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After The Flood, the nations (see Family, Clan, Tribe, Nation) began again from Mount Ararat in the Middle East. All of humanity today are descended from Noah and his wife through their sons Shem, Ham and Japheth, and their wives.
Japheth, pronounced in Hebrew as yeh-feth, means opened or expanded. The descendants of Japheth settled, at first, primarily to the north, in Asia beyond the Black and Caspian Seas.
"The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras.
Ham, pronounced in Hebrew as khawm, means hot. The descendants of Ham settled toward the southwest and Africa e.g. Egypt is called "the land of Ham" (Psalm 105:23), although many of the most well-known Middle East people of Bible History are descended from Ham.
"The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan.
Shem, pronounced in Hebrew as shay-em, means name or character. Shem's descendants settled through the central area of the Middle East.
"To Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the elder brother of Japheth, children were born. The sons of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram.
Genesis Chapter 11
It did not take humanity long after the flood before they were again defiant toward The Lord (see YHVH, Adonai, Jehovah, LORD). When the infamous tower of Babel was constructed, The Lord stopped them, not because they were a threat to Him, but because a united humanity was a threat to itself i.e. "this is only the beginning of what they will do." The Lord then scattered humans over the entire earth.
"And The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. And The Lord said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech."
The line of Shem remained however, for the most part, in the area in and around Babylon. Genesis 11:10-32 provides the genealogical record from Shem to Abraham who was born in what is today southern Iraq.
Genesis Chapter 12
"Now The Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you [see On His Own Two Feet]. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves."
"Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then The Lord appeared to Abram, and said, "To your descendants I will give this land." So he built there an altar to The Lord, who had appeared to him.
As would happen to the Israelites in later years, a drought and famine forced Abraham to go to Egypt (see The Delta Of The Nile).
"Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land." (Genesis 12:10 RSV)
Fact Finder: (a) While in Egypt, why did Abram and Sarai claim that they were brother and sister? (b) Did Abraham's son Isaac later do the same with his wife Rebekah?