(Updated Dec 3, 2019)
Chapter 10 of Genesis is also referred to as the Table of Nations (70, the same as the number of the children of Israel (Ex 1:5; Dt 32:7-9)). All of us come from at least one of Noah’s three sons — Shem, Japheth, and Ham (there have been mixed marriages along the way), whose own children were all born after The Flood. (The Hebrew word used for The Flood in Noah’s day is hamabool/המבול , and is not used for any other type of flood or flooding in The Bible. See also Ps 29:10) The covenant promise of God to Noah and to his sons with him, and to their descendants after them, is never again to destroy all flesh and the earth by a flood (mabool). (Gen 9:8-17) There have been many other lesser floods which have destroyed cities and islands, but none of these have been world-wide, nor are they called a mabool. Yeshua has promised to return in time to prevent all flesh from perishing during the Great Tribulation before God’s wrath. (Mt 24:21-22)
Remember from Ch 9:24-27 that Canaan, Ham’s youngest son, was the one cursed for his father’s sin – to be a servant of servants (slave of slaves) to his brothers and uncles and to their descendants. Yeshua/Jesus our Redeemer and Savior took this curse upon Himself by becoming a servant of servants (slave of slaves), whose example He has called us to emulate. (Phlp 2:3-11; Lk 22:24-27; Jn 13:12-17) What a blessing to know what it is to serve others, especially as unto the Lord! He lifts our heads and gives dignity to all peoples, whatever earthly lot or destiny we may have. He is the Son of Man, and knows our situations and circumstances.
It is important to read genealogies: God knows us by name, and the lists also have some interesting and significant facts written within them. Genealogies also give proof of human history, and of Yeshua as the promised Messiah, the Son of God, Son of Adam, Son of Abraham, Son of David. They help us to see God’s redemptive plan unfold through significant choices which He sovereignly makes at different times in history among people groups, and within those groups.
The Hebrew word toldote (transliteration is never simple!) speaks of giving birth, or begetting. Noah and his three sons and their wives (isn’t it fascinating that the Holy Spirit inspired Moses to tell us the names of Lamech’s two wives, but not to give us the names of the wives of the fathers of all humanity today?!) were the eight people saved in the ark that Noah, in the fear of God, built in obedience of faith to God’s word and instructions. (Heb 11:7)
The separation of the nations in Ch 10 is of the time after the Tower of Babel, since the language before that was one and the same for everyone. (11:1) In general, the descendants of Japheth settled in what is today Europe; the descendants of Ham settled in what is today Africa; the descendants of Shem settled in what is today Asia, which includes the Middle East. We can know this by the names of the sons and descendants given us, some of whose names are still used in Hebrew for certain nations and countries. At that time in history, there were not yet Jewish Israeli people, just “Gentiles”.
Here are some of the interesting things to notice in these genealogies:
–Japheth is the father of Magog, whose name is infamous from Ezek 38 – 39, and from Rev 20. Japheth’s sons and grandchildren became nations associated with Turkey, Greece, and other European nations. Yavan is today’s Greece, but is also connected with western Turkey. Tarshish is mentioned in other parts of the Bible, including where Jonah was headed trying to avoid God’s call on his life to preach in Nineveh, which Nimrod built. Tarshish is also mentioned also in Paul’s writings.
–Cush is a son of Ham (a Hamite). Cush today is the name for Ethiopia; in the Tanach it also refers to the area of Sudan today;
–Cush was the father of Nimrod. It was Nimrod, “a mighty hunter before YHVH” (v 9), who began the first Gentile kingdom of the world, in Shinar, also known as Babylon (today the area of Iraq), located today in the Asian Middle East, not in Africa.
–Nimrod was the first to conquer in order to rule over others besides his family. He established the first kingdom in the land of Shinar. The prophecy of Nahum is a burden against Nineveh, the great city. (see also Jonah). In Micah, Assyria is called the land of Nimrod, and the Assyrian is a major character in the end-times of the last days. (Mic 5:5-6)
–Ham is the father of Canaan, most of whose sons inhabited what is today’s Israel, including the disputed territories and Gaza, plus part of Lebanon. This Land of Canaan is the geographic territory which YHVH God, Creator and Possessor of all, promised in covenant with an oath to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob/Israel, and to their descendants. (Gen 13:12-17; 15:18-21; 17:1-8) The Jebusites were the inhabitants and rulers of what became Jerusalem until the days of King David. (2Sam 5:5-12)
–Mitzraim is also a son of Ham; and Mitzraim is the name for Egypt in the Bible until today. Mitzraim is related to the Philistines through his descendants, the Casluhim. (v 13-14) The Philistines inhabited Gaza, and their spirit is still present there today.
–Shem is the father of all the sons of Eber, whose name is the root for the Hebrews (both people and language). Eber means crossing over; passing through; going beyond. The fathers of Israel were called Hebrews, including their descendants (Joseph, and the nation; Jonah confessed to serving YHVH, God of the Hebrews). All who are called children of Abraham through faith in Jesus are strangers and pilgrims in this world — crossing over, passing through, going beyond. . . to Zion, the heavenly city and country.
–One of Shem’s sons was Arphaxad, who is recorded as being the father of Salah/Shelah. In the New Testament genealogy of Yeshua given in Lk 3, Arphaxad is said to be the father of Cainan (different spelling and person than Canaan), and that Cainan was the father of Shelah. These two lists are variations in two Hebrew texts of the Tenach — one used for the Masoretic text, the other for the Septuagint.
–Peleg was one of Eber’s two sons. (v 25) It seems that he was born during the division of the Earth/land, into the continents which we have today. (Gen 1:9-10; 10:25; 1Chron 1:19) The Hebrew word used to express Peleg’s name and the division of the land is different than the Hebrew words used for God separating the nations and their languages. This would also better explain how The Flood was global, not local. It is my opinion that He did both, as a judgment against the unified rebellion at Babel, and to protect His interests in having a holy seed, and a people who dwell alone for His redemptive purposes. (Num 23:9) Even secular scientists accept that the earth/dry land was once one large mass, but that it divided/separated hundreds of million years ago on an Earth billions of years old. Such a time-frame is nowhere hinted at in the God-breathed written record that He has given us in The Bible. “Is anything too hard for YHVH!?” (Gen 18:14) The Apostle Paul commended the Berean believers for checking the Scriptures after they heard his teaching, to see if what he taught was true. Shouldn’t we do the same when “the world” teaches us about how we got here that is contrary to what the Spirit of God and the Word of God teaches us?
(There are those who believe that the break-up and divisions of the one land mass into today’s continents occurred during the Flood by a process called cataclysmic plate tectonics, and that the Ice Age followed, allowing for the migrations of the 70 nation groups with their languages. See this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zd5-dHxOQhg
and this: https://creation.com/ice-age-model )
We can see throughout the Scriptures that ALL of the people groups, nations, and families oppose those whom YHVH chooses and elects, and ALL oppose His Kingdom and His righteousness. ALL have sinned, and there is none righteous – except for the Holy One of Israel, the Lord Yeshua the Messiah/Jesus Christ, the promised Seed of the Woman.
The Flood was about 1696 years after Adam and Eve (Creation), and approximately 2304 years before Yeshua was born, or about 4323 years ago. Peleg was born between 100-200 years after the flood (again depending on which Hebrew text is used; I tend toward the 100 years). The enormous Earth-shattering events which both caused The Flood and resulted from it prepared the Earth for our great and mighty God to carry out His command after The Flood, which the people refused to do: be fruitful and multiply, and fill the Earth/land. (Gen 9:1) YHVH God confused the languages, separated the families and people groups by their languages, and according to their lands and nations, with their boundaries. (Dt 32:8; Acts 17:22-31) He also divided the one land mass to separate the people even more definitely, and broke up their ungodly unity.
We can see in Ch 11 what God did. Remember that there were no chapter divisions in the original manuscripts. The last verse of Ch 10 connects simply and plainly to the first verse in Ch 11. The fear of YHVH is the beginning of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, and keeps us from evil.
“Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses….” (Rom 5:12-14)
“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23)
“For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we, through the patience and comfort of The Scriptures, might have hope.” (Rom 15:4)
God’s plan of redemption is not completed until it is finished, just as the Creation was not completed until after the sixth day. He does not stop short. Thank and praise God for Jesus!