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which man, resigning his will to the Divine guidance, shall
Hitherto we have seen the history of the world flowing in one channel; but we shall now have to follow it into the three branches formed by the sons of Noah, as those by whom the earth was replenished with inhabitants, and from whom proceeded the families, by which the nations of the earth were divided after the flood. Gen. x. 32. God having by Noah, preserved in the Ark the elements of the future world, divided the earth amongst the three sons of Noah. This division must have been prophetic, and provided for the establishment of nations yet unborn; reaching at least to the time of the twelve sons of Jacob, whose portions in "the land of promise" Moses alludes to as being known for an original allotment of God. "Remember the days of old, consider the years of MANY GENERATIONS, ask thy father, and he will shew thee, thy elders, and they will tell thee. When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel." Deut. xxxii. 7.*
This original allotment seems to have appropriated to Shem, as the heir, (by Divine appointment, not right of primogeniture) the greater Asia, in which Noah and his sons settled after the flood. "And their dwelling (for it does not appear that they emigrated) was from Mesha as thou goest unto Sephar, a mount of the East." Gen. x. 21-32.
The portion of Japhet included the northern and western maritime parts of Asia, and all Europe, " The Isles of the Gentiles," (for Moses denominates Isles, not only those
Bryant's Authenticity of Scripture, p. 225. Hales's Anal. vol. i.
countries surrounded by, but also those bordering on, the sea) and this portion is described to have been divided amongst the children and grand-children of Japheth, to every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations." Gen. x. 1-5.
To Ham, Africa was appropriated; (and Egypt, the principal country of Africa, is called "the land of Ham") but, by usurpation, his descendants settled in the allotment of Shem," and afterward were the families of the Canaannites spread abroad." Gen. x. 6-20.
At what time this division took place, we have no means of deciding with accuracy, nor is it material; let it suffice that it was with a reference to it, that Noah pronounced upon Ham the prophetic curse, and upon Shem and Japhet the blessing, which were accomplished, and are still accomplishing, in the fortunes of their posterity.
"Cursed be (Ham the father of *) Canaan, a Prophetic curse servant of servants he shall be unto his brethren." upon Gen. ix. 25. This curse related to the descendants Ham. of Ham enumerated, (Gen. x. 6-20.) and to the nations proceeding from them; viz. those of Arabia, Babylonia, Assyria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Lybia, Philistia, Mauritania, and the Canaanitish nations. The family of Ham, seems to have been distinguished for their usurpations, and they thus forced from the retributive justice of God, the judgments which, in aftertimes, (when their iniquities had come to the full) visited the countries which had been wrested from their lawful and appointed possessors, as will be shewn in the history of the Canaanites, Babylonians, &c.
* See Gen. ix. 22. Bishop Newton's Discourses, v. i. p. 8, and Dr. Hales's Anal. vol. i. p. 351, also, authorise this reading of the curse upon Ham.
"Blessed be the Lord God of Shem," (or as it is sometimes rendered, blessed of JEHOVAH, my blessing Prophetic God, be Shem." Bishop Newton. See also, the upon application. Gen. xxiv. 31.) and Canaan shall be his servant. Gen. ix. 26. It was in the family of Shem that the knowledge and worship (and consequent " blessing") of the true God was kept up, and, in aftertimes, the nations springing from Ham, were brought into subjection to his posterity, the Persians, Lydians, Armenians,
"God shall enlarge Japheth, and he [God] shall dwell in the tents of Shem, and Canaan shall blessing be his [God's] servant." Gen. ix. 27. Bishop upon Newton allows of this reading (though without Japheth. prescribing it) which is also consonant with God's usual method in dealing with his creatures, by which, in all general prophecies, the doctrine of the ultimate calling home of all to be "one flock, under one shepherd" is held We may, therefore, consider the last clause of this prophecy, as a virtual remission of the curse pronounced upon Ham, in the first; the name" of JAPHETH, signifies enlargement: was Japheth, then, more enlarged than the rest? Yes, he was, both in territory and in children. The territories of Japheth's posterity were indeed very large; for, besides all Europe, great and extensive as it is, they possessed the lesser Asia, Media, part of Armenia, Iberia, Albania, and those vast regions towards the north, which, anciently, the Scythians inhabited, and now, the Tartars inhabit." (Bishop Newton's Discourses, 1st.) The whole of this prophecy of Noah was geographical, as well as his
* Assyria, though named after Asshur, the second son of Shem, did not, as a nation, relate to his descendants, it being usurped by Nimrod, the grandson of Ham, and, consequently, lies under the curse pronounced upon him.
torical, and contains the elements of the fortunes of the nations referred to in it. God foreseeing the usurpations idolatries, and other impieties of the Tyrians, Sidonians, Canaanites, Egyptians, Arabians, Lybians, Babylonians, Assyrians, &c. foreshowed the punishment which such sins justly and naturally involved; Ham, their common progenitor was, therefore, cursed. The same rule, ensured a blessing to Shem; for God, to whom all things were present, saw the faith and obedience of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, and the Prophets. Heb. xi. His mercy too, anticipating the calling of the Gentiles, extended the blessing to Japheth. This grand prophecy, so wonderfully accomplished through all succeeding ages of the world, proves the prescience of God, but does not impugn his moral justice. "The unchangeable truth of types and prophecies, is not the primitive and main reason of the necessity of things, but only a sign of the certainty of the event. Things do not arrive because of their prediction, but are foretold, because they shall arrive. It is apparent there was a Divine decree before the prophecies; and that, in the light of God's infinite knowledge, things are, before they were foretold. So, it is not said a man must be of a ruddy complexion, because his picture is so; but, on the contrary, because he is ruddy, his picture must be so." Bates's Harm. Div. Attrib. p. 292. It is no impugnment of God's justice that condemnation is pronounced upon iniquity prior to its commission, the very nature of penal laws requires that it shall be so; it remains with every individual to transform, as far as he is concerned, threatening into warning, as is fully proved in many passages of Scripture, and even with a reference to the prophecy in question, for all the posterity of Ham was not cursed; nor all that of Shem and Japheth blessed. Compare Jeremiah xviii. 6-10. with all such Prophecies.
The names of the sons of Noah seem to have formed a part of this prophecy; Shem, signifies name or renown, and
predicted the spiritual renown which he had, as the ancestor of all the Patriarchs leading to the Messiah. Japheth, (as before observed) signifies " enlarged;" Ham, signifies burnt or black, and was peculiarly applicable to the regions inhabited by his family. See Hales's Anal. vol. i. p. 353.
Building of Babel, and confusion of
Historians have not agreed as to the time of the dispersion of mankind from the common centre of their original habitation; but the event itself is closely connected with the rebellious and impious attempt to make to themselves a name, by building " a city and a tower, whose top might reach to heaven." Gen. xi. 1-9. Nimrod, son of Cush, and grandson of Ham, is supposed to have been the contriver, and chief of this scheme, which he and his associates attempted to carry into execution" as they journeyed from the East," (Gen. xi .2.) towards the allotment of Ham. From this it may be inferred, that Ham's family only were engaged in the undertaking, which Mr. Faber makes contemporaneous with, and the cause of, the introduction of idolatry into the world, and of which he gives the following account. "The first great work mankind engaged in after the Deluge, was the erection of a stupendous pyramid in the plain of Shinar.
This undertaking was closely connected with the apostatic system of theology, which seems to have been excogitated by Nimrod and his Cuthim, and which was too readily adopted by all the other descendants of Noah. The system in question, was a specious perversion of ancient Patriarchisın. It being well known, that the angel of Jehovah had frequently manifested himself to the fathers under a human form, and that in due time he was to appear incarnate upon the earth as the promised seed of the woman; the politic framers of the new system gave out, that he had already been repeatedly born into the world, though a yet more remarkable descent might hereafter be expected; that Adam, and Enoch, and Noah, were alike transmigrative