Genesis 10: The Table of Nations

Earnest Examination

This series is presented as an honest, sincere look into the study of the Bible with my own personal theories, opinions, comments and that of others’ insights and research into what the verses could mean. I cannot claim one way or another that everything that I am stating is fact and the true meaning of what is meant in these verses.

To lay it out in a way that I can manage, I have highlighted the texts of verses that I either don’t understand or have a comment or question about in yellow. And the comments I’ve left beneath it will be of a smaller font and using brown text.

I would love it if you’d join me in this journey and if you have any insights and/or knowledge of these chapters/verses etc., please feel free to share with me and the other readers. Any chance to get a clearer understanding of the Bible and Jesus Christ would be welcomed with open arms.

All verses used are from biblestudytools.com (NIV) Genesis 10

The Table of Nations

1 This is the account of Shem, Ham and Japheth, Noah’s sons, who themselves had sons after the flood.

The Japhethites

2 The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshek and Tiras.
3 The sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah.
4 The sons of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, the Kittites and the Rodanites.

Unfortunately, since my knowledge about the people of the Bible isn’t as extensive as I’d like, I can only mention that I personally have only heard of Magog from these group of men. And Gomer sounds a bit familiar. The other names I don’t recall at all. And I only know of the name Magog due to reading up prophecies of the “end times”.
5 (From these the maritime peoples spread out into their territories by their clans within their nations, each with its own language.)
These verses confuse me a little bit. Are we to assume that these Japhethites, Hamites and Shemites spread out into their own nations and created their own languages? Or is this in conjunction with the other descendants of Noah’s sons and due to the attempt at reaching the heavens like we see in the next chapter? This chapter seems to indicate that these groups spread out of their own accord instead of being forced to do it. Yet in the next chapter we learn of the Tower of Babel and how the people were trying to build this tower as a rebellious act against God. Are both of these theories correct, in a way?

The Hamites

6 The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put and Canaan.
Now these names are more familiar to me. Everyone other than Put I have heard of before. I am a bit perplexed, though, at the use of “Egypt” instead of Mizraim, as some other versions state. I think from now I am going to use the NKJV instead of NIV. Offsetting some of these versions with the Wycliffe version seems to indicate that the NKJV is a bit closer to the correct translation, although I can’t be completely sure on that. (Which would I rather trust… the Roman Catholic Church… or a man who found out that the church was hiding the real meanings of the Bible and wanted to keep the secret translations to themselves (either in order to mislead the public, and/or to keep them dependent on them?) …I think the answer speaks for itself.)
7 The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah and Sabteka. The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan.
8 Cush was the father of Nimrod, who became a mighty warrior on the earth.
9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; that is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the LORD.”

And here we see the name Nimrod. A very famous name and was widely known to be the first tyrant and the cause of the rebellion against God after the flood. Some biblical scholars also theorize that Nimrod and King Gilgamesh are one in the same. And when you have what may be scientific evidence of King Gilgamesh’s remains, the intrigue into the Epic of Gilgamesh/Nimrod becomes a fascinating study into the origins of the Bible.
Who was Nimrod? Was he a giant? Nephilim, perhaps? A fallen angel, maybe?
The theory that Nimrod may have been a Nephilim, lends a possibility that fallen angels could have survived the flood, and resumed their co-habitation with the people who filled the land from Noah and his extended family. Perhaps the fallen angels are more of a spiritual entity and thus wouldn’t need to “survive” a flood in the physical sense, but would have to find a suitable host to possess who would allow them to take over.
This is, of course, just speculation, but is an interesting food for thought to consider.

10 The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Uruk, Akkad and Kalneh, in Shinar.
Babylon is the only name I recognize in this verse, other than Shinar. Uruk sounds vaguely familiar, but Babylon and Shinar are the only two that I have knowledge on as far as some biblical history. Of course, Babylon, due to the great wickedness that is rampant in this nation, and the prophecies of Revelation that, obviously, we have a long way to get there. (…I actually may do that chapter next after I complete Genesis and then continue with the rest of the Old Testament in order.) We’ll see in the next chapter the hubris and pride that this nation takes in order to defy God and try to usurp His throne, basically. (Which brings me to the topic of the “firmament”, which I will most likely do a whole post on eventually.)
11 From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah
In this verse, the only name I’m familiar with is Nineveh (and Assyria), because of the tale of Jonah. I wish all nations would put aside their pride and arrogance and wickedness to repent as Nineveh did when Jonah preached to them. Is it honestly too much to ask to live righteously and humbly, rather than swimming in vices and sin? Do we really prefer to live in debauchery and hate, rather than peace and love? I don’t know about you, but I would rather my children grow up in harmony and joy rather than sin and wickedness.
12 and Resen, which is between Nineveh and Calah—which is the great city.
13 Egypt was the father of the Ludites, Anamites, Lehabites, Naphtuhites,
14 Pathrusites, Kasluhites (from whom the Philistines came) and Caphtorites.
15 Canaan was the father of Sidon his firstborn, and of the Hittites,
Most of the names above I don’t recognize, other than the Philistines and Canaan. Obviously Canaan due to the previous chapter, and also the Canaanites, which are surrounded in controversy, as we’ll see in later chapters. I can’t help but wonder though, was the way the Canaanites turned out (sinful, wicked, etc.) due to the treatment that Canaan received by Noah because of his animosity towards Ham? In the previous chapter, we read that Noah cursed Canaan, instead of Ham even though it was Ham who grieved him. Could the harsh treatment from Canaan’s grandfather (Noah) have set a precedent against him and thus, the nation that became the Canaanites? What if Noah never cursed Canaan and instead still treated him with love and compassion?
And the Philistines were known throughout history as an aggressive and war-mongering people. But isn’t it interesting that even though ALL of these people were descendants of just three people (in essence, Noah and his wife – and before that, Adam and Eve), each clan/nation had their own ideologies and belief structures – even though every single one of them came from either Ham, Shem or Japheth. How were they raised? Did each brother have their own idea about the flood and who/what God is? Did they pass their own belief down to their own children, and their children’s children, and so on and so forth?
Do people just “forget” history and the tragedy that could arise from falling into a wicked lifestyle? God found Noah and his three sons righteous enough to continue their lineage. Yet soon after the flood, Ham turned his back to his own father, and, in a sense, God also. Shem and Japheth were still honoring their father by covering him at that point. So during all those years, what were the beliefs being passed down? How could it go from God personally saving 8 people, to a sudden betrayal of God and the worship of several other deities? That’s not to say that all the nations/groups worshipped multiple gods, but that several groups did – Egyptians, Canaanites, Babylonians, etc. Did some of these people, perhaps, become disillusioned with a God who would destroy most of the population? Or did they simply refuse to live righteously as God wanted them to?

16 Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites,
17 Hivites, Arkites, Sinites,
18 Arvadites, Zemarites and Hamathites. Later the Canaanite clans scattered
19 and the borders of Canaan reached from Sidon toward Gerar as far as Gaza, and then toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, as far as Lasha.
I really wish I had paid a little bit more attention in geography, but since I’m not too familiar with many of the names listed above, but still would like to get a visual of the borders and nations that it mentions, I have included a map below:

These are speculated locations based off of the descriptions from the Bible. It gives us a glimpse of what it may have looked like with the nations spreading out.

20 These are the sons of Ham by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations.

The Semites

21 Sons were also born to Shem, whose older brother was Japheth; Shem was the ancestor of all the sons of Eber.
22 The sons of Shem: Elam, Ashur, Arphaxad, Lud and Aram.
23 The sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether and Meshek.
24 Arphaxad was the father of Shelah, and Shelah the father of Eber.
25 Two sons were born to Eber: One was named Peleg, because in his time the earth was divided; his brother was named Joktan.
26 Joktan was the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah,
27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah,
28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba,
29 Ophir, Havilah and Jobab. All these were sons of Joktan.
30 The region where they lived stretched from Mesha toward Sephar, in the eastern hill country.
31 These are the sons of Shem by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations.
32 These are the clans of Noah’s sons, according to their lines of descent, within their nations. From these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.
Unfortunately, I am not at all familiar with most of the names on this list. But the Semites are an interesting subject in its own right. Many people may have heard the term “anti-semitic”, which has been the topic of MUCH debate in our society. Why do so many people hold such animosity and vitriol towards this particular group of people? There is also the hotly contested definition of what a Semite is, to begin with. It seems as if quite a lot of people are in disagreement over this term, and thus that alone causes a lot of hostility and even hatred towards each other. Until everyone can find common ground and be on the same page, this subject will continue to be the cause of division and conflict across the world.

And what am I to make of these verses compared to the ones on the next chapter with the Tower of Babel story? Am I to assume that they did not spread out over the Earth until God separated them due to their rebellious nature? Or were only a few nations involved in this rebellious act against God? I suppose I’ll just have to wait for the next chapter to fully get my answer. Although just looking at the first verse states, “Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

Once I research more and get a better feel of the biblical names and locations of those listed in this chapter, I will have to come back to edit and fill in the spaces. As it is now, this chapter gives us a good feel of how the many different nations may have started, and the groups that were involved in it. I think each nation/group deserves an extensive study and research in its own right, but to cover all of it in depth here would be a little too-detailed.

As usual, I want to reiterate that some of my thoughts and theories may be way off base, and I also research some other things on the side as well to try and get a broader understanding of what I’m reading, so please bear with me, or, even better, if you have insights that bring more light to these verses, please let me know.

I enjoy bouncing off theories and theology off of each other and love to hear other people’s perspectives on things. Thank you for reading and I look forward to hearing from you!

Fact checking is extremely important. I want to reiterate not to take everything at face value; no matter what you read, where you read it from, or who you hear it from. And to be clear, do not rely on “fact checking” websites to give you accurate information either. These are just as likely, (if not even more likely…), to feed false information and false debunking accounts to manipulate the reader. Please take everything into consideration before adhering to a certain narrative – and always keep your mind open to other possibilities.

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