Parashat Noach Genesis 6:9-11:32
Maftir: Numbers 28:9-15
Haftarah: Isaiah 66:1-24
Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan
“Noach and the Battle of Gog and Magog”
A few weeks ago I was asked if there is a connection between Noach’s son Shem and the fact that G-d is referred to by the phrase “HaShem”. The answer is no. The term “HaShem” literary means “the Name” and it is used to refer to G-d in order that one does not use the biblical words G-d or L-rd in general conversation. This is in order not to violate the prohibition of using the Name of G-d in vain. In speaking about Noach’s son Shem, the reader is told in the section dealing with the genealogy of Noach that “he was the father of all the sons of the other side.” (See Genesis 10:21).
The word translated “of the other side” is one word in Hebrew and is the root word for “Hebrew”. Therefore the term “Hebrew” or “the Hebrews” as in the Jewish people, speak to those who cross over from the other side. In other words, there is an emphasis on the fact that the Hebrews came from a different location to take possession of the Land.
According to this section, Shem lived on the other side of the land which was originally his brother Yefet. The verse (Gen. 10:21) ends by informing the reader that although Shem is always mentioned first when the three brothers are referred to in the Scripture, it may be that Yefet was the eldest. Rashi says that the Hebrew text is unclear. Regardless of who is the eldest, what is known is that Yefet is connected to some of the enemies of the Children of Israel, such as Gomer, Magog, Tubal and Meshech, which are all sons of Yefet. These names are mentioned in Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 in speaking about the final war prior to the Kingdom being established.
What can be gleaned here? The sons of Yefet will stand in opposition to sons of Eber (the father of the Hebrews, whose name means “the other side”) crossing over the River and taking possession of the Land that HaShem as promised them. It is very interesting that even in the opening chapters of the book of Genesis, one reads prophecy about the last days.
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