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Messiah Promised     
To Noah’s SON – Shem

by Rachmiel Frydland

As human population multiplied so did sin and transgression. 
Mankind reached a stage when wickedness was so widespread that even the "sons of God" joined with the "daughters of man" in the orgies of sin. (1)  Judgment is then pronounced on all creation, except Noah and his family of eight, because Noah was a just man who walked with God.


   After the flood, Noah planted a vineyard and one day drank to excess. In a drunken condition he lay naked in his tent. His youngest son, Ham, looked on his naked father in a sinful manner. After regaining sobriety, Noah pronounced a blessing on his two older sons, Shem and Japhet, and a curse on Ham's son, Canaan.

And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
God shall enlarge Japhet, and He shall dwell in the tents of Shem ...

   From this benediction, it is clear that the promise of a Messiah is narrowed to either Japhet or Shem. Jewish commentators see in Japhet the Hebrew root, yapht, which implies that Japhet's descendants will be more physically attractive than those of Shem. They cite a Psalm where the Hebrew word yaphyaphita is translated, "thou art fairer."(3)

   It appears then that Japhet would have a genealogical advantage over Shem. Nonetheless, the Talmud suggests that the opposite is true :

It is written, "May God beautify Japhet and He shall dwell in the tents of Shem."
It means that though God gives beauty to Japhet, He dwells in the tents of Shem.(

   Hence, although Japhet possesses a physical attractiveness, Shem will have the physical presence of Messiah dwelling in his tents. As contained in another Talmudic passage:

'May God beautify Japhet! means that the beauty of Japhet will be in Shem's tents.(5)

   Consequently, many of the beautiful Japhetic peoples will be attracted to Messiah and to Shem in whose tent Messiah "dwells." In fact, the Hebrew root for dwell is shachan, the same root for Shechina - the dwelling, or presence of God.

   From the descendants of Shem, God chose Abraham, and of him, through Isaac and Jacob, the Jewish nation evolved.  The descendants of Japhet were all gentiles. The gentiles will be attracted to God through the Messiah who will come from the seed of Shem. Targum Pseudo-Jonathan explains it this way:

  May God beautify Japhet's border, and his sons will become proselytes and

will dwell in the religious dwellings of Shem.

From this context it becomes clear that the Messiah will come from the seed of Shem, although many non-Semites will be attracted to Shem and hence to the Messiah. Translated, this means that many non-Jewish people will love the Jewish people and will see the Messiah because of them.

References: 1 Genesis 6:4-5    2 Genesis 9:26-27    3 Psalms 45:2   4 Yoma 9b-10a  5 Megillah 9h


What The Rabbis Know  About The Messiah   by Rachmiel Frydland
Reprinted With Permission of the Messianic Literature Outreach


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