Table of the Nations.* 1These are the descendants of Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, to whom children were born after the flood.
2a The descendants of Japheth: Gomer,* Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech and Tiras.b 3The descendants of Gomer: Ashkenaz,* Diphath and Togarmah. 4The descendants of Javan: Elishah,* Tarshish, the Kittim and the Rodanim. 5From these branched out the maritime nations.
These are the descendants of Japheth by their lands, each with its own language, according to their clans, by their nations.
6The descendants of Ham: Cush,* Mizraim, Put and Canaan. 7The descendants of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah and Sabteca. The descendants of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan.
8Cush* became the father of Nimrod, who was the first to become a mighty warrior on earth. 9He was a mighty hunter in the eyes of the LORD; hence the saying, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter in the eyes of the LORD.” 10His kingdom originated in Babylon, Erech and Accad, all of them in the land of Shinar.* 11From that land he went forth to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir* and Calah, 12as well as Resen, between Nineveh and Calah,* the latter being the principal city.
15Canaan became the father of Sidon, his firstborn, and of Heth;* 16also of the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, 17the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, 18the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites. Afterward, the clans of the Canaanites spread out, 19so that the Canaanite borders extended from Sidon all the way to Gerar, near Gaza, and all the way to Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, near Lasha.
21To Shem also, Japheth’s oldest brother and the ancestor of all the children of Eber,* children were born. 22d The descendants of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud and Aram. 23The descendants of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether and Mash.
24Arpachshad became the father of Shelah, and Shelah became the father of Eber. 25To Eber two sons were born: the name of the first was Peleg, for in his time the world was divided;* and the name of his brother was Joktan.
26Joktan became the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 27Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 28Obal, Abimael, Sheba, 29Ophir, Havilah and Jobab. All these were descendants of Joktan. 30Their settlements extended all the way from Mesha to Sephar, the eastern hill country.
* [10:1–32] Verse 1 is the fourth of the Priestly formulas (2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 11:10) that structure Part I of Genesis; it introduces 10:2–11:9, the populating of the world and the building of the city. In a sense, chaps. 4–9 are concerned with the first of the two great commands given to the human race in 1:28, “Be fertile and multiply,” whereas chaps. 10–11 are concerned with the second command, “Fill the earth and subdue it.” (“Subdue it” refers to each nation’s taking the land assigned to it by God.) Gn 9:19 already noted that all nations are descended from the three sons of Noah; the same sentiment is repeated in 10:5, 18, 25, 32; 11:8. The presupposition of the chapter is that every nation has a land assigned to it by God (cf. Dt 32:8–9). The number of the nations is seventy (if one does not count Noah and his sons, and counts Sidon [vv. 15, 19] only once), which is a traditional biblical number (Jgs 8:30; Lk 10:1, 17). According to Gn 46:27 and Ex 1:5, Israel also numbered seventy persons, which shows that it in some sense represents the nations of the earth.
This chapter classifies the various peoples known to the ancient Israelites; it is theologically important as stressing the basic family unity of all peoples on earth. It is sometimes called the Table of the Nations. The relationship between the various peoples is based on linguistic, geographic, or political grounds (v. 31). In general, the descendants of Japheth (vv. 2–5) are the peoples of the Indo-European languages to the north and west of Mesopotamia and Syria; the descendants of Ham (vv. 6–20) are the Hamitic-speaking peoples of northern Africa; and the descendants of Shem (vv. 21–31) are the Semitic-speaking peoples of Mesopotamia, Syria and Arabia. But there are many exceptions to this rule; the Semitic-speaking peoples of Canaan are considered descendants of Ham, because at one time they were subject to Hamitic Egypt (vv. 6, 15–19). This chapter is generally considered to be a composite from the Yahwist source (vv. 8–19, 21, 24–30) and the Priestly source (vv. 1–7, 20, 22–23, 31–32). Presumably that is why certain tribes of Arabia are listed under both Ham (v. 7) and Shem (vv. 26–28).
* [10:2] Gomer: the Cimmerians; Madai: the Medes; Javan: the Greeks.
* [10:3] Ashkenaz: an Indo-European people, which later became the medieval rabbinic name for Germany. It now designates one of the great divisions of Judaism, Eastern European Yiddish-speaking Jews.
* [10:4] Elishah: Cyprus; the Kittim: certain inhabitants of Cyprus; the Rodanim: the inhabitants of Rhodes.
* [10:6] Cush: biblical Ethiopia, modern Nubia. Mizraim: Lower (i.e., northern) Egypt; Put: either Punt in East Africa or Libya.
* [10:8] Cush: here seems to be Cossea, the country of the Kassites; see note on 2:10–14. Nimrod: possibly Tukulti-Ninurta I (thirteenth century B.C.), the first Assyrian conqueror of Babylonia and a famous city-builder at home.
* [10:12] Calah: Assyrian Kalhu, the capital of Assyria in the ninth century B.C.
* [10:14] The Pathrusim: the people of Upper (southern) Egypt; cf. Is 11:11; Jer 44:1; Ez 29:14; 30:13. Caphtorim: Crete; for Caphtor as the place of origin of the Philistines, cf. Dt 2:23; Am 9:7; Jer 47:4.
* [10:21] Eber: the eponymous ancestor of the Hebrews, that is, the one to whom they traced their name.
* [10:25] In the Hebrew text there is a play on the name Peleg and the word niplega, “was divided.”