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The original seat of man cannot be precisely ascertained ; but it must have been in the heart of Asia, and most probably was within the limits of the modern Persia or between Persia and Hindoostan. The first inhabitants of the earth were destroyed by a deluge, for their extreme corruption and wickedness; and one family only being preserved, all present inhabitants of the globe are to trace their descent from that family.
Noah, the diluvian Patriarch, had three sons, from whom descended the present race of men. These are called in Scripture, Shem, Ham, and Japheth; but it is said Japheth was the eldest. And it is worthy of remark that our German ancestors retained, till the age of Tacitus, the tradition that their ancestor had three sons. They called him Mannus, which is our Man, and this name evidently refers to Noah.*
It is commonly supposed that Shem, Ham and Japheth were the real names of the three sons of Noah, and wherever the country, which their descendants inhabited, bore the same name, it has been supposed it received that name from their progenitor. To this opinion, there is one strong objection, that the names, are descriptive of the country, or of the situation of the people designated by them.
Shem seems to have a reference to country. The word is written in Hebrew Shem, in Persian Shem, in Arabic Sem, Sam, Sham, or Saum. Now Sham is the name of Syria, and of Damascus, its principal city; and by the Arabians and Persians, they are so called to this day. The verb Sham, in Hebrew, and Samaritan signifies to lay waste. In Arabic, to be on the left hand; to be unfortunate. Sema or Sama in Arabic, expresses the pasturing of flocks and herds. A name derived from the former verb would denote a desert, and from the latter, the place of pasturage.
Ham or Cham, in Hebrew, Chaldaic, Syriac and Arabic signifies, to be hot, or to heat; and its derivatives in Arabic,
* Celebrant carminibus antiquis Tuistonem deum terra editum, et filium Mannum, originem gentis conditoresque. Manno tres filios assignant.
Tacitus, De Mer. Germ. 2.
signify black. The name, therefore signifies the hot country or country of black or sunburnt inhabitants; that is Africa. In Ps. 105, 23, Egypt is called the land of Ham.
Japheth signifies enlargement or the widely spread people, being a derivative from a verb which signifies to open or dilate. Hence the force of the words of Noah, in blessing his son-God shall enlarge Japheth-the word enlarge being in Hebrew the name of Japheth. How applicable this name is we may understand by the fact, that the descendants of that family peopled all Europe and all the northern part of Asia.
If these were the real names of the three sons of Noah, they must have been given to them by way of prolepsis, or anticipation. If not, they are the names of the three great divisions of men, or races that sprung from the three sons of Noah. Thus Israel became the name of the descendants of Jacob; his name being changed to perpetuate a remarkable event in his life. We are apt to suppose Pharaoh to be the name of certain kings of Egypt; but this is a mistake, it was the title of office; a chief; and this very word, in that sense is in our mother tongue, the Saxon. Melchisedek is probably a like name. Many of the names mentioned in the tenth chapter of Genesis, which we have been accustomed to consider as names of individuals, are unquestionably the names of nations or tribes of men.
Whatever may be the fact, in regard to the three sons of the diluvian patriarch, we learn from the tenth chapter of Genesis, that the inhabitants of the world, at least of that part of the world which lies west of the river Indus, consisted of three great divisions, families, or races. The race of Shem inhabited and still for the most part, inhabit the great plain which extends from the Euphrates or the Tigris and the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean, and from Mesopotamia to the southern point of Arabia; comprehending the countries which have been known under the names of Assyria, Chaldea, Syria and Arabia. To these families must be added
the Ethiopians near the head of the Nile, whose language is a dialect of Shemitic. Bochart includes with this race, the Persians, but Persia has, at different periods, had very different limits, and a part of it was peopled by the race of Shem. But that some part of that country, bordering on Media, was peopled by the race of Japheth may be ascertained by the language of that country, as I shall hereafter prove.
The race of Ham peopled Africa.
It is however to be observed that Cush is said to have been a son of Ham, that Nimrod was a son of Cush, and that the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. This country was between the Euphrates and Tigris, or near those rivers. This name, Nimrod or Nebrod, is still in the Persian language, and signifies, war or warlike.
The other sons of Ham were Mizraim, Phut and Canaan. Mizraim, as Bochart observes, is not the name of an individual, but a plural word denoting the Egyptians. It is formed from a verb which signifies to bind, inclose or fortify, whence mezr, or mazor signifies a fortified town. This was anciently the name given to the metropolis of Egypt, and it is the name which the Arabians give to Cairo, at this day. The plural of this name then, Mizraim, signifies, Egyptians; and the word throughout the Old Testament, if I have not made a mistake, is translated Egypt or Egyptians, except in the tenth chapter of Genesis.
I would here remark that Cairo is a word of Celtic origin, at least it is found in the Celtic dialects. Welsh, Caer, a castle, fortress, or fortified city; exactly synonymous with
It is said Genesis 10, 13, that Mizraim begat Ludim, and Lehabim. Ludim is evidently a plural word, and signifies the Ethiopians.
Lehabim is also plural, formed from the Arabic Lehab, to burn, or inflame; also to thirst, to be dry. The country of the Lahabim, was the desert called by the Greeks Lybia,
west of Egypt. The Arabic Lub, has the same signification as Lehab, and from this root were probably named the Lubims, mentioned 2 Chronicles 16, 8; doubtless the same people as the Lehabim, the word being written in another dialect. These were the Lybians, mentioned in the Greek and Roman histories.
Canaan is also said to be a son of Ham. The land of Canaan was that which has been since called Palestine, and which was conquered by the Israelites. The word is from a verb which signifies to gain; a word still existing in the Irish branch of the Celtic, and applied to commerce. Now it is remarkable that the Tyrians, who were of that family, were distinguished for their commerce by sea, before any other people of whom we have any account in history.
The descendants of Canaan were Sidon, Heth, the Jebusite, the Emorite, the Girgasite, the Hivite, &c. tribes conquered by the Israelites. These are the principal tribes, whose names have been retained in later ages. Several others are mentioned in Scripture; but they seem to have become extinct at an early period, or to have been blended with others. "Afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad." Gen. 10, 18.
The race of Japheth, at the time the tenth chapter of Genesis was written, had extended their settlements from the Caspian Sea, to the western extremity of Europe. The early Greek writers mention Japetus, the son of Coelus and Titan, as the father of their race, and of all mankind.
From the scriptures we learn that Japheth had seven sons, "Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech and Tiras."
Gomer is placed by Josephus in Galatia, in Asia Minor; the writer not considering perhaps that Galatia received its name from an army of Gauls, a few centuries before his days. Bochart however supposes that Gomer is to be referred to Phrygia; the country in which the Gauls settled: the Arabians consider Gomer as the Turks, and so the word is ren
dered in the Arabic version of the Scriptures. All other authorities however seem to agree, in placing Gomer in Asia Minor. Whether the words Cimmerian and Cimbri are to be referred to Gomer as their original, may be a question. Magog is placed by Bochart near Mount Caucasus, and from the prophet Ezekiel we learn, that Magog was in the neighborhood of Tubal and Meshech, chapter 38, 2. These inhabited the country watered by the rivers Kur and Araxes, which unite and discharge their waters into the Caspian. The Araxes is called by some writers Rhos, and from this it is supposed the Russ, or Russians have their name.
Pliny and Ptolemy both mention the Rhoxalani, perhaps a mixture of the Rhus and Alans; a people that inhabited the countries of Georgia, and Armenia, between the Euxine and Caspian, and who, passing round the Euxine, entered Europe on the north.
Ptolemy says the Rhoxalani dwelt around the Palus Meotis. These tribes are supposed to have the name of Scythians, [shooters, archers,] from their dextrous use of the bow; and from the verb to shoot, variously written in the different dialects, Saxon Scytan, German Schossen, Dutch Schieten, Danish Skyder; and hence perhaps the modern word Scot. Without being able to define the limits of the different families, we may however be satisfied that Magog, Tubal and Meshech were the tribes which inhabited the region between the Euxine and Caspian, known under the names of Georgia, Cholchis, Iberia, and Albania; and from these are descended the Slavonic nations, Russians, Poles, and other nations on the north and west of the Euxine.
Madai, another son of Japheth, it is agreed by all writers, was the ancestor of the Medes, or the name of the nation.
It is also agreed that Tiras, the name of another son of Japheth, is recognized in the name Thrace, a country of Europe, situated between Macedon and the Euxine and Hellespont, now under the dominion of the Turks. And it is