Genesis 10 - Noah's Line

September 18, 2019

1 Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood.

The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras.

And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah.

And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim.

By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.

And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.

And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtechah: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan.

And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth.

He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.

10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.

11 Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah,

12 And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.

13 And Mizraim begat Ludim, and Anamim, and Lehabim, and Naphtuhim,

14 And Pathrusim, and Casluhim, (out of whom came Philistim,) and Caphtorim.

15 And Canaan begat Sidon his first born, and Heth,

16 And the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite,

17 And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite,

18 And the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad.

19 And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha.

20 These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations.

21 Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born.

22 The children of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram.

23 And the children of Aram; Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Mash.

24 And Arphaxad begat Salah; and Salah begat Eber.

25 And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name was Joktan.

26 And Joktan begat Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah,

27 And Hadoram, and Uzal, and Diklah,

28 And Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba,

29 And Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab: all these were the sons of Joktan.

30 And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar a mount of the east.

31 These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations.

32 These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.

Events:

1. The sons and grandsons of Japheth are given.

2. The sons and grandsons of Ham are given.

3. The sons and grandsons of Shem are given.

What does this passage teach us? 

This is the only recorded history of the early earth. There is no other book or document bearing the names of the fathers of all mankind after the Flood. Of course, other documents from these early days may have existed, but only the Bible has been carefully preserved for thousands of years without any appreciable corruption. This is a wonderful testimony to God’s providential care of His revelation.

The Bible is careful to record genealogies from the Old Testament through the New Testament. Of course there must have been thousands of tribes and millions of people that lived in the ancient world who are not included in these lists. But there are some key names recorded in these ancient documents, because they are the special people with whom God chose to focus His attention and love. For some reason, God chose to work with certain fathers and their progeny in the line of Seth, Noah, and Shem. This chapter presents the line of Noah and his three sons. As time goes by, we find God narrowing in on the line of Shem (in exclusion of Japheth and Ham). Then He focuses on Abraham and Isaac (in exclusion of Ishmael), and then Jacob (in exclusion of Esau).

It wasn’t long before the immediate descendants of Noah began building communities and cities throughout the Middle East. Sadly, many of them continued the legacy of Cain, and they were far more interested in building cities and empires than worshiping and serving the living God. It is amazing how quickly they forgot about the flood, the judgment of God, and the wonderful salvation He provided Noah and his family!

As the memory of God quickly faded from these tribes, these tribes did not fade from God’s knowledge. He continued to record their names in His book. For the succeeding 2,500 years, God would work primarily through the line of the children of Shem (Abraham’s children). It shows God’s grace that He would include the descendants of Ham and Japheth in these lists. They are included because they are the sons of Noah, God’s covenant man. But they are also the ancient fathers of the Europeans, the Africans, and the Asians, many of whom have learned about God’s grand salvation plan through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verses 1–5. The first section of the chapter presents the children of Japheth. Later biblical accounts and extra-biblical records indicate that these people eventually settled in the “lands of the north,” which include Europe and parts of Asia.

Verses 6–20. These verses list the descendants of Ham, who mainly settled in Africa. Mizraim, as one of Ham’s descendants, is an important character in history, as he became the namesake for the land of Egypt. To this day, the Hebrew or Semitic name for “Egypt” is “Mizraim.” Whether this man or one of his children settled in the country we now call Egypt, we do not know. But it is clear that Egypt is among the first and oldest nations in the world. The family of Put settled in the modern nation state of Libya, while Cush and his clan settled in Ethiopia, south of Egypt.

Nimrod, the grandson of Ham, is one of the important fathers in the line of those who opposed God and His people. A father’s faith is often revealed by the names he gives his children, and very often these names strongly influence the lives of his children. Our sons and daughters really do live up to their names! With that it mind, think of how Nimrod might have been affected by his name, which meant “We will rebel.”

Prior to the Flood there were mighty men and tyrants who accumulated great power and brought about massive violence and destruction on the earth. In verses eight and nine, Moses described this man Nimrod using the very same word for “tyrant” as he used for the wicked “tyrants” or “Nephilim” who lived before the flood (Gen. 6:4). Here again, Nimrod would carry on the horrible tradition of the wicked men who built their kingdoms on centralized power and tyrannical violence before the Flood. While some translations describe Nimrod as “a mighty hunter before Yahweh,” it would be better said that Nimrod was “mighty against, or in defiance of Yahweh.”

Nimrod’s big achievement was the creation of Babel. This was mankind’s first major empire following the Flood, an attempt to construct a “one-world government” or “new world order.” Ever since man had fallen in the garden, he had been working hard to create the kingdom of man, or what Augustine referred to as “the city of man.” Throughout history, we see that the kingdom of God was growing at the same time that men were trying to build their kingdoms without God. This pattern has continued through Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Rome, the Holy Roman Empire, Spain, France, England, and lately, with the European Union and the New World Order.

It was Ham’s son Canaan who received the curse from his grandfather Noah, and then settled in the land of Canaan, where his descendants made up the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgasites, and the Hivites. Because of their great wickedness, God later destroyed the people of Canaan by the hand of His people, Israel. It is interesting that the line of Ham quickly produced much more rebellion against God as these descendants emulated Ham’s rebellious character. Inevitably, the dishonoring of fathers will lead to evil empires and wicked cultures.

Verses 21–32. The final verses in this chapter name the children of Shem, the line from which Abraham, David, and Jesus will come. Most of these tribes settled in the Middle East, including modern day Arabia, Iraq, Armenia, and Turkey.

How does this passage teach us to walk with God in faith and obedience?

1. Genealogies are important because family is important. Revolutionary cultures work hard to cut off the memory of previous generations, divorcing themselves from their fathers and their heritage. Sadly, this marks the time in which we find ourselves. To their shame, many who live in modern cities and empires today cannot name their own great grandfather or great grandmother. May God revive an interest in our heritage! Honoring our heritage is part and parcel of obeying the Fifth Commandment: “Honor your father and mother, that it may go well with you, and that you may live long upon the earth.”

2. While men like Nimrod work hard to build a kingdom without reference to God, it is the duty of all Christian families to work to build the kingdom of God. It is possible to build a home and a family, or to work a job, without any interest whatsoever in the kingdom of God. However, what makes the difference between a Christian nation and a wicked empire is the God that we serve. To the extent that we will not worship God and apply His law to our social systems and ethics, we give up on building the kingdom of God in favor of another kingdom. Have we turned ourselves into a god, or do we worship, serve, and obey the God who made heaven and earth? When we set out to build a country (like America), are we building it for the kingdom of God or the kingdom of man? Our families should be “kingdom outposts for Jesus Christ.”

Questions:

1. What are the themes of Chapters 1 through 10?

2. Where did the children of Japheth eventually settle?

3. What Hebrew or Semitic word is used for the nation state of Egypt?

4. Which grandson of Ham began to build the city of man in the land of Babylon?

5. From which son of Noah did Abraham and the Jews come?

6. Men have been building two different kingdoms since the time of the Flood. What are they?

Family Discussion Questions: 

1. Can you name your great grandfathers and great grandmothers on your father’s side? On your mother’s side? Why is it important to honor your heritage?

2. What kingdom are we building? Is our family building the kingdom of God or the kingdom of man? How do we do this? What is the difference between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of man?