New American Bible (Revised Edition)
Table of the Nations.[a] 1 These are the descendants of Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, to whom children were born after the flood.
2 (A)The descendants of Japheth: Gomer,[b] Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech and Tiras.(B) 3 The descendants of Gomer: Ashkenaz,[c] Diphath and Togarmah. 4 The descendants of Javan: Elishah,[d] Tarshish, the Kittim and the Rodanim. 5 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.
6 The descendants of Ham: Cush,[e] Mizraim, Put and Canaan. 7 The descendants of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah and Sabteca. The descendants of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan.
8 Cush[f] became the father of Nimrod, who was the first to become a mighty warrior on earth. 9 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.
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 (D)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.
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.
- 10:10 Shinar: the land of ancient Babylonia, embracing Sumer and Akkad, present-day southern Iraq, mentioned also in 11:2; 14:1.
- 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.
- 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.
- 10:15 Heth: the biblical Hittites; see note on 23:3.
- 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.”