Man’s Potential: In Shem, Ham, and Japheth
HUGH DRYDEN, writing on “The Scientist in Contemporary Life,” (31) remarked: “Man’s life at its fullest is a trinity of activity ï¿½ physical, mental, and spiritual.” Dryden was not speaking of the theological concept of man as a trichotomy of body, soul and spirit; and it is important in the present context to observe the distinction quite clearly. If in his article he were concerning himself with the concept of “soul,” he would have included it under the heading of man’s spiritual nature, not his intellectual capacity. What he is seeking to point out is that there are three areas of human involvement which must all be taken into account and nurtured if man is to develop his personality to the full. He must live in the sense of surviving as a viable entity, which means food and warmth and shelter and so forth. He must be allowed to stretch his mind and explore with his intellect whatever attracts his attention, which means mental stimulation and challenge. And he must not overlook the fact that there is a spiritual side to his nature which is not satisfied either by bread alone nor by intellectual exercise or rational argument, but something which transcends them both. This side of his total being seems to be somewhere within both body and mind, and yet can be entirely contrary to the interests of either. A healthy body and a healthy mind do not guarantee, but may contribute to, spiritual well-being. It is not solely a matter of emotions and yet it must involve the emotions to be satisfying. For most men it is best described under the general heading of
31. Dryden, Hugh, “The Scientist in Contemporary Life,” Science, vol.120, 1954, p.1054.
Religion, a vague but comprehensive term that can mean almost anything or nothing, yet is normally concerned neither with man’s body nor with his mind, but with what is most simply described as his soul.
In a similar vein, Viktor E. Frankl wrote, (32) “Man lives in three dimensions: the somatic (physical, i.e., bodily), the mental, and the spiritual.” The thought behind both these quotations can be expressed in innumerable ways. While the life that an individual lives in these three realms can be mapped discretely for purposes of analysis, they are seldom distinguished in everyday experience. But man does have a capacity for physical life, for mental life, and for spiritual life. And as a result of these capacities has elaborated culture in three directions: He has developed technology to satisfy his bodily needs, philosophy to organize and elaborate his mental life, and religion to provide for his spiritual life.
Research into the factors which influence personality development has shown that whenever these three “needs” are appropriately cultivated, character develops in a normal and healthy way. But when one of them is neglected or denied the individual becomes somehow unbalanced. It would be wrong to suppose that, as man is constituted at present, any one of these three “capacities” is more important than the other. The overly spiritual man is no more a balanced person than the overly sensual. It may seem that he would be a preferred type, but experience shows that the mystic can be quite as unbearable at close range as the “trousered ape” (to use Lewis’ phrase). Neither does the purely intellectual prove to be any more desirable ï¿½ at close quarters. It is difficult to know which is more unpleasant, spiritual or intellectual pride, but both can be insuflferable. In a curious way the trousered ape, boorish and uncultured as he is, may be the least unbearable, if one has a choice. But virtually every distortion or abnormality of character can be equated with imbalance in one of these three directions.
Thus as an individual, man can live in any one of the three realms almost to the exclusion of the other two with virtually no awareness of his own loss. He can become almost entirely sensual, or almost entirely intellectual, or almost entirely a mystic. In the first case he is likely to be looked upon as crude, in short, an animal dedicated to his own physical comforts. In the second
32. Frankl, Viktor E., quoted in The Digest of Neurology and Psychiatry, (Institute of Living, Hartford, Connecticut) Feb., 1955, p.74.
case he is likely to be thought of as impractical, a “brain.” In the third case he is likely to be looked upon as other-worldly, a man whose feet are not on the ground. Of course, there are many combinations, though there are limits to these. There may be a man whose animal tastes are strongly defined and yet who has a keen mind. Such a man “succeeds” in the worldly sense of the term. He is a clever creature. On the other hand, the man who is both a “brain” and spiritually inclined is apt to be a theological type, a success in his chosen field. But a combination of the animal and the spiritual is hard to conceive; the bridge between the spiritual and the physical lies in the intellect, which can be joined to either of the other two or can unite them all.
As with the individual, so with a society, a culture, or a nation as a whole: when the “body,” the “mind,” and the “spirit” of a people receive equal encouragement and cultivation, the society enjoys a measure of health and well-being which is not only reflected in a higher level of creative activity but in a reduction of the evil effects of the Fall. By contrast when any one of these three components dominates (or is seriously neglected) the effects of sin in human nature become in some way aggravated. This is particularly clear when a society becomes dedicated to the satisfying of its animal instincts, the things of its “body.” It ends up by degenerating; it becomes barbaric. It is not quite so obviously detrimental when a society turns “intellectual” to the exclusion of all else, and we probably have little to go on from a study of history. The Golden Age of the Greek philosophers may be a case in part, and at times “intellectuals” have possibly dominated life in India. There is little question that such societies do not or cannot survive for long. The needs of the body must be recognized, and these needs can only be ignored by the few if they are in a position to demand that the many take care of the matter for them. Intellectual elites survive only while a lower class is willing to serve their need, and history shows that human beings will not perform this kind of service indefinitely.
Nor does a purely spiritual society do very well, either. Not a few such experiments have been made, retreats from the world, cloisterings in out-of-the-way places. (The corruption which has soon set in has appalled even the acolytes themselves after a while.) The greatest danger has been spiritual pride, and spiritual pride is surely even more disastrous to rnan’s total health than intellectual pride is, for it has no self-correctives.
What is true of the individual, history therefore has shown to be true of whole cultures. And nations also have personalities. Whether this is genetically determined or not is a matter of debate. There are those who argue strongly against this concept as food for racists. Nevertheless the existence of Modal Personality, the idea that there is a recognizable English, French, or Chinese stereotype, can be forcibly argued. I am convinced that God not only foresaw the consequences of such potentially one-sided emphasis as we may observe in individuals, but foresaw also that mankind as a whole would always be tending in the same direction. This was a foreseeable part of the consequences of the Fall, as the world was peopled and history ran its course.
And I believe that God took special steps to control this tendency while the human experiment was being conducted. God’s object was to prevent society from becoming completely oriented toward one to the exclusion of the other two, or even two things to the exclusion of the third. And my belief is that He did this by allotting to each of the three sons of Noah a specific “responsibility” for human welfare, a responsibility which was to belong not merely to Shem, Ham, and Japheth as individuals, but to their descendants, the Semites, the Hamitic peoples, and the Japhethites. (33) To Ham was allotted responsibility for man’s physical well-being, the provision of a sufficient margin of dominion over the physical world to set him free from the constant need to fend against hunger, cold, heat, storm, disease, and other challenges: this margin of safety to leave him with some free energies. To Japheth was allotted the responsibility for the full development and full exploration of man’s mental capacities, a kind of intellectual dominion. And to Shem was allotted responsibility for man’s spiritual development: out of the family of Shem were to arise in a unique way men who would be concerned with man’s religious needs, and some of these men founded false religions.
Out of the family of Ham have arisen, as can be shown from a wealth of evidence, the producers of the world’s technology, a technology catering to and guaranteeing man’s mastery of the physical world. From the descendants of Japheth, equated without
38. This subject has been explored in two other Doorway Papers which contribute to the present volume, the three being complementary: namely, Part I, “The Part Played by Shem, Ham and Japheth in Subsequent World History,” and Part IV, “The Technology of Hamitic People,” the lattcr being a study of some 200 inventions and techniques and processes which are basic to the modern world and which were originated by Hamitic people (in Noah’s Three Sons, vol.1 of The Doorway Papers Series).
much controversy with the Indo-European peoples, have arisen the individuals and groups who have contributed uniquely to man’s intellectual needs. And certainly spiritual leadership has come from the Semites. Thus the contribution of Ham has been a technological one, of Japheth an intellectual one, and of Shem a spiritual one. When Japheth applied his philosophical genius to the technology of Hamitic peoples, a technology to which he had, up till the 14th or 15th century, contributed virtually nothing, there arose that new phenomenon of human creativeness, science. For science is, after all, philosophy applied to technology. Similarly, when the “Gentiles” entered into “the tents of Shem” to assume for a time a dual responsibility in history, then in a new way they applied their philosophical bent to the religious truth which they inherited from Shem, and theology arose. For theology is, after all, philosophy applied to spiritual truth.
Thus each contributed to the whole of man’s capacity and in so far as they have each done so in a balanced way and whenever they have done so, tremendous advances in culture and civilization have resulted. This was true in the very beginning when the evidence shows that Shem, Ham, and Japheth were still together, and it perhaps accounts for the tremendous speed with which civilization developed in the earliest period in the Middle East. It is possible that it accounts for several other notable periods of advance in Europe and in England, and even more dramatically in the New World. But whenever any one of the three contributions fails, then society is impoverished, the effects of sin become more and more manifest and terrifying, the great strides forward in civilization begin in some strange way to bog down just when least expected to ï¿½ often “unaccountably.” And upon a number of occasions in the past an almost total eclipse of the culture has ensued.
Revival is not always merely spiritual. It may be intellectual, too. In some circumstances the physical side of man’s life has been so badly neglected that a frightful poverty has resulted and the consequent desperately small margin of survival (characteristic of some primitive cultures of recent times which have recollections of much happier days) contributes to the decay of the other capacities as well. Revival in intellectual life and revival in spiritual life are both apt to be observed anew when the burden of physical life has also been eased.
A society strong only in any two areas can, however, be
unexpectedly weak when attacked by a society which is strong in the third area. For example, technical superiority overwhelmed the Central American civilizations, who could not save their religiously oriented culture when attacked by tle more materially minded Spaniards. But sometimes it seems as though a people with mental vigour can bring to nought the attacks of otherwise overwhelming physical superiority.
The principle here is recognized in the New Testament, for it is not recommended that man be offered the Gospel so long as he can barely keep body and soul together. The Lord fed men first. But the temptation for man now to fulfill the easier part of this twofold responsibility is great indeed, and social service ministering to the body all too easily overshadows the spiritual ministry. And I think, if a search is made, evidence will appear in the Gospels that the Lord was most careful to meet man on the level of his mind as well. He was always willing to reason with man, and Peter encourages us to have “reasons” for our faith. Paul speaks of the importance of the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:1) and assures us that soundness of mind is part of Christian experience (2 Timothy 1:4). The Epistle to the Romans is surely an example of the application of the intellect to spiritual truth, and I think it is worthy of note that it was Paul who was called upon to write it. For although Paul was strictly of the family of Shem and might therefore be supposed to have pre-eminently spiritual rather than intellectual insight, he was separated from his own people and made an apostle to the Gentiles, adopting a Japhetic language in which to cast the Christian theology he was guided to formulate.
Nations have personalities, by which I mean that for reasons which are to some extent identifiable, groups of people viewed as societies, nations, and even as racial stocks, develop certain characteristic temperaments and ways of viewing things, because of a shared history, a shared cultural background, and most important of all, a shared language.
That nations do have personalities will be admitted readily enough when it is made clear that by this we do not mean to imply any superiority: only that specific groups of people have contributed uniquely to the total cultural wealth of the world, each in an identifiable way, and that this contribution has been a kind of natural result of what seems to be a peculiar bent of the people as a whole. Differences of contribution cannot be converted into superiorities of contribution. In so far as national
character leans in one direction or the other, it may be superior or otherwise in some particular circumstance. For example, stubbornness is probably useful in a pioneering people who must battle against overwhelming odds, and a nation with a tendency towards stubbornness may be specially suited to a pioneering role. Again, a highly inventive and practical people may be best for one situation, whereas a philosophically minded people may be better for another. Sometimes patience is a weakness, sometimes a strength. Much depends upon the demands of the environment which thus tends to favour some and disfavour others, and so, acting as a kind of cultural selective pressure, it tends to bring about a social milieu in which children grow up to be adults with particular bents in one nation and different bents in another.
Thus arise not superiorities so much as differences in modal personality. It enables one to speak of the typical American, Canadian, Frenchman, Indian, or Chinese. Such “stereotypes” do exist, though identifying them with sufficient precision to be able to write a specification is often very difficult. It is equally difficult to write down a precise description of facial type, the face of a Chinese as opposed to that of a Scotsman, for example. All descriptive terms that have been thought up have proved quite inadequate, since one can find Welshmen who fit the description of the Chinese, and even Ainu who perfectly fit the Scotsman’s description. Those who have studied this question of racial type, physiologically viewed, know the truth of this only too well. And yet for all this, one can tell a Chinese from a Scotsman at a glance. Personality types, i.e., modal personality types, are even harder to state precisely, yet there is no doubt that people who share a language and a culture and an environment and a history do develop to a large extent the same attitudes, mannerisms, and ways of speaking.
One very important factor in this process is language, and language has been held to be one of the most specific barriers to the breakdown of national character that exists. (34) The cultural dialogue in Canada between the English and the French segments of the population is an excellent illustration, for there is
34. Kroeber, A. L., Anthropology, Harcourt Brace, New York, 1948, p.221. In their book Introducing Social Change, C. M. Arensberg and A. H. Niehoff (Alpine, Chicago, 1966, p.30) remark in this connection, “A language is inextricably linked to all aspects of a Culture. Nothing more clearly distinguishes one culture from another than its language.”
a real difference between the sentiments and attitudes toward .any aspects of daily life between the English and the French, who nevertheless share the same environment. So important is language that the French people in Canada who have felt their language threatened, have felt their very selves to be threatened. Language forms a vehicle of thought, and it is questionable whether thought is possible without language. And since thought is the mainspring of action except where emotion over-rules it, language becomes a fundamental factor in action. As a people speak, so they think; as they think, so they act: in this order. We learn to speak before we learn to think about things in any depth; not, be it noted, before we feel about things but before we reflect upon them. Helen Keller, who certainly could claim to have a profound knowledge, held that a wordless thought was impossible. (35)
Thus if we assume that God allotted to each of the three families of Noah a growing diversity of speech, diversity which was at first scarcely observable but continually widened the gap between the three families, it would be a simple matter for Him providentially to bring into being three families of man, each of whom had a World View that increasingly directed their energies differently. This, I suggest, is exactly what happened. Although we suppose that all the languages of man were at one time rooted in a single stock, it was a stock thlat was capable of developing into three distinct “families” now clearly recognized as such in two of its branches, the Semitic and the Indo-European. That there is some justification for grouping all other languages than these into a one-time single family is explored in another Doorway Paper. (36) To my mind, the evidence is quite substantial and of such a nature as to suggest that within the Hamitic family there existed something which has not been found in the Semitic or Japhetic families, namely, a strong tendency towards
35. The editor of her biography, John A. Macy, wrote: “The ordinary man will never be rid of the fallacy that words obey tbought, that one thinks first and phrases afterwards” (The Stoy of My Life, Grosset &: Dunlap. New York, 1904, p.419). The crucial importance of language to man is explored in “Who Taught Adam to Speak?” (Part Vl in Genesis and Early Man, vol.6 of The Doorway Papers Series). Tbe subject is a fascinating one and remarkably few people are aware of what has been said on the subject of the origin of this unique human faculty during recent times.
36. The possibility that all languages known to man have been derived from a single basic language is examined in some detail in “The Confusion of Languages” (Part V in Time and Eternity, vol.6 of The Doorvay Papers Series).
fragmentation. The Semitic family is still, after all these years, easily identifiable as such. The same is true of the Japhetic or Indo-European family of languages.
The only thing that can be said with certainty about the Hamitic family of languages is that they share a clear difference in structure and in “World-View” from either the Semitic or Indo-European families. Whether one would accept them as a single family, Hamitic in origin, depends on whether one believes that the
Table of Nations in Genesis 10 is describing the origin of the whole population of the world as I do, or that it sets forth merely some segments known to the writer in his own day to be actually related or at least near neighbours. Personally, I am quite convinced that the object of Genesis 10 is to contribute towards a philosophy of history which is implicit in the rest of Scripture by showing how the human race was finally divided up. And while the evidence for my belief in this respect has been set forth at considerable length in another
Doorway Paper (documented from over 200 sources), it still will not convince those who take a much more limited view of the Table of Nations. (37)
So then, for the sake of discussion and not without reason, we can assume that there are three families of man and that they are still definable. And having made this assumption, the contribution that each family has made to the sum total of human civilization and culture is also identifiable. The order in which they spread out from the central Cradle of Civilized Man in the Middle East, and the way in which they went out, are both
matters of some importance in the light of subsequent history. (38) The biblical record takes cognizance of, and may indeed account in a way for both.
The evidence that from the family of Japheth have arisen the great philosophical systems so characteristic of Western Cultures is overwhelming, whether we study the history of India,
37. An extended analysis of the tenth chapter of Genesis has been undertaken in Part II, “A Study of the Names in Genesis 10,” in which an attempt has been made to show that this really is a comprehensive Table of Nations covering the population of the whole world and not merely the nations surrounding Israel with whom they were personally acquainted.
38. “Fossil Man and the Genesis Record” (Part I in Genesis and Early Man, vol.2 of The Doorway Papers Series) is a study of the distribution of these remains and the light they throw upon the spread of Noah’s family throughout the whole world after the Flood. In this study, evidence is presented to show that the world’s first settlements were always established by members of the family of Ham, and not by either Shemites or Japhethites.
the Greek or Roman world, or the rest of Europe in later tirmes. Here we find the roots of philosophy. We do not find these roots in Africa or China or the New World. This aspect of the subject has been explored in depth by many historians and a large part of the evidence has been accumulated in a Magnum Opus by the author which he hopes one day to publish.
The religious contribution of the family of Shem is not diflicult to document. The false religions of the world, taking the word “religion” to mean rnan’s attempt to relate himself to the supernatural and to make preparation for the hereafter, have all originated from a Middle East prototype that was entirely Babylonian (i.e., Semitic) in origin. Judaism and Islam likewise sprang out of Shem ï¿½ as did Christianity. Everywhere else religion has been very largely of a highly practical nature with very practical intentions: the bringing of rain, the defeat of one’s enemies, the obtaining of personal success, and so forth. Religion in the sense of aspiration after holiness or the presence of the gods is not the objective of native religions. Native religious practices are much more earthy in the nature of a contract between near-equals. This subject, too, is explored in greater depth in one of the Doorway Papers (39) and much more extensively in the Magnum Opus referred to previously. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish between “practical wisdom” that is characteristic of Confucianism and rnuch of the so-called religious literature of the ancient South American cultures, which is more “canny” than spiritual. Certainly Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are Semitic in origin. And anyone who will study, even if with some measure of skepticism, the text of Hislop’s The Two Babylons, (40) will realize that paganism is similarly Sermitic in origin, being a corruption of the truth that was once the preserve of the family of Shem.
The contribution of the family of Ham, always bearinng in rnind that I am using the term in its biblical sense, is tremendous. It is essentially technological. It is safe to say, I think, that until about 450 years ago neither Semites nor Indo-Europeans had contributed a single basic invention or material or process or food or product of any kind to the world’s civilization. Of a veritable host of writers who have in recent years been studying
39. On the native concept of “contract” between God and man, see “Nature as Part of the Kingdom of God” (Part II in Man in Adam and in Christ, vol.3 of The Doorway Papers Series).
40. Hislop, Alexander, The Two Babylons, Loizeaux Brothers, New York, 1953, 330 pp., illustrations.
the origins of our technology in some detail, not one that I know of has been able to credit to us anything of importance with the sole possible exception of the invention of the windmill. The statement sounds so unbelievable to anyone who has not had the opportunity of reviewing the evidence for himself that one is tempted to try and support it on the spot. The reader will find a very substantial collection, fully documented, of brief histories of some 200 or more basic inventions attributable to the Hamitic people, from whom we borrowed them without acknowledging the debt, in another Doorway Paper. (41)
It appears that God had a clear objective in view in thus dealing with the family of Noah. In order to open up the world for human habitation, God appears to have thrust out from the Centre the members of one family, the Hamites, who were peculiarly fitted as pioneers by reason of their highly practical nature. Wherever they went, they seem to have had a remarkable skill in at once recognizing and seizing upon the immediate raw materials of their environment which would best serve for food, clothing, weapons, and shelter essential for survival. (42) There are some extraordinary examples of native ingenuity under circumstances in which it might be thought human survival would be
41. “The Technology of Hamitic People”, Part IV in Noah’s Three Sons, vol.1 of The Doorway Papers Series.
42. In his latest work, The Savage Mind (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1966, p.3), Claude Levi-Strauss, the French social anthropologist, has a series of quotations from various sources which give some indication of why these Hamitic people succeeded in doing so much more with their environment than the far less practically minded Japhetic people. Speaking of the Hawaiians, he writes, “These native Hawaiians’ utilization of their available natural assets was well-nigh complete — infinitely more so than that of the present commercial era which ruthlessly exploits the few things that are financially profitable for the time being, neglecting and often obliterating the rest.” Speaking of the natives of Cape York Peninsula in North Australia, he wrote: “The natives are acutely aware of the characteristic trees, underscrub, and grasses of each distinct ‘association area,’ using this term in its ecological sense. They are able to list in detail and without hesitation, the charasteristic tree in each, and able to record the string, resin, grasses, and other products used in material culture, which they obtain from each association, as well as the mammals and birds characteristic of each habitat” (p. 45). He conchdes (p.45) by saying that this intense and detailed knowledge of the available resources of the habitat is common to native people the world over.
A truly extraordinary illustration of this thoroughness in exploiting the environment is to be found in an article on the Indians of the Sonoran Desert by Macy H. Lapham, entitled, “The Desert Storehouse,” Scientific Monthly, June, 1948, pp.451f. A summary of his paper will be found in Part IV of this volume, “The Technology of Hamitic People.”
impossible, particularly in desert and Arctic conditions. The price paid for this pioneering effort at first was some measure of physical and cultural degeneration. Nevertheless wherever the Hamites went, they ultirnately effected permanent settlements and more or less established their dominion over the earth. Centuries later Japhethites followed them at a more leisurely pace, taking with them cultural refinements which ultimately led to the emergence of far higher civilizations. These refinements were not of the ingenious kind but related to those aspects of culture which could never have flourished had the way to survival not already opened up for them by the Hamites who preceded them. Man’s physical and mental life were now secure.
It appears that the world in pre-Flood times shared a measure of spiritual truth which was presumably revealed at the very beginning but had increasingly become corrupted due to man’s sinful disposition and his tendency to worship what he himself creates. At the time of the Flood, it may have been true that Noah was the only man left with any measure of purity of faith and spiritual understanding. One gathers from Genesis 9 that Shem shared more of his father’s spiritual insight and love of God than either Japheth or Ham, and Shem’s godly disposition seems to be the source from which arose the subsequent stream of spiritual insight that remained after the Flood. However, by the time of Abraham this stream had narrowed down almost to one man, and God called Abraham out and took him under His wing in a special way. He prospered him until his family was enlarged and the reservoir of his own spiritual understanding increased. In due course this family grew to be a nation, and this nation was welded into a self-conscious people by the bitterness of their experience in Egypt and the wonders of their redemption out of it. This people was then brought into a land capable of giving them physical security, once it was subdued And there, by a succession of revelations brought to them through a line of prophets specially commissioned, the light which had almost died out was formalized, written down, and guaranteed for posterity in the Old Testament. (43)
43. A remarkable little book entitled The Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation was published by James B. Walker in 1885 (Walden 8c Stowe, New York, 276 pp). The author shows the rationale of God’s dealings with Israel from the call of Abraham to the coming of the Messiah. He underscores the fact that God’s dealings with Israel were guaranteed to bring about the formation of a nation which was to stand in a pagan world as a testimony to the (continued)
If we briefly summarize the historical process, it is clear that God then took steps to complete the revelation of Himself to mankind through His people by sending His own Son to be their King, in order that He might set them at the head of the nations as the spiritual leaders of the world, had they been willing.
We cannot tell what might have happened if they had risen to the call and accepted their Messiah. Perhaps the millennium would have followed, a period of cultural achievement, the nadir of civilization that would have revealed the full potential of human nature in the cooperative effort of Shem, Ham, and Japheth together. But, as Noah predicted, descendants of Shem defaulted and Japheth took over part of the responsibility which was initially allocated to them. (44) The result has been a period referred properly to as “the times of the Gentiles,” since, as it happens, in Genesis 10 the children of Japheth are actually identified as “the Gentiles.” But this period, as I read Scripture, is a special period, a kind of parenthesis which will be concluded when the Messiah returns again to assume His rightful position over the family of Shem, and Shem recovers his originally appointed position within the family of nations.
I believe Scripture is full of this threefold division. As we have explored elsewhere, (45) Abraham had three wives, a Semite, a Hamite, and a Japhethite; there are three Gospels written specifically, one each for Shem, Ham, and Japheth respectively, that is, Matthew, Mark and Luke; three “groups” came seeking Jesus in a special way, first the shepherds (Shemites), the Wise Men (Hamites), and finally “certain Greeks” (Japhethites); in the Crucifixion Shem, Ham, and Japheth joined hands, Shem as the instigator, Ham in the transport of the Cross (Mark 15:21), and
(continued) Oneness of God amidst the polytheism of the Old World. The book is certainly worth acquiring, though difficult to obtain now.
44. Genesis 9:26ï¿½27: And Noah said, “Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enharge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” It appears that the phrase “he shall dwell in the tents of Shem” quite possibly means he shall assume for a season the rightful position of Shem, this phrase being rather analogous to our “sitting in the seat of.” It is noteworthy that in the Authorized Version the children of Japheth as listed in Genesis 10 are identified as”the Gentiles,” which at once brings to mind the New ‘I’estament circumstance in which Jerusalem was to be “trodden down by the Gentiles” until their time was fulfilled (Luke 21:24).
45. This threefold division of the family of man as recognized throughout Scripture is elaborated upon in “The Part Played By Shem, Ham and Japheth in Subsequent World History” , Part I in Noah’s Three Sons, vol.1 in The Doorway Papaers Series.
Japheth in the execution. Even in Acts the Gospel wvas preached first to Shem, then by a strange circumstance to one who belonged to the family of Ham (the Ethiopian eunuch), and finally to the family of Japheth. All this is surely more than coincidence, and there are other such triads.
As we have already seen, the Fall of man enters the overall picture as an essential part of God’s plan to reveal His true character by a redemptive act. While this process of education, this demonstration to mankind of His love was being worked out through history, it was essential that the effects of the Fall be held in check. Without the restraint of civilization and culture, the wickedness of man would have known no limit and the world would become a scene of barbarism totally destructive of anything in human nature that might have provided a context for the grace of God. Imagine for one moment what would have been the consequence at the time of our Lord’s appearing if the whole world was a morass of unrelieved wickedness and cruelty, without order, without law, without restraint upon human nature ï¿½ every man a monster of iniquity. It is not an impossible situation to conceive. The Incarnation would manifestly have been ineffective; there would have been no context for the Cross, nor even words capable of explaining what God meant by it in terms of His love.
Thus for the conducting of the divine plan, it was essential that in some way man should be civilized; and the means whereby God ensured this would happen seems to me to have been set forth in Scripture implicitly by reference to the circumstances of the emergence of three families equipped for and appointed to three specific kinds of contribution. In the narrower sense of the term this, as I see it, is the framework of history, and while it is true that racial and cultural rnixture have both taken place on a global scale it is still possible to sort out these threads and see the hand of God. It is not true to say that all the descendants of Shem have been wholly absorbed with a religious World View. And certainly the Japhethites have not all been philosophers. Yet it is true that from Shem sprang the great monotheistic faiths and from Japheth the great philosophical systems. As for those who form the third branch of the family of man, there is no longer any question that from them has arisen the world’s basic technology. Thus the total potentiality of Man was not entrusted to one family.
Now what I mean by total potential is simply what man is
capable of. He is capable of building a Gothic cathedral, of smashing an atom, of writing a Handel’s Messiah, of putting a space vehicle gently down on the far side of the moon, of painting a Creation of Adam, of carving a Thinker, of formulating an equation like E=Mc 2, of building a Parthenon or a Pyramid, of making a Flemish tapestry or a Ming vase or a bust of Nephertiti, of writing an “Elegy in a Churchyard” or Les Miserables . . . and alas, of planning a Belsen or a Dachau. What if all of this potential creativeness were to find expression for good? Perhaps if Israel had accepted their Messiah and preserved for the world the spiritual balance which Shem was intended to contribute in a full and perfect way, the world of the Roman Empire days would have formed the basis of a World Empire, under the Lord as King, in terms of prosperity undreamed of. And perhaps when the Lord returns this will be part of the meaning of the term ” Millennium. ”
But Man is not the creature he should have been, and every great gift he has can be, and usually is, corrupted and turned to evil use. So it is well that these potentials should have been divided. Imagine a race, all the members of which possessed the brains of an Aristotle, the inventive genius of an Edison and a da Vinci, and the great religious zeal of a Loyola to give the “spiritual” drive to all the other forms of energy. And then imagine this dedicated to serve the selfish and hence the strongest instincts in Man. What would one have? What could man achieve? What would man achieve under the wrong leadership? And who would their leader prove to be? The Anti-Christ, perhaps?