Genesis 10:21 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 10:21, NIV: "Sons were also born to Shem, whose older brother was Japheth; Shem was the ancestor of all the sons of Eber."

Genesis 10:21, ESV: "To Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the elder brother of Japheth, children were born."

Genesis 10:21, KJV: "Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born."

Genesis 10:21, NASB: "Also to Shem, the father of all the children of Eber, and the older brother of Japheth, children were born."

Genesis 10:21, NLT: "Sons were also born to Shem, the older brother of Japheth. Shem was the ancestor of all the descendants of Eber."

Genesis 10:21, CSB: "And Shem, Japheth's older brother, also had sons. Shem was the father of all the sons of Eber."

What does Genesis 10:21 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This verse begins the final section of chapter 10's table of nations, describing how all of the people groups of the ancient world descended from Noah's three sons. This section on the line of Shem comes last, though this verse makes clear that Shem was the oldest of Noah's sons. Earlier, Ham was described using a Hebrew term meaning either "youngest," or "least" (Genesis 9:24). Here, Shem is said to be the older brother of Japheth. Logically, then, it seems Shem was the oldest of the three sons Noah brought with him on the ark (Genesis 7:1). Shem's line is the one that will lead to Abraham and the Israelites.

Verse 21 begins by referring to Shem as the father of the Eberites. This is typical of genealogies, especially in the ancient world. The term "father" is often used to refer to any male ancestor (Genesis 15:15; Genesis 31:3). This makes Shem the "father" of the Eberites, in the sense that, as Eber's great grandfather, Shem is the ancestor of that people. Through the Eberites, eventually, Shem's line will lead to Abraham (Abram).