Verse 29. "The days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years" - The oldest patriarch on record, except Methuselah and Jared. This, according to the common reckoning, was A. M. 2006, but according to Dr. Hales, 3505.
"HAM," says Dr. Hales, "signifies burnt or black, and this name was peculiarly significant of the regions allotted to his family. To the Cushites, or children of his eldest son Cush, were allotted the hot southern regions of Asia, along the coasts of the Persian Gulf, Susiana or Chusistan, Arabia, &c.; to the sons of Canaan, Palestine and Syria; to the sons of Misraim, Egypt and Libya, in Africa.
The Hamites in general, like the Canaanites of old, were a seafaring race, and sooner arrived at civilization and the luxuries of life than their simpler pastoral and agricultural brethren of the other two families. The first great empires of Assyria and Egypt were founded by them, and the republics of Sidon, Tyre, and Carthage were early distinguished for their commerce but they sooner also fell to decay; and Egypt, which was one of the first, became the last and basest of the kingdoms, Ezek. xxix. 15, and has been successively in subjection to the Shemites and Japhethites, as have also the settlements of the other branches of the Hamites.
"SHEM signifies name or renown; and his indeed was great in a temporal and spiritual sense. The finest regions of Upper and Middle Asia allotted to his family, Armenia, Mesopotamia, Assyria, Media, Persia, &c., to the Indus and Ganges, and perhaps to China eastward.
"The chief renown of Shem was of a spiritual nature: he was destined to be the lineal ancestor of the blessed seed of the woman; and to this glorious privilege Noah, to whom it was probably revealed, might have alluded in that devout ejaculation, Blessed be the LORD, the GOD of Shem! The pastoral life of the Shemites is strongly marked in the prophecy by the tents of Shem; and such it remains to the present day, throughout their midland settlements in Asia.
"JAPHETH signifies enlargement; and how wonderfully did Providence enlarge the boundaries of Japheth! His posterity diverged eastward and westward throughout the whole extent of Asia, north of the great range of Taurus, as far as the Eastern Ocean, whence they probably crossed over to America by Behring's Straits from Kamtschatka, and in the opposite direction throughout Europe to the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean; from whence also they might have crossed over to America by Newfoundland, where traces of early settlements remain in parts now desert. Thus did they gradually enlarge themselves till they literally encompassed the earth, within the precincts of the northern temperate zone, to which their roving hunter's life contributed not a little. Their progress northwards was checked by the much greater extent of the Black Sea in ancient times, and the increasing rigour of the climates: but their hardy race, and enterprising, warlike genius, made them frequently encroach southwards on the settlements of Shem, whose pastoral and agricultural occupations rendered them more inactive, peaceable. and unwarlike; and so they dwelt in the tents of Shem when the Scythians invaded Media, and subdued western Asia southwards as far as Egypt, in the days of Cyaxares; when the Greeks, and afterwards the Romans, overran and subdued the Assyrians, Medes, and Persians in the east, and the Syrians and Jews in the south; as foretold by the Syrian prophet Balaam, Num. xxiv. xxiv.
Ships shall come from Chittim, And shall afflict the Assyrians, and afflict the Hebrews;
But he (the invader) shall perish himself at last.
"And by Moses: And the Lord shall bring thee (the Jews) into Egypt (or bondage) again with ships, &c., Deut. xxviii. 68. And by Daniel: For the ships of Chittim shall come against him, viz., Antiochus, king of Syria, Dan. xi. 30. In these passages Chittim denotes the southern coasts of Europe, bounding the Mediterranean, called the isles of the Gentiles or Nations; see chap. x. 5. And the isles of Chittim are mentioned Jeremiah ii. 10. And in after times the Tartars in the east have repeatedly invaded and subdued the Hindoos and the Chinese; while the warlike and enterprising genius of the greatest of the isles of the Gentiles, GREAT BRITAIN and IRELAND, have spread their colonies, their arms, their language, their arts, and in some measure their religion, from the rising to the setting sun." See Dr. Hales's Analysis of Chronology, vol. 1., p. 352, &c.
Though what is left undone should not cause us to lose sight of what is done, yet we have reason to lament that the inhabitants of the British isles, who of all nations under heaven have the purest light of Divine revelation, and the best means of diffusing it, have been much more intent on spreading their conquests and extending their commerce, than in propagating the Gospel of the Son of God. But the nation, by getting the Bible translated into every living language, and sending it to all parts of the habitable globe, and, by its various missionary societies, sending men of God to explain and enforce the doctrines and precepts of this sacred book, is rapidly redeeming its character, and becoming great in goodness and benevolence over the whole earth!