Semites

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Semite (sĕm´īt, sē´mīt), originally one of a people believed to be descended from Shem, son of Noah. Later the term came to include the following peoples: Arabs; the Akkadians of ancient Babylonia; the Assyrians; the Canaanites (including Amorites, Moabites, Edomites, Ammonites, and Phoenicians); the various Aramaean tribes (including Hebrews); and a considerable portion of the population of Ethiopia. These peoples are grouped under the term Semite, chiefly because their languages were found to be related, deriving presumably from a common tongue, Semitic. The Semites were largely nomadic pastoralists, although some settled in villages. At least as early as 2500 BC, the Semites had begun to leave the Arabian peninsula in successive waves of migration that took them to Mesopotamia, the Mediterranean coast, and the Nile delta. They were organized into patrilineal tribes, occupying defined territories and ruled by hereditary leaders, or sheiks. In Mesopotamia, Semitic people from the earliest times were in contact with Sumerian civilization and with the rise of Sargon of Agade (Akkad) and Hammurabi of Babylon were able to dominate it completely (see Sumer). In Phoenicia the Semitic population developed a widespread maritime trade and became the first great seafaring people. That group of Hebrews that had been diverted through Sinai into the Nile delta settled at last with other Semitic inhabitants in Palestine. These southern or Judean Hebrews became the leaders of a new nation and religion (see Jews and Judaism).

See W. R. Smith, History of the Semites (1956, repr. 1972).

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Semites Peoples whose native tongue belongs to the group of Semitic languages. They originally inhabited an area in Arabia and spoke a common language, Proto-Semitic, from which the Semitic languages descend. Among the modern Semites are Arabs, native Israelis, and many Ethiopians.

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SEMITE

From "Shemi," Hebrew word from the name of Shem, son of Noah, who, according to Biblical tradition, was the eponymous ancestor of the Semites. Semites are people of the Middle East and Africa who speak one of the Semitic languages, which are branches of the Afro-Asiatic family. Examples of such languages are Amharic, Arabic, Aramaic, and Hebrew.

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Sem·ite / ˈsemīt/ • n. a member of any of the peoples who speak or spoke a Semitic language, including in particular the Jews and Arabs.

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Semite a member of any of the peoples who speak or spoke a Semitic language, including in particular the Jews and Arabs. The name comes via Latin from Greek Sēm ‘Shem’, son of Noah in the Bible, from whom these people were traditionally supposed to be descended.

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Semite Hebrew, Arab, Assyrian, or Aramaean, regarded as a descendant of Shem (Gen. 10). XIX. — modL. Sēmīta, f. (Vulg.) Sēm — Gr. Sḗm Shem; see -ITE.
So Semitic XIX.

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