Genesis 10:1-32 Table of Nations

Genesis 10:1-32 Table of Nations

Chapter 10 is called the “Table of Nations.”.  Even secular scholars are amazed at the accuracy of this table of nations.  After the Flood, the people increased, and scattered in all directions:  (1) the Japhethites (vv. 25) went to Europe and to the northern areas of Asia; (2) the Hamites (vv. 6-20) into Egypt, Ethiopia, Arabia, Asia Minor, and Canaan;  (3) the children of Shem and of Eber (vv. 21-31) went into Elam (western Mesopotamia), Assyria, Arabia, and other lands of the Middle East.  Many names mentioned here are identifiable with nations of ancient times, some of which have continued down to the present. Of special significance is “Eber” (V. 25), because his name is given as one of the sources of the term “Hebrew” (14:13; Ex. 5:13).  Likely it was Shem or one of his relatives that kept this table.  He lived for 502 years after the flood, which included the entire period recorded here.  The sons of Ham and Japheth are given only to the third generation while Shem’s continues to the 6th generation.  Archaeological discoveries continue to demonstrate the accuracy of this table. 

V. 2 -3 We have the description of the Sons of Japheth – Gomer are the people who settled in Asia Minor just south of the Black Sea.  Magog is an area composed of the three sectors of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and constitutes an area currently occupied by Russia. Many believe the name Russia is derived from the name Rosh.  These lands figure in the prophetic events spoken of by Ezekiel in Chap. 38 who describes the battles of nations leading to Armageddon along with the prophet Daniel.  Madai, another son of Japheth corresponds with the Medes who succeeded after conquering the Babylonians.  Javan is the nation associated with Ionians from which the word “Ionian columns” are derived and synonymous with Greece.  Tubal was the nation located in the eastern part of Asia Minor.  The Assyrians named this land “Tabal”.  In Scripture they are most associated with Meshech in Ezk. 27:13; 32:26; 38:2-3. Meshech dwelt at the southwestern corner of the Black Sea, and again in historical documents of the Assyrians that have been discovered, they were named Muskaya.  Tiras, was likely a nation on the Aegean Sea.  These people were known as pirates who terrorized other nations.  They later are identified as the Eutruscans of Italy. The sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz is identified with the Sythians of western Asia Minor.  Jewish tradition suggests that this nation migrated north to occupy the land now known as Germany.  It is from this land and from the Pale of Settlement (Eastern Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Lithuania and other Eastern Europe countries that these Jewish people came to be known as Ashkenazi Jews as opposed to Sephardic.  Riphath were those who dwelt further west of them on the Rhebas river and perhaps as far west as the Bosphorus Sea.  Togarmah is the area associated with Cappadocia in Asia Minor. 

V. 4-5 Elishah is associated with the west coast of Cyprus it was a land where Tyre got its purple dye Ezek 27:7.  Tarshish is associated with Spain in Scripture and ancient geography.  Kittim is the peoples who settled on the east coast of Cyprus.  Dodanim is a plural like Kittim were the people who settled in the northern part of Greece where archaeology describes a city with the name Dodona.  Thus the descendants of Japheth spread for the most part through what is now Europe and Eastern Asia as well as the maritime islands in the Eastern Hemisphere seas. 

V. 6 – The sons of Ham were Cush whose subdivisions are described in verse 7 and represent the land of Ethiopia and Egypt.  Cushites are found also in the Arabian Peninsula.  Mizraim is the Hebrew word for Egypt.  Put, was a nation in Africa associated with Egypt and Ethiopia probably a reference to certain tribes of Libya (Jer 46:9; Ezek 30:5; Ezek 38:5; Nah 3:9) 

V. 7 – The sons of Cush, settled in Seba which was likely located in southwest Arabia and inhabited by the Sabeans (Isa 45:14), and closely related to Sheba (Psa 72:10; Isa 43:3; Isa 45:14).  Havilah was a region inhabited by the Ishmaelites and Amalekites, most likely located in northwest Arabia (Gen 25:18; 1 Sam 15:7). Sabtah alternatively spelled Sabta in 1 Chr 1:9 settled along the southern coast of Arabia, where several cities bear his name. Raamah was located in the southwest part of Arabia, their merchants traded with Tyre (Ezek 27:22).  Sabteca also settled in the southern part of Arabia and is mentioned in 1 Chron 1:9. The sons of Raamah included Sheba who settled in the mountainous area in southwest Arabia.  Sheba became a commercial power through caravan trading in the exotic goods of Arabia.  In the 10th century BC, the queen of Sheba journeyed to Jerusalem to test the wisdom of Solomon and to obtain a trade agreement from him 1 Ki 10:1-13; Job 6:19; Ezek 27:22-23.  

V 8-12 – Cush was the father of Nimrod whose name today is a synonym for “hunter” and is credited with establishing a kingdom that united the major cities of Babylon, Erech, Akkad, and Calneh. He also founded Nineveh and other cities. The “land of Nimrod” according to Mic 5:6 is Assyria.  The name literally comes from a Hebrew root meaning “to revolt or rebel”. The word hunter in the Hebrew language can have two connotations as in the English language.  One can be a hunter of animals for food or the other a hunter of men to force them into servitude and to dominate them.  This is the nuance of the expression in prophecy regarding the regathering of the Jewish people in the last days as spoken by the prophet Jeremiah foretold in Jer. 16:16-18.  Nimrod was blessed with many gifts and abilities, but he used them to build a kingdom for himself and not God.  The empire he ruled included the cities of Erech, Accad and Calneh all located in what was then known as the land of Shinar, which was located in the Southern end of Mesopotamia, a Greek word meaning “land between the waters”.  In archaeological digs in Erech which is located today in Iraq, discoveries were made of ancient writings that pre-date Abraham.  Accad was located further north on the Tigris River it too was built by Nimrod and it is the city that the Akkadian empire drew its name.  Not only did Nimrod build these cities but also Nineveh, Rehoboth, Calah, and Rezin.  It was to Nineveh that God sent the prophet Jonah, to warn the people of the city’s impending destruction.  The people repented, forestalling the overthrow of Nineveh for nearly two centuries. 

V 13-15 – Mizraim is the Hebrew name for Egypt named for its founder.  As of today, the cities or lands of Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, and Naphtuhim have not yet been discovered.  Pathruthites dwelt in Pathros, or Upper Egypt.  Then we are told that the Philistines came from the Casluhites.  Modern historians place the origin of the Philistines as from the island of Crete.  Ham’s youngest son was Canaan, and he had eleven sons and daughters as well.  Canaan’s first born was Sidon who was the father of the Phoenicians. Sidon was the sister city of Tyre.  Heth, the second born, was the father of the Hittites (Gen 23:10), they were a powerful nation from the time of Abraham until the time of King Solomon.  In archaeological discoveries of cuneiform writings, the name for Hittites was “Khittae”, which scholars believe may have evolved to “Cathay” as they settled in the Far East.  There are strong similarities between the Hittites and the Mongols.  They both pioneered the art of smelting and casting iron, and in the breeding and training of horses. 

V 16-20 – The remaining sons of Canaan were the fathers of the Canaanite tribes that occupied the land when the 3 million plus Israelites arrived to conquer the land after their release from captivity in Egypt.  The Jebusites, descended from Jebus, were those who occupied Jerusalem until the time of David’s victory there 3,000 years ago. The Amorites were descendants of another of Canaan’s sons and were one of the most prominent tribes that Israel displaced.  The rest of these tribes represent the other sons of Canaan, some who occupied the land of promise while others in the surrounding areas are mentioned in later portions of Scripture.  The Sinites may have been for whom Sinai was named.  In Is 49:12 there is mention of “Sinim” in KJV and the NASV.  There is some debate where this area was, many Biblical scholars believe this is China.  The belief is that the descendants of “Sin” the son of Canaan migrated to China.  The prefix “Sino” as in Sino-Russian, is used to describe the Chinese.  These along with the Hittites are most likely the roots of the Mongolian people.  This also may mean that the Native Americans may be descended from Ham and Canaan, who migrated over the Bering Sea land bridge that existed prior to the Ice Age. The dimensions of the Canaanite boundaries were from Sidon on the Northern edge of what is now Lebanon south to Gerar, which is the southern end of the Gaza Strip, then east and south along the cities of the plain to the Dead Sea.  These cities were Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim, which were later destroyed by the Lord as recorded later in Genesis.  Lasha probably marked the Northeast border and as yet has not been discovered.   

V 21-24 – Here Shem is spoken of as the father of Eber, the emphasis here is what has led many to believe that the title “Hebrew” comes from the descendants of Eber.  In archaeological monuments that have been discovered the peoples called “the Habiru” are believed to be descendants of Eber.  Five children of Shem are noted, Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram.  Elam is the father of the Elamites.  We find that Chedorlaomer, king of Elam was part of a confederacy of northern tribes that attacked Sodom and captured Lot in Gen 14.  Abraham with 300 men attacked and defeated these peoples.  The city of Susa also known as Shushan which was its capital located in Mesopotamia.  The Elamites merged with the Medes to form the Medio-Persian Empire.  Asshur was the father of the Assyrians, though it should be noted that Nimrod and his followers invaded the land of Asshur where he founded Nineveh.  So, the Assyrian people and culture is derived from both the Sons of Shem and the sons of Ham, assimilated both cultures into theirs.  Little is known about Arphaxad except that he is in the genealogical line that leads to Abraham.  Josephus wrote that Lud was the father of the Lydians of Asia Minor.  The fifth son of Shem was Aram from who descended the Aramaens also known as the Syrians.  It is the Aramaic language that became the predominant language of the then civilized world, adopted by the Assyrians, the Babylonians.  Some of the Old Testament is written in the Aramaic language, and was the common language spoken by Jesus and the Jewish people in the first century.  The sons of Aram listed here were probably significant in the lives of the sons of Abraham and that’s why they are listed here. 

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