● Chapter 10
The Table of Nations
This chapter contains the history of the migration of the human race — the three sons of Noah, and their branching out into families, households, and tribes throughout the whole earth. This took place, for the most part, after Yahweh confounded the tongue of the people in Shinar. The prophet Moses gave a short account of the posterity of Japheth, of Ham and of Shem, but upon that of Shem, he enlarged the account chiefly because from Shem’s blood line, the Messiah was to arise.
Though the names of the descendants of Noah’s three sons were given, it is really difficult to say what particular people and nations sprang from these three great divisions for their original names might have changed in the history of time. Some people and nations might have been assimilated or completely wiped out by others. Only a very few could be ascertained concerning their identities, for few retained their original names. Historians can only give some probabilities to their identities and migration routes. For these reasons, I will not detail them. Details are not necessary as we are not into the study of the physical, social, and cultural anthropology of the human race. Of all the descendants, only one nation stands out very noticeably, and that is, God’s ancient chosen people, the Jews. They can tell us where they sprung from.
Gen 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 genealogy of Adam, through Seth, ended with Noah as the last of the pure firstborn Adamic (or Sethic) race. Noah’s three sons were born out of his wedlock with his Cainic wife, Naamah, and their names were placed, always, in the order of Shem, Ham and Japheth (cf. Gen.5:32; 6:10; 7:13; 9:18; 1Chr.1:4 ). The three sons were neither Sethites nor Cainites; they were all mixed seeds. All Sethites, except Noah, and all Cainites, except Naamah, died in the Flood. Mankind today came from the three sons of Noah and Naamah; each had their own respective and separate genealogies. In relation to Noah, Shem was placed first, not because he was the first born, but because he was chosen to bear the Messianic line. Japheth was the firstborn, which is clear from this verse: “Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder (Heb: gadol, greater), even to him were children born” (Gen.10:21). [Note: Many Bible translators and scholars have foolishly chosen to interpret, that of the two brothers, Shem was the elder and Japheth the younger.]
Ham was the younger of the three sons of Noah. The Hebrew word for “younger” in this verse: “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him” (Gen.9:24) is “qatan”. “Qatan” simply means “diminutive, little”, an idiom for “younger” as in young – younger or youngest; least – less or lesser; small – smaller or smallest. The verse does not indicate that Ham is the youngest son; it is simply Noah’s “diminutive son”. (See Gen.1:16 – “lesser light”; 2Kg.5:2 – “little maid”.)
Surely the sequence of the order of the three names after Noah proves the point about “the last shall be first, and the first last” (Matt.20:16). The reverse order of placing the last first and the first last is seen also in the three sons of Terah, father of Abram, Nahor and Haran, and of whom Abram was the youngest and chosen of God for the Messianic line (cf. Gen.11:26). (For your own elucidation, cross check Gen.11:26-32; 12:4 with Acts 7:2-4.) That Japheth, Ham and Shem were born in that order is shown even in the order of their respective genealogies placed in Scripture, as in this chapter and in 1 Chronicles chapter 1. (Keep in mind that God is a God of order.)
The Genealogy of Japheth
Gen 10:2: The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras.
3: And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah.
4: And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim.
5: By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.
Most of the sons of Japheth and their children migrated northward, out of the Mesopotamian Basin. The last three, Tubal, Meshech and Tiras, settled in the region commonly known as Asia Minor, which is Turkey today. Gomer’s sons, Riphath and Togarmah, mingled with them and settled around the area between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. As the populace expanded, they spread northward and northeastward with Magog’s descendants, and settled in the area which is Russia today. It is believed that Gomer and the descendants of his first son, Ashkenaz, continued northwestward to settle in East Europe. From there they spread westward and northward throughout the European continent. Madai settled in the region south of the Caspian Sea. Lastly, Javan and his sons, Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim set sail westward to colonize the coastlands, such as Greece and Italy, and the islands of the Great Sea – Sicily, Spain, Cyprus and Crete.
The Genealogy of Ham
Gen 10:6: And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.
7: And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtecha: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan.
8: And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth.
9: He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD.
10: And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.
11: Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah,
12: And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.
13: And Mizraim begat Ludim, and Anamim, and Lehabim, and Naphtuhim,
14: And Pathrusim, and Casluhim, (out of whom came Philistim,) and Caphtorim.
15: And Canaan begat Sidon his firstborn, and Heth,
16: And the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite,
17: And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite,
18: And the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad.
19: And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha.
Unlike the records of the genealogy of Japheth and of Shem, which are straightforward, the genealogy of Ham has an interpolation, interrupting the listing and flow of names. The interpolating passage is from verses 8-12. Moses recorded this to highlight two important historical events. The first tells us the kind of man Nimrod was, the last of the sons of Cush (who is not mentioned in verse 6), and what he did. The second tells us what Asshur, the second son of Shem, did in response to the work of Nimrod.
We will look first at the migration of the Hamitic people.
From out of the plain of Shinar, Cush, Mizraim and Phut journeyed southwestward into the African continent. With Cush were his sons, Seba and Sabtecha; this group formed the Cushite populace which inhabited the northeastern part of the continent, stretching from Sudan, over the Ethiopian highlands, to Somalia. Cush’s other sons, Havilah, Sabtah and Raamah, and Raamah’s sons, Sheba and Dedan went southward. They spread out over the Arabian Peninsula.
Phut with Mizraim and his people, the Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, Pathrusim, Casluhim, and Caphtorim, settled along the northern coastline of Africa, and also in the regions of the Cushite people. Mizraim was the founder of Egypt. From his descendants, the Casluhim, came forth the Philistim (or Philistines), who made their way back into the land of Canaan.
The youngest son of Ham was Canaan. He was bastard born by an incestuous act between his father and his grandmother. He had eleven sons. Sidon was his firstborn, whose descendants were the Sidonians. Heth was his second son, the father of the Hittites. Canaan’s other sons brought forth their own tribes and nations of people: the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgasites, the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites. All these families of Canaanites were spread out over the land, which bear the name Canaan, that stretched from Lebanon down to Gaza and the Red Sea, and from the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea. The Sinites moved out of the Fertile Crescent eastward.
Now we look at the interpolation passage, verses 8-10. Cush begat Nimrod. Notice that Nimrod was not listed in verse 7. One reason could be that Nimrod was born of Cush’s second wife. If not, then Nimrod being Cush’s youngest son, no doubt, was born late in Cush’s life, whereas his five older brothers were born in the early few years after the Flood. Nimrod grew up to become a great man, “a mighty one in the earth”. He was Cush’s favourite son. Nimrod first founded his kingdom by building the cities of Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar. The land of Shinar is a vast plain in the lower half of the Mesopotamian Basin; flanked by the great rivers, Euphrates and Tigris. Here is where Mankind would have settled, after coming down from the mountains of Ararat after the Flood, but not before the eight souls of Noah’s family had first settled in the valleys of Ararat.
Nimrod was not only a mighty hunter; he was also “a mighty one in the earth” before the Lord — in the face of God he was an insolent mighty hunter of the souls of Man; one who dared to defy God. In this passage of Scripture, and together with verses 1-9 of chapter 11, Moses sketched his prowess in holding the populace of his days from scattering out of Shinar to replenish the Earth. Nimrod did that by creating his own religion, which mesmerized the people into subjection; thus, restraining them. And because of his aggressive evil work, Shem’s second son, Asshur (v.22; whose name signifies straightness, forwardness, honest, upright, guide, lead), boldly went out of Shinar (v.11) to a region that later bore his name, and built the cities of Nineveh, Rehoboth, Calah, and Resen. [Note: Historians and church traditions viewed Nimrod as the one who left Shinar for Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth, Calah, and Resen.] The wicked and evil Nimrod and his descendants, later marauded into the land of Asshur, also known as Assyria, conquering cities and people; thus, extended his kingdom. His kingdom covered the whole of the ancient Mesopotamian Basin, from the land of Shinar (or the land of Nimrod) to the land of Assyria (or the land of Asshur) (cf. Mic.5:6).
Gen 10:20: These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations.
The Genealogy of Shem
Gen 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.
The genealogy of Shem begins with the particular mention of Shem being “the father of all the children of Eber”, the great grandson of Shem. Shem’s blessed posterity was founded in Eber (or Heber), who fathered the Hebrews. This entitled Shem to be blessed as “the father of the Hebrews”, just as Ham was cursed with being the “father of the Canaanites” (who were fathered by Canaan). The name Heber has its roots in the meaning “across, cross over, opposite side, transit, beyond”, with reference to the River Tigris or/and River Euphrates. From the Hebrews a man was chosen, to whom the One True God revealed Himself. That man was Abram whose name was later changed to Abraham, for he was ordained to be the “father of many nations”. It was from his lineage that the Messiah was to come. This is the significant importance of Eber’s children.
Gen 10:22: The children of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram.
23: And the children of Aram; Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Mash.
24: And Arphaxad begat Salah; and Salah begat Eber.
25: And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan.
26: And Joktan begat Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah,
27: And Hadoram, and Uzal, and Diklah,
28: And Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba,
29: And Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab: all these were the sons of Joktan.
30: And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar a mount of the east.
Shem’s family dwelled mainly in the region of the Mesopotamian Basin. As his sons’ families enlarged, some of his descendants migrated to the regions of Armenia and Turkey. However, Shem’s great great grandson, Joktan with his many children, moved south into Arabia, where many of Ham’s people were.
Gen 10:31: These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations.
The sons of Shem also had various families. It was after the confusion at Babel that different languages were spoken. Certainly, each and everyone of all the families kept to their own tongues as they migrated to their lands, forming tribes and nations.
The Earth Divided
An important piece of information was provided to us in verse 25 (cf. 1Chr.1:19). Moses wrote that Eber’s firstborn was named Peleg; “for in his days was the earth divided”. The name Peleg was derived from the primitive root word, “split - divide, crack, quake, rill”. Many interpreters have taken the phrase to mean that Peleg was so named at birth by his father because the Earth was carved up for the posterities of his three sons, each to their own languages. However, the phrase points rather to Peleg’s lifetime, the period (of 239 years) when the Earth underwent quaking, splitting and dividing of the one big mass of earth, into continents and islands, giving us the topographical features that we have today.
Recall that it took more than a year after the 40-day Flood for the water to dry up on the mountains of Ararat so that Noah and his family could disembark onto dry ground (Gen.8:13-14). Elsewhere on the Earth, tons of Flood waters were still receding. Where large areas were flooded with water, terra firma, of different types of earth soil layers, were weighed down, pushed or heaved in different directions. Cracks and earth movements were inevitable. Some mountain ranges were reshaped or altered into plateaus or hills; lands and plains became valleys or became ‘bowls’ holding large amount of waters; and mountain tops of hard rocks became islands. And so, over a period of many years, the Earth was divided into continents, islands, ice shelves and seas. Moreover, because of the uneven distribution of the large amount of water that remained upon the Earth after the Flood, the Earth became tilted (see note in Gen.8:22).
Of interest to many is the migration of the animals. For those who do not believe that the Biblical Flood was universal, this question is often posted: How did the kangaroos get over to Australia from the region of Ararat? Bear in mind that our planet Earth was originally one big mass of earth with pockets of water. (It was unlike the Pangaea theory proposed by the scientist Alfred Wegener.) Each family of animals could migrate to where the environment would be suitable to them before the earth was divided. Coming down from the mountains, the animals (eg. kangaroos) moved to find dry land with suitable pastures. As the Flood waters continued to recede and the dry land sprang forth greens, the animals continued their movement in that direction. When an earth crack occurred, and separated the land behind the animals, the animals could only journey forward, since the land bridge behind them was lost. Over a period of years, the earth divided and some land bridges were lost; the animals ended up on islands. [Note: As the Earth divided throughout that period of about two centuries, it is very unlikely to find fossils, or remains of animals along their migration routes because the environment for fossilization was non-existent. The animals that died during the migration were simply consumed by other animals, rotted away, or washed away by the waters.]
The Nations Divided
Gen 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.
So ends the record of the sons of Noah, his descendants. By these were the nations divided in the Earth after the Flood; not immediately, not until the building of the city and tower of Babel, when Yahweh confounded the populace with a confusion of tongues in the days of Peleg. Until that time these families were of one language and one speech.
An important note to remember: the literal physical Serpent seed no longer exists this side of the Flood, though many Christians believe they do. The Scripture does not lie; the Word tells us that after the Flood the whole world was populated by the three sons of Noah (cf. Gen.9:19). And since the three sons possessed the blood of Noah and his wife, Naamah, where is the remote possibility of even one single literal physical Serpent seed on earth? The answer is NO, not one. All of Mankind are hybrids, possessing part of the Adamic nature (through Noah’s blood) which is godly and part of the serpentine nature (through Naamah’s blood) which is beastly and evil. Because of this evil nature in Mankind, Satan is able to continue his evil work, influencing carnal men against the Creator and His Word, over this side of the Flood. He created more religions that oppose God and His Word, just as he did with the religion of Cain. In John 8:37-47, in His conversation with the religious Jews who claimed that Abraham was their father, Jesus disagreed with them and told them that they were born of the devil because they were doing what the devil desired. The devil was a murderer from the beginning, seeking to destroy God’s Word and those who are righteous (cf. Joh.8:37-47). Those who say they believe Yahweh and His Word but have their own religions that oppose Him and His Word are therefore religious Serpent seeds. Indeed, they are!
It has been taught by many that Ham was born black. That’s an assumption. Simply the name “Ham” means “hot, burning”. Why, then, are there different coloured skins, and even different body builds? Simply, the variation of features and colours lies in our DNA. Different chemicals in the minerals of the soil and radiation from the sun affect certain genes. Overtime those genes will be activated. Each group of the descendants of Shem, Ham and Japheth who migrated to different parts of the earth would eat of the produce of their respective lands. The environment which they lived in and the things that they ate, caused their bodies to gradually adapt and adjust genetically, generation to generation, until they became harmonized with their environments. This might have taken several generations or centuries. We are what we eat and where we live. A Chinese who lived in China, is yellow-skinned because his/her forefathers, ate of the land there. The land there is largely yellow due to the yellow silt of a river called the Hwang-Ho River (Yellow River). The continents of Africa and India generally have black volcanic soil, the black colour of the people. The early Red Indians of America were dark red, obviously because they ate from the vast region of the Colorado (Coloured Red) River and Mountains. Their ancestors were the Eskimos who came across the Bering Straits from Mongolia through Siberia.
The accumulation of many changes, such as intermarriages between the three descendants of Japheth, Ham and Shem, and their sub-tribes, over generations leads to striking modifications of the characteristics in every race. Although all races are different, all descended from ONE KIND — MANKIND! Truly, our bodies are beautifully and wonderfully made (Psa.139:14). Amen.