Welcome back to my study/review of Genesis. If you missed the previous parts of this study, you can find the previous posts HERE.
I’m going to do Genesis 10 a little differently than I usually do. I’m going to include the entire chapter in this first section and discuss about half of it. Then I will include this entire chapter again and discuss the latter half of the chapter. It’s all somewhat interconnected.
This Chapter – as well as Chapter 11 – are something of a time-jump bridge from the deeply remote (from the perspective of Moses) past of Noah, to the slightly less remote past of Abraham. It’s hard to overstate the importance of these two chapters, though. They provide a lot of the context for reading the rest of the Old Testament.
10 These are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Sons were born to them after the flood.
2 The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. 3 The sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah. 4 The sons of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. 5 From these the coastland peoples spread in their lands, each with his own language, by their clans, in their nations.
6 The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan. 7 The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan. 8 Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the Lord. Therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.” 10 The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. 11 From that land he went into Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and 12 Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city. 13 Egypt fathered Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, 14 Pathrusim, Casluhim (from whom the Philistines came), and Caphtorim.
15 Canaan fathered Sidon his firstborn and Heth, 16 and the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, 17 the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, 18 the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites. Afterward the clans of the Canaanites dispersed. 19 And the territory of the Canaanites extended from Sidon in the direction of Gerar as far as Gaza, and in the direction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. 20 These are the sons of Ham, by their clans, their languages, their lands, and their nations.
21 To Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the elder brother of Japheth, children were born. 22 The sons of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram. 23 The sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash. 24 Arpachshad fathered Shelah; and Shelah fathered Eber. 25 To Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg,[c] for in his days the earth was divided, and his brother’s name was Joktan. 26 Joktan fathered Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba, 29 Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab; all these were the sons of Joktan. 30 The territory in which they lived extended from Mesha in the direction of Sephar to the hill country of the east. 31 These are the sons of Shem, by their clans, their languages, their lands, and their nations.
32 These are the clans of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations, and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood.
It’s hard to figure out what to say when we look at a genealogy. For the most part, the things we see here will function as point of reference for future events within the book. It will also serve as a reference point for the next chapter of Genesis. When we see the ____ people, n the rest of the Old Testament, we can look back on Genesis 10 and 11 and have some idea of where those people come from.
Some of you might look at that first image above and see Noah in China on the left. Understandably, you might say… huh? Let me point the curious in a couple of directions (I’m not endorsing this POV, just bringing it to your attention):
The rest of the first chart, though, is from what we read about above in Chapter 10. The map below it – the second image – shows where everyone is said to have settled. Some of the geographical settlement is speculative and some is more solid.
Some of the biblical and historical assumptions here are nothing short of fascinating, though.
From Ellicott’s Bible Commentary:
(2) The sons of Japheth.—Of these, seven main divisions are enumerated, some of which are subsequently sub-divided; they are—
1. Gomer, whose name reappears in the Cimmerians. Their original settlement was between Magog and Madai, that is, between the Scythians and the Medes. After remaining some time on the Caspian and Black Seas, on which latter they have left their name in the Crimea, a powerful branch of them struck across the centre of Russia, and, skirting the Baltic, became the Cimbri of Denmark (whence the name of the Chersonesus Cimbrica, given to Jutland), the Cymry of Wales, &c. Generally they are the race to which the | name is given of Celts.
2. Magog. The Scythians, who once possessed the country north and south of the Caucasus. The Russians are their modern representatives, being descended from the Sarmatians, a Scythic race, with a small admixture of Median blood.
3. Madai. The Medes, who dwelt to the south and south-west of the Caspian. Mada, in the Accadian language, means land, and it was in the Median territory that Kharsak-Kurra, “the mountain of the East,” was situated, on which the Accadians believed the ark to have rested, whence possibly Media took its name, being “the land” above all others (Chald. Gen., p. 196).
4. Javan, that is, Ionia, the land of the Greeks.
5. Tubal. The Tibareni, on the south-east of the Black Sea.
6. Meshech. The Moschi, a people of Colchis and Armenia.
7. Tiras. According to Josephus and the Targum, the Thracians. Other races have been suggested, but this is probably right; and as the Getae, the ancestors of the Goths, were Thracians, this would make the Scandinavian race the modern representatives of Tiras.
In this enumeration the race of Japheth is described as occupying Asia Minor, Armenia, the countries to the west as far as the Caspian Sea, and thence northward to the shores of the Black Sea. Subsequently it spread along the northern shores of the Mediterranean and. over all Europe. But though unnoticed by the writer its extension was equally remarkable towards the east. Parthia, Bactria, the Punjab, India, are equally Japhethite with Germany, Greece, and Rome; and in Sanscrit literature the Aryan first showed that genius, which, omitting the greatest of all books, the Semitic Bible, has made this race the foremost writers in the world.
Gomer: The Celts
Magog: The Russians
Madai: The Medes
Javan: The Greeks
Tubal: The Tibareni
(3) Gomer has three main divisions:—
1. Ashkenaz, a region in the neighbourhood of Armenia (Jeremiah 51:27), whence, following the course of Japhethite migration, the race seems to have wandered into Germany. The derivations are all most uncertain; but the Jews call the Germans Ashkenazites, and are probably right.
2. Riphath, in 1 Chronicles 1:6, is called Diphath (see Dodanim, below). Riphath is probably right, and the, inhabitants of the Riphæan Mountains (the Carpathians?) are the people meant. They were Celts.
3. Togarmah. Certainly Armenia.
Ashkenaz: The Germans
(4) Javan has four main divisions:—
1. Elishah, a maritime people of Greece. Traces of the name occur in Aeolis and in Elis, a district of the Peloponessus. Some boldly identify with Hellas. The isles of Elishah are mentioned in Ezekiel 27:7.
2. Tarshish. At so early a period this could scarcely be Tartessus, but is more probably the Tyrseni, or Tyrrheni, a race once powerful in Italy, Corsica, Sardinia, and finally in Spain. Probably Tartessus, at the mouth of the Guadalquiver, in Spain, was founded by them, and took from them its name. At this time they; were apparently a small tribe of the Javanites; but while Elishah followed the sea-coast and colonised Greece, Tarshish took a course so far inland to the north of the Danube that it did not reach the sea until it had come to the northern districts of Italy.
3. Kittim. A plural, like Madai. The Kittim were a maritime race, who colonised Cyprus, the chief city of which was Kitium, and probably other islands and coast-districts of the Mediterranean. There was a Kitium also in Macedonia; and Alexander is called King of the Kittim in 1 Maccabees 1:1.
4. Dodanim. Another plural. The right reading is probably Rodanim, as in many MSS. in 1 Chronicles 1:7 and in the LXX., and the Samaritan here. R and D are so constantly interchanged in proper names. owing to the similarity of their shape, that no dependence can be placed upon the reading. The Rodanim would be the Rhodians.
This section focuses on The Greeks. If you remember the Jonah story, you’ll recognize Tarshish as the place to which he was trying to flee. This claim here is that this was most likely Spain.
Take note of verse 5 wherein we are told that languages began to diverge.
(6) Ham.—Many derive this word from a Hebrew root, and explain it as signifying hot, sunburnt, and so swarthy. Japheth they connect with a word signifying to be fair; and so Ham is the progenitor of dark races, Japheth of those of a fair complexion, while the olive- coloured spring from Shem. More probably it is Chemi, the old name of Egypt, “the land of Ham” (Psalms 78:51), called by Plutarch Chemia, and was taken from the black colour of the soil.
The Hamites are grouped in four principal divisions:—
1. Cush. Aethiopia, but not that of Africa, but of Asia. The home of the Cushites was on the Tigris and Euphrates, where Nimrod raised them to great power. Thence they spread into the southern peninsula of Arabia, and crossing the Red Sea at a later date, colonised Nubia and Abyssinia. In the Bible Cush is watered by the Gihon (Genesis 2:13); and Zipporah, the wife of Moses, and daughter of a priest of Midian, is in Numbers 12:1 called a Cushite. Their high rank in old time is marked by the place held by them in the Iliad of Homer.
2. Mizraim. Egypt. In form the word is a dual, and may point to the division of the country into Upper and Lower Egypt. If we choose to interpret a Hamite word by a Hebrew root, it may signify the narrowed land, but it is safer to leave these words till increased knowledge shall enable us to decide with some security upon their meaning. For the ancient name of Mizraim see Genesis 10:6, and for its extent see Genesis 10:14. From the study of the skulls and bodies of a large number of mummies Brugsch-Bey in his recent history has come to the conclusion that the ancient Egyptians did not belong to any African race, but to the great Caucasian family, “but not of the Pelasgic or Semitic branches, but of a third, Cushite.” He adds that the cradle of the Egyptian nation must be sought in Central Asia.
3. Phut. The Lybians of North Africa.
4. Canaan. See Note on Genesis 10:15-19.
Cush: Mesopotamians – though we are told they eventually migrate farther south.
Phut: The Lybians
(7) Sons of Cush.—Of Cush there are five subdivisions, of which one is again parted into two. These are—
1. Seba.—The name at this time of an Arabian tribe, which subsequently migrated into Africa, and settled in Meroë, which, according to Josephus, still bore in his days this appellation. They also left their name on the eastern side of the Red Sea, not far to the north of the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb.
2. Havilah, upon the river Pison (Genesis 2:11), was undoubtedly a region of Arabia, situated probably upon the Persian Gulf. Havilah is again mentioned in Genesis 10:29.
3. Sabtah.—Probably Hadramaut, in Arabia Felix. (See Note on Genesis 10:26.)
4. Raamah, on the Persian Gulf, was divided into Dedan upon the south-west and Sheba in the centre, while Havilah lay upon the north-west side. Of these, Sheba subsequently rose to fame as the kingdom of the Himyarite Arabs.
5. Sabtechah.—Apparently still more to the south of Dedan, but placed by some on the eastern side of the gulf.
Thus, then, at the time when this table was written the southern half of Arabia was Cushite, and a swarthy race of men is still found there, especially in Yemen and Hadramaut, far darker than the light brown Arabians. Migrating from place to place along the sea-shore, the passage of the Cushites into Nubia and Abyssinia was easy. But their chief home was, at this period, in Mesopotamia, and the cuneiform inscriptions have now revealed their long struggle there with men of the race of Shem.
You might remember that we discussed Havilah in Genesis 2.
(8) Cush begat Nimrod.—This does not mean that Nimrod was the son of Cush, but only that Cush was his ancestor. In the days of Nimrod population had become numerous, and whereas each tribe and family had hitherto lived in independence, subject only to the authority of the natural head, he was able, by his personal vigour, to reduce several tribes to obedience, to prevail upon them to build and inhabit cities, and to consolidate them into one body politic.
He began to be a mighty one.—Heb., gibbor= warrior. (See Note on Genesis 6:4.) The LXX. translate giant, whence in fable Nimrod is identified with the Orion of the Greeks, in Hebrew Chesil, and in Arabic Jabbar; but this identification is entirely fanciful, as is probably the idea that he is the Izdubar of the Chaldean legends (Chald. Genesis, p. 321). Following the unscholarlike method of explaining Hamite names by Hebrew roots, commentators interpret Nimrod as meaning rebel; but the Biblical narrative speaks rather in his commendation, and the foolish traditions which blacken his reputation date only from the time of Josephus. Mr. Sayce connects his name with the Accadian town Amarda (Chald. Gen., p. 191).
Nimrod is commonly associated with Biblical Endtimes prophecy. Here, though, you see Ellicott defending him.
Here is the Pulpit Commentary section on this verse:
And Cush begat—not necessarily as immediate progenitor, any ancestor being in Hebrew styled a father—Nimrod; the rebel, from maradh, to rebel; the name of a person, not of a people;—Namuret in ancient Egyptian. Though not one of the great ethnic heads, he is introduced into the register of nations as the founder of imperialism. Under him society passed from the patriarchal condition, in which each separate clan or tribe owns the sway of its natural head, into that (more abject or more civilized according as it is viewed) in which many different clans or tribes recognize the sway of one who is not their natural head, but has acquired his ascendancy and dominion by conquest. This is the principle of monarchism. Eastern tradition has painted Nimrod as a gigantic oppressor of the people’s liberties and an impious rebel-against the Divine authority. Josephus credits him with having instigated the building of the tower of Babel. He has been identified with the Orion of the Greeks. Scripture may seem to convey a bad impression of Nimrod, but it does not sanction the absurdities of Oriental legend. He began to be a mighty one—Gibbor (vide Genesis 6:4); what he had been previously being expressed in Genesis 10:5—in the earth. Not ἐ πι τῆ ς γῆ ς (LXX.), as if pointing to his gigantic stature, but either among men generally, with reference to his widespread fame, or perhaps better “in the land where he dwelt, which was not Babel, but Arabia (vide Genesis 10:6).
If you remember from earlier studies, both Ellicott and the Pulpit Commentary rejected the view of the nephilim as being fathered by angels / celestial beings. Rather, they viewed the nephilim as being fathered by the Sethites. It is therefore not surprising that they would both reject the interpretation of Nimrod as a literal giant.
The word translated “mighty” for Nimrod is:
גִּבּוֹר gibbôwr, ghib-bore’; or גִּבֹּר gibbôr; (shortened) intensive from the same as H1397; powerful; by implication, warrior, tyrant:—champion, chief, × excel, giant, man, mighty (man, one), strong (man), valiant man.
This is one of the words used to describe the Nephilim in Genesis 6:4. It is also worth remembering that Genesis 6 tells us that “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days and also after.” If the Nephilim were the offspring of Sethites and Cain’s line… how then do they exists post-Flood? The interpretation of Nephilim as being giants makes more sense to me in this respect.
Back to Ellicott:
(10) The beginning of his kingdom.—Nimrod’s empire began with the cities enumerated in this verse, and thence extended into Assyria, as is mentioned in Genesis 10:11. First, then, he established his sovereignty “in the land of Shinar: “that is, in Babylonia, the lower portion of Mesopotamia, as distinguished from Assyria, the upper portion. It is called Sumir in the cuneiform inscriptions. In Micah 5:6 Babylonia is called “the land of Nimrod.” His cities there were four.
Babel.—That is, Bab-ili, “the gate of God,” the literal translation in Assyrian of its previous Accadian name, Ca-dimirra (Chald. Gen., p. 168). In Genesis 11:9 the word is derisively derived from a Hebrew root meaning confusion, because of the confusion of tongues there.
Erech.—“At the time of the opening of the Izdubar legends, the great city of the south of Babylonia was Urak, called in Genesis Erech” (Chald. Gen., p. 192). It was ravaged by Kudur-nankhunte, king of Elam, in the year B.C. 2280, according to an inscription of Assurbanipal (B.C. 670). It lies about thirty leagues to the south-east of Babylon, and is now called Warka. From the numerous mounds and remains of coffins discovered there, it is supposed to have been the early burial-place of the Assyrian kings. (See also Rawlin-son’s Ancient Monarchies, 1, pp. 18, 156.)
Accad.—This name, which was meaningless fifty years ago, is now a household word in the mouth of Assyriologers; for in deciphering the cuneiform literature it was found that many of the works, especially in the library of Sargon, were translations from an extinct language; and as these were deciphered it gradually became evident that before any inhabitants of the Semitic stock had entered Chaldea it had been peopled by the Accadians, a black race, who had been “the builders of its cities, the inventors of the cuneiform system of writing, and the founders of the culture and civilisation afterwards borrowed by the Semites” (Chald. Gen., p. 19). This Sargon, who was king of Agané, in Babylonia, about B.C. 1800. is of course a different person from the Ninevite Sargon mentioned in Isaiah 20:1, who also was the founder of a noble library about B.C. 721; and as the Accadian language was already in his days passing away, this earlier or Babylonian Sargon caused translations to be made, especially of those works in which the Accadians had recorded their astronomical and astrological observations, and placed them in his library at Agané. Previously also “Semitic translations of Accadian works had been made for the library of Erech, one of the earliest seats of Semitic power” (Ibid, p. 21). Mr. Sayce places the conquest of Shinar by the Semites at some period two or three thousand years before the Christian era, and thus the founding of these cities and the empire of the Accadians goes back to a still more remote date, especially as the struggle between them and their conquerors was a very prolonged one (Ibid, p. 20).
Calneh.—The Caino of Isaiah 10:9, where the LXX. read, “Have I not taken the region above Babylon and Khalanné, where the tower was built?” It was thus opposite Babylon, and the site of the tower of Babel (see Chald. Gen., p. 75, and Note on Genesis 11:9). The other place suggested, Ctesiphon, is not in Shinar, but in Assyria.
We will spend a lot of time in the rest of Genesis discussing one important offshoot of the Chaldeans.
I believe this will be my stopping point for now. Chapter 10 might end up being a 3-parter. Here is a video that covers a lot of what I cover here. The speaker in the video has some somewhat different (though very similar) takes on where people groups in this section ended up. When you read this, or are taught this, keep in mind that at least some of it is speculative or potentially coincidental. Some of it, though, is not. Be wise in knowing which is why.
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