Rashi (Gen 12,6) mentions that Noah divided the world between his sons and that Israel was given to Shem and his descendants:

והכנעני אז בארץ. הָיָה הוֹלֵךְ וְכוֹבֵשׁ אֶת אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל מִזַּרְעוֹ שֶׁל שֵׁם, שֶׁבְּחֶלְקוֹ שֶׁל שֵׁם נָפְלָה כְּשֶׁחָלַק נֹחַ אֶת הָאָרֶץ לְבָנָיו... לְפִיכָךְ וַיֹּאמֶר ה' אֶל אַבְרָם לְזַרְעֲךָ אֶתֵּן אֶת הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת, עָתִיד אֲנִי לְהַחֲזִירָהּ לְבָנֶיךָ שֶׁהֵם מִזַּרְעוֹ שֶׁל שֵׁם:

Are there any other sources that offer more details on this allocation of land by Noah?

3 Answers 3


Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book I, Chapter 6. Some key quotes:

1. Japhet, the son of Noah, had seven sons: they inhabited so, that beginning at the mountains Taurus and Amanus, they proceeded along Asia, as far as the river Tanais; and along Europe to Cadiz...

2.The children of Ham possessed the land from Syria and Amanus and the mountains of Libanus, seizing upon all that was on its sea-coasts; and as far as the ocean...

4. Shem, the third son of Noah, had five Sons, who inhabited the land that began at Euphrates, and reached to the Indian Ocean...

  • 1
    +1, Hm, it seems very reasonable, but what about Israel and Rashi I cited? That seems to contradict. Also, what is this based on? Our commentaries, observations, external sources? After I read it, it seems to be an adaptation of the Torah. Please see my other question about Africa and the Targumim - are those the source?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Oct 20, 2018 at 18:52

Jubilees 8:15-46 describes this in more detail:

"And it came to pass in the beginning of the thirty-third jubilee that they divided the earth into three parts, for Shem and Ham and Japheth, according to the inheritance of each, in the first year in the first week, when one of us, who had been sent, was with them. And he called his sons, and they drew nigh to him, they and their children, and he divided the earth into the lots, which his three sons were to take in possession..."

Shem is given the land from Mt. Rafa to the Gichon River. The land north of Rafa is allotted to Yefet and the land south of the Gichon is allotted to Cham. The verses describe that within Shem's territory the Garden of Eden was included. Per the geographical descriptions, it seems that this is the Land of Yisrael (and of course, there are the sources that say that it's in Eretz Yisrael, such as this one).


Note the Bartenura on the Torah there:

והכנעני אז בארץ הולך וכובש את ארץ ישראל מזרעו של שם שבחלקו של שם נפלה וכו'. קשה שהרי בפ' שלך לך כתב שבנה חם חברון לכנען בנו ונראה שבחלקו של כנען נפלה ואיך אומר בכאן שבחלקו של שם נפלה. י"ל שארץ ישראל שבצד דרום לבדה נפלה בחלקו של שם ולפי' היה אברם הלוך ונסוע הגנבה אבל שאר ארץ ישראל נפלה בחלקו של חם ואעפ"י שכתוב ויעלו בנגב ויבא עד חברון דמשמע שגם חברון היתה בצד הנגב אין זו הוכחה שכן פי' המקרא ויעלו המרגלים לצד דרום כלומר מנגב למחנה ישראל:

(My translation) 'And the Canaanite was then in the land — They (the Canaanites) were going and conquering the land of Israel from the descendants of Shem, for it had fallen to the share of Shem' etc. - It is a difficulty / question since in parshas Lech Lecha it writes that his (Noach's) son Cham gave Chevron to Canaan his son, and it appears that it had fallen to the portion of Canaan (i.e. that of Cham and not Shem), how then could it say that it fell in the portion of Shem? It must be that it was the land of Israel on the Southern side alone that fell to the portion of Shem and therefore that is why Avraham went and journeyed towards the Negev, but the rest of the land of Israel fell in the portion of Cham. And even though it writes that he went up in the Negev until he came to Chevron it implies that also Chevron was on the side of the Negev. There is no proof to explain that the meraglim went up on the Southern side, meaning from the Negev to the camp of Israel.

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