Shem was the oldest son of Noah, he’s considered to be the ancestor of the Israelites and many other nations.
[Noah] also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem.” GENESIS 9:26
Going into the ark prior to the great Flood, Shem had no children. After the waters receded, though, Shem became the ancestor of many great nations including the chosen people of Israel.
Shem was the oldest son of Noah, the most righteous man on earth at the time. (Not that there was much competition.) Shem and his brother, Japheth the youngest of Noah’s three sons seemed to follow in their father’s footsteps, unlike the middle child, Ham.
The writer of Genesis recorded just one incident from Shem’s life, but it was enough to reveal his character. After the Flood, Noah returned to his original livelihood: farming. Specifically, Noah decided to plant a vineyard. It is possible that Noah was the first person to do so which would make Noah the world’s original winemaker. Noah, however, enjoyed a little too much of his own harvest and became drunk on the wine he had made. Intoxicated, Noah retired to his tent, where he lay naked and unconscious. Ham walked in on his exposed father and
seemed to find the situation amusing.
Ever since Adam and Eve’s fall from grace in the Garden of Eden, nakedness had become synonymous with shame. Instead of doing the honorable thing and covering his father’s nakedness and thereby his shame Ham told Shem and Japheth about it, apparently thinking they would find the situation as entertaining as he did. Shem, however, showed his father the respect he deserved; he and Japheth discreetly
covered Noah, taking care to walk backwards into the tent so as not to
see their father’s nakedness.
It may seem like a silly episode, but the real issue was one of honor.
Ham failed to demonstrate even the most basic respect for his father.
Shem, on the other hand, did the right thing and his descendants were rewarded for his honorable behavior.
Shem is regarded as the ancestor of Semitic people groups, including the Jews. According to Luke, Jesus descended from Shem’s third son, Arphaxad (see Luke 3:36).