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Genesis 10

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Genesis 10:1-5… Now these are the records of the generations of Shem, Ham, & Japheth, the sons of Noah; and sons were born to them after the flood. 2 The sons of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. 3 And the sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz, Riphath, & Togarmah. 4 And the sons of Javan were Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim.

Commentary

Genesis 9:19 said that the whole earth’s population came from the three sons of Noah. Genesis 10, known as the Table of Nations, breaks down the migrations of their descendants. Verses 1-5 trace the Japhethite lineage. It is through this line that the Indo-Europeans develop.

Japheth is closely connected with the renowned father of the Greeks (Iapetos) and with the ancestor of the Aryans in India (Iyapeti). Japheth’s son Gomer (cf. Ez. 38:6) is understood by many ancient writers to have settled in the present day area of Crimea just north of the Black Sea. As Gomer’s descendants moved west, they settled in modern-day Germany and Wales.

Japheth’s second son, Magog (cf. Ez. 38:2; 39:6), is associated with the region just southeast of the Black Sea known as Georgia. The Jewish historian Josephus says that Magog was the ancestor of the Scythians. Madia, the third son of Japheth, is the normal Hebrew word for the Medes (Isa. 13:17) or Media (2 Kings 17:6), east of Assyria and southwest of the Caspian Sea. The Median empire rose to great prominence during the 7th century BC and following.

The third son of Japheth was Javan, and this is the original name of Ionia which is the same as Greece. The name refers to the Hellenic race, and Javan and Japheth are considered to be the ancient progenitors of the Greek people. The fourth and fifth sons of Japheth are Tubal and Meshech, and these names are always found together in the Bible (Ez. 27:13; 32:26; 38:2; 39:1;  Isa 66:19). Tubal is equivalent to Tibarēni – the modern Russian city of Tobolsk. Meshech is preserved in the name Muskovi – the former name of Russia – and Moscow. Ezekiel 38:2 associates Tubal and Meshech with “Rosh” (Hebrew chief) from whence “Russia” is derived. Japheth’s seventh son, Tiras, is identified by Josephus as the Thracians but possibly also to include the Etruscans of Italy.

Ashkenaz, Japheth’s grandson, was known in Jewish circles as one who settled in what would become Germany, and even in the present day German Jews are called Ashkenazi. His brother, Togarmah, is known to be the ancestor of the ancient Armenians, and this name is etymologically associated with modern-day Turkey.

            The fourth son of Japheth, Javan, had four sons – all of whom are associated with Greece. The first, Elishah, is identified with Alashiyah on the island of Cyprus. “Hellas” is a form Elishah from whence Hellenists comes, and Homer’s Iliad mentions this people in the form of Eilesian.

The second son of Javan was Tarshish – identified with Tartessos in Spain and with Carthage in North Africa (cf. Isa 66:19;  Jer 10:9; Ezek 27:12). The third son, Kittim, is preserved in the name of Kition which is located on the island of Cyprus.

Food for Thought

Genesis 10:5 says, “From these the coastlands of the nations were separated into their lands, every one according to his language, according to their families, into their nations.” Genesis 10 reports events that occur after Genesis 11 following the Dispersion of people at the Tower of Babel. These descendants of Japheth spread all over the European continent with branches going eastward into India and Persia. The Japhethites became an intellectual and philosophical people who later made Europe into the center of philosophical and scientific prominence that made it great and filled our history books with the people we read about.

Genesis 10:6-7… The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, & Canaan. 7 And the sons of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, & Sabteca; and the sons of Raamah were Sheba & Dedan.

Commentary

After tracing the lineage of Japheth in verses 1-5 the narrator turns his attention to Ham. Though the etymology of Ham is disputed, it depicts various countries surrounding Egypt. Ham had four sons who are notable: Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan.

Cush, is located in Africa, and it is sometimes translated as Ethiopia in the Bible. The Cushites, following their forefather Cush, appear to have migrated to the south into Arabia as they made their way across the Red Sea into the modern-day land of Ethiopia. One ancient source calls this land “Kashi.” During the reign of Kamose it served as the spine of the Egyptian army, helping to expel a group of raiders known as Hyksos. The list of children from Ham’s line obviously begins in the south with the African tribes – tribes known to the Greeks as Ethiopians.

The second son of Ham, Mizraim, migrated to the north of his brother Cush. Mizraim is a word which refers to Egypt, occurring just under 100 times in the Bible. Egypt is known in Psalm 105:23 as “the land of Ham.” The word “Mizraim” is actually a Hebrew plural word that refers to a people. The exact form of this son of Ham is unknown, but Egypt’s first dynasty was founded by Menes – a possible connection with Mizraim.

The third son of Ham was “Put” (Phut). Put in the Bible is the same as Libya. Libya is in North Africa, just west of Egypt, and this identification is confirmed by the Jewish historian Josephus. The Libyans were used as mercenaries in the Egyptian armies (cf. Ez.27:10).

The fourth son of Ham was Canaan – the same Canaan who was cursed in Genesis 9 for Ham’s having looked upon the nakedness of his father Noah. Canaan and his progeny migrated to the land of present day Israel and Palestine and also includes ancient Phoenicia on the western shoreline of Palestine. This cursed son became the father of a large mixture of races due to the fact that the country forms a “bridge” between continents. Ancient references show that the name itself is a geographic region. Only in the OT are the Canaanites used in reference to the general inhabitants of that area.

Cush had five sons (Ham’s grandsons), and all of these names are closely related to the area of Arabia. Seba, Cush’s firstborn, migrated to the region of the Sudan, and his name is reflected in the Sabeans (cf. Isaiah 45:14). The second son, Havilah, literally means “sand-land.” This son was obviously named in memoriam of the beautiful land that surrounded Eden described in Genesis 2:11ff. This area can fit a handful of locations, but the fact that Havilah is also mentioned under Shem could point to the possibility that these two races blended. Sabtah went to Arabia, and the ancient city of Sabatah is named for him near the western shore of the Persian Gulf. Sheba is the name of the ancient kingdom in southwest Arabia whose metropolis is Marib, just outside of modern-day Yemen. Dedan is associated with modern Ula in northern Arabia – an ancient center of trade which borders on ancient Edom (Ezek 25:13; 27:20).

Food for Thought

            The names of Ham’s descendants all point toward the peoples of the Middle East – Egypt, Arabia, Palestine, and North Africa. It’s no coincidence that these ancient biblical names correspond to modern cities and races of people. They really did descend from Ham, the son of Noah, the man of God who survived the worldwide Flood. Their existence today in the corner of the globe in which they live goes to great lengths to prove the validity of the Bible. These verses seem insignificant to many, but God included them for a reason. They continue to enlighten us.

Genesis 10:8-12… Now Cush became the father of Nimrod; he became a mighty one on the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, "Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD." 10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech, Accad, & Calneh, in the land of Shinar. 11 From that land he went forth into Assyria, and built Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah, 12 and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.

 

Commentary

Now Cush had five sons in verses 6-7, but he later became the father of another son named Nimrod. The Babylonian god, Ninurta, the god of hunting and war, may preserve the legend of the former Nimrod. The very name Nimrod comes from a Hebrew root word meaning “to rebel,” and this seems to fit his life given the biblical account of him. He represents totalitarian power in his rebellion against God as a “mighty one” – a phrase denoting one who is a valiant warrior. Verse 9 quotes a proverb of that day which said that Nimrod was a “mighty hunter.” Though the word for “hunt” here is a word used for hunting animals, it is also a word used for hunting men in the Bible (cf. 1 Sam 24:12; Jer 16:16; Lam 3:15). Nimrod’s great prowess as a hunter might have come as a result of his having killed many of the large post-Flood carnivores of the day which threatened humans. Of course since God had put an inherent fear in animals of man following the Flood (9:2), Nimrod’s reputation for killing them in the face of the Lord may represent his rebellion. But if Nimrod were just a hunter of animals this would hardly be worth noting given that this would be nothing special. The phrase “before the LORD” (literally, “in the face of Yahweh”) could mean that he was a bold-face murderer in spite of the fact that God had forbade Noah and his descendants from taking another man’s life (Gen. 9:5-6). It’s no wonder this man became the founder of such brutal empires like Assyria and Babylon.

            Verses 10-12 reveal that Nimrod built at least four cities; four of which were in the land of “Shinar” (Babylon) and four in the land of Assyria. The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh. Babel is present day Iraq – the place where rebellion began with the building of the Tower of Babel (cf. Gen. 11:1-9), and the place where all will end (cf. Rev. 17-18). Erech is ancient Warka, 100 miles southeast of Babylon. Accad, synonymous with the ancient Akkadian (Sumerian) empire, is just north of Babylon on the Euphrates River, and it faded from existence sometime around 2000 B.C. Calneh is nowhere attested in cuneiform writings, but it might literally mean, as W. F. Albright has said, “and all of them.”

Nimrod left Babylon and built four more cities. Nineveh is the most notable of cities in Assyria (cf. Jonah, Nahum), and Rehoboth-Ir is likely the suburb of Rebit Ninâ. Calah is the modern Nimrud which is about 20 miles south, and Resen is likely Risnu which lies between the other cities forming what appears to be one large metropolis. One is reminded of Cain’s efforts to build a city following his banishment from the face of the Lord and his family (4:17ff.).

Food for Thought

            Nimrod represents all who hate God and willingly rebel before Him. He greatly succeeded in life, and this attests to the fact that God does in fact allow rebellious behavior to prosper for a time. Keep in mind that Genesis 10 actually occurs after the events of Genesis 11 where the people groups were dispersed. They were rebels when they built the Tower of Babel, and God confused their language and sent them abroad as a result. This act of God is never said to have taught the people a lesson, and it appears that Nimrod just continued to rebel after this remarkable event. Our present world, generally speaking, is in rebellion against God. And yet when tragedy comes upon us we all tend to ask “why?” The answer is in our own rebellion.

Genesis 10:13-20… And Mizraim became the father of Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, 14 Pathrusim, Casluhim (from which came the Philistines) and Caphtorim. 15 And Canaan became the father of Sidon, his first-born, Heth, 16 the Jebusite, the Amorite, Girgashite, 17 the Hivite, the Arkite, the Sinite, 18 the Arvadite, the Zemarite, and the Hamathite; and afterward the families of the Canaanite were spread abroad. 19 And the territory of the Canaanite extended from Sidon as you go toward Gerar, as far as Gaza; as you go toward Sodom and Gomorrah and Admah and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. 20 These are the sons of Ham, according to their families, according to their languages, by their lands, by their nations.

Commentary

The second son of Ham, Mizraim (Egypt), developed into the Egyptian tribes. These people groups are signified by the Hebrew plural ending “im.” Dr. Allen Ross says that “the Ludim developed into African tribes west of the Delta; the Anamim, in the vicinity of Cyrene;  the Lehabim, the Libyans on the north African shore (Nah 3:9 & Dan 11:43); the Naphtuhim, the people of the Delta (Lower Egypt); the Pathrusim, the people of Upper Egypt; the Casluhim, the people who dwelt east of the Delta between Egypt and Canaan; and the Caphtorim, the Cretans.

In verse 14 it appears as though the Philistines descend from Casluhim, but Deuteronomy 2:23, Jeremiah 47:4, & Amos 9:7 connect the Philistines with Caphtor, a group known to be Cretans of the coast of Greece. The Genesis 10 table, however, speaks of migration, not necessarily lineage, so the fact that Amos lists the Philistines from Caphtor is not problematic any more so that saying Israel was from Egypt (migrating to Canaan after the Exodus).

Archaeologists have evidence of the Philistines dating only as far back as 1200 B.C. However, the Philistines spoken of in Genesis are worlds apart from those of later periods. Dr. Ross quotes one man (Grintz) who has concluded that they were different enough to posit successive migrations of different tribes…that “there were three migrations: the first was the migration of Pelasgo-Philistine tribes from Casluhim (Genesis and Exodus), the second was the movement of the Philistines from Caphtor to Gaza, and the third was the further movement of the Pelasgo-Philistines in the period of Rameses III. Therefore the tribes from Mizraim are seven, and out of one come the Philistines.” The Egyptian influence went into the Aegean.

Canaan, had a son named Sidon, the name given to the main city in Phoenicia. The firstborn of Sidon was Heth who was the father of the Hittites, a group of people from Canaan who migrated south in immeasurable tribal movements. The Jebusites were the original inhabitants of Jerusalem. Little is known about the other “ites” in the passage.

Food for Thought

            The final people group of verse 17 are the Sinites. In the ancient pantheon of deities one of the most important gods was Sin. This son of Canaan, as the ancestor of his people, became a prominent pagan god. Dr. Henry Morris notes that “There are monuments found in ancient Ur (Iraq) that state that this ‘Sin’ established ‘laws and justice’ among men. Isaiah 49:12 mentions the ‘Sinim,’ and when put together with references in ancient secular histories to people in the Far East called ‘Sinae,’ this suggests that some of Sin’s descendants migrated east. It is noteworthy that the Chinese people are identified with the prefix ‘Sino-’ (e.g. Sino-Japanese War; Sinology – Chinese history). The name ‘Sin’ is frequently encountered in Chinese names in the form of ‘Siang’ or its equivalent.” It appears that the Hittites and Sinites are ancestors of the Oriental people, and as Morris has said, “It is reasonable to conclude that the Mongoloid peoples (and therefore also the American Indians) have come mostly from the Hamitic line.”

Genesis 10:21-22, 24-25, 31-32… And also to Shem, the father of all the children of Eber, and the older brother of Japheth, children were born. 22 The sons of Shem were Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram… 24 And Arpachshad became the father of Shelah; and Shelah became the father of Eber. 25 And two sons were born to Eber; the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided… 31 These are the sons of Shem, according to their families, according to their languages, by their lands, according to their nations. 32 These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, by their nations; and out of these the nations were separated on the earth after the flood.

Commentary

There are many pertinent names given who descended from Shem in the above verses, but of special importance are the children of Eber, the great-grandson of Shem. The term “Hebrew” as it applies to people is derived from “Eber.” Abraham was called a “Hebrew” (Gen. 14:13), for he was descended from him. It is through Abraham that all the families of the earth are blessed (Gen. 12:1-3), and all who have the faith of Abraham are the children of Abraham, hence the children of God (cf. Rom. 4; Gal. 3). Christ’s lineage is traced through Shem.

The third son of Shem was Arpachshad who fathered Shelah who fathered Eber. Eber’s son was named Peleg, and he carries the line to Christ (Luke 3:23-38). Of interest here is the fact that the text says, “in his day the earth was divided.” The name Peleg literally means “division,” and it appears that his father Eber named him for a great event that occurred during his day. Peleg is the ancestor of a tribe of people known as Pelasgians, but it’s the earth’s division that is of interest here. Some have postulated that “in his day the earth was divided” means that this is when continental drift began to occur, but there is no proof that Pangaea ever really existed. The fact that Genesis 10:5 says, “From these the coastlands of the nations were separated into their lands, every one according to his language, according to their families, into their nations.” And Genesis 10:32 says, “These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, by their nations; and out of these the nations were separated on the earth after the flood.” These passages do not allow for the continental drift theory as it relates to Peleg because they speak of linguistic and geographic division as opposed to land division. Verse 5 is clear when it says the division was “according to his language.” So it must be concluded that the division Peleg’s name signifies must refer to the Dispersion – the events following the building of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11:1-9. That passage speaks of the birth of different languages. Genesis 10 then, occurs after Genesis 11; Genesis 11 explains Genesis 10 and vice versa.

It is clear from the Genesis text that Ham’s great-grandson Nimrod was a contemporary of Eber, Shem’s great-grandson. If the division of the nations at Babel occurred while Nimrod and Eber were adult men, then it stands to reason that Eber had a son not long after the Dispersion and named him in commemoration of that event – “division.” If this is not the case, it would be difficult to understand why the narrator of this event, likely Shem, would mention, “in his days the earth was divided.”

Food for Thought

            Warren Weirsbe says, “Sin always separates: man from God (Gen. 3), brother from brother (Gen. 4), family from family (Gen. 9), and nation from nation (Gen. 10-11)… The confusion of languages at Babel parallels the miraculous ability to speak in unlearned languages in Acts 2 at Pentecost. A Hamite was saved in Acts 8; Paul, a Semite, was saved in Acts 9, and descendants of Japheth were saved in Acts 10. Sharing the gospel unites what sin has torn apart.”


OF JAPHETH

Gomer=Cimmerians

Madai=Medes

Javan=Greeks

Ashkenaz=Scythians

Elishah=Crete

Tarshish=W. Spain

Kittim=Cyprus

OF HAM

Cush=Ethiopia

Mizraim=Egypt

Lehabites=Lybians

Caphtorim=Cretans

Hittites, etc.=Pre-Israelite

inhabitants of Canaan

OF SHEM (SEMITES)

Eber=Hebrews

Aram=Syrians

(in third millennium, north:

in second, next to Canaan)

Arphaxad=N. Iraq?


 

 

The Meaning of the Passage

The Table is a select list of names, and that selection must serve a purpose. The names are names of individuals, cities, tribes, and nations arranged according to the genealogical connections of the ancestors or founders. It is designed to show blood ties, treaties, alliances, and other connections between existing peoples.

That the promised land is central to the Table can be seen from the arrangement of the descendants. The Japhethites are spread from east to west across the northern frontier, the Hamites surround the land from south to west; and the Shemites are traced from the eastern to the southern borders of the land. Moreover, the preoccupation with the Canaanites in the land of promise shows the concern of the writer to fit the Table to the message of the book: the fulfillment of God’s promise to bless Israel as a nation in that land, and to bless those nations that bless her, and curse those who are antagonistic to her.

The purpose of this תּרֹלְדרֹת in Genesis is to trace what became of Noah’s descendants: but the particular items included in this genealogy were selected because of their significance for Israel.

The תּרֹלְדרֹת of the בִּנֵי Noah moves in four directions (in each of the יָלַד sections). Through these four sections the genealogy focuses on the dominant kingdoms of Assyria and Shinar, the powerful Egyptian tribes, the Canaanite tribes in their lands, and the Arabian tribes of the line of Shem. These are peoples with whom the new nation of Israel would have dealings in accord with the oracle of Noah in  Genesis 9 .

According to Genesis, the new nation of Israel was to be blessed as God’s people in the land of Canaan. God’s plan to bless Israel involved the movement, displacement, and subjugation of other peoples. The oracle of Noah in  Genesis 9 anticipated the blessing for Shem, along with Japheth, and the cursing of Canaan, a son of Ham. This Table in  Genesis 10  gives direction to that oracle. It presents the lines of Shem and Japheth as pure tribal groups around the promised land; it also presents the old block of Hamites, especially the mixed races in the land of Canaan, as the predominant powers on the earth. The יָלַד sections identify these tribes for Israel and signify their relationship to the blessing or cursing.

·         Japheth is closely connected with the renowned father of the Greeks (Iapetos)

·         Japheth’s son Gomer (cf. Ez. 38:6) settled in area of Crimea just north of the Black Sea.

·         As Gomer’s descendants moved west, they settled in modern-day Germany and Wales

·         Japheth’s second son, Magog (cf. Ez. 38:2; 39:6), is associated with Georgia.

·         Josephus says that Magog was the ancestor of the Scythians.

·         Madai, is Hebrew word for the Medes (Isa. 13:17) or Media (2 Kings 17:6)

·         The third son of Japheth was Javan – original name of Ionia (Greece)

·         Tubal is Tibarēni – the modern Russian city of Tobolsk

·         Meshech is preserved in Muskovi – the former name of Russia – and Moscow.

·         Ezekiel 38:2 associates Tubal and Meshech with “Rosh” – “Russia”

·         Tiras, is identified by Josephus as the Thracians but the Etruscans of Italy.

·         Ashkenaz would become Germany – present day German Jews are called Ashkenazi.

·         Togarmah, is the ancestor of the ancient Armenians and with modern-day Turkey.

·         Elishah (of Cyprus);  “Hellas” is a form Elishah (Hellenists) Iliad mentions Eilesian.

·         Tarshish is Tartessos in Spain and Carthage (cf. Isa 66:19;  Jer 10:9; Ezek 27:12).

·         Kittim, is preserved in the name of Kition which is located on the island of Cyprus.

·         Cush is located in Africa – Ethiopia – migrated to Arabia.

·         Mizraim refers to Egypt “land of Ham” (Ps. 105)

·         “Put” (Phut) is the same as Libya.

·         Canaan is a large mixture of races

·         Seba migrated to the region of the Sudan – the Sabeans (cf. Isaiah 45:14).

·         Havilah, means “sand-land.”

·          Sheba is Marib, just outside of modern-day Yemen.

 

·         Philistines descend from Casluhim

·         Sidon name in the main city in Phoenicia

·         Heth was the father of the Hittites

·         Jebusites were the original inhabitants of Jerusalem

·         Sinites – pagan god. He established “laws and justice”

o   Isaiah 49:12 mentions the ‘Sinim,’ ancient secular histories refer to people in the Far East as ‘Sinae,’ (migrated to the east). Chinese people are identified with the prefix ‘Sino-’ (e.g. Sino-Japanese War; Sinology – Chinese history). The name ‘Sin’ is frequently encountered in Chinese names in the form of ‘Siang’ or its equivalent.” It appears that the Hittites and Sinites are ancestors of the Oriental people

·         Eber applies to Hebrews

·         Peleg, and he carries the line to Christ (Luke 3:23-38) and founded the Pelasgians

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