The Berean Expositor
Volume 36 - Page 184 of 243
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Time and Place.
The scriptural association of chronology and topography
with doctrine and purpose.
The Genealogy from Shem to Abraham (Gen. 11:).
pp. 16 - 18
The computation of the chronology of the period from the creation of Adam to the
birth of Noah is simple and straightforward; to arrive at a correct answer to the problem,
nothing more than ability to add up a column of figures is necessary. But in Gen. 11: 10
we have the "generations of Shem", and there we read:
"Shem was an hundred years old and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood."
With this statement begins one of a series of chronological problems that increase in
difficulty as they succeed each other. These will be stated and met as we reach them, but
the immediate problem is, how are we to fill the gap that we discover in the chronology
from the birth of Noah to the birth of Arphaxad? We shall find that the answer is useful
not only for its own sake but also because it shows us that all the material we need is to
be found within the sacred record, if only we seek it.
This problem is a simple one: "What was the age of Noah at the birth of Shem?" This
is a necessary piece of information because, without it, we have a link missing from the
chronological chain that connects Adam with Christ. In Gen. 5: 32 we read:
And Noah was 500 years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham and Japheth."
We must not assume that Shem is the firstborn because he is the first named, for
Japheth is distinctly called his elder in Gen. 10: 21. Likewise when we read:
"And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor and Haran" (Gen. 11: 26).
We shall discover that, though placed first, Abram was not the eldest. So also Isaac is
put before Ishmael in I Chron. 1: 28, which gives the Divine point of view, although, as a
matter of historic fact, Ishmael was the elder of the two. The Scriptures are a record of
redemption and purpose, and the redemptive purpose was vitally associated with the
promise of the Messiah, it is men like Shem, Abram, Isaac, Jacob and David that are
given prominence, while the firstborn according to the flesh are ignored or given second
The material in Genesis which gives us Noah's age at the birth of Shem is found in the
compass of a few chapters. From Gen. 7: 6 we learn that Noah was 600 years old at
the time of the flood and in Gen. 11: 10 we find that two years after the flood, Shem was
100 years old. We know therefore that Shem was 98 years old when the flood came, and