Bricks for Stones
Part 1: The Critical Context of Shem, Ham and Japheth
by Brad Scott
During one of our recent trips to Israel we were taken to one of many tels (a hill) near Jerusalem. As the tel leveled off at the top, there were several very old ruins of the small town left there. The walls were now only about four feet high and there was a noticeable difference in the quality of the remaining structures that was highlighted by a dark chalk line. This line marked out the end of the original stone structure and the beginning of the more modern renovation made of bricks. What was so obvious was that the bricks were crumbling away atop the still very solid stone. I snapped some quick shots and then walked away from the group for awhile to ponder what my Father was saying to me at this moment. Three words continually spoke to me over and over again. "This is restoration".
There have been several foundational themes of this ministry for a long time now. The principle of the seed has been one. The New Testament is not new, it is just true. God is smarter than we are, and perhaps the most relevent one is found many times in the book of Yesha'yahu (Isaiah) in particular. The end is declared out of the beginning. I believe that Elijah's message of restoration to prepare the way for YHVH blossoms directly out of that truth. One of the most familiar stories in the beginning is the tower of Babel. This, I propose to you, is the principle model of the difference between the God of stones and the god of bricks. Although the full context of the telling of the story of Babel must begin in Bere'shiyt (Genesis) 1:1, for the sake of at least a little brevity, let's begin at the end of chapter nine and into the so-called table of nations.
The last account we read of Noah is the famous drunken stupor that results in the controversial intrusion of Ham into his father's tent. The focus of this article is not on my opinion of what Ham's, apparently not so sublte, stumbling into the middle his parents private lives is all about. I do not even wish to address the subsequent ramifications to his son Canaan. There is something else I wish to point out that I believe goes by rather unnoticed as our base nature chooses to bow to the more tabloid-like aspect of the story.
Bere'shiyt 9:26-27And he said, Blessed be YHVH 'Elohiym of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
I find it interesting that Noah proclaims that YHVH is the God of Shem, for Shem is the second born of Noah and not the firstborn.
Bere'shiyt 9:24And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
Bere'shiyt 10:21Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born.
The order of their physical birth seems to be Japeth, Shem and Ham. But yet the text from the first mention of their names states that Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham and Japeth. This, I believe, is another demonstration, in the lives of those after the flood, of the difference between the firstborn of man and the firstborn of God.
Bere'shiyt 6:9-10These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
Bere'shiyt 9:17-18And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth. And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.
Noah states in Bere'shiyt 9:26-27 (see above) that blessed is the YHVH 'Elohiym of Shem and then we are told that Canaan will be his servant and God will enlarge Japeth and he will dwell in the tents of Shem. It is this writer's opinion that based upon the whole context the 'he' that will dwell in the tents of Shem is not Japeth but rather 'Elohiym! 'Elohiym will enlarge Japeth and HE, that is 'Elohiym, will dwell in the tents of Shem. Perhaps some more details will help me sustain my point as the background for the 'bricks for stones' of our original text. The meaning of the names of the three sons will add some more light. Shem, etymologically, means 'source of origin' or 'authority'. Its ancient picture is that of breath or wind. This is what our Creator does to man to separate him from plants, animals and rocks. Our Creator, our Father, He alone is our shem. Our Messiah will then come from the tents of Shem. The place where His name (shem) is found. The tents of Shem represent the natural tree of Romans 11. All those from the wild olive tents, I mean tree, are grafted into the natural tree, they come into HIS tents and not the other way around. Romans 11 is not new, it is simply true. Our Father is consistently and desparately reaching out to bring as much of His creation back into His house as He can. This also reveals why some commentators of the Torah believe that Shem could have actually been the Melchizedek priest referred to in chapter fourteen. It is this writer's opinion that it is the architect of that tent that is being referred to, the one with no beginning and no end.
The second son, Ham, is actually the Hebrew word Cham, which means 'hot' or 'warm'. It is not happenstance that the physical descendants of Ham end up primarily south and west of Jerusalem into Africa, beginning with the west coast of Israel all the way down to uttermost parts of the earth. The eldest son is Japheth or yaphat, in Hebrew. His name (shem) means 'to be open' or 'expansive' and points to a 'wide open field', prepared to receive whatever seeds come blowing it's way. His descendants went primarily to the north into Europe and Asia. The verbal Hebrew root is patah. This is the word translated as 'enlarge' in our text and helps describe the characteristics of that son which will be the progenitor of most people living in the west. Here are a few examples including an interesting translation concerning Ephraim.
Devariym (Deuteronomy) 11:16Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them;
Mishlei (Proverbs) 24:28Be not a witness against thy neighbour without cause; and deceive not with thy lips.
Hoshea (Hosea) 7:11Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria.
You may notice that Ephraim is a silly dove. Another picture of the difference between the firstborn of man and the firstborn of God is when Noah and his family come off the ark. The first bird sent out is an unclean raven. It flies to and fro and does not return. The second bird is a dove which on it's second attempt returns with an olive leaf, the fruit (Ephraim) of a renewed creation. You may also notice that the verse in Hoshea is 7:11. God is subtley teaching us that these conveniece stores are the place of deception. Stay away from Seven Elevens, they are the bread of deceit. All right, perhaps I contrived that part.
I propose to you that the revelation of the prophetic destiny of these three sons is shown here in a p'shat, but there is also a prophetic remez or prophetc characteristics here, as well. Those who hear, (shema'), revere His name, (shem) and keep, (shamar), His Torah are revealed in the tents of Shem. Those who are hotblooded (cham), confrontational (chema'), and warlike (chamas) are revealed in the tents of Ham. And finally those who are easily deceived (patah), gullible and simple minded (petiy)and easily seduced (piytah)are found in the tents of Japheth. It is my opinin that whichever tent that one finds themselves born into, if you will, when the smoke clears, it is the tents of Shem, the natural tree that represents the kingdom of our God. Whether you have strayed away from the tents of Shem and returned, or whether you are grafted in from the other two tents, either way, there is only one good seed. The constant, cyclical picture is our Father's desire to restore all those who will go back to His house.
The tenth chapter of Bere'shiyt begins with Shem, Ham and Japheth once again. However, when the text describes where all the sons of Noah will be scattered, the order then begins with Noah's firstborn, Japheth.
Bere'shiyt 10:1-4Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood. The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras. And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah. And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim.
At the end of the listing of each son of Noah, the same words are used to describe them.
Bere'shiyt 10:5By these were the isles of the nations divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.
Bere'shiyt 10:20These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations.
Bere'shiyt 10:31These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations.
All three sons will eventually spread out to all corners of the world according to their families, their tongues and their lands. Many of you have heard me teach in conferences and seminars over the years and you would be familiar with how I begin each teaching, no matter what the subject. I focus over and over again how the meaning of all the words in our Scriptures can be found, through the pure language, in the simple things of life revealed in the beginning. It is called Agri-bio linguistics. The meaning of all words (language) are embedded in agriculture (land) and our biological make-up (people). It is no coincidence that this is precisely what we read in the beginning after the flood. In our scriptures and in our world, grammatical terms are equivalent to biological terms which are equivalent to agricultural terms. This is one of the major reasons why trees (agricultural) are used to trace back our ancestors (people) and languages (words). Verbs have stems. Leaves have veins. Letters have headers and footnotes. Languages have voices and moods. Biologists have known for decades that our DNA has a language written on it containing letters, words and sentences. And certainly most importantly is the ultimate paradigm of our Messiah, the seed (agriculture) of the woman, the Word (language) of God was made flesh (people). We will soon see all three are divided.
Bere'shiyt 9:25And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name was Joktan.
If I were to really get picky I might bring up the possibility that Peleg was Eber's firstborn and Joktan was his second born. I might also add that Eber in Hebrew ('avar) is actually from the same root as Hebrew ('avar), and that the name of his firstborn means to divide, and the name of YHVH's firstborn is from the root qatan, which means little or small (remnant?).
In part two of this article, we will learn of the dividing of the people and the language, as well. This will be the result of the people departing 'from the east' and eventually making a tower of bricks rather than stone. Two thoughts I wish to leave you with in part one. Does YHVH want His people to be bricks or stones? And does building a tower of bricks followed by YHVH coming down have anything to do with the pretribulation rapture? Hmmmmmm.
Shalom Alecheim! ◊