Shem is one the three sons of Noah as recorded in Genesis 5:32 and 6:10, “And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.”  His name means “Name” or “Renown” (Fame).  Shem was probably the firstborn son of Noah since he is mentioned first. Additionally, the words "brother of Japheth the elder" in Genesis10:21 are more correctly rendered "the elder brother of Japheth," as in the Revised Version of the Bible.

Shem was one of the eight people who were spared from the flood (Genesis 7:13).  He was apparently a faithful servant of Jehovah God because Genesis 9:26 and 27 teach that God is the “Lord God of Shem.” In addition, it was from Shem’s children that the nation of Israel came into being.  Genesis 11:10-26 and 1 Chronicles 1:24-27 list Shem’s descendants which culminate with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Some speculate that Shem may have been the priest and king Melchisedek in Genesis 14 and Psalms 75:3. Shem’s longevity indicates that he would have been alive at the time of Abraham, but there is no direct scriptural proof that these two great people are one and the same.  Others say that Shem may have been the architect of the Great Pyramid of Giza. Again, we have no definitive proof of this clam; although, it too presents some interesting ideas.

The chief significance of Shem is that he is mentioned in the lineage of Jesus in Luke 3:36. “Which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Arphaxad, which was the son of Sem, which was the son of Noe…” Sem is the Greek version of the name Shem and Noe the Greek version of the name Noah.