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Biblical Nations - Shem

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Shem Key Scripture: Genesis 10:21-31 Figures: Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, Aram, Eber, Peleg, Joktan, and Abram We have arrived at the first of Noah's three sons to be mentioned in the Bible, but the last to be listed in the "Table of Nations" found in Genesis 10.  It is likely because the writer of Genesis was a descendent of Israel who came from the family of Shem, as did many of the important empires that would impact the Middle East throughout the centuries.  From the names of his children and grandchildren, we can determine that the people groups known as the "Semites" filled much of the Arabian Peninsula, Fertile Crescent, and the regions to the south and east.  Obviously many families remained close to Mount Ararat, leading to the incident at the Tower of Babel, and some of Noah's grandchildren seem to have traveled closer to their cousins than their brothers, so the family of Shem has a measure of overlap with both the people of Ham and Japheth. Sh

Biblical Nations - Ham

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Ham Key Scripture: Genesis 10:6-20 Figures: Cush, Egypt, Put, Canaan, and Nimrod The second son of Noah that we will study this week is Ham, and Jewish tradition maintains that he was the middle child of the three.  Compared to his brother, Japheth, Ham is the subject of much more written detail in Scripture.  His descendants were numerous and significant to the Biblical narrative because they occupied much of the territory that becomes the setting of the story of Israel.  Genesis 10 lists four of Ham's sons, each of which became recognized with areas south and southwest of Mount Ararat where the ark came to rest after the Flood.  They settled at various locations along the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, occupying portions of the Middle East and crossing over into the continent of Africa. As for the man himself, Ham was singled out for dishonoring his father in Genesis 9 when he came across Noah drunk and naked in his tent soon after the family had left the ark.  Noah's rea

Biblical Nations - Japheth

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Japheth Key Scripture: Genesis 10:2-5 Figures: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras The Bible tells us that all nations descended from the family of Noah, who was of the line of Adam and Eve's third son, Seth.  Whether the wives of Noah and his three sons came from other lineages can't be determined from what Scripture has to say, but after the Flood recorded in Genesis it is clear that each of the three families expanded away from Mount Ararat in generally three directions.  This week we will look at Japheth, who is the last listed of the three sons.  From the names of his seven sons, we can determine that most of the people groups to the north and northwest of the Fertile Crescent came from his family, representing much of western Asia and Europe.  Genesis 10 also informs us that they populated the coasts and islands, so we can safely include the original inhabitants from several locations across the Mediterranean among his descendants. What do we know of Jap

Biblical Nations - Israel

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Israel Key Scripture: Genesis 12:1-3 Figures: Abram and the patriarchs, Moses, David and Solomon, Jesus Any conversation about the peoples and nations of the Bible must begin with an understanding of Israel.  Called to leave his family and home, Abram became the founder of a new nation despite having no heir until very late in life.  Given the name Abraham, he was succeeded by Isaac, Jacob, and twelve great grandsons who became the namesakes of the tribes of Israel.  After living for four generations as nomadic herdsmen, his descendants settled and thrived in Egypt under the protection of Pharaoh, ca. 2000 BC.  Unfortunately they were eventually enslaved by a future ruler, but left that nation under the leadership of Moses after 430 years and headed back towards the land where their forefathers had lived.  This time, however, the children of Israel (as Abram's grandson had become known late in his life) battled for control of their Promised Land, driving out the populations already

The Geographist - New Topic Announcement

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We've come to the end of our study of the amazing individuals who made America's independence from British possible, and I hope many of you enjoyed it.  Whether you were introduced to a new person along the way or just found out an interesting fact about someone you've known since your first elementary school history class, my goal was to shed some light on a courageous collection of patriots who sacrificed a great deal on our behalf.  There's a mural in the town where my wife works that honors those who serve in America's armed forces with a message that I believe can be applied to the 56 incredible names we find on the Declaration of Independence: "We may not know them all, but we owe them all." And now it's time to embark on something new.  As I've said before, this blog covers various topics that interest me and most of the time there's very little in the way of advanced planning.  Hopefully the subject matter at any given moment catches th

Founding Fathers - Samuel Adams

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Samuel Adams Born: September 27, 1722 (Boston, Massachusetts) Died: October 2, 1803 (Cambridge, Massachusetts) When I considered who deserved to be the final entry in our study of America's Founding Fathers, it only seemed appropriate that this week's focus was the logical choice.  As perhaps the person more singularly identified with the movement for independence, Samuel Adams embodied the passion of the patriot cause.  As the eldest son of 12 children born to Samuel and Mary Adams, both of whom came from families involved in the shipping industry, the younger Samuel was raised with the ideals of Puritan virtue and self-government.  The elder Adams had become a successful brewer and served as deacon of the nearby Third Church (the congregation occupied what is now known as the Old South Meeting House , a building that was then the largest in Boston) who kept active in local politics as part of an informal group known as the Boston Caucus.  When young Samuel completed his educa

Founding Fathers - Benjamin Rush

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Benjamin Rush Born: January 4, 1746 (Byberry, Pennsylvania) Died: April 19, 1813 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) For our penultimate signer of the Declaration of Independence, this week we turn our attention to another Benjamin.  Not Harrison, who was last week, or Franklin, although both called Philadelphia home, but a doctor who would have a lasting impact on much more than liberty and government.  Benjamin Rush was born in the small township of Byberry, just outside of Philadelphia, as the fourth of seven children of John and Susanna Rush.  John was a farmer and gunsmith who tragically lost his life at the young age of 39 during the summer of 1751, and to provide for her family the widowed Susanna operated a grocery store.  Fortunately for everyone, the venture became quite successful to the point that she was able to expand her business to a second location that sold chinaware.  Young Benjamin and his older brother, Jacob, were sent away two years later to live with an uncle named Sam

Founding Fathers - Benjamin Harrison

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Benjamin Harrison Born: April 5, 1726 (Berkeley, Virginia) Died: April 24, 1791 (Berkeley, Virginia) Born into two of the most powerful and influential families in the colonies, the focus of this week's study was known as a large figure, both in personality and physique, whose love of storytelling and good food disguised the many challenges he overcame.  Known by some as Benjamin Harrison V, he was the third child of ten born to his parents, Benjamin and Anne, but as the first son the family name that had been carried for four previous generations fell to him.  His father was a wealthy planter and had built the family's Berkeley Plantation home on 1,000 acres of land overlooking the James River.  His mother was the daughter of Robert "King" Carter, the wealthiest man in Virginia who held a number of important government positions, including acting governor for a time.  Each of the men in young Benjamin's family who bore his name had been active in government, mean

Founding Fathers - John Witherspoon

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John Witherspoon Born: February 15, 1723 (Yester, East Lothian, Scotland) Died: November 15, 1794 (Princeton, New Jersey) No other Founding Father that we have studied can boast a similar resume to this week's subject, but if you were to select the kind of person to give your cause credibility you certainly could do much worse than John Witherspoon.  As the oldest son of Reverend James Witherspoon and his wife, Anne, young John received the best education available to a young Scottish man at the time and was an impressive student.  After his mother taught him to read at four years of age, he began to follow in his father's footsteps by studying and memorizing the Bible.  Once he had learned his basics at the local preparatory school in Haddington, John was sent to Edinburgh and enrolled in university courses by the time he was 13.  In three years he had completed a four-year program, published his thesis, and was awarded a Master of Arts shortly after his sixteenth birthday.  W

Founding Fathers - Thomas McKean

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Thomas McKean Born: March 19, 1734 (New London, Pennsylvania) Died: June 24, 1817 (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) Happy New Year!  As we bid adieu to 2023 and move ahead, we're also getting close to wrapping up our list of Founding Fathers.  This week we'll meet the sixth and final Thomas from the group, who also represents the last member of the Delaware delegation.  As the second son of an innkeeper, William McKean, and his wife, Letitia, young Thomas was educated at home until the age of nine, at which time he joined his 11-year-old brother at the New London Academy to study with Rev. Francis Alison.  Thomas was one of three signers to be taught by the esteemed Latin scholar, alongside George Read and James Smith.  After seven years he moved to New Castle, which was in one of the Lower Delaware counties that were still only semi-autonomous from Pennsylvania, and a cousin named David Finney taught him law for four years.  At the age of 20, Thomas was admitted to the bar in Delaw

Merry Christmas!

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Merry Christmas - 2023! I'm taking the week off to go to church and spend time with family.  I wish each one of you the very best that the season has to offer, finishing the year well and getting 2024 off to a great start.  Our study of the Founding Fathers will continue next week as we enter the home stretch with just a few men left.  I've got a couple of ideas of where we'll take the blog going forward, so stay tuned for what's next!  The Geographist

Founding Fathers - Philip Livingston

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Philip Livingston Born: January 15, 1716 (Albany, New York) Died: June 12, 1778 (York, Pennsylvania) This week we dig into the life and history of the fourth and final signer from New York.  Born in 1716, Philip Livingston was raised in a position of privilege among a family full of wealth and political influence.  His father, also named Philip, was the second lord of Livingston Manor, an estate of some 160,000 acres just south of Albany, NY and his mother, Catherine Van Brugh, was the daughter of Albany's mayor.  As the fifth son, young Philip was not in line to inherit the title but he did gain much of the esteem (and not a little wealth) from his family.  He spent his childhood splitting time between his father's townhome in Albany and the manor house in the country, and when it was time to attend college he went to Yale, where he graduated in 1737 at the age of 21.  Philip moved to Manhattan and quickly became successful as an importer and merchant.  He also became a family

Founding Fathers - George Taylor

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George Taylor Born: 1716 (probably Ulster, Ireland) Died: February 23, 1781 (Easton, Pennsylvania) To be perfectly honest, when I initially began my usual research process I had to check to make sure that we hadn't studied this week's patriot before.  Tell me if this sounds familiar: George Taylor was born in northern Ireland, but neither the date nor the location can be reliably determined.  Just because certain facts of his life are clouded in mystery, however, does not mean we shouldn't pay attention to a man who overcame tremendous obstacles to serve such an important role.  Likely the son of a minister, George was 20 years old before anything conclusive was recorded.  It was then, in the year 1736, that he became an indentured servant to Samuel Savage, Jr., an ironworker who owned the Coventry Forge just outside of Philadelphia and who paid for George's trip across the Atlantic.  After initially working as laborer, it was determined that George's education prio

100,000!!

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Hello everyone!  Last night, this website officially passed the 100,000 mark for number of views.  I don't know what I really expected when Geographist.com first came into being, but for me this is a really cool milestone.  Thank you to all of my readers, whether you've only clicked here once or have been around since the earliest days.  If you haven't seen the old topics, such as Our Story With God or our look at the history of Boston, I encourage you to poke around and see if there is anything of interest.  I've learned a lot along the way and hopefully you've been able to pick up a nugget here or there as well.  Stick around as we continue to learn and explore!

Founding Fathers - Samuel Huntington

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Samuel Huntington Born: July 16, 1731 (Windham, Connecticut) Died: January 5, 1796 (Norwich, Connecticut) This week we'll turn our sites to the final delegate from Connecticut, but although he might be the last on our list he can claim several other firsts.  Born on a farm just east of the town of Windham as the fourth of ten children, Samuel Huntington was the son of a farmer and clothier named Nathaniel Huntington and his wife Mehetabel.  The family was active in life of the community, as Nathaniel's father had helped found the town, but young Samuel was not given the advantage of a formal education.  Instead, he worked with his father on the farm and was eventually apprenticed to a cooper who trained him in the building of casks and barrels.  Samuel enjoyed learning, however, and began borrowing books to study, particularly focusing on the subject of law.  A nearby minister named Ebenezer Devotion was a source of both information and encouragement, and by the age of 23 Samue

Founding Fathers - Matthew Thornton

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Matthew Thornton Born: March 3, 1714 (Ireland) Died: June 24, 1803 (Newburyport, Massachusetts) I hope everyone who reads this had a tremendous Thanksgiving with your loved ones (at least those in the USA who celebrated it this past week), and that those of you from elsewhere are joining in as we begin to prepare for Christmas.  The focus of this week's study was a member of both of those two geographic groups, coincidentally, as he was one of eight individuals born overseas to sign the Declaration of Independence.  Matthew Thornton was born in northern Ireland, possibly on March 3, 1714, although that date is debated.  His family lived near the town of Derry, although other towns in the counties of Londonderry and Antrim have also been suggested as young Matthew's birthplace.  His parents were James and Elizabeth Thornton, and in 1817 they emigrated to the colony of Massachusetts.  They settled in the town of Wicasset, which is in the modern state of Maine, where they stayed u

Founding Fathers - Elbridge Gerry

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Elbridge Gerry Born: July 17, 1744 (Marblehead, Massachusetts) Died: November 23, 1814 (Washington, District of Columbia) This week we will get to know a man who may well be best known for a common term that was coined as a derogatory play on his name.  As the third child of Captain Thomas Gerry and his wife, Elizabeth, Elbridge Gerry was born along the coast just north of Boston.  Little is definitively known about his upbringing, but he was a capable student who graduated from Harvard in 1762, then again with a Master's degree at just 20 years of age.  Harvard was a hotbed of Whig ideology at the time, a viewpoint marked by distrust of centralized authority that was central to the spirit of the American Revolution, and the influence it had on young Elbridge is evidenced by the fact that his Master's dissertation focused on opposition to the recently-passed Stamp Act.  Once his formal schooling was completed Elbridge joined his father's shipping and mercantile business, an