James Harmon
“The truth will set you free” (John 8:32)

The Birthright Of The Jewish People

In the Biblical account of the Noahic flood there were only eight people who survived. “And the rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights. On the very same day Noah and Shem and Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark.” (Genesis 7:12-13). Moses records that the Lord “ … blotted out every living thing that was upon the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark.” (Genesis 7:23). All of the peoples on the earth today are the descendants of Noah and his sons. Eight persons survived the global flood and there are eight main blood types in the human race.( i ). Hmm!

By the order of their birth the three sons of Noah were Shem, Ham and Japheth. Shem’s descendants occupied areas on either side of the Euphrates river and the Arabian peninsula. It is generally accepted that from Shem’s descendants came the five Semitic nations and the religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The descendants of Ham populated Africa and the land west of Africa along the Mediterranean coast including the land of what is now Egypt. The peoples of Europe, Asia Minor, Greece and Russia are descendants of Japheth. ( ii )

After Noah got off of the Ark he planted a vineyard. Noah made wine and got drunk. Noah “…drank of the wine and became drunk, and uncovered himself inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside.” (Genesis 9:21-22). Further insight into what possibly “the nakedness of his father” means comes from Leviticus 20:11 and the Mosaic Law, “And a man who lies with the wife of his father has uncovered the nakedness of his father.” Ham didn’t uncover the nakedness of his father, rather he “saw” the nakedness of his father. It is important to note that Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament which include Genesis and Leviticus so the language that Moses used would not vary much in meaning from book to book. Clearly whatever Ham did it was of such magnitude that it resulted in a generational curse on Ham’s son Canaan and his descendants. “When Noah awoke from his wine, he knew what his youngest son had done to him. So he said, ‘Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants he shall be to his brothers’” (Genesis 9:24-25).  

Noah continues by blessing Shem and Japheth. “‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant.’” (Genesis 9:26-27). Shem receives the greatest blessing, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem”. From Shem’s descendants would come the Jewish people, through Abraham. Through Abraham would come the land covenant.

Terah, the father of Abram, comes on the scene ten generations later. Terah is listed as a descendant of Shem. (Genesis 11:10-26). Terah was the father of both Abram and Abram’s wife Sarai. They were half siblings, having the same father but different mothers (Genesis 20:12). 

Around 2090 BC Abram and his wife Sarai, as they were known then, moved from Ur, a city southeast of modern day Baghdad in Iraq, and settled in the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:1-5). The land was occupied by the Canaanites who were the direct descendants of Ham’s son Canaan. Sarai was barren and past the accepted age for child bearing so she decided to help Abram produce an heir. “Now Abram’s wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar. So Sarai said to Abram, ‘Now behold, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children through her.’ And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. After Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram’s wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife.” (Genesis 16:1-3).

Hagar conceived and “…the angel of the Lord said to her, ‘I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they shall be too may to count.’ And the angel of the Lord said to her further, ‘Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son; and you shall call his name Ishmael.’” The descendants of Ishmael, twelve sons in all (Genesis 25:12-18) wound up settling in the central and north central areas of the Arabian peninsula. It is understood that modern day Arabs are their direct descendants ( ii ). Abraham was eighty six years old when Ishmael was born (Genesis 16:16).

Thirteen years later, when Abraham was ninety nine years old God appeared to him and made a covenant with him. At the time that this covenant was made Ishmael was thirteen years old. The covenant was a land covenant and it was for “…all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:8). The land of Canaan at that time encompassed what is today Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, Jordan, and the southern portions of Syria and Lebanon. Abram said to God “‘Oh that Ishmael might live before You!’ But God said, ‘No, but Sarai your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.” (Genesis 17:18-19). God said that the land covenant was for the descendants of Isaac, not Ishmael and his descendants. God said “As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and will make him fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.’” (Genesis 17:20). 

God repeats the terms of His land covenant; “‘But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year.’” (Genesis 17:21). During the same conversation, God told Abraham “… you shall be the father of a multitude of nations.’” (Genesis 17:4). The plural “nations” encompasses both the descendants of Ishmael and Isaac. In addition, and well after the birth of Isaac and most likely after the death of Sarah, Abraham “took another wife whose name was Keturah.” (Genesis 25:1). Keturah bore six sons for Abraham, all of whose names have been identified with various Arab tribes settling in the land of Midian, which is today known as the Arabian peninsula. More nations in the “multitude of nations” promised to Abraham.

Isaac became the father of Jacob and Esau. From Jacob came the twelve tribes of Israel. Esau’s descendants settled in what is known today as Turkey, Syria and the territory of the Kurds of northern Iraq. The point of this blog is that the Jews and the Arabs are blood relatives. The sons of Abraham, Isaac and Ismael, were half brothers. The sons of Isaac, Jacob and Esau, were fraternal twins (Genesis 25:22-24). Incredible. Abraham dies at the ripe old age of “one hundred and seventy five years.” (Genesis 25:7). His sons, Ishmael and Isaac, came together to bury their father. “Then his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah…” (Genesis 25:9).

( i ) Lifeblood
( ii ) The Works of Josephus; Book 1, chapter 6

About the Author
James Harmon was born and raised on the Island of Trinidad, in the West Indies, to American missionaries. From 1975 to 1995he worked in the oil fields of Oklahoma, Saudi Arabia, the Sultanate of Oman, offshore Cameroon W. Africa, the Ivory Coast of W. Africa, Siberia Russia and Sweden (we drilled an exploratory well for the Swedish government). From 1995 until he retired in 2021 he sold construction equipment in Oklahoma and Texas. James has a Masters of Theology degree from Maranatha Seminary. His studies were in Biblical Hebrew, Koine Greek, Isagogics and Systematic Theology. His exposure to various nationalities and cultures has given him a well rounded perspective on life. His Christian faith puts much of that perspective to good use.
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