Chap. V.

Of Sem, Ham and Iaphet.

CONCERNING the three sons of Noah, Sem, Ham and Iaphet, that the order of their nativity was according to that of numeration, and Japhet the youngest son, as most believe, as Austin and others account, the sons of Japhet, and Europeans need not grant: nor will it so well concord unto the letter of the Text, and its readiest Interpretations. For so is it said in our Translation, Sem the father of all the sons of Heber the brother of Iaphet the elder: so by the Septuagint, and so by that of Tremelius. And therefore when the Vulgar reads it, Fratre Iaphet majore, the mistake as Iunius observeth, might be committed by the neglect of the Hebrew accent; which occasioned Ierom so to render it, and many after to believe it. Nor is that Argument contemptible which is deduced from their Chronology; for probable it is that Noah had none of them before, and begat them from that year when it is said he was five hundred years old and begat Sem, Ham and Iaphet. Again it is said he was six hundred years old at the flood, and that two years after Sem was but an hundred, therefore Sem must be born when Noah was five hundred and two, and some other before in the year of five hundred and one.

Now whereas the Scripture affordeth the priority of order unto Sem, we cannot from thence infer his primogeniture. For in Sem the holy line was continued: and therefore however born, his genealogy was most remarkable. So is it not unusuall in holy Scripture to nominate the younger before the elder: so is it said,1 That Tarah begat Abraham, Nachor and Haram: whereas Haram was the eldest. So Rebecca is termed2 the mother of Iacob and Esau. Nor is it strange the younger should be first in nomination, who have commonly had the priority in the blessings of God, and been first in his benediction. So Abel was accepted before Cain, Isaac the younger preferred before Ishmael the elder, Iacob before Esau, Ioseph was the youngest of twelve, and David the eleventh son and minor cadet of Jesse.

Lastly; though Japhet were not elder then Sem, yet must we not affirm that he was younger then Cham, for it is plainly delivered, that after Sem and Iaphet had covered Noah, he awaked, and knew what his youngest son had done unto him, ὑιὸς ὁ νεότερος, is the expression of the Septuagint, Filius minor of Ierom, and minimus of Tremelius. And upon these grounds perhaps Josephus doth vary from the Scripture enumeration, and nameth them Sem, Japhet and Cham; which is also observed by the Annian Berosus; Noah cum tribus filiis, Semo, Iapeto, Cham. And therefore although in the priority of Sem and Iaphet, there may be some difficulty, though Cyril, Epiphanius and Austin have accounted Sem the elder, and Salian the Annalist, and Petavius the Chronologist contend for the same; yet Cham is more plainly and confessedly named the youngest in the Text.

And this is more conformable unto the Pagan history and Gentile account hereof, unto whom Noah was Saturn, whose symbol was a ship, as relating unto the Ark, and who is said to have divided the world between his three sons. Ham is conceived to be Jupiter, who was the youngest son; worshipped by the name of Hamon, which was the Egyptian and African name for Iupiter, who is said to have cut off the genitals of his father, derived from the history of Ham, who beheld the nakedness of his, and by no hard mistake might be confirmed from the Text,3 as Bochartus4 hath well observed.


* [My or others' notes are in square brackets]; Browne's marginalia is unmarked; {passages or notes from unpublished material by Browne is in curly braces}.

1 Gen. 11.

2 Gen. 28.

3 Gen. 9. 22. Reading Veiaggod & abscidit for Veiegged & nunciavit.

4 Bochartus de Geographia sacrâ.

This page is dedicated to the memory of Boo the Cat.

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