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Sem (Shem)

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(Hebrew "name", "fame", "renown"; in Septuagint, Sem; A.V., Shem.)

Son of Noah; according to Genesis 10:21, the eldest. His birth and generations are recorded in Genesis 5:31; 11:10 sqq. (cf. 1 Chronicles 1:4, 17 sq.; Luke 3:36). He lived to be six hundred years of age. An incident, narrated Genesis 9:18 sqq., discloses his filial reverence. His reward was a blessing of great import (cf. Ecclesiasticus 49:19). Noah's prophetic words (according to Massoretic Text), "Blessed be Yahweh, the God of Sem" (for the glory of a nation is its God), designate, in a special manner, Yahweh as the God of Sem and, consequently, Sem as the bearer of the Messianic promises. Having enumerated the Semitic nations, whose habitat extended over the central portions of the then known world (Genesis 10:21-31), the Sacred Writer resumes (11:10 sqq.) the genealogy of the descendants of Arphaxad, the direct ancestor of Abraham, David, and Christ.


HUMMELAUER, Comment. in Genesim (Paris. 1895), loc. cit., and HAGEN, Lex. Bibl. (Paris, 1905-11), both in Cursus Scripturae Sacrae; STRACK, Genesis (Munich, 1894), loc. cit. in Kurzgef. Kommentar z. d. hl. Schriften Alt. u. N. Test.; HOBERG, Die Genesis (Freiburg, 1908), loc. cit.; MAAS, Christ in Type and Prophecy, I (New York), 212 sq.

About this page

APA citation. Plassmann, T. (1912). Sem (Shem). In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.

MLA citation. Plassmann, Thomas. "Sem (Shem)." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. <>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by Douglas J. Potter. Dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. February 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, D.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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