Story of the Chosen People - Helene Guerber

Noah's Descendants

God was much pleased by Noah’s act of piety in giving thanks and offering a sacrifice as soon as he came out of the ark. For this reason he promised the patriarch that he would never curse the earth again on account of man, nor destroy it. He added that he would be patient with all living things, and would never send such a flood again as long as the earth lasted.

The blessing which had been spoken in the Garden of Eden, "be fruitful and multiply," was repeated; and the animals were again made subject to man, who was now allowed to eat meat for the first time.

Besides the law about the killing of animals for food, God now made a decree against murder, saying that he who "sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed." That is why murderers are still put to death.

God then made a covenant, or agreement, with Noah, and said that if men obeyed him he would watch over them and not destroy them; and as a reminder of this promise, he set the rainbow in the clouds. This is the reason why you will often hear the rainbow called the "bow of promise."

Although God had saved Noah and his family, to begin a new race, it soon became plain that they too would sin; for Noah himself yielded to the low vice of drunkenness. His son Ham found him in a drunken sleep, and went and told Noah’s other sons, mocking him.

Shem and Japheth were shocked and ashamed, but they did not join in their brother’s mockery. Instead of this, they threw a great cloak over their sleeping father, to hide him from their own and everybody else’s eyes.

When Noah came to his senses, he was bitterly ashamed; and when he heard how rude Ham had been, Noah sent him away, and cursed him, saying that his children would be slaves. This prophecy came true, and Ham was the ancestor of the black, or negro, race, who were slaves even in this country half a century ago.

Noah then rewarded Shem and Japheth for their dutiful conduct, by blessing them. In time, Japheth’s descendants became the ancestors of all the European nations (and thus of the Americans); while Shem was chosen as the father of the race of the Jews. You will often hear it called the "Chosen Race," because God gave his laws to this people, and said that the Messiah would be born among them.

Noah lived three hundred and fifty years after the flood, and died when he was nine hundred and fifty years old. The date of his death is said to be just halfway between the creation of Adam and the birth of Christ, whom the Christians consider as the Redeemer promised when Adam and Eve were driven out of Eden.

Noah died just one year before the great patriarch Abraham was born; but the story of creation passed directly from Adam to Methuselah, from Methuselah to Noah, and from Noah to Terah, the father of Abraham. Thus, although it was not yet written, but only told, it could not have changed much, although so many years had passed since the creation of Adam.

The Bible tells us that the descendants of Noah’s sons spread, in the course of time, all over the face of the earth. In a few words it says that Japheth’s race included all the Gentiles (people who were not Jews). One of the descendants of Ham was Nimrod, a mighty hunter and king, and the founder of a great city called Babylon. Some of Nimrod’s descendants built the city of Nineveh also, and formed the great Assyrian Empire.

The only one of Noah’s sons whose story is given at length in the Bible, is Shem, the ancestor of the Jewish race. In his days "the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech," and we are told that the people generally wandered about in search of good pasture for their large flocks, which were their chief possession.

[Illustration] from The Story of the Chosen People by Helene Guerber

Journeying thus from place to place, Shem’s descendants came at last to the plain of Shinar, where Nimrod lived. Here the soil was mostly clay, so the people soon learned to make bricks, and to use them for building houses.