Question on Noah

I received a question about Noah’s family:

Noah was 500 years old when he began to have children…Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Genesis 5:32)
Noah’s father died when Noah was 590 years old(Genesis 5:30), which was 10 years before the flood because Noah was 600 during the flood. (Genesis 7:6) *This also means that Noah’s father did not die as a result of the flood.
So, there was 100 years from the time Noah started having children until the flood.
Because Shem was 100 years old 2 years after the flood( back to Genesis 11:10), or 98 during the flood, there appears to be a gap of 2 years between Noah beginning to have children at 500 years old(back to Genesis 5:32) because if Shem was 98 during the flood, he would have been born when Noah was 502 years old. However, there isn’t because Japheth is the firstborn, or “elder brother to Shem” (Genesis 10:21), and then Ham was the younger brother. (Genesis 9:24)
Generally, we see that the firstborn is listed first and it is curious as to why Shem is listed first in Genesis 5:32 being the second child but according to Luke, Shem was listed in the lineage of the Messiah, not Japheth, thus Shem was listed first. ( I read that on a website…don’t remember where.)
Regarding how long it took Noah to build the ark…God’s instructions to Noah included thought for Noah’s sons’ wives. (Genesis 6:18) So, either Noah’s sons were adults and already married when God gave Noah the instructions to build the ark, which would have made the timeframe much less than 100 years, or God gave Noah the instructions looking forward to when Noah would have sons (which then the timeframe could have been over 100 years), or perhaps after his sons were born but still little looking forward to their being married (which then the timeframe would perhaps have been closer to 100 years.)

Here was my response:

I confirm the essential facts presented but I don’t spy any particular anomalies. The scriptures are quite vague about certain facts regarding the flood (on an academic level I struggle somewhat with understanding its scope, the “all flesh was destroyed” statements, etc), but surprisingly clear about Noah, his sons, and which members of his family were alive at the time of the flood. Seth was mentioned before Japheth, but given the rest of the Genesis narrative’s focus on Seth and the regions that correspond to Seth’s offspring vs Japheth’s, this isn’t surprising. It’s true that Noah’s father (and grandfather Methuselah, who slightly outlives Lamech) died without the involvement of the flood; Lamech 5 years before the flood, Methuselah the same year the flood came. If the Ark was progressively built over ~100 years (perhaps completed earlier than exactly 100 years), I’d imagine Noah’s sons grew up building it, and perhaps were even married before it was fully completed.

Based on the names of the offspring of the three sons in Genesis 10, most of the Fertile Crescent is Seth territory, whereas what would become Egypt, the Dead Sea, and the Philistine coastlines is Ham/Canaan; on the outskirts of Seth’s territory, the Caucuses, Greece (Iapetos/Japheth in Greek tradition is the ancestor of the Greeks, and Javan is the father of the Hellenic race – related to the Ionians in Asia Minor, modern Turkey), Kittim/Cyprus (and probably more of the Grecian islands were associated with Kittim, given later prophecies about the “ships of Kittim” – Num 24:24, Dan 11:30), and probably even further western portions of Europe relate to Japheth.

Given the rest of Genesis is the history of Israel beginning with Israel’s Abrahamic roots, the focus is on Seth. Canaan is cursed, and is wiped out partially by Israel and finally by the great Gentile empires after Judah’s diaspora. Frequently the tribes are listed in birth order, but they are also frequently listed in order of pre-eminence or their order of ranks with regard to their groupings when traveling with the Tabernacle in the wilderness. Sometimes the order they were recorded or numbered shifts seemingly without specific explanation, as with the Numbers 26 vs Numbers 1 genealogies, whereas Manasseh gets a higher billing than Ephraim in Num 26 and Ephraim is numbered first in Num 1.

My interpretation of the significance of the three sons of Noah is this: Japheth presumably is joined with Seth again, as they joined together to cover the nakedness of their father justly, with Seth’s line in “New Israel,” where the “Gentiles” are grafted into natural Israel’s Olive Tree after natural Israel who rejected Christ was cut off. I don’t consider it coincidental that the lands of Japheth, Rome, etc. are the lands the disciples invaded with the faith within 100 years, no less than the tribes invaded the promised land of Canaan after the foundation of Abraham was laid. European civilization is unique in history, granted its faults, and is the only reason this world is not fully under the dominion of Satan already.

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