn’t abide by the family’s sworn oath.  Read more here

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