"Remember the days of old, consider the years of all generations. Ask your father, and he will inform you, your elders, and they will tell you. When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel” (Deuteronomy 32:7-8 emphasis added); “One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts. On the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wonderful works, I will meditate… “All Your works shall give thanks to You, O YHVH, and Your godly ones shall bless You. They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom, and talk of Your power; To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts, and the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures throughout all generations” (Psalm 145:4-5, 10-13).
Almost two months ago now we found ourselves once again on the Greek islands, that is back in Crete after having been there only seven and a half months ago, and also in the island of Santorini. Some of you may remember that what took us to Crete in the first place was a deep interest in the ancient Minoan culture and civilization which flourished there during the Bronze Age (estimated 3000 to 1700) and on a more personal note, a visit to the island’s only operating synagogue in the town of Chania. The synagogue was brought back to life, so to speak, by a man who died a year ago, shortly before our first visit, and who had been Rimona’s lecturer on the subject of Early Christian Art at Tel Aviv University many years hence. All those years she knew nothing of his involvements in renewal projects in the Greek Jewish world, which she discovered by a ‘divine coincidence’ while pondering, last year, the possibility of a trip to Crete and primarily to Chania.
From that first trip we gleaned some historical and biblical ramifications that had opened up to us as a result. We shared this in a report that we wrote back in September 2017.
So why go again? The one year anniversary of the passing of Nikos Stavrolakis was just about to occur, and we wanted to honor his memory and be present at the Etz Chayim Synagogue for the event. This time we went with another couple, dear friends, who have not been there before so we took the opportunity to show them the primary Minoan site at
and the great museum devoted to the
finds, which is located in the capital Heraklion. Knossos
The main reason for visiting the nearby
was to continue examining the lives of those ancients, since some very
impressive ruins are also found there. The Minoans’ contemporaries were the
Cycladic people who were equally advanced, but whose social structure and
government were simpler since they were not ruled by a monarchy, but instead
had a certain type of civilian administration. Theirs, as well as the Minoans’
impressive and prosperous culture was brought to an abrupt end by the huge
eruption of a volcano on Santorini. In fact this volcano is still active and we
got to climb on it, as it forms its own (small) island. The eruption
occurred around the year 1600 B.C.E and the vast and widespread changes in its
wake are still evident to this day. Many of the island’s homes, for example,
are built right into the solidified ash, turned to rock. island of Santorini
It was there, in Santorini, that we began to further seek Abba as to His reasons for leading and guiding us to the places, the people and chiefly to their history, and why the need to be physically present there. The answer did not come immediately, and when it did it was only partial: pray, pray, pray. As “Shemites” we were to lift up Japheth and his seed, especially Javan (Yavan - Greece in Hebrew), son of Noah. It so ‘happened’ that our lodging place was faced by Mount Elias (Elijah), being the highest point on the island. So obediently we proceeded to make our way there and to call forth Abba’s children out of the influences of Japheth and his progeny Javan-Yavan, and to pray for them and their destiny as those who are to live in the tent of Shem.
Upon our return home we continued to ponder the trip and the theme of “return by the way in which you went…” (Jer. 31:21), together with other scriptures that point to the retracing of the steps “all the way back to Adam” (see Joshua 3:16), for the purpose of full restoration. To this was added, as a backdrop, the teaching on the boomerang and its operation, which was brought up in the recent Bney Yosef National Congress in Ariel. Just before making its way back, and in order to be able to do so, the boomerang spins in an ever increasing vortex. Additionally, the events that have taken place in Israel just recently in conjunction with several anniversaries (especially Jerusalem’s), have caused some to comment that we are now at a tipping point from where things will not continue to be as they were. What’s more, the Hebrew word for repentance and having a change of heart is of course “return” – tshuva. Thus, when trying to put together all of this with the various aspects of the trip, from the personal and microcosmic to the enormous expanses of history and civilizations, we were still left with our question: What is this all about and are all these components connected somehow? Is there one full picture that emerges from all those collage pieces?
Since 1982 we have been involved in what we have called ‘spiritual archeology’, but to put it more appropriately: “declaring YHVH’s works of old and in past generations” concerning the Abrahamic family. However, YHVH’s kingdom goes further, all the way back to Noah (and of course to Adam). And so with what we learned during the trip, but more so afterwards, Abba started to impart insights and stage by stage ‘connected the dots’. This report, therefore, will not be about our physical-geographical trip, as much as about the journey we took into the Word and into certain historical accounts, accompanied by some thoughts and conclusions.
In our book Firstborn Factor in the Plan of Redemption we pointed out that after the Deluge, in the days of Noah, YHVH mandated a divine order in the Noahic family. With Noah’s understanding of YHVH’s ways, he spoke out these words to his firstborn son, Shem: "Blessed be YHVH, the Elohim of Shem…”. And as alluded to above, he then continued to bless his other son, Japheth: “Elohim enlarge (literally “beautify”) Japheth, and he will dwell as a servant in the tents of Shem…” (Genesis 9:26-27 emphasis added). Curiously nothing is said about Ham. It is only Canaan, Ham’s youngest son, who is emphatically mentioned twice, as someone who would be a servant to both Shem and Japheth. But as such he too will be living in Shem’s tent. These pronouncements followed an episode in which Noah, in a drunken stupor, uncovered himself, and whereas Shem and Japheth took measures to respect their father, Ham did not. This act signified blatant unrighteousness, the consequence of which fell on Ham’s youngest son (ref. Genesis 9:22-24). And as if that were not enough, his oldest, Cush, named his firstborn “Nimrod”, meaning “we will rebel”.
Cush thus became the channel through which Ham attempted to defy the pronouncement of his grandfather, Noah, and he did so by introducing another kingdom, with the idea of drawing Shem (or his progeny) into his tent (ref. Genesis 10:8-10). In a manner of speaking, Ham’s rebellion was the first sign of anti-Semitism and replacement theology. Envy and jealousy over birthrights were not new to the family of Adam, and now would continue to play out also in Noah’s posterity, to this very day.
YHVH’s sovereign works of multiplying the seed of each of those fathers, and supplying them with provisions continued (ref. Genesis 9:2-3) in spite of the nature of sin that was working in the hearts. According to the genealogy of Shem, the life span of the first seven to eight generations was two to three hundred years. If that were so in Shem’s side of the family, it must have also been true of Japheth and Ham’s.
YHVH scattered and split the nations in the days of Peleg (Genesis 10:25, 11:8; Deuteronomy 32:8) who was born 100 years after the Flood and lived 239 years. Adding this up we arrive at 339 years of non-stop prolific generational reproduction. It is easy to understand, therefore, how very quickly families and tribes grew into nations during this time period. By the time Abram shows up there must have already been hundreds of thousands of Shemites, Hamites, and Japhethites living in the lands that YHVH had assigned to them (ref. Genesis 10:5, 20, 31-32). This is also verified by historians and archeologists, in spite of the fact that they do not seem to be able to agree on a common chronology (a fact which is also true of many of the bible scholars). But please note, this is not an attempt on our part to come up with an alternative chronology, but to give a perspective on Elohim’s sovereignty and on-going plan for mankind. Biblical scholars estimate the Flood anywhere from 3246 to 2348 B.C.E. The approximate dates that the historians ascribe to the Shemite/Semitic Akkadian empire (see Genesis 10:10) is 2279-2198 B.C.E; the Hamite Mitzraim (Egypt’s) old kingdom (see Genesis 10:6) is 2686-2181 B.C.E; the Hamite Amorites 2112-2004 (See Genesis 10:16); the Japhetite Minoans and Cyclades 3000-1700. This extended period of 3000 – 2200 B.C.E is known as the Early Bronze Age. (Once again, there is no general consensus as to dating.)
As mentioned, YHVH provided Noah’s family their sustenance in order for them to multiply and grow into families, tribes and nations. Indeed, they developed a very sophisticated (not unlike today’s) system of commerce, trade and economic cooperation. No doubt what enabled them to bounce back from the natural disaster that they had emerged from was the knowledge and skills that they had already acquired before the Flood (and transmitted by Noah’s family). This was now being implemented in the areas of science, mathematics, medicine, agriculture etc. During this era (of the early Bronze Age) humanity was enjoying relative peace and prosperity, so much so that the historians have labeled it the Golden Age.
As we noted above, at some point during the first two hundred years after the Flood, Ham, Cush and Nimrod together with the Shemites Ashur, Akkad, Erech (possibly Elam) and others, decided to bring about a ‘one world order’ and to set up another kingdom in order “to make a name for themselves” (Genesis 11:4). The Valley of Shinar was chosen as the headquarters for this movement and its building projects, with the capital being Babel. It is interesting to watch the cooperation of the Shemites with the Hamites, contrary to the word given by Noah. For Cush and Nimrod it meant that Shem’s sons were coming under their dominion and ‘tent’ (see Genesis 10:10-11). A careful reading of chapter 10 reveals that the genealogies of Ham are not only much longer than Shem and Japheth’s, they are also more detailed, even covering landmasses, and in addition to enumerating individual names they also cite clans and groups. In other words, the Hamites were much more prolific and organized in comparison to their counterparts, having what appears to be an elaborate expansionist agenda (see vs. 13, 14, 16-19).
At this stage Japheth and his descendants seem to not be involved in the power games, and in fact Genesis 10:2-5 records for us that, “the sons of Japheth were… [mentioning their names, and] from these the coastlands of the nations were separated into their lands, every one according to his language, according to their families, into their nations” (emphasis added). Thus, the Japhethites were ‘minding their own business’ and moving out according to the designated plan for them.
Ham’s rebellion against YHVH’s kingdom order resulted in Elohim scattering these nations and confusing their language (ref. Genesis 10:25b; 11:7-8). Here again we see His work and method of keeping the families on track to their final destination. During the next phase YHVH brings forth a firstborn from the line of Shem - Abram - whose birth occurred right around the time of Peleg’s death (2,000 B.C.E). The particular line of Shem which was selected for YHVH’s kingdom purposes was of Arpachshad, Shem’s third born son. It says that he was born two years after the Flood (Genesis 11:2), which makes his older siblings very close in age, and most likely twins. As we already know, Ashur (number two) cooperated with Nimrod (ref. Genesis 10:11), a fact that would have disqualified him in the eyes of YHVH, while the firstborn, Elam, may have done the same. In fact, in Genesis 14 Elam’s descendants appear as representing an aggressive kingdom, which is also attested to by the historians.
When Abram came up to the ‘playing field’ of this world, Shem was still alive. The patriarch must have been greatly relieved by this offspring of his, after witnessing the Hamites hijacking the position that his father, Noah, had declared for the family.
Let us pause here briefly to observe a scene of prophetic significance, described in Genesis 14 (vs. 1-12). A battle had taken place between a four-king Hamite-Shemite coalition, and a group of five kings who wanted to throw off the yoke of the former. The latter were heads of local kingdoms in the southern part of Canaan, and they ended up being defeated by the four kings. Abram had a vested interest in this situation, although he did not take sides in the conflict. His role was to come into the “mix” of Ham and Shem, stay above the situation, redeem and retrieve. But with his trained servants he not only rescued his nephew Lot (resident of Sodom) who was captured, but also others who were taken prisoners, as well as their goods. Abram’s calling, and by implication that of his seed, is clearly seen here. Next, Abram is standing in the King’s Valley, also called the “Valley of Equality or Worth” (Shaveh), situated most likely at the gate of Shalem (Salem, later to become Jerusalem). It is here that he is welcomed by One greater than himself (Malchizedek King of Salem), who confers a blessing upon him, sealing it with covenantal bread and wine while Abram gives him a tithe of all the possessions that he had procured (ref. Genesis 14:18-20). Thus the spiritual foundation stone was laid according to Divine protocol for the setting up, by covenant, of the tent of Shem to be headed by Abraham’s seed - Israel - in that very location (The above-mentioned gate can still be seen today in the archaeological site at the City of David.)
And so, as the historical record continues to march in time, with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their sons, the emergence of Israel from the House of Slaves in Egypt (again, dwelling in the tent of Ham), all the way to the Davidic and the Solomonic kingdoms, we see YHVH’s hand at play. One of the archaeologists of the ancient Minoan civilization and its contemporaries commented that those Israelite kingdoms would not have come into being had not the Hamite (like the Hittites and Mitzraim/Egypt) and Japhetite powers collapsed (or had been substantially weakened) in the Middle Bronze Age, with the super-volcano that erupted in Santorini, its ensuing tsunami, earthquakes, famines and invasions of the Sea People. All of this made for a two to three hundred year ‘dark age’, which would have been more or less concurrent with the Exodus and times of the Judges in Israel.
As we saw when examining the chronology of the pre-Israelite period, and if we peer into Israel’s historic developments all the way up to the deportation of the Northern Kingdom, we find that Japheth is absent from the power struggle scene. However, at the time when Israel’s northern kingdom was destroyed by the Assyrians (a Shemite people), Japhtaite names suddenly show up. At least some of the exiles of the Northern Kingdom (Reuben, Gad and half of Menasseh) were destined to come into Japheth’s tent, as they are said to have been deported in 722 B.C.E to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the river of Gozan and to the cities of the Medes (see 1 Chronicles 5:26). According to Genesis 10:2, Madai (the Hebrew word for the Medes) was Japheth’s son. The exiles of
Judah, on the other hand, were taken in 576 B.C.E
a place that has had a long history of changing rulers and populations (true to
its name, a “mixture”), and thus the Jews found themselves under a
Shemite-Hamite dominion. Japheth, of course, became very prominent with
Alexander the Great in the middle of the 4th century B.C.E and
from then on the Jews and Babylon Judea in
particular came under his dominion through Alexander’s successors and later the
Romans. (Obviously both houses of Israel, in their millennia-long
dispersions have been living in the “tents” of all three of Noah’s sons’
But why go so far back, to the very beginning of humanity’s expansion, in an attempt to revive those words of Noah regarding his sons’ destiny so long ago? As we have seen, throughout history there have been constant attempts to bring Shem’s seed into another tent, under someone else’s dominion. Whereas initially Ham had been a very dominant force for an extended time period, Japheth has taken over for much of the past two thousand years and more, along with a rival from Shem – Ishmael. It is interesting to note that when it comes to end time prophecies regarding the descendants of the three brothers, Ezekiel 38 mentions a Japhethite-Hamite coalition (vs. 2, 3) that is poised to attack Israel. Likewise Japheth, via Javan (Yavan – Greece) is denounced in prophetic scripture by Zechariah (9:13) and Joel (3:6). This is in addition to several of the Shemite nations that are also implicated and judged (see, for example, Psalm 83 and Obadiah).
On the other hand, according to Isaiah 19:24 the two who are to form a triune coalition with Israel at a later date are Ashur (Assyria) and Mitzraim (Egypt), not before the latter suffers much tribulation. Although at the moment who this “Ashur” is, is not known. We can assume that it is still of a Shemite origin as we saw in Genesis. Contemporary Mitzraim, however, seems to no longer be of the seed of Ham, but rather of Ishmael, that is from Shem. Surprisingly, there are three other Shemite groups that are promised some form of restoration, and they are Elam, Moav and Ammon. “I will set My throne in
and will destroy from there the king and the princes,' says
YHVH. 'But it shall come to pass in the latter days: I will bring
back the captives of Elam ,'
says YHVH" (Jeremiah 49:38-39). Perhaps having been the firstborn of Shem
has something to do with the special grace accorded to Elam (and again,
who they may be now is known only to YHVH). As to Moav and Ammon (again, whomever
they may currently be), Jeremiah declares that in the latter days “the
captivity of Moav” will be brought back, as well as “the captives of the people
of Ammon” (48:47; 49:6). (This, however, has to be placed against Deuteronomy
23:3-4 and Nehemiah 13:1-2, where it states that these two will not “come into
the assembly of Elohim”. Thus their status upon the “return of their captivity”
is not compatible with Israel’s and the latter’s position in the tent of Shem.)
If Abraham and his seed are to inherit the world (Romans 4:13), it must certainly be referring to that “tent of Shem” of long ago. But, the world and those who dwell in it will not allow for a vacuum – there will always be usurpers. So, even though Judah and Ephraim are still only feeling (or inching) their way toward each other, Abba is nudging His children and pointing them to an even farther destination: “Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch out the curtains of your dwellings; Do not spare; Lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes” (Isaiah 54:2). Along with this, there is another tent to consider: “… Jerusalem… a tent [literal translation] that will not wander/roam [literal translation - will not go to Zoan, that is to Egypt]” (Isaiah 33:20).
The One who “declares the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10), has this to say about the “beginning days” (the days of Peleg – the division). So let us read once again: "Remember the days of old, consider the years of all generations. Ask your father, and he will inform you, your elders, and they will tell you: When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of
. For YHVH’s portion is His people; Jacob
is the allotment of His inheritance” (Deuteronomy 32:7-9 emphases added). Israel
And now to come full circle, let us recall that little synagogue in Chania Crete – the Etz Chayim (tree of life); Right in the midst of the Japhetite territory in Yavan (Greece) stands the restored and humble ‘tent of Shem’, drawing for no apparent reason different ones from all nations who choose to come for a little while under its roof.
It is time for us to recognize what the Almighty has constantly been in the process of establishing, as well as the challenges that have been put up by those who have attempted to step into the vacuum. Are we in the season when it is not only the House of Israel that is being built up, but also the tent of Shem whom YHVH has mandated to His Israel - “His allotment” and “His inheritance”? Are we to seek Him for our orders in terms of taking some form of responsibility in this ongoing process of redemption “all the way back to Adam”? It is no coincidence that just before Israel entered the Land, after the forty year desert journey, the waters of the Jordan are said to have rolled back “all the way to a place called Adam”.
Our restored identity as Israel (tent of Shem) does not come without certain requirements and obligations.
Finally, a word of encouragement: Recently we have witnessed amazing progress on the part of some (a few) in Judah who are taking up their responsibilities in some of the mandated areas required of Judah in Abba’s redemptive plan.