Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Genesis 10

Verses 1-32

10:1-11:26 GENEALOGIES FROM NOAH TO ABRAM

Nations descended from Noah (10:1-32)

This genealogy must have been written hundreds of years after the time of Noah, when his descendants had multiplied and moved to many places. By that time differences in language, race and culture were noticeable. The purpose of the listing here is to trace the origin of these groups, not to name every single descendant of Noah.

Again the genealogy is simplified, being based on a selection of seventy descendants. Most likely the names in the genealogy were originally the names of individuals, but later were applied to the peoples descended from them and, in some cases, to the territories or towns inhabited by those peoples. The record concerns only the sons of Noah, and says nothing about peoples in the more distant parts of the world who may not have been affected by the flood.

Japheth's descendants settled mainly in the regions north and north-west of Palestine, spreading across Asia Minor to Greece (10:1-5). The Hamites occupied Canaan (until the Israelites took it from them) and parts of Mesopotamia to the east, while in the south they spread to Egypt and the areas on the western side of the Red Sea (6-20). The descendants of Shem (Semites) also occupied parts of Mesopotamia, and spread south from there across Arabia. The particular part of the Semite family that produced the Israelites (that of Peleg) is merely mentioned here, being treated more fully in the next chapter (21-32).

Sometimes the same name appears in more than one list, since there was much inter-marriage, migration and conquest among the various peoples. Also, it should be noted that the territory of Canaan, later to be occupied by the Israelites, contained many tribal groups (see 15:18-20; 23:17-20; 34:2,30), and sometimes the name of one of these tribal groups may have been used to refer to Canaanites in general (cf. 12:6; 15:16).

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Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Genesis 10". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/genesis-10.html. 2005.