Discussing Torah matters because the Torah matters

Japheth in the Tents of Shem

Noah said to his sons:
   “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)

Noah’s three sons would disperse and come to populate different areas of the world. 

Shem would become the father of the Jewish people. This is why the Jews are Semitic. It’s a way of saying they are Shemitic, descendants of Noah’s oldest son Shem. 

Shem’s younger brother Japheth would move into the area of Europe. The area of Europe goes on play an important role in the world as it will become the breeding ground of Christianity. The Japhethites are those European Gentiles who will take the Good News of Jesus Christ to the four corners of the earth. 

Here’s what’s amazing. 4500 years ago, Noah prophesied that Japheth would dwell in the tents of Shem. My writing about this is itself a fulfillment of that prophecy. You see, I am a descendant of Japheth. And here I am studying a Jewish book, worshipping a Jewish Messiah, grafted into the people of Israel. No I am not dwelling in the tents of Shem physically, but spiritually I certainly am! This extends to any Gentile Christian as well. Together we are dwelling in the tents of Shem!

The New Testament tells of a Shemite who traveled into the territory of Japheth and went to preaching. His name was Paul, and he was a tentmaker by trade.

It is poetic that Paul was a tentmaker, because it rhymes with Noah’s ancient prophecy. The descendants of Japheth heard the Good News from this Shemite and responded in droves. They entered into the promises and the covenants and the heritage of the Jewish people. Spiritually, they came to dwell in Shem’s tent, spurred on by this Shemitic tentmaker. 

Here is something noteworthy. Noah said, “May God enlarge Japheth.” The word “enlarge” is the Hebrew word pathah (פתה). The word is not used again until we get to Exodus 22:16, but there it is translated differently. The verse reads:

“If a man entices a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he shall surely pay the bride-price for her to be his wife.” (Exodus 22:16 NJKV)

Pathah is translated as “entices” in Exodus 22:16. Although it seems odd, think about these verses in light of our discussion. It’s almost like Noah says, “May God entice Japheth.” And what do you know––when Paul goes to Asia Minor to tell the descendants of Japheth about God, they are enticed by his message. They are drawn in. They want to learn more about God, His Son, and His Salvation. The Torah’s rule is thus applicable: if and when a relationship becomes intimate, there must be a purchase-price for the bride. Meaning: the descendants of Japheth (some of the earliest progenitors of Christianity) must be bought by God if He will entice them to be His Bride. And again, what do you know––Paul the Shemitic tentmaker tells his Gentile listeners, “...You are not your own! You were bought with a price! Therefore glorify God...” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

“May God pathah Japheth...” said Noah. “And let him dwell in the tents of Shem...”