Arrangement 3: Shem


A substemma of nine roundels in two generations. Sem and his wife Norea are not counted since they are part of Filum A. Dimensions: 3 wide by 6 tall. Liber Genealogus counterpart: section 06.

The manuscript versions from left: Plutei, Roda, San Juan de la Pena and Foigny bibles.


This is the first of the three sons of Noah to be treated in the Liber Genealogus, although Shem is the rightmost of the three sons of Noah in the layout in the Great Stemma. This is explained in the commentary on Ham.

In the plots above, Shem and his son Arpachshad are shown ghosted since they are properly speaking elements of the filum structure, not of this sub-stemma proper. However they are needed to anchor its diagrammatic structure.

M (Mosoc filius Sem) in Roda is a mistaken insertion, an endogenous error peculiar to the Alpha and Beta recensions which probably arose by duplicating Mesoc filius Aram. Despite this error, the layout in Roda is the most practical one and most likely original.

It would of course be conceivable that the whole Semitic family could have been crammed into a single column as the other manuscripts above show the family, especially since that is a common pattern in the manuscripts. But nine vacant rows would be required to accommodate the nine persons, whereas only eight (rows 1-8) are available, because a sucker from the Ishmaelites is already occupying row 9.

Only the position of Norea, wife of Shem, is open to any doubt. With some effort she could be placed to the south-east of Shem, but a south-west position on a level with the wives of Noah's other two sons is dictated by the available space when the Eber group further to the right has been laid out.

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