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Genesis: Chapter 10

Categories: GenesisTags: 3.7 min read

This chapter lists the offspring of the sons of Noah and shows how their descendants multiplied and spread out into the regions around about, becoming separate nations in the process. It is the early genealogy of all the nations now extant on the earth and it is interesting to note that many of the names and places listed are still known to us today. This does much to increase our confidence in the reliability of the Bible as an historical record. Examples of names familiar to us are Canaan, Babel (Babylon), Accad (Akkad), Assyria and Gaza.

We noticed that the order of birth of Noah’s sons is not clear. In this record, the descendants of Japheth are listed first, followed by those of Ham and then Shem, but in Genesis 5 v.32, the genealogy is written the other way round with Shem listed first. We noted that the term ‘sons’ is used not just about immediate offspring, but also of male descendants further down the line

Verses 1-5. These verses list the descendants of Japheth. Verse 5 tells us that these people were divided into separate nations with their own languages (tongues) and this led us to conclude that the genealogy covers the generations both before and after the scattering of people after the building of the Tower of Babel, an event that is not detailed until the following chapter of Genesis. Verse 5 tells us that the nations descended from Japheth eventually came to inhabit what is referred to as the ‘islands’ or ‘coastlands’. We noted that some have suggested that they settled in the areas between the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea in what we now know as Turkey, Greece the Balkans and the Caucuses, eventually spreading into the rest of Europe and northern Asia.

Verses 6-20 Here we are given the genealogy through Ham. We are told that his descendants spread out and populated Shinar and then Assyria. The most notable of these was Nimrod whom we are told ‘became a mighty hunter before the Lord’. He established his own Kingdom (the first kingdom mentioned in the Bible) in Assyria and built some of the earliest cities, some of which have been excavated in the last couple of centuries; including Babylon, Nineveh and Calah (known now as Nimrud). We noticed that the name Nimrod means ‘rebel’ and also that the word translated ‘before’ can mean ‘against’. Historians believe that the (idolatrous) religion of Tammuz, originated very early on in Assyria, and this perhaps suggests that Nimrod and his descendants did indeed rebel against God and established an alternative way of life with a human king and idol worship.

We noticed in v. 19 that Sodom and Gomorrah are mentioned as though in existence. This presents a puzzle as the book of Genesis, including this genealogy, is commonly believed to have been written down by Moses several hundred years after these events and certainly after the destruction of these cities. One explanation for this might be that the genealogy was handed down by oral tradition and so events are described as they happened although actually penned much later. Alternatively, Shem and Abraham were contemporaneous and we know from archaeological excavations in Ur that by Abraham’s time writing was commonplace, so it is possible that the record was written down by people who were alive at the time or who lived soon after. Moses may therefore have compiled the first five books of the Bible from a number of a number of earlier records under the guidance of God.

V 21-23 Here we are given the descendants of Shem. Verse 25 says that the earth was ‘divided’ and we wondered what this means. It is possible that this is another reference to the events after the Tower of Babel, when God scattered people throughout the earth. However the word ‘earth’ is used here rather than ‘nations’ as in verses 5, 20 and 31, and so others have wondered whether this is a reference to the time when the continents were first separated out from one original land-mass (known as Pangaea to geologists).

We noted that the genealogy in this chapter is through the male line and wondered whether this was a reflection of the prophetic curse given in Genesis 3 v.16 where Eve was told that her will would become subject to that of her husband. It is certainly the case that historically, in most societies, men have dominated women and this is reflected in the laws of inheritance.



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