In our study of Genesis chapter ten, we will look at the origin of the nations of today. We will see that we are all related as the root of all peoples can be traced back to the sons of Noah.
This is the account of Shem, Ham and Japheth, Noah's sons, who themselves had sons after the flood.
As we saw in chapter 9, Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives were the only people that came out of the ark and God told them to multiply. Since these were the only people that survived the flood, we are all related to them and to each other because of them.
The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech and Tiras.
The name Japheth means enlarged and his seven sons are listed. As we shall see, he has the largest number of sons listed. It is interesting to note that we are only given the descendants of two of his sons. The sons of Japheth would go on to populate what we call Europe and Northern Asia.
The sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah.
The name Gomer means complete or come to a sudden stop or termination. The name is mentioned again as an army that will join in the final rebellion against God (see Ezekiel 38). The name Askenaz can mean leap upon like fire. While the meaning of the name Riphath has been lost, to a Hebrew audience the name would have sounded like healers. The name Togarmah does not occur as a Hebrew word but in it is the word gerem meaning bone and is widely believed to mean bone breaker.
The sons of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, the Kittim, and the Rodanim. (From these the maritime peoples spread out into their territories by their clans within their nations, each with its own language.)
The name "Javan" means "miry" and gives the impression of getting stuck in the mud. The sons of Javan would become the settlers of most of Europe after the Tower of Babel. The term "maritime peoples" speaks of the fact that they would settle on the islands and the coast along the Mediterranean Sea.
The sons of Ham: Cush, Mizraim, Put and Canaan. The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah and Sabteca. The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan.
Most scholars associate these descendants of Ham with the peoples of the African continent. Although, with the migration of people throughout the years, we cannot say who an individual is descended from with any degree of accuracy.
Cush was the father of Nimrod, who grew to be a mighty warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: that is why it is said, 'Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord.'
At first glance, it seems that this Nimrod was a great man of God but, in fact, he was not. We see, here, that he was a mighty warrior but it does not say that he was a warrior on the right side (God's side). We also see that he was a "mighty hunter" and most take that to mean that he was good at hunting animals for food but what this passage speaks to is the fact that he wanted to be a great world ruler and rule over all the world (hunter of men's souls). As we shall see later, his pride elevated him to want to be in the place of God.
The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Erech, Akkad and Calneh, in Shinar. From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah and Resen, which is between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.
Many of the cities that are listed here will be mentioned throughout the Bible but, for the most part, they are not mentioned in a good way. This proud man would build cities and nations that were filled with pride and that brings them into direct opposition to God.
Mizraim was the father of the Ludites, Anamites, Lehabites, Naphtuhites, Pathrusites, Casluhites (from whom the Philistines came) and Caphtorites.
Just as we saw with the descendants of Cush, the descendants of Mizraim would also oppose God and His people. The Philistines would come to war against God's people and be subdued by David.
Canaan was the father of Sidon his firstborn, and of the Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, Arvadites, Zemarites and Hamathites. Later the Canaanite clans scattered and the borders of Canaan reached from Sidon toward Gerar as far as Gaza, and then toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. These are the sons of Ham by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations.
The descendants of Ham would eventually settle in the land that is the country of Israel today. This land would be known as the promised land and it was a beautiful productive land.
Sons were also born to Shem, whose older brother was Japheth; Shem was the ancestor of all the sons of Eber.
Finally, we look at the root of God's people. We see that Shem was not the oldest child and so this inheritance as God's people was not based on him but on the choice of God. As the oldest son, Japheth would have been considered the heir to the promise but God's selection of Shem shows us that our relationship is personal and not based on our earthly family position.
The sons of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud and Aram. The sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether and Meshech. Arphaxad was the father of Shelah, and Shelah the father of Eber.
We see this selection also in the fact that Eber is singled out and he is the great grandson of Shem by his middle son. The name is Heber in the Hebrew language and is in fact where God's people get the name "Hebrews" or "Jews".
Two sons were born to Eber: One was named Peleg, because in his time the earth was divided; his brother was named Joktan. Joktan was the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Obal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab. All these were sons of Joktan.
The name Peleg means division and we see that there was division in the family of Shem. As we will see, Peleg is in the list of ancestors of Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, Joktan joined with Nimrod and, as we shall see, they wanted to elevate man to the position of God. We also see that Joktan had many sons and are reminded that the majority of people went along with Nimrod and his plan.
The region where they lived stretched from Mesha toward Sephar, in the eastern hill country.
Mesha was an early form of the name of the modern city of Mecca. The descendants of Joktan would come to live in what we call Saudi Arabia.
These are the sons of Shem by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations. 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.
In this overview of the root of the nations, we have also come to see the root of the strife that exists between the nations of today. The division that we saw in the line of Shem continues even today.