New Defender's Study Bible Notes
5:32 begat Shem. Shem, Ham and Japheth were not triplets. Japheth is later called “the elder” (Genesis 10:21) and Ham the “younger son” (Genesis 9:24). However, Noah was five hundred years old before any of these sons–who were the ones who chose to go with him on the ark–were born. Evidently all of Noah’s older “sons and daughters” had followed the ungodliness of their aunts and uncles and of the world in general, and thus eventually perished in the Flood.
5:32 Japheth. The meanings of the names are probably as follows: Shem, meaning “name;” Ham, meaning “warm;” Japheth, meaning “enlarged.” The common notion that their names corresponded to three different skin colorations (“dark,” “black,” and “fair”) has no substance. Note, however, the significant fact that all the personal names listed for men and women who lived before the confusion of languages at Babel seem to have a distinctive meaning in the Hebrew language. This implies that the original language of mankind was Hebrew.