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The Shemite Family, Jewish and Arab ancestry in the Book of GENESIS

by Robert Randle  
12/10/2009 / Bible Studies

Genesis 2: 8a
The LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the East.

Genesis 11: 1-2, 4
Everyone on earth had the same language and the same words. And as they migrated from the East, they came upon a valley in the land of Shinar [Chaldea/Babylonia] and settled there. And they said, "Come, let us build us a (1) city, and a (2) tower with its top in the sky, to make a name for ourselves; lest we shall be scattered all over the world (earth).

NOTE: Are 'they' all mankind or just the descendants of Shem; specifically the descendants through Arphaxad (Cp. 11: 10-19).

NOTE: Chapter 11 should precede 10 when it comes to making sense of the Nations of the Earth and their habitations, geographical boundaries, tribes, clans, and ethnicities.

Genesis 11: 5-9
Then the LORD came down to look at the city and the tower that man had built [or were building??], and the LORD said, "Indeed, the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they purpose to do will be out of their reach. "Come, Let Us go down and there confuse ['bālall'] their language, that they might not understand one another's speech." And the LORD scattered them from there over the face of the entire earth; and they stopped building the (2) city. Therefore its name is called Babel ['bālall' not Babylon], because there the LORD confused the speech [language] of the entire earth; and from there the LORD scattered them over the face of the entire earth.

NOTE: The tower ['ziggurat' or Jacob's ladder; Cp. 28: 10-13] must have already been built.

Genesis 11: 10-19
This is the genealogy of Shem: Shem was one hundred years old, and begot Arphaxad two years after the flood. After he begot Arphaxad, Shem lived five hundred years, and begot sons and daughters. Arphaxad lived thirty-five years, and begot Salah. After he begot Salah, Arphaxad lived four hundred and three years, and begot sons and daughters. Salah lived thirty years, and begot Eber. After he begot Eber, Salah lived four hundred and three years, and begot sons and daughters. Eber lived thirty-four years, and begot Peleg. After he begot Peleg, Eber lived four hundred and thirty years, and begot sons and daughters. Peleg lived thirty years, and he begot Reu. After he begot Reu, Peleg lived two hundred and nine years, and begot sons and daughters.

NOTE: Somewhere between 137 and 346 years after the "Flood," in the time of Peleg, the Earth became divided, perhaps because the LORD confounded the speech of mankind and scattered them over the face of the Earth (??). GENESIS chapter 10 should commence after this. Interestingly, the Biblical narrative doesn't mention anything about at what age did Shem's younger brothers begot their families or even what was going on with Noah because he was alive up until Abraham's 53rd birthday.

Genesis 10: 22-30
The sons of Shem were Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram. The sons of Aram were Uz, Hul, Gether, and Meshech. Arphaxad begot Salah, and Salah begot Eber. To Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided ['pālag' into languages]; and his brother's name was Joktan. Joktan begot Almodad, Sheleph, Hazar-maveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Ebal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab. All these were the sons of Joktan. And their dwelling place was from Mesha as you go toward Sephar, the mountains of the East.

Genesis 10: 8, 10-11
Cush also begot Nimrod, who was the first man of might on earth. The beginnings of his kingdom were Babylon, Erech, Accad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar [Chaldea/Babylonia]. From that land Nimrod [Asshur??] went forth and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-ir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah that is the great city.

It is interesting that the Super Families, of whom Shem is their ancestor (Cp. 10: 22; Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram) are respectively: The highlands East of Babylonia-Persia or Southern Iran; Asshur or Assyria; Arphaxad-Northeast of Nineveh or Iraq; Lud-Lydia of the Greeks (Hittites), Ludbu of the Assyrians or Ludda (Lydia) in Western Turkey?; and Aram-Ancestor of the Aramean tribes in the steepes of Mesopotamia, or more specifically, Syria. The people of the East are the people of Bethuel the Syrian (Aramean), Abraham's great nephew (Cp. 22: 20-23; 24: 15, 24, 29; 28: 2), living in Paddan Aram. In chapter 28: 5, Laban is mentioned as the son of Bethuel, but in chapter 29: 5, Laban is called the son of Nahor, but he is in reality, Nahor's grandson.

Last, but not least, is the city of Mesopotamia or Paddan Aram (where Abraham's relatives are living), which is Haran (Cp. Genesis 22: 20; 24: 10b, 15, 24; 27: 42-43). And thus, it seems the people of the East are Arameans or Syrians who are from the region of Mesopotamia; originally or from ancient times, Ur of the Chaldeans. The great ancestor and father of the Jewish and Arab people, Abraham or Ibrahim was born in this area, which is probably close to modern-day Kuwait in the region of Iraq. Also, as pertaining to the Arabs, their ancestress, in the person of Hagar, is Egyptian (Cp. Genesis 16: 1, 15). Not only that, but her son Ishmael marries an Egyptian (Cp. Genesis 21: 21). Even Esau married one of the daughters of Ishmael named Mahalath (Cp. Genesis 28: 9), Abraham's son, who would also be his half-uncle. It seems that Esau lived in the land of Seir, the country of Edom (the land of present day Southern part of Jordan).

Now, let's look some more at Ishmael:
Genesis 17: 18, 20
And Abraham said to God, "Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!" [Then God said], "And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.

NOTE: Did this blessing from God mean the establishment and continuity of a great Arab nation or Ottoman Empire?

Genesis 25: 12, 13b-16
Now this is the genealogy of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's maidservant, bore Abraham. The firstborn of Ishmael, Nebaioth [Heights]; then Kedar [Dark-skinned], Adbeel [Offering of God], Mibsam [Sweet odor], Mishma [Hearing], Dumah [Silence], Massa [Burden], Hadad/Hadar [Mighty], Tema [Desert], Jetur/Iturea [Enclosure; land of Jether], Naphish [Refreshment], and Kedemah [Eastward]. These were the sons of Ishmael and these were their names, by their towns and their settlements (encampments), twelve princes according to their nations.

Ishmaelite/Arab History:
Nebaioth's descendants first settled in SE Palestine until they came to Kedar looking for pasturage (Cp. Isaiah 60: 7). They may be the same as the Nebaioth of Arabia Petrea or the same people as the Nebat of Chaldea.

Kedar's descendants are the name of a great tribe of Arabs who settled on the NW peninsula of the confines of Palestine. They are the most conspicuous of all the Ishmaelite tribes and are called Arabians universally by this name. They are referred to in numerous prophetical utterances (Cp. Isaiah 21: 13-17; Ezekiel 27: 21; Psalms 120: 5; and Isaiah 42: 11).

Adbeel's descendants are thought to be a progenitor of an Arab tribe but nothing else is known about them.

Mibsam's descendants don't leave a traceable genealogy.

Mishma's descendants don't leave a traceable genealogy, either.

Dumah's descendants are the most probable founder of the Ishmaelite tribe of Arabia, and hence the principal name of that tribe in Isaiah's prophesy against Edom [Jordan] in Isaiah 21: 11.

Massa's descendants might be the Masani, placed there by Ptolemy in the East of Arabia near the borders of Babylonia.

Hadad's descendants don't leave a traceable genealogy.

Tema's descendants are identified with a small town on the confines of Syria. The name is mentioned in Job 6: 19; Jeremiah 25: 23; and Isaiah 21: 13-14.

Jetur's descendants colonized the small province of the NW border of Palestine, lying along the base of Mount Hermon, adjoining Trachonitis, and lying along the base of Libanus between Tiberias and Damascus [Syria]. It is situated in the modern province of Jedur, which is the Arabic form for the word Jetur.

Naphish's descendants don't leave a traceable genealogy.

Kedemah's descendants don't leave a traceable genealogy.

NOTE: Historical information referenced from BIBLE DICTIONARY, by Smith and Peloubet, Zondervan, 1948.

Genesis 25: 18a
They [Ishmael's descendants] dwelt from Havilah as far as Shur, which is East of Egypt as you go toward Assyria.

Genesis 3: 11
The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one that skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.

NOTE: The Amalekites also occupied this region in the peninsula of Sinai, intervening between the southern hill ranges and the border of Egypt (Cp. 1 Samuel 15: 7). Havilah is thought to be around north central Arabia or in Yemen. Shur [between Beersheba and Egypt] may have been a fortified town East of the ancient head of the Red Sea [Yam Adam], and probably the last Arabian town before entering Egypt. Again, references obtained from BIBLE DICTIONARY, by Smith and Peloubet, Zondervan, 1948.

Ethnically and racially speaking then, the Arabs are quite diverse and some of them are part of the stock of Arameans/Syrians, Israelis/Jews, Chaldeans [Ur of the Chaldeans/Iraqis or Kuwaitis], Egyptians and Edomites/Jordanians. As far as those who pray for peace in the Middle East, pertaining to an offering of the olive branch between Jews and their Arab cousins, although a beautiful goal, Genesis 16: 12 says: He [Ishmael] shall be a wild one-free and untamed as a wild ass. His hand will be against every man [non Arabs or Muslims], and every man's hand [non Arabs or Muslims] will be against him. But he will live near [in the vicinity of] the rest of his brethren [Jews/Israelis].

Robert Randle
776 Commerce St. #B-11
Tacoma, WA 98402
November 18, 2009

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