Within the past month, I have finally finished my chapter on Arphaxad and his descendants. I never anticipated how long this would take, but that had in large part to do with my lack of knowledge on who or how many those descendants were! There were truly a great number of them. While the Scriptures focus mainly on the line of Shem to Abraham and so forth, there are so many other people who descended from the line of Shem, and namely Arphaxad, who are mentioned in the Scriptures. Some are discussed to a greater extent than others, but they are included nonetheless.
Though all the sons of Shem are those who populated what is now known as the Middle East, it was mostly Arphaxad’s line that dominated. There are the people who mixed in Assyria and Aram who descended from Terah, including Haran and Nahor. Of course, their more famous brother, Abraham, gave rise to many more nations than the two generally discussed. From The Israelites and, partially, the Samaritans arose from Isaac. From Ishmael, the many nations of Arabs, as they were sometimes called, grew to a great power. They were known by many names and many people who lived long after those names were lost seem to have been related to them. These are such as the Ishmaelites, the Hagrites, and even some such as the Nabateans have been conjecture to be related. As discussed before, the Midianites and their brothers also came from Abraham. These were the nations that lived from the western parts of Mesopotamia down through Canaan and even to the southern western parts of the Arabian Peninsula.
Many doubt the presence of Israel and the house of David as having existed when and where they did. Yet the Israelites, those called Iudea, or Omri-land, or Samaria, or the House of David are mentioned all throughout archaeology. They were known by the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Moabites, the Arameans, and the Greeks and Romans. Their presence and place in history was made clear in the Scriptures, but it was also made known again by the artifacts.
Additionally, the people of Lot, who was nephew of Abraham, gave rise to two great nations, one of which left behind a name that remains today in Jordan: Amman. Though Jacob’s line is the better known of Isaac’s two sons, Edom also gave rise to a great nation that often dwelled alongside the Midianites and the Ishmaelites. Their land stretched from the south-east part of Israel, to the Sinai peninsula, down to the southern reaches of Arabia. In fact, they were so close that they often intermarried. Additionally, one of the sons of Edom gave rise to nations known by names other than Edom, such as the Amalekites and Temanites, known elsewhere in Scripture either for good or evil. These people were known then and they are known now by what and whom they have left in each of the regions they settled in.
And after finishing with Arphaxad, I continued with Aram, and it is he whom I have been working on for the last week and a half. His people were in many ways quite simple as compared to some of the rest. Like Israel, they were and still are a well-known nation, though under slightly different names, purposes, and governance now than they were originally. In fact, like Israel, much about who governed them is known because of what is found in the Scriptures. Aram became what is today known as Syria. While this land shares part of its history with Assyria, Babylon, Phoenicia, and some other countries, its people, name, and much of its language can be traced back to this son of Shem. Their leaders are named as far back as the time of the Judges, and their last days are a “superpower”, if you will, are recorded in Kings portions of Scripture as well as in Assyrian annals. Though they were conquered and scattered, their people and language remained, even overcoming the language utilized by Assyria and becoming the lingua franca on a near equal-standing with Greek.
Though many of these names and nations may seem insignificant to the people’s dwelling in these lands now, they are the lands and the people who exist in those lands today. Though many have been scattered, many remained in their homelands and continued on into the present, becoming the people that we know in that land to this day. Many of the Jordanians are descended from Lot. Those in Israel are, and most famously perhaps, descended from Jacob. Those in Syria share their roots with a multitude of people, but still hail to their roots in Asshur, Aram, or another brother or tribe. The people of the Middle East share a history in war, location, and culture. They have interacted with each other, intermarried, and dwelled together for centuries. And as they were brothers then, they are still so now. Each of these nations from Arphaxad and each place they settled in are essentially unchanged unto today.
Just as I hope for the rest of the world, perhaps one day these brothers may see themselves as such and live in peace with other another.
Blessings to you and yours,