Chapter 10

The Table of Nations

* The description of the nations in this chapter would chronologically follow the tower of Babylon incident. (So don’t be confused when differing languages are referenced) My Apologetics Study Bible notes that “the order is reversed for rhetorical effect, concluding the pre-Abrahamic history with an an illustration of the incorrigibility of human sin…To underscore this point, the author then returns in 11:10-26 to the genealogy of Shem, ancestor of the patriarchs through whom salvation will come to the nations. (12:3)”

    • The family records of Noah’s sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

    • Cush fathered Nimrod, who was the first powerful man on earth. He was also a powerful hunter.

      • The Hebrew context for Nimrod is “a mighty hunter against God” or “a mighty hunter in the face of God”. The name “Nimrod” means “let us rebel”.

    • This is not talking about Nimrod’s ability to hunt wild game. He was not a hunter of animals. He was a hunter of men – a warrior. It was through his ability to fight and kill and rule ruthlessly that his kingdom of the Euphrates valley city states was consolidated.” (Boice) (from Guzik’s commentary)

      • A 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 it is said: ‘As Nimrod the strong one, strong in hunting, and in wickedness before the Lord.’ ” (from Guzik’s commentary)

        • What is a Targum? The targumim (plural) or targum (singular) were spoken paraphrases, explanations and expansions of the Jewish scriptures (also called the Tanakh) that a Rabbi would give in the common language of the listeners, which was then often Aramaic. (Wikipedia)

Map of the geographical distribution of Noah’s sons:

Tracking the modern day descendants of Noah’s sons (source- Guzik’s commentary):

Japheth was the father of the Indo-European peoples.

             Gomer: Germanic peoples from whom arose the original French, Spanish, and Celtic settlers.

              Magog…Tubal, Meshech: the Russian peoples

              Madai: the ancient Medes peoples that inhabited current day Iran and Iraq. The peoples of India also came from this son.

              Javan: the ancient Greeks

Ham’s descendants populated Africa and the Far East.

               Cush: This family separated into two branches early on. Some founded Babylon (Nimrod) and others founded Ethiopia.

               Mizraim: This is another way the Bible refers to Egypt.

               Put: refers to Libya

               Canaan: refers to what we would consider modern day Israel and the surrounding areas. Many people believe Oriental peoples come from this line.

Shem is the father of all the children of Eber.

                Elam: ancestor of the Persian people.

               Asshur: father of the Assyrians.

                Lud: the Lydian people.

               Aram: father of the Arameans (also known as Syrians).

               Arphaxad: the ancestor of Abram and the Hebrews.

    • These are the clans of Noah’s sons according to their family records, in their nations. After the flood, the nations of the earth spread out from these.

      • Historian Charles Kimball includes a much more in depth analysis of the lineage of the people groups today in his The Genesis Chronicles if you’re interested in further reading. I’ll close with his “disclaimer about race” for those of us who are now sitting here trying to determine which of Noah’s sons is our great great great great great great…..great great grandfather (Of course I was totally guilty of doing this.) “Finally it should be noted that finding somebody whose ancestry goes back to only one of the above patriarchs will be difficult…A person of Latino ancestry, for instance, may read the above section and conclude that he is descended from Tarshish, and he would be correct, but that ignores the fact that today’s Spaniards and Portuguese have in their family tree not only Iberians but also Celts, Cathaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Vandals, Arabs, Berbers, and who knows what else. For residents of the Americas the picture is even murkier, because Americans are the result of immigration from just about everywhere, combined with those natives who lived here before the immigrants “discovered” the New World.”