Biblical People

Biblical People: Shem

The Bible doesn’t tell us the name of Noah’s wife, but we do know the names of their three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 

Scripture says Noah obeyed God in building the ark. We can only assume his boys helped. If they didn’t, why would God allow them to enter the ark and live?

After the flood, Noah, a farmer, plants a vineyard. He makes some wine, gets drunk, and lounges around without his clothes. Hearing this, Shem and his brother Japheth modestly cover their father, without looking at his nakedness.

When Noah sobers, he blesses Shem and Japheth for their chaste action, specifically elevating Shem over his brothers.

As we read the family tree of Shem, we come across Abram, later called Abraham. Through Shem’s lineage we have Father Abraham and, much later, Jesus.

How can we be an example to do what is right? When we see someone doing what’s wrong, do we seek to make things better? 

[Read about Shem and his brothers in Genesis 9:18–27. Discover Shem’s family tree in Genesis 11:10–26.]

Learn about more biblical characters in Old Testament Sinners and Saints, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. Get your copy today.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

By Peter DeHaan

Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at