Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav
ShemBy Jeff A. Benner
We are not given much history of Shem or what type of person he was but his name does provide us with a clue. Unlike our names, a Hebrew's name was a word with meaning. This meaning was a reflection of the person himself and his character. The Hebrew word shem is most often translated as "name" and the name of Shem in English is Name.
For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol; and his fame was in all the nations round about. (1 Kings 4:31 RSV)
This is similar to our desire to "have a good name". This has nothing to do the actual name but the character of the one with the name.
You shall not uncover the nakedness of your father's wife; it is your father's nakedness.
It had always bothered me that Ham was the one who uncovered the nakedness of his father, but it was his son Canaan that was cursed for it. That is until I discovered that Canaan was the product of the union between Ham and his mother. This demonstrates how a simple reading of the text does not always reveal what the text is actually stating.