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Genesis 10-11 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 10

Table of the Nations.[a] These are the descendants of Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, to whom children were born after the flood.

The descendants of Japheth: Gomer,[b] Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech and Tiras. The descendants of Gomer: Ashkenaz,[c] Diphath and Togarmah. The descendants of Javan: Elishah,[d] Tarshish, the Kittim and the Rodanim. From 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.

The descendants of Ham: Cush,[e] Mizraim, Put and Canaan. The descendants of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah and Sabteca. The descendants of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan.

Cush[f] became the father of Nimrod, who was the first to become a mighty warrior on earth. He was a mighty hunter in the eyes of the Lord; hence the saying, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter in the eyes of the Lord.” 10 His kingdom originated in Babylon, Erech and Accad, all of them in the land of Shinar.[g] 11 From that land he went forth to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir[h] and Calah, 12 as well as Resen, between Nineveh and Calah,[i] the latter being the principal city.

13 Mizraim became the father of the Ludim, the Anamim, the Lehabim, the Naphtuhim, 14 the Pathrusim,[j] the Casluhim, and the Caphtorim from whom the Philistines came.

15 Canaan became the father of Sidon, his firstborn, and of Heth;[k] 16 also of the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, 17 the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, 18 the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites. Afterward, the clans of the Canaanites spread out, 19 so 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.

20 These are the descendants of Ham, according to their clans, according to their languages, by their lands, by their nations.

21 To Shem also, Japheth’s oldest brother and the ancestor of all the children of Eber,[l] children were born. 22 The descendants of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud and Aram. 23 The descendants of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether and Mash.

24 Arpachshad became the father of Shelah, and Shelah became the father of Eber. 25 To Eber two sons were born: the name of the first was Peleg, for in his time the world was divided;[m] and the name of his brother was Joktan.

26 Joktan became the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba, 29 Ophir, Havilah and Jobab. All these were descendants of Joktan. 30 Their settlements extended all the way from Mesha to Sephar, the eastern hill country.

31 These are the descendants of Shem, according to their clans, according to their languages, by their lands, by their nations.

32 These are the clans of Noah’s sons, according to their origins and by their nations. From these the nations of the earth branched out after the flood.

Chapter 11

Tower of Babel.[n] The whole world had the same language and the same words. When they were migrating from the east, they came to a valley in the land of Shinar[o] and settled there. They said to one another, “Come, let us mold bricks and harden them with fire.” They used bricks for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky,[p] and so make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth.”

The Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the people had built. Then the Lord said: If now, while they are one people and all have the same language, they have started to do this, nothing they presume to do will be out of their reach. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that no one will understand the speech of another. So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel,[q] because there the Lord confused the speech of all the world. From there the Lord scattered them over all the earth.

Descendants from Shem to Abraham.[r] 10 These are the descendants of Shem. When Shem was one hundred years old, he begot Arpachshad, two years after the flood. 11 Shem lived five hundred years after he begot Arpachshad, and he had other sons and daughters. 12 When Arpachshad was thirty-five years old, he begot Shelah.[s] 13 Arpachshad lived four hundred and three years after he begot Shelah, and he had other sons and daughters.

14 When Shelah was thirty years old, he begot Eber. 15 Shelah lived four hundred and three years after he begot Eber, and he had other sons and daughters.

16 When Eber[t] was thirty-four years old, he begot Peleg. 17 Eber lived four hundred and thirty years after he begot Peleg, and he had other sons and daughters.

18 When Peleg was thirty years old, he begot Reu. 19 Peleg lived two hundred and nine years after he begot Reu, and he had other sons and daughters.

20 When Reu was thirty-two years old, he begot Serug. 21 Reu lived two hundred and seven years after he begot Serug, and he had other sons and daughters.

22 When Serug was thirty years old, he begot Nahor. 23 Serug lived two hundred years after he begot Nahor, and he had other sons and daughters.

24 When Nahor was twenty-nine years old, he begot Terah. 25 Nahor lived one hundred and nineteen years after he begot Terah, and he had other sons and daughters.

26 When Terah was seventy years old, he begot Abram,[u] Nahor and Haran.

II. The Story of the Ancestors of Israel

Terah. 27 These are the descendants of Terah.[v] Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran, and Haran begot Lot. 28 Haran died before Terah his father, in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans.[w] 29 Abram and Nahor took wives; the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai,[x] and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah, daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah and Iscah. 30 Sarai was barren; she had no child.

31 Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot, son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and brought them out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to go to the land of Canaan. But when they reached Haran, they settled there. 32 The lifetime of Terah was two hundred and five years; then Terah died in Haran.[y]


  1. 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).

  2. 10:2 Gomer: the Cimmerians; Madai: the Medes; Javan: the Greeks.
  3. 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.
  4. 10:4 Elishah: Cyprus; the Kittim: certain inhabitants of Cyprus; the Rodanim: the inhabitants of Rhodes.
  5. 10:6 Cush: biblical Ethiopia, modern Nubia. Mizraim: Lower (i.e., northern) Egypt; Put: either Punt in East Africa or Libya.
  6. 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.
  7. 10:10 Shinar: the land of ancient Babylonia, embracing Sumer and Akkad, present-day southern Iraq, mentioned also in 11:2; 14:1.
  8. 10:11 Rehoboth-Ir: lit., “wide-streets city,” was probably not the name of another city, but an epithet of Nineveh; cf. Jon 3:3.
  9. 10:12 Calah: Assyrian Kalhu, the capital of Assyria in the ninth century B.C.
  10. 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.
  11. 10:15 Heth: the biblical Hittites; see note on 23:3.
  12. 10:21 Eber: the eponymous ancestor of the Hebrews, that is, the one to whom they traced their name.
  13. 10:25 In the Hebrew text there is a play on the name Peleg and the word niplega, “was divided.”
  14. 11:1–9 This story illustrates increasing human wickedness, shown here in the sinful pride that human beings take in their own achievements apart from God. Secondarily, the story explains the diversity of languages among the peoples of the earth.
  15. 11:2 Shinar: see note on 10:10.
  16. 11:4 Tower with its top in the sky: possibly a reference to the chief ziggurat of Babylon, E-sag-ila, lit., “the house that raises high its head.”
  17. 11:9 Babel: the Hebrew form of the name “Babylon”; the Babylonians interpreted their name for the city, Bab-ili, as “gate of god.” The Hebrew word balal, “he confused,” has a similar sound.
  18. 11:10–26 The second Priestly genealogy goes from Shem to Terah and his three sons Abram, Nahor, and Haran, just as the genealogy in 5:3–32 went from Adam to Noah and his three sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth. This genealogy marks the important transition in Genesis between the story of the nations in 1:1–11:26 and the story of Israel in the person of its ancestors (11:27–50:26). As chaps. 1–11 showed the increase and spread of the nations, so chaps. 12–50 will show the increase and spread of Israel. The contrast between Israel and the nations is a persistent biblical theme. The ages given here are from the Hebrew text; the Samaritan and Greek texts have divergent sets of numbers in most cases. In comparable accounts of the pre-flood period, enormous life spans are attributed to human beings. It may be an attempt to show that the pre-flood generations were extraordinary and more vital than post-flood human beings.
  19. 11:12 The Greek text adds Kenan (cf. 5:9–10) between Arpachshad and Shelah. The Greek listing is followed in Lk 3:36.
  20. 11:16 Eber: the eponymous ancestor of the Hebrews, “descendants of Eber” (10:21, 24–30); see note on 14:13.
  21. 11:26 Abram is a dialectal variant of Abraham. God will change his name in view of his new task in 17:4.
  22. 11:27 Descendants of Terah: elsewhere in Genesis the story of the son is introduced by the name of the father (25:12, 19; 36:1; 37:2). The Abraham-Sarah stories begin (11:27–32) and end with genealogical notices (25:1–18), which concern, respectively, the families of Terah and of Abraham. Most of the traditions in the cycle are from the Yahwist source. The so-called Elohist source (E) is somewhat shadowy, denied by some scholars but recognized by others in passages that duplicate other narratives (20:1–18 and 21:22–34). The Priestly source consists mostly of brief editorial notices, except for chaps. 17 and 23.
  23. 11:28 Ur of the Chaldeans: Ur was an extremely ancient city of the Sumerians (later, of the Babylonians) in southern Mesopotamia. The Greek text has “the land of the Chaldeans.” After a millennium of relative unimportance, Ur underwent a revival during the Neo-Babylonian/Chaldean empire (625–539 B.C.). The sixth-century author here identified the place by its contemporary name. As chap. 24 shows, Haran in northern Mesopotamia is in fact the native place of Abraham. In the Genesis perspective, the human race originated in the East (3:24; 4:16) and migrated from there to their homelands (11:2). Terah’s family moved from the East (Ur) and Abraham will complete the journey to the family’s true homeland in the following chapters.
  24. 11:29 Sarai: like Abram, a dialectal variant of the more usual form of the name Sarah. In 17:15, God will change it to Sarah in view of her new task.
  25. 11:32 Since Terah was seventy years old when his son Abraham was born (v. 26), and Abraham was seventy-five when he left Haran (12:4), Terah lived in Haran for sixty years after Abraham’s departure. According to the tradition in the Samaritan text, Terah died when he was one hundred and forty-five years old, therefore, in the same year in which Abraham left Haran. This is the tradition followed in Stephen’s speech: Abraham left Haran “after his father died” (Acts 7:4).
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.


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