Sons of Noah: Ham Shem and Japhth

Sons of Noah: Ham Shem and Japhth

The Table of Nations or Sons of Noah is an extensive list of descendants of Noah appearing in Genesis 10 of the Hebrew Bible, representing an ethnology from an Iron Age Levantine perspective. The significance of Noah in this context is that, according to Genesis, the population of the Earth was completely destroyed during the Flood because of the wickedness of the inhabitants, and Noah and his family were the sole eight survivors to continue the human race. The view of history presented by the Bible is thus that all humans on Earth are descended from Noah's family, and thereby related.

A literal interpretation of Genesis 10 suggests that the present population of the world was descended from Noah's three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and their wives. Until the mid-19th century, this was taken by many as historical fact, and still is by many Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and Christians.

There are disputes about how many of the peoples of the Earth this story was intended to cover, and as to its accuracy. Many Jews, Christians, and Muslims retain the belief that the table applies to the entire population of the earth, while others read it as a guide only to local ethnic groups.

In the Biblical view, the listed children of Japheth, Shem and Ham correspond to various historic nations and peoples. In the typical interpretation, these sons of Noah correspond to three races: European, Semitic, and African. Alternate divisions claim Euro-Asian Japhet, Semitic Shem, and Afro-Asian Ham.

According to Genesis 10, Noah had three sons:

* Ham, forefather of the southern peoples (Hamitic)

* Shem, forefather of the middle peoples (Semitic)

* Japheth, forefather of the northern peoples (Japhetic Eurasia)