God and the Nations
The Table of Nations
Even higher critics have often admitted that content chapter of Genesis is a remarkably accurate
There is no comparable catalog of ancient nations available from any other source.
It is unparalleled in its antiquity and comprehensiveness.
Dr. William F. Albright is universally acknowledged as the world's leading authority on the archaeology
of the near East, though he is not a believer in the infallibility of Scripture, said concerning
this Table of Nations:
"It stands absolutely alone in ancient literature, without a remote parallel, even among the Greeks,
we find the closest approach to a distribution of peoples and genealogical framework…
The Table of Nations remains an astonishingly accurate document.”
Here is the one link between the historic nations of antiquity and the prehistoric times of Noah
and the antediluvians.
The grandsons and great-grandson's of Noah are listed, each of whom is identified with the city
or country established by his descendants.
There is nothing in any other ancient writing discovered by archaeologists which is at all comparable
in scope and accuracy.
It gives every appearance of being a sort of family record, kept by a venerable patriarch of the family
as long as he remained alive and could keep in touch with his descendents.
Shem, as the one of Noah's sons most interested in God's promise of the coming Seed
would be the logical one to keep such a record.
He lived for 502 years after the Flood, (Genesis 11:10, 11), which would have encompassed
the entire period included in the Table of Nations.
It is significant that the sons of Ham and Japheth are given only in the third generation
after the Flood, whereas Shem's descendants extend to the sixth, indicating perhaps
that he lost touch with the other branches of the family after the Dispersion.
His signature is attached in the subscript in Genesis 11:10, after he had written
of the events at Babel.
It has been possible in many cases to identify the names in Genesis 10 with nations
and peoples known to antiquity, especially as revealed by archaeology.
So this chapter provides the link between recorded history and the period of "prehistory"
which is, except for the Bible, but served only in ancient traditions.
Genesis 10:1: "Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah; Shem, Ham, and Japheth;
and unto them were sons born after the flood."
The first part of this verse is probably the signature subscript of the previous section
beginning in Genesis 6:9.
"These are the generations of the sons of Noah."
Probably the three sons went their separate ways after the traumatic experience of Genesis 9:20-27, coming together again only to share in the burial ceremonies with her father Noah
and to conclude their "generations" with the record of his death.
Apparently, Shem had taken over the task of recording the genealogies of the three families
in the meantime and continued until the time of the confusion of languages at Babel,
after which he seems to lost touch with the Hamites and the and Japhethites.
In Genesis 10:2-4: "The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal,
and Meshech, and Tiras.
And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togormah.
And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim."
Assuming Shem to live in the original compiler of this Table of Nations, it is appropriate that
he would began with the family of the older brother, Japheth, then proceed to that of Ham,
and finally conclude with his own.
It is noteworthy also that only the the sons in the various families are mentioned by name,
although it is probable that there were as many daughters as there were sons.
Japheth's seven sons are listed as Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras.
Allowing for the gradual modifications in form that always occur in such names with the passage
of time, and noting pertinent references in both Scripture and early secular historical writings
and on excavated archaeological monuments, we can trace most of these names
and recognize them as ancestors of the Indo-European peoples.
The name of Japheth himself is found in the literature as Iapetos, the legendary father of the Greeks,
and Iyapeti, the reputed ancestor of the Aryans in India.
The first son, Gomer, is generally identified (by Herodotus, Plutarch, and other ancient writers)
with the district of Cimmeria, north of the Black Sea, and name surviving to the present
in the form Crimera.
One branch of the descendents of Gomer eventually moved westward, with the name probably
being preserved both in Germany and Cambria (Wales).
Three of Gomer sons are identified as Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah.
The Jews identified Ashkenaz with Germany and, to this day, German Jews are called the Ashkenaz.
Some ethnologists think the name Ashkenaz has also been preserved with the names Skandia
and Saxon, as colonists from Germany made their way into Denmark and its northern islands,
and to the western shores of the continent.
Other descendents of Ashkenaz remain in the region of Armenia which, according to Strabo,
was called Sakasene.
Another son of Gomer was Riphath, whom Josephus identifies as the ancestor of the Paphlagonians.
Another possibility is the Carpathians.
There is even a slight possibility that the name Europe was originally a corruption of Riphath.
A third son of Gomer, Togarmah, is almost certainly the ancestor of the ancient people
known as Armenians.
The Armenian traditions themselves claim this.
Some have also claimed (e.g., The Jewish Targums) that Germany was derived from Togarmah.
Turkey and Turkestan also have a possible etymological connection with Togarmah.
Returning to Japheth, we find his second son, Magog, listed.
This name can mean "the place of Gog," and so quite possibly referred to Georgia,
a region near the Black Sea still known by that name.
Josephus says that Magog (or Gog) was the ancestor of the Scythians, who also originally inhabited
the Black Sea area.
Magog is commonly associated in the Bible with two other sons of Japheth – Meshech and Tubal
(especially Ezekiel 38:2).
Meshach clearly is preserved in the name Muskovi (the former name of Russia) and Moscow.
Tubal is known in the Assyrian monuments as the Tibareni, and probably has been preserved
in the modern Russian city of Tobolsk.
In Ezekiel 38:2 they are associated with "Rosh," a name from which modern "Russia" was derived.
Generally speaking these three sons of Japheth – Magog, Meshech, Tubal – can be considered
as the progenitors of the modern Russian peoples.
Madai, according to all authorities is the ancestor of the Medes.
They settled in what is now Persia and perhaps were in part (along with the Semitic Elamites)
ancestors of the Persians as well.
It was evidently to this group of Japhethities that the Aryans developed, who later migrated
into India to become the progenitors of the Indian peoples.
It is also well established that the name Javan is the original form of Ionia,
which was the same as Greece.
The same word is translated "Javan" in some Old Testament passages, "Greece" in others.
Both Japheth and his son Javan are considered to be the original founders of the Greeks.
Javan is listed as the father of Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim, "Hellas" is a form of "Elishah,"
which came to be applied to Greece as a whole (note Hellespont, Hellenists, etc.).
The Iliad mentions the Eilesian people; the Tell el Amarna tablets and the Ugaritic tablets
mentioned the Alasians, people apparently from Cyprus.
Tarshish has been variously identified with Tartessos in Spain and with Carthage in north Africa.
Both of these were Phoenician cities and the Phoenicians were Canaanites.
It is possible that the descendents of Tarshish may have been early settlers of Spain
and North Africa, but that the Phoenicians were later more prominent in their development.
Kittim is almost certainly a reference to Cyprus and possibly, to some extent,
to the Greek mainland as well.
It is just possible that the term "Ma-Kittim" (the land of Kittim) may have given rise
to the name Macedonia.
Dodanim is the same, evidently, as Rodanim (1 Chronicles 1:7).
His name is probably preserved today in the geographical names Dardanelles and Rhodes.
The last name son of Japheth, Tiras, became the ancestor of the Thracians,
according to Josephus.
There is also a possibility that Tiras gave rise to the Etruscans of Italy.
Genesis 10:5: "By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their land;
everyone after his tongue, after their families, in their nations."
Although some of the above identifications are inserted, they do seem reasonable.
In any case, there is enough clear identification to recognize that the descendants of Japheth
spread all over Europe, with one major branch heading eastward into Persia and India.
It is especially to the descendants of Japheth that the term "Gentiles" was applied.
The islands, coastlands, and other regions to which they spread were "divided" to these
different groups, a development which took place at Babel.
This reference indicates that chapter 10 of Genesis was written after the Dispersion.
This is further proved by the fact that they were so divided "after their tongue."
The Japhethities, as noted earlier, were of an intellectual and philosophical turn of mind.
This fact later made Europe the center of the development of philosophy and science.
Genesis 10:6: "And the sons of Ham, Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan."
Next the account proceeds to the sons of Ham, whose descendants are given in somewhat
more detail than those of Japheth.
The grandsons of Japheth are listed for only two of his sons (Gomer and Javan),
but those of three of Ham' s sons are given (Cush, Mizraim, and Canaan).
For that matter, the sons of only two of Shem's five sons are listed ( Aram, and Arphaxad).
Why these were selected, omitting the sons of so many others (five of Japheth's sons,
one of Ham's, three of Shem's), is not clear.
Perhaps these were the only ones with whom the writer still had information at the time
he compiled his lists; this may explain why he would be selective in this way.
It is an incidental confirmation of the Semitic authorship of this section to note that
at least some of Shem's descendants are listed to the fifth generation after Shem.
Japheth's descendants are given in two cases to the second generation
and Ham's, in two cases, to the third.
The writer must have assumed that the names so listed were sufficient to establish the origin
of all the major tribes and nations after the Dispersion, and therefore it was unnecessary
to list any others.
One other possibility is that the names listed in Genesis 10 were the families actually living
in Babel at that fateful time when the times were changed.
The reference to different "tongues" (versus 5, 20, and 31) shows, at least, that those
whose names are listed either participated in the Dispersion themselves or else were directly
affected by it in the development of their own families.
The sons of Ham were Cush (probably with the same as Kish), Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.
"Cush" is the same in the Bible as "Ethiopia," and it usually is so translated as that.
The Cushities apparently first migrated southward into Arabia, and then crossed the Red Sea
into the land now known as Ethiopia.
The Tell el Amarna tablets call this land "Kashi."
Mizraim is the ancestor or of the Egyptians, and is the customary name for Egypt in the Bible.
Egypt is also called "the land of Ham" (Psalm 105:23, etc.), suggesting that Ham accompanied
his son Mizraim in the original settlement of the Nile Valley.
Since "Mizraim" is a plural form, this may not have been the exact form of his name originally.
Some writers have suggested that the semi-legendary founder of Egypt's first Dynasty, Menes,
was the same as Mizraim.
Plut, in the Bible, is the same as Libya, applied to the region of North Africa west of Egypt.
This identification was confirmed by Josephus.
Canaan is, of course, the ancestor or of the Canaanites and gave his name
to the land of Canaan.
Genesis 10:7: "And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtecha:
and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan."
Five of the sons of Cush are listed.
Seba was one of those who migrated from southwestern Arabia across the Red Sea, into the region
now known as the Sudan, giving his name to the Sabeans (Isaiah 45:14.
There is uncertainty as to the exact relationship between the people descended from Seba
and those from several men named Sheba (Genesis 10:7; 10:28; 25:3).
People called Sabeans are known in both Arabia and Africa.
Josephus identifies " Saba" as the city of "Meroe," in upper Egypt.
Havilah, Sabtah, and Sabtechah all seem to have been located in Arabia.
Another " Havilah" was a Semite, son of Joktan (Genesis 10:29).
Sabtah has been identified with the ancient city of Sabatah in Arabia.
Raamah also settled in Arabia, but is especially mentioned as the father of Sheba and Dedan.
He is the only one of the sons of Cush whose own sons' names are listed.
Presumably, in their day, Sheba and Dedan were unusually well known, a presumption
which may account for the fact that, later to of Abraham's grandson through Keturah
were apparently named after them.
Genesis 10:8, 9: "And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth.
He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said,
Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord."
Although Cush and all his other sons moved south and west into Arabia and Africa,
his most illustrious son settled in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley, apparently remaining there
even after that the rest of the three Noahic families had been compelled,
by the confusion of tongues, to move away.
Nimrod was apparently the youngest son of Cush, and perhaps felt something of a moral kinship
with his Uncle Canaan, who had been the youngest son of Ham and the special designee
of the Noahic curse.
Cush, as Ham's oldest son, had apparently resented this curse more and more
as the years pass by.
By the time Nimrod was born, the resentment had become so strong that he gave
his son a name meaning "Let us rebel!"
The inference is that Cush trained Nimrod from childhood to be a leader in a planned
and organized rebellion against God's purposes for mankind.
Had God destined them to perpetual servitude to the descendants of Shem and Japheth?
Oh, noThey would rule instead!
And so Cush, perhaps encouraged by Ham and his other sons, began to train Nimrod
to struggle for the ascendancy among man.
So Nimrod "began to be a mighty one in the earth," and he soon had all the Hamites
– and possibly many of the Semites and Japhethities – under his influence and leadership.
They finally settled in the fertile plain of Shinar (a name probably later identified as Sumer)
and began to build a great complex of cities, with "the beginning of his kingdom at Babel."
Nimrod became a "mighty tyrant in the face of Jehovah."
He was a "hunter" in the sense that he was implacable in searching out and praising men
to obey his will.
The Jerusalem Targum says:
"He was powerful in hunting and in wickedness before the Lord, for he was a hunter
of the sons of men, and he said to them, 'Depart from the judgment of the Lord,
and adhere to the judgment of Nimrod!'
Therefore is it said: "As Nimrod the strong one, strong and hunting,
and in wickedness before the Lord."
The reference to Nimrod's hunting prowess suggests that wild beasts were thought to be
a real source of danger at the time and that Nimrod acquired a hero's reputation
by protecting the population against them.
Skill at hunting game animals for food for his family would hardly be so unusual as to warrant
making his name a proverb to the generations to come, as the text indicates.
However, in the context of the first century or two after the Flood, it is probable
that there was a great proliferation of animal populations.
Before the Flood, with lush vegetation everywhere, there was an abundance of food
for the animals; but the post-Flood world was a very different and many of the larger animals
particularly may have found it difficult to survive after a time.
The fossil record, in both the Flood sediments and the post-Flood (Ice Age) deposits, indicates
that there were tremendous animals living at time that my well have been feared as a potentially
serious danger to mankind in the early centuries after the Flood, until they became extinct.
Consequently a strongman who could hunt and kill such great animals would assume
the role of hero and benefactor to mankind and would easily acquire a great following.
That there was probably no genuine danger to mankind from the animals, however, is evident
from God's promise to put the "fear and dread" of man on all of them (Genesis 9:2),
so that the deliberate hunting and slaughter of them was "against the Lord" (verse 9, literally).
It was by this means, however, that Nimrod apparently acquired his great reputation
and rose to a position as world leader of the time.
Genesis 10:10-12: "And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad,
and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.
Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh and the city Rehoboth, and Calah,
And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.”
Nimrod was a man of great ability and energy and was evidently the leader of the group
that built Babel (Genesis 11:4, 8, 9), which then formed the capital city of the region
over which he became king.
Though God had instructed man to establish human governmental systems, He could hardly
have intended them to assume the form developed by Nimrod – a great empire comprising a complex of cities centered at Babylon.
These cities included Erech, Accad, and Calneh in Shinar.
Erech (also called Uruk) is 100 miles southeast of Babylon, and was the legendary home of Gilgaesh,
hero of the Babylonian flood story.Its excavation included examples of very ancient writing,
long antedating the time of Abraham.
Accad was immediately north of Babylon.
Also spelled Akkad and Agade in the monuments, the city gave its name of the Akkadian empire,
essentially synonymous with the Sumerian empire.
Calneh has a family not yet been identified; but all were in the land of Shinar, presumably equivalent
to Sumer, and identified in later Scriptures (e. g., Daniel 1:2) as Babylonia.
From Babel, Nimrod also "went forth into Assyria" (better than "went forth Asshur"),
where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth, Resen, and Calah.
Nineveh was situated on the upper Tigris River as Babylon was on the Euphrates.
Nineveh was roughly 200 miles North of Babylon and later was the capital
of the great Assyrian empire.
Both Babylonia and Assyria were subsequently conquered by Semites,
but the Hamite Nimrod was the founder and first emperor of both of them.
Nineveh's two satellite cities, Rehoboth and Resen, have not been definitely identified.
Calah, however, has been excavated, on the Tigris about 20 miles south of Nineveh.
It is still called " Nimrud," after its founder.
Resen was said to be between Nineveh and Calah, so that the Empire complex of cities
was called "a great city," that is, a large metropolitan area.
The Assyrians legends speak of "Ninus" as the founder of Nineveh.
This is evidently a form of "Nimrod."
Genesis 10:13, 14: "And Mizraim begat Ludim, and Anamim, and Lehabim, and Nphtuhim,
And Pathrusim, and Casluhim, (whom came Philistim,) and Caphtorim."
The sons of Mizraim (the founder of Egypt) are listed next.
All are shown as the name of peoples, with the plural "im" ending.
Unfortunately, most of these (Ludim, Anamim, Lehhabim, Naphtuhim)
have not yet been identified.
Evidently they were important tribes in or near Egypt at the time of the writing of Genesis 10.
Perhaps they later moved south and west into other parts of Africa.
The Parthrusim dwelled in Pathros, or Upper Egypt.
The text says that the Philistines, well known and later Biblical history, came out of the Casluhim,
who are otherwise unknown.
Another group, the Caphtorim , are also identified, in the Bible, with the Philistines
(Amos 9:7; Jeremiah 47:4).
Secular writings generally place the origin of the Philistines on the land of Crete,
and identify Caphtor as Crete.
It seems probable that these two sons of Mizraim, ancestors of the Casluhim and Caphtorim,
kept their families together, later migrating to Crete and still later, in successive waves,
to the eastern shore of the Mediterranean to the land and later known as Philista.
Genesis 10:15: "And Canaan begat Sidon his firstborn, and Heth,"
Ham's youngest son, Canaan, was very prolific, having 11 sons
and an unknown number of daughters.
The eldest was Sidon, the progenitor of the Phoenicians.
This was written long before the founding of Tyre, the sister city of Sidon.
Heth is undoubtedly ancestor of the Hittites (Genesis 23:10), who ruled a great empire
centered in Asia minor for over 800 years, migrating there originally from the home
of their brothers in Canaan.
Hittites were present in the land of Canaan during the time of Abraham (Genesis 15:19-21),
and apparently reached the heights of their power in Asia minor some time later.
They were still a great power at the time of Solomon a thousand years later
(2 Chronicles the 1:17).
There is some evidence that, when the Hittite empire finally crumbled, the remnant of the people
The Cuneiform monuments record the name of the Hittites as "Khittae," and this may well
have been modified later to " Cathay" as they settled again in the Far East.
Archaeologists have noted a number of similarities between the Hittites and the Mongoloids.
Both are known to have pioneered the art of smelting and casting iron and in the breeding
and training of horses.
Genesis 10:16-18: "And the city of Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite,
And the Hivate, and the Arkite, and the Sinite,
And the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were the families
of the Canaan-ites spread abroad."
The other nine sons of Canaan were the progenitors of the Canaanite tribes that inhabited
the land when the Israelites arrived.
The Jebusites, apparently descended from a man named Jebus, were
early inhabitants of Jerusalem (Joshua 15:63).
The Amorites were one of the most prominent tribes, with their names sometimes used
as representative of the Canaanites (Genesis 15:16).
The Amarna letters call all these tribes the "Amurru."
Although the Girgasites are mentioned frequently in the Bible, their location has not
The Hivites are also frequently mentioned, and some of their cities have been identified
archaeologically all the way from Sidon to Jerusalem.
The Arkites seem to have been centered in the region around Tell Arka in Syria.
The Arvadites lived in Arvad, who is a port city of the Phoenicians, and the Zemarities
about 6 miles south of Arvad an account identified in the Amarna letters as Sumur
and still known today as Sumra.
The Hamithites are associated with a prominent Syrian city Hamath, mentioned frequently
in later Biblical history.
The Sinites are intriguing.
It is possible that they may have been an insignificant canine tribe, but the similarity
of the name to other biblical names (e.g., the wilderness of Sin, Mount Sinai, Sinim) suggests
that their influence may have been greater than commonly recognized.
The tendency of many early tribes toward ancestor worship and actual deification of ancestors
may be reflected in the frequent use of the name "Sin" in connection with the ancient
pantheon of deities.
One of the most important Assyrians gods was "Sin."
That particular side of Canaan named Sin, may have been prominent enough in his time
not only to give his name to a wide region in the land of Canaan but also to exert great influence
in the Samaria-Assyrian homeland of the Canaanites.
The deified "Sin" was said in the monuments found in Ur to have established
"laws and justice" among men.
But biblical mention of a people in the Far East named "Sinim" (Isaiah 49:12),
together with references in ancient secular histories to people in the Far East called "Sinae,"
at least suggests the possibility that some of Sins descendants migrated eastward,
while others went south into the land of Canaan.
It is significant that the Chinese people have always been identified by the prefix "Sino-"
(e.g., Sino-Japanese War; Sinology, the study of Chinese history).
The name "Sin" is frequently encountered in Chinese names in the form "Siang" or its equivalent.
The evidence is tenuous but, of all the names in the Table of Nations, it does seem
that two sons of Canaan, Heth (Hittites – Khittae – Cathy) and Sin (Sinites – Sinim – China),
are the most likely to have become ancestors of the Oriental peoples.
Since it seems reasonable that divine inspiration would include in such a table information
concerning the ancestry of all the major streams of human development, it is reasonable
to conclude that the Mongoloid peoples (and therefore also the American Indians)
have come mostly from the Hamitic line.
After naming the tribes descended from Canaan, the Bible makes this significant statement
that "afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad."
The Hittites spread to Asia Minor and perhaps the Sinites to China.
The others may well have spread out as well.
It is only of the Canaanites that this statement is made, suggesting that these tribes
eventually spread out more than any of the others.
Perhaps this is seen best in their spread north and east into Asia (via the Bering Sea land bridge
which existed during the Ice Age) into North and South America.
Genesis 10:19, 20: "And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar,
unto Gaza; as thou goest into Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha.
These were the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries,
and in their nations."
The dimensions of the Canaanite boundaries, at the time of the compiling of the Table of Nations
(or perhaps has inserted later by Moses in order to identify them to his own generation),
were from Sidon on the northern East Coast in Phoenicia down almost to Gerar,
as far as Gaza (in Philista) on the southern coast, then east and south to the Dead Sea
and the four "cities of the plain," Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim.
These have not been destroyed at the time this passage was written.
The location of Lasha was presumably to mark the northeastern boundary,
but this has not yet been identified.
It was not a very extensive region, but it was from there that "the Canaanites spread abroad."
The record of Ham's descendents is then summarized, as Japheth's had been,
by the statement that these were grouped by "families, tongues, countries, and nations."
This tells us that Genesis 10 was written after the Tower of Babel incident;
before, there were no "tongues," but only one tongue.
Furthermore, it suggests that this division by "tongues" had been made to correspond
to "families," that each such division presupposed there would be a "country" (or "land")
were the family could live and work, and, finally, that such family groups
would indeed become "nations."
The Days of Peleg
After listing the main nations descended from elder brother Japheth and other brother Ham,
Shem proceeds to his own family, which he knew from Noah's prophecy (9:26) would be
the one chosen to transmit the knowledge of the true God and His promises to later generations.
He lists his own descendants to the fifth generation in some cases, whereas Ham' s genealogy
extends to only the third generation and Japheth's to only the second.
Shem probably lost touch with many of his relatives, especially after the confusion of tongues
and the great dispersion.
If this took place shortly before Peleg (Shem's great-great-grandson) was born,
as seems most plausible, it is easy to understand why this would have been the case.
In all likelihood, Shem himself did not migrate to Babel, as so many of his father's family did.
Perhaps he remained near Noah until his father's death, long after the events at Babel,
and then eventually settled near the family of Peleg for his final years.
Genesis 10:21: "Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber,
the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born."
It is interesting that Shem is identified first as "the father of all the children of Eber"
and "the brother of Japheth the elder."
In the day and place in which this was written, the children of Eber were presumably well known;
so this reference would have lent additional interest to the account.
It is from "Eber" that the term "Hebrew" has apparently been derived.
For example, Abraham was called a Hebrew (Genesis 14:13), indicating that he was
of the children of Eber.
Obviously, the term is applied in these early Scriptures to a much larger group of peoples t
han to only the descendants of Abraham.
There is some indication that the people described in certain archaeological monuments
as the "the Hadiru" were not the Israelites, but other tribal descendants of Eber.
Shem is also identified (or identifies himself) as "the brother of Japheth the elder,
" making no such reference to his older brother, Ham.
Perhaps this is because he was associated more directly with Japheth in his father's prophecy
(9:27), or perhaps it was a token of courtesy to his elder brother.
Some of the later versions reject the Authorized Version rendering at this point,
and translate the phrase as "Shem, the elder brother of Japheth."
However, the Masoretic text favors the Authorized Version translation,
and this also fits better in the entire context.
Shem was born 97 years before the Flood (compare Genesis 5:32 and 11:10)
whereas Noah begat the first of his three sons 100 years before the Flood
(Genesis 5:32 with 7: 11).
Genesis 10:22: "The children of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad,
and Lud, and Aram."
Here the five children of Shem are listed.
Elam is the ancestor of the Elamities, well-known in both Scripture and the monuments.
Chedorlaomer, King of Elam, was the apparent leader of the confederacy which invaded Canaan
during the days of Abram (Genesis 14:4, 5).
The ancient city of Susa, or Shushan, east of Mesopotamia, was their capital.
The Elamites apparently later merged with others, especially the Medes
(descendents of Madai and thus of Japheth), to form the Persian empire.
Asshur was evidently the founder of the Assyrians.
However, as noted in Genesis 10:11, Nimrod and his followers later invaded the land of Asshur
and founded Nineveh there (later to become the capital) and a number of other cities.
Consequently, the Assyrian people and culture were a mixture of both Semitic racial stock
and Hamitic (Babylonian) culture, language, and religion.
Little is known of Arphaxad except that he was in the direct line leading to Abraham.
A region known as Arrapachitis in this area may stem from his name.
Lud probably was the ancestor of the Lydians, in Asia minor, at least according to Josephus.
However a similar name ( Ludim – Genesis 10:13), is listed as Hamitic in descent.
The fifth son was Aram, father of the Aramaeans, the same as the Syrians.
These people also became a great nation, even finally seeing their Aramaic language adopted
as almost a lingua franca for the leading nations of the ancient world,
including Syria and Babylonia.
Some of the Old Testament (portions of Daniel and Ezra) was apparently originally written
in Aramaic, and it was a common spoken language among the Jews at the time of Christ.
Genesis 10:23, 24: "And the children of Aram, Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Mash.
And Arphaxad begat Salah; and Salah begat Eber."
Four sons of Aram are listed, even though none of the children of three
of Shem's sons are named.
Probably the children of Aram had more direct contact with the descendents of Abraham
than the others in the early days.
Little is known of these four, Uz evidently gave his name to a region in Arabia which later
was Job’s homeland (Job 1:1; Jeremiah 25:20).
The others are essentially unknown at this late date, but evidently were important
in the days from Shem to Moses.
The most important son of Shem (even though nothing is known of him personally) was Arphaxad,
since he was in the line of the promise Seed.
Even though he may have had more than one son, only Salah is listed,
apparently for the same reason.
Similarly of Salah's sons, only Eber is listed.
The significance of Eber's name has already been discussed.
Genesis 10:25: "And unto Eber were born to sons: the name of one was Peleg;
for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name was Joktan."
This is the most intriguing verse in the Semitic section of the Table of Nations.
Eber had two sons, Peleg and Joktan, of whom Peleg was the one to be in the chosen line.
More about Joktan is given in verses 26 to 30.
Peleg – or rather, the event associated with his name – is of more interest today.
"In his days was the earth divided."
Evidently this was a most memorable event, and Eber named his son in commemoration of it.
The name Peleg means "division."
There is the possibility that Peleg is the ancestor of the people known as the Pelasgians,
but this seems the only possible item of distinction or interest that can knowingly
be attributed to Peleg himself.
The big question concerns the meaning of the indicated division of the earth.
The most obvious interpretation of this verse is that the division was the division of the peoples
at the Tower of Babel, as discussed in Genesis 11.
It is significant that some such division is mentioned.
Genesis 10:5 ("By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their land; everyone after his tongue,
after their families, in their nations") and Genesis 10:32 ("… by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood").
These verses seem clearly to refer to a linguistic and geographic division,
rather than to an actual splitting of the continents.
This is especially clear in verse 5, where the division is specifically "after his tongue."
Nimrod, as Noah's great-grandson through Ham, was in the same generation as Eber,
Noah's great-grandson through Shem.
So, it is reasonable to infer that the division that Babel took place when both Nimrod and Eber
were mature men.
If Peleg was born soon after the Dispersion, it is not surprising that Eber would commemorate
such a momentous event in the name of his son.
Otherwise, it is difficult to understand why the writer would take the trouble to note
the meaning of "Peleg," since this was not done in the case of the other names
in the Table of Nations.
It is true that the word used for "divided" (Hebrew palag) in the verse associated
with Peleg (10:25) is different from the word for "divided" (Hebrews parad) in versus 5 and 32,
and this may possibly mean that two different types of division are in view.
However, Hebrew authorities indicate the two words are essentially synonymous.
If it is ever actually proved that the earth once was a single land mass that somehow split apart,
with the segments gradually drifting away to form the present continents,
then indeed this verse might be understood to refer to such an event.
At present, the question of continental drift is still open among scientists;
and creationist scientists have pointed to a number of unresolved physical difficulties
with the whole idea.
In any case, it is not at all necessary to postulate continental drifting in order to account
for the population now found in remote parts of the globe.
Undoubtedly, migrations took place across the former land bridges at the Bering Strait
and the Malaysian Strait, when the sea level was much lower than it now is,
during the centuries following the Flood when much of the Earth's water was frozen
in the great continental ice sheets of the Galacial Epoch.
Furthermore, early man knew how to construct seagoing vessels (their ancestors had,
after all, constructed the Ark!) and could easily have traveled from continent
to continent by water, as much evidence from antiquity in fact indicates he did.
It is just possible that the great store of energy beneath the earth's crust,
much of which was released when the "fountains of the deep" were "broken up"
at the time of the Flood, provided the tremendous force needed to move continents apart,
and that a further release of this energy took place in connection with the Tower of Babel.
If this happened, then the rate of separation would have been rapid at first,
gradually slowing down to the imperceptible present-day movements.
Although the question is still unsettled, it seems most likely that the division referred to
in this passage was simply the geographic division resulting directly from
the confusion of tongues at Babel.
If something more was involved, especially such a catastrophic event as a tectonic
splitting-up of the land mass, it does seem strange that the account of the judgment
at Babel in Genesis 11 does not mention it.
Genesis 10:26-30: "And Joktan begat Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah,
And Hadoram, and Uzal, and Diklah,
And Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba,
And Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab: all these were the sons of Joktan.
And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar, a mount of the East."
These verses list the 13 sons of Joktan, Peleg's brother.
The names are mostly known from this passage only, but indications are that all settled in Arabia.
Two of the names – Ophir, associated with a region famous for its gold,
and Sheba, possibly associated with the Sabaeans (although another Sheba is listed
as the grandson of Cush, and another as a son of Abraham) – were definitely located in Arabia.
The fact that all of Joktan's sons are listed, and none of Peleg's may suggest that Shem
(the probable author of this section) was living near Joktan at the time and so was more familiar
with the names of his sons than those of his other fifth-generation descendants.
In any case, these names were more prominent in the day in which this was written
than they may have been in later times.
Genesis 10:31: "These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues,
in their lands, after their nations."
A summary verses included here for Shem, as it had been for Japheth (verse 5)
and Ham (verse 20).
Once again it is mentioned that they involved distinct family units, distinct languages
(therefore, subsequent to Babel), distinct regions, and, finally, actual nations.
A total of twenty-six such "nations" is listed as coming from Shem, as compared
with 30 listed from Ham (not including the Philistines, has apparently referred to
in an editorial in assertion by Moses in verse 14) and only 14 from Japheth.
So a total of 70 such primeval nations is listed here by Shem
in his original Table of the Nations.
Genesis 10:32: "These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations,
in their nations; and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood."
After the nations have been listed individually in Japhetic, Hamitic, or Semitic in derivation,
a final summary verse is appended, emphasizing again that these were the original inhabitants
of the entire post-Flood world.
The term "generations" (Hebrew toledoth) is used here, the same word used
by the original writers of Genesis to mark its major divisions (2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 11:10; 11:27; etc.).
Evidently there were definite geological records available to Shem – either in written form
or by oral communication from his brothers or their descendants – from which
he compiled the Table.
It may be possible that he obtained it in part when he and his brothers got together
at the time of Noah's death, a reunion which may be inferred from the signature
of "the sons of Noah" to the toledoth terminating with Noah's death (9:29 – 10:1).
One remarkable feature of the Table of Nations may be noted in closing this section.
As stated above, there were 70 of these "families of the sons of Noah" mentioned by name,
and it was "by the use that the nations were divided in the earth after the flood."
There may well have been others, as the listings seem quite uneven in a number of cases;
but for some reason only these 70 are listed.
There is at least a possibility that the number was selected because
of its symbolic significance.
More likely it was the fact that 70 nations were listed here that led to the later Jewish writers
to attach such significance to it.
This is the same number as the number of the children of Israel that came into Egypt
from Canaan (Genesis 46:27).
Later (Deuteronomy 10:22), when Israel had multiplied and was returning out of Egypt
and was itself a nation – in fact, God's chosen nation – Moses exhorted the people
to "Remember the days of old… When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance,
when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number
of the children of Israel" (Deuteronomy 32: 7, 8).
The number 70 has ever since been peculiarly associated with the nation Israel.
So, "seventy weeks were determined upon thy people" (Daniel 9:24),
and Israel's history can be understood within a remarkable framework of successive
cycles of seventy "weeks" of years.
Israel was led by seventy elders (Numbers 11:16, 25) and later there were seventy members
of the Jewish Sanhedrin.
Seventy scholars translated the Old Testament into Greek to produce
the Septuagint version of Scripture.
Moses also wrote that man's allotted life span was 70 years (Psalm 98:10).
The Babylonian captivity lasted 70 years; and Jerusalem and Herod's temple were destroyed
by the Romans about 70 years after Herod's attempt to murder Jesus,
the Jewish Messiah, in His infancy.
This concludes the 10th chapter of the Book of Genesis