1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Shem

SHEM (Hebrew for “ name, renown, posterity ”), in the Bible, the eldest of the three sons of Noah, whose superiority over Canaan is reflected in the tradition that Noah pronounced a curse upon the latter (Gen. ix. 20–27). In the genealogies (x. 2X sqq.), Shem numbers among his descendants Assyrian, Arabian, Aramaean and Hebrew populations, whence the ethnic Semitic (strictly speaking, Shemitic) has been coined as a convenient term for these peoples. It is not altogether scientific, since the Lydians (Lud) and Elamites are included among Shem's “ sons,” apparently on account of their geographical position or because of their indebtedness to Assyrian culture. On the traditions of Shem, see E. Meyer, Israeliten u. Nachbarstämme (Halle, 1906), pp. 219 sqq.