What the Bible says about
(From Forerunner Commentary)
The first of this verse's two problems is that the KJV translates two different Hebrew words as "generations"! The first occurrence—"These are the generations"—is rendered from toledoth (Strong's #8435; note that it is plural), meaning "descent," "history," or "genealogy." The NKJV corrects this first error by using the word "genealogy"—"This is the genealogy of Noah"—although this is still a singular word. Other translations read:
» "the records of the generations" [New American Standard Bible (NASB)]
» "the account" [New International Version (NIV)]
» "the story" [Revised English Bible (REB)]
» "the descendants" [Moffatt translation (MOF)]
» "births" (Young's Literal Version)
» "the family records" [Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)]
The second occurrence of "generations"—in the phrase "perfect in his generations"—is from the Hebrew word dôr (Strong's #1755), which means "properly, a revolution of time, i.e., an age or generation." The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT) adds:
Generation. By a thoroughly understandable figure, a man's lifetime beginning with the womb of earth and returning thereto (Gen 3:19) is a dôr; likewise from the conception and birth of a man to the conception and birth of his offspring is a dôr. A special use . . . is to mean simply "contemporaries," . . . cf. Gen 6:9 . . . "in his own generation and those immediately contiguous."
In Isaiah 53:8, this word, dôr, is used similarly to Genesis 6:9:
[My Servant, Jesus] was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
This is better rendered, as in the English Standard Version: ". . . and as for His generation [or, contemporaries], who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?"
Generation (dôr) simply means a period of time, in the same way we use the phrases "the life and times of Ronald Reagan" or "the Age of Napoleon." The Hebrew implies the context or milieu of a person's life, the situations and events that occurred during his lifetime, including, as TWOT shows, his "contemporaries." Thus, many modern translations have rendered in his generations as:
» "in his time" (NASB)
» "at that time" (The Living Bible)
» "of his time" (Today's English Version; REB)
» "among the people of his time" (NIV)
» "among his fellow-men (The Modern Language Bible)
» "among his contemporaries" (HCSB)
» "among the men of his day" (MOF)
The two generations in Genesis 6:9 are quite different words and should be translated to distinguish them and to rule out misunderstanding.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
'Perfect In His Generations'
We witness the closing stages of Noah's comments today. Canaan, broadly the peoples of Africa, is in the process of being marginalized by world powers. God has indeed "enlarged" the population, prestige, and power of Japheth, the Asian nations collectively, especially in the last hundred years or so. Japheth's general and widespread "blooming" is one of the most obvious and important trends today.
What is not so obvious, however, is the role of Shem in bringing about this growth. Nevertheless, the fact is incontrovertible: God has used (and is using) Shemitic civilization to transform Japheth into a great people. Japheth is coming to "dwell in the tents of Shem"—in those cultural fixtures originated by Americans and Europeans. This widespread realignment of cultural bearings, from traditional Oriental to postindustrial Occidental, often comes with reservation—and with a good deal of adaptation as well. Nevertheless, it has come about:
» The Japanese Emperor wears Western-style clothes. His people, isolated from the Occident for centuries, have today thoroughly accepted the institution of capitalism, "a peculiar creation of Western culture." The Japanese people have come to feel quite at home "in the tents [and tenets] of Shem."
» India may lack an emperor but not Shem's tents. India is the world's largest democracy. Just like capitalism, democracy, as we will see shortly, is a Shemitic invention. In the 1830s, an Englishman, Lord Macaulay, formulated a civil and criminal legal code still used in India today. Macaulay believed that Britain's aim in ruling India should be the creation of "a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste and intellect." To an extent, Britain succeeded.
» As is evident to all, China is moving into Shem's tents as well, slowly adopting a market economy. While no one can say for sure, there will probably be more of Shem in China's future.
One writer offers remarkable insight into these tents. He does not refer to Shem, but to his descendent, Abraham. The Abrahamic
world emerged from the triad of religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—that trace their roots in the Biblical patriarch and spawned the great secular ideologies of scientific empiricism, liberal democracy, and Marxism. Unlike the Buddhist and Hindu worldviews, the Abrahamic perspective sees nature as reducible to predictable laws and history as a process with a meaningful beginning, middle, and end. The Muslim, the Marxist, the democrat, the Baconian scientist, the Christian, and the Jew all share this fundamentally similar outlook on life.
Because the Western perspective focuses on the sibling rivalries between Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, Jefferson, Bacon, and Marx, it too often overlooks the extraordinary spread of Abrahamism out of its native Middle East into nearly every corner of the world. Virtually every human culture that has encountered Abrahamic ideology has adopted it sooner or later. Asia is no exception. In the last 100 years, each major Asian state has embraced at least one Abrahamic faith. Consequently, every Asian society is today engaged in a fundamental effort to reconcile its increasingly Abrahamic outlook with its native culture. (Walter Mead, "The End of Asia? Redefining a Changing Continent," Foreign Affairs, November/December 2000, p. 156. Emphasis added).
The commentator concludes:
In fact, the twenty-first century may well be remembered more for the end of Asia than for its rise. On the one hand, the universal solvents of capitalism and Abrahamic ideology will continue to sow deep social and cultural changes among the peoples of geographical Asia, steadily reducing, transforming, and remixing—although probably never finally eliminating—the last traces of pre-Abrahamic culture.
The point, of course, is not that Asia is "ending" as a power structure. Rather, Asia is buying into Occidental thought at the cost of her traditional, Oriental culture.
Globalism (Part Two): The Tents of Shem
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