From this parsha we can see that the oldest son of Noah was Japheth, while Gen 9:24 showed us that Ham was the youngest. Why then in every place in Scripture, does it list the sons of Noah as Shem, then Ham, then Japheth? Brad Scott of Wildbranch Ministry explains why this is so in Bricks for Stones: the critical context of Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
The name Shem is shem in Hebrew, Strong’s H8035, from the primitive root shem, Strong’s H8034, meaning name, reputation, fame, or glory. “HaShem” or “the Name” is how Jews refer to God. They dare not speak His name YHVH for fear of blasphemy.
Shem is in the ancient Hebrew pictographs m?, the shin – mem. The shin is the two front teeth, so also sharp, press, eat, or two. The mem is water, so also chaos, might, or blood. The story the pictographs tell is that which issues through the front teeth mightily, so the verb form means to breathe, the concrete noun is breath, and the abstract concept is renown or reputation, as the breath of a man contains his identity. Thus shem also means “name” in Hebrew. This is a very important Hebraic concept. Our breath, thus our life, we learned from Gen 2:7, was breathed into us by Elohiym, Creator of heaven and earth, and then we became a living being. The Lord God is The Living Being, as His personal name YHVH (I AM THAT I AM) attests. He is the source of life, and He imparted His life to us on the day He created us.
So that shem means breath, while also meaning identity, name, renown, and reputation, tells the story that our name and our identity, and thus, our character, flows from our source of life who is God. When God says in His Word something about us, we need to listen and believe it for it is the truth, and not believe the lie the enemy tells us about ourselves. This is why the enemy lies about who we are! It is to dam up the river of the life out from which flows our identity and character! When we believe God in all His statements, we tear down that dam!