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IV. History of the Sons of Noah - Genesis 10-11:9
Pedigree of the Nations - Genesis 10
Of the sons of Noah, all that is handed down is the pedigree of the nations, or the list of the tribes which sprang from them (Gen 10), and the account of the confusion of tongues, together with the dispersion of men over the face of the earth (Genesis 11:1-9); two events that were closely related to one another, and of the greatest importance to the history of the human race and of the kingdom of God. The genealogy traces the origin of the tribes which were scattered over the earth; the confusion of tongues shows the cause of the division of the one human race into many different tribes with peculiar languages.
The genealogy of the tribes is not an ethnographical myth, nor the attempt of an ancient Hebrew to trace the connection of his own people with the other nations of the earth by means of uncertain traditions and subjective combinations, but a historical record of the genesis of the nations, founded upon a tradition handed down from the fathers, which, to judge from its contents, belongs to the time of Abraham (cf. Hהvernick's Introduction to Pentateuch, pp. 118ff. transl.), and was inserted by Moses in the early history of the kingdom of God on account of its universal importance in connection with sacred history. For it not only indicates the place of the family which was chosen as the recipient of divine revelation among the rest of the nations, but traces the origin of the entire world, with the prophetical intention of showing that the nations, although they were quickly suffered to walk in their own ways (Acts 14:16), were not intended to be for ever excluded from the counsels of eternal love.
In this respect the genealogies prepare the way for the promise of the blessing, which was one day to spread from the chosen family to all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:2-3). - The historical character of the genealogy is best attested by the contents themselves, since no trace can be detected, either of any pre-eminence given to the Shemites, or of an intention to fill up gaps by conjecture or invention. It gives just as much as had been handed down with regard to the origin of the different tribes. Hence the great diversity in the lists of the descendants of the different sons of Noah. Some are brought down only to the second, others to the third or fourth generation, and some even further; and whilst in several instances the founder of a tribe is named, in others we have only the tribes themselves; and in some cases we are unable to determine whether the names given denote the founder or the tribe. In many instances, too, on account of the defects and the unreliable character of the accounts handed down to us from different ancient sources with regard to the origin of the tribes, there are names which cannot be identified with absolute certainty.
(Note: Sam. Bochart has brought great learning to the explanation of the table of nations in Phaleg, the first part of his geographia sacra, to which Michaelis and Rosenmüller made valuable additions-the former in his spicil. geogr. Hebr. ext. 1769 and 1780, the latter in his Biblical Antiquities. Knobel has made use of all the modern ethnographical discoveries in his “Völkertafel der Genesis” (1850), but many of his combinations are very speculative. Kiepert, in his article über d. geograph. Stellung der nördlichen Länder in der phönikisch-hebräischen Erdkunde ( in the Monatsberichte d. Berliner Akad. 1859), denies entirely the ethnographical character of the table of nations, and reduces it to a mere attempt on the part of the Phoenicians to account for the geographical position of the nations with which they were acquainted.)
Descendants of Japhet. - In Genesis 10:1 the names of the three sons are introduced according to their relative ages, to give completeness and finish to the Tholedoth ; but in the genealogy itself Japhet is mentioned first and Shem last, according to the plan of the book of Genesis as already explained in the introduction. In Genesis 10:2 seven sons of Japhet are given. The names, indeed, afterwards occur as those of tribes; but here undoubtedly they are intended to denote the tribe-fathers, and may without hesitation be so regarded. For even if in later times many nations received their names from the lands of which they took possession, this cannot be regarded as a universal rule, since unquestionably the natural rule in the derivation of the names would be for the tribe to be called after its ancestor, and for the countries to receive their names from their earliest inhabitants. Gomer is most probably the tribe of the Cimmerians, who dwelt, according to Herodotus, on the Maeotis, in the Taurian Chersonesus, and from whom are descended the Cumri or Cymry in Wales and Brittany, whose relation to the Germanic Cimbri is still in obscurity. Magog is connected by Josephus with the Scythians on the Sea of Asof and in the Caucasus; but Kiepert associates the name with Macija or Maka, and applies it to Scythian nomad tribes which forced themselves in between the Arian or Arianized Medes, Kurds, and Armenians. Madai are the Medes, called Mada on the arrow-headed inscriptions. Javan corresponds to the Greek Ἰάων , from whom the Ionians ( Ἰάονος ) are derived, the parent tribe of the Greeks (in Sanskrit Javana, old Persian Junâ ). Tubal and Meshech are undoubtedly the Tibareni and Moschi, the former of whom are placed by Herodotus upon the east of the Thermodon, the latter between the sources of the Phasis and Cyrus. Tiras: according to Josephus, the Thracians, whom Herodotus calls the most numerous tribe next to the Indian. As they are here placed by the side of Meshech, so we also find on the old Egyptian monuments Mashuash and Tuirash, and upon the Assyrian Tubal and Misek ( Rawlinson).
Descendants of Gomer. Ashkenaz: according to the old Jewish explanation, the Germani; according to Knobel, the family of Asi, which is favoured by the German legend of Mannus, and his three sons, Iscus ( Ask, Ἀσκάνιος ), Ingus, and Hermino. Kiepert, however, and Bochart decide, on geographical grounds, in favour of the Ascanians in Northern Phrygia. Riphath: in Knobel's opinion the Celts, part of whom, according to Plutarch, crossed the ὄρη Ῥίπαια , Montes Rhipaei, towards the Northern Ocean to the furthest limits of Europe; but Josephus, whom Kiepert follows, supposed Ῥιβάθης to be Paphlagonia. Both of these are very uncertain. Togarmah is the name of the Armenians, who are still called the house of Thorgom or Torkomatsi.
Descendants of Javan. Elishah suggests Elis, and is said by Josephus to denote the Aeolians, the oldest of the Thessalian tribes, whose culture was Ionian in its origin; Kiepert, however, thinks of Sicily. Tarshish (in the Old Testament the name of the colony of Tartessus in Spain) is referred by Knobel to the Etruscans or Tyrsenians, a Pelasgic tribe of Greek derivation; but Delitzsch objects, that the Etruscans were most probably of Lydian descent, and, like the Lydians of Asia Minor, who were related to the Assyrians, belonged to the Shemites. Others connect the name with Tarsus in Cilicia. But the connection with the Spanish Tartessus must be retained, although, so long as the origin of this colony remains in obscurity, nothing further can be determined with regard to the name. Kittim embraces not only the Citiaei, Citienses in Cyprus, with the town Cition, but, according to Knobel and Delitzsch, probably “the Carians, who settled in the lands at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea; for which reason Ezekiel (Genesis 27:6) speaks of the “isles of Chittim.” Dodanim ( Dardani): according to Delitzsch, “the tribe related to the Ionians and dwelling with them from the very first, which the legend has associated with them in the two brothers Jasion and Dardanos;” according to Knobel, “the whole of the Illyrian or north Grecian tribe.”
“ From these have the islands of the nations divided themselves in their lands; ” i.e., from the Japhetites already named, the tribes on the Mediterranean descended and separated from one another as they dwell in their lands, “ every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.” The islands in the Old Testament are the islands and coastlands of the Mediterranean, on the European shore, from Asia Minor to Spain.
Descendants of Ham. - Cush: the Ethiopians of the ancients, who not only dwelt in Africa, but were scattered over the whole of Southern Asia, and originally, in all probability, settled in Arabia, where the tribes that still remained, mingled with Shemites, and adopted a Shemitic language. Mizraim is Egypt: the dual form was probably transferred from the land to the people, referring, however, not to the double strip, i.e., the two strips of land into which the country is divided by the Nile, but to the two Egypts, Upper and Lower, two portions of the country which differ considerably in their climate and general condition. The name is obscure, and not traceable to any Semitic derivation; for the term מצור in Isaiah 19:6, etc., is not to be regarded as an etymological interpretation, but as a significant play upon the word. The old Egyptian name is Kemi (Copt. Chêmi, Kême), which, Plutarch says, is derived from the dark ash-grey colour of the soil covered by the slime of the Nile, but which it is much more correct to trace to Ham, and to regard as indicative of the Hamitic descent of its first inhabitants. Put denotes the Libyans in the wider sense of the term (old Egypt. Phet; Copt. Phaiat), who were spread over Northern Africa as far as Mauritania, where even in the time of Jerome a river with the neighbouring district still bore the name of Phut; cf. Bochart, Phal. iv. 33. On Canaan, see Genesis 9:25.
Descendants of Cush. Seba: the inhabitants of Meroë; according to Knobel, the northern Ethiopians, the ancient Blemmyer, and modern Bisharin. Havilah: the Αὐαλῖται or Ἀβαλῖται of the ancients, the Macrobian Ethiopians in modern Habesh. Sabtah: the Ethiopians inhabiting Hadhramaut, whose chief city was called Sabatha or Sabota. Raamah: Ῥεγμά , the inhabitants of a city and bay of that name in south-eastern Arabia ( Oman). Sabtecah: the Ethiopians of Caramania, dwelling to the east of the Persian Gulf, where the ancients mention a seaport town and a river Σαμυδάκη . The descendants of Raamah, Sheba and Dedan, are to be sought in the neighbourhood of the Persian Gulf, “from which the Sabaean and Dedanitic Cushites spread to the north-west, where they formed mixed tribes with descendants of Joktan and Abraham.” See notes on Genesis 10:28 and Genesis 25:3.
Besides the tribes already named, there sprang from Cush Nimrod, the founder of the first imperial kingdom, the origin of which is introduced as a memorable event into the genealogy of the tribes, just as on other occasions memorable events are interwoven with the genealogical tables (cf. 1 Chronicles 2:7, 1 Chronicles 2:23; 1 Chronicles 4:22-23, 1 Chronicles 4:39-41).
(Note: These analogies overthrow the assertion that the verses before us have been interpolated by the Jehovist into the Elohistic document; since the use of the name Jehovah is no proof of difference of authorship, nor the use of ילד for הוליד , as the former also occurs in Genesis 10:13, Genesis 10:15, Genesis 10:24, and Genesis 10:26.)
Nimrod “ began to be a mighty one in the earth.” גּבּר is used here, as in Genesis 6:4, to denote a man who makes himself renowned for bold and daring deeds. Nimrod was mighty in hunting, and that in opposition to Jehovah ( ἐναντίον κυρίον , lxx); not before Jehovah in the sense of, according to the purpose and will of Jehovah, still less, like לאלהים in Jonah 3:3, or τῷ Θεῷ in Acts 7:20, in a simply superlative sense. The last explanation is not allowed by the usage of the language, the second is irreconcilable with the context. The name itself, Nimrod from מרד , “we will revolt,” points to some violent resistance to God. It is so characteristic that it can only have been given by his contemporaries, and thus have become a proper name.
(Note: This was seen even by Perizonius ( Origg. Babyl. p. 183), who says, “ Crediderim hominem hunc utpote venatorem ferocem et sodalium comitatu succinctum semper in ore habuisse et ingeminasse, ad reliquos in rebellionem excitandos, illud nimrod, nimrod, h.e. rebellemus, rebellemus, atque inde postea ab aliis, etiam ab ipso Mose, hoc vocabalo tanquam proprio nomine designatium ,” and who supports his opinion by other similar instances in history.)
In addition to this, Nimrod as a mighty hunter founded a powerful kingdom; and the founding of this kingdom is shown by the verb ותּהי with ו consec. to have been the consequence or result of his strength in hunting, so that the hunting was most intimately connected with the establishment of the kingdom. Hence, if the expression “a mighty hunter” relates primarily to hunting in the literal sense, we must add to the literal meaning the figurative signification of a “hunter of men” (“trapper of men by stratagem and force,” Herder); Nimrod the hunter became a tyrant, a powerful hunter of men. This course of life gave occasion to the proverb, “like Nimrod, a mighty hunter against the Lord,” which immortalized not his skill in hunting beasts, but the success of his hunting of men in the establishment of an imperial kingdom by tyranny and power. But if this be the meaning of the proverb, יהוה לפני “in the face of Jehovah ” can only mean in defiance of Jehovah, as Josephus and the Targums understand it. And the proverb must have arisen when other daring and rebellious men followed in Nimrod's footsteps, and must have originated with those who saw in such conduct an act of rebellion against the God of salvation, in other words, with the possessors of the divine promises of grace.
(Note: This view of Nimrod and his deeds is favoured by the Eastern legend, which not only makes him the builder of the tower of Babel, which was to reach to heaven, but has also placed him among the constellations of heaven as a heaven-storming giant, who was chained by God in consequence. Vid., Herzog's Real-Encycl. Art. Nimrod.)
“ And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, ” the well-known city of Babylon on the Euphrates, which from the time of Nimrod downwards has been the symbol of the power of the world in its hostility to God; - “ and Erech ” ( Ὀρέχ , lxx), one of the seats of the Cutheans (Samaritans), Ezra 4:9, no doubt Orchoë, situated, according to Rawlinson, on the site of the present ruins of Warka, thirty hours' journey to the south-east of Babel; - and Accad ( Ἀρχάδ , lxx), a place not yet determined, though, judging from its situation between Erech and Calneh, it was not far from either, and Pressel is probably right in identifying it with the ruins of Niffer, to the south of Hillah; - “ and Calneh: ” this is found by early writers on the cite of Ctesiphon, now a great heap of ruins, twenty hours north-east of Babel. These four cities were in the land of Shinar, i.e., of the province of Babylon, on the Lower Euphrates and Tigris.
From Shinar Nimrod went to Assyria אשּׁוּר is the accusative of direction), the country on the east of the Tigris, and there built four cities, or probably a large imperial city composed of the four cities, or probably a large imperial city composed of the four cities named. As three of these cities - Rehoboth-Ir, i.e., city markets (not “street-city,” as Bunsen interprets it), Chelach, and Resen - are not met with again, whereas Nineveh was renowned in antiquity for its remarkable size (vid., Jonah 3:3), the words “ this is the great city ” must apply not to Resen, but to Nineveh. This is grammatically admissible, if we regard the last three names as subordinate to the first, taking as the sign of subordination ( Ewald, §339a), and render the passage thus: “he built Nineveh, with Rehoboth-Ir, Cheloch, and Resen between Nineveh and Chelach, this is the great city.” From this it follows that the four places formed a large composite city, a large range of towns, to which the name of the (well-known) great city of Nineveh was applied, in distinction from Nineveh in the more restricted sense, with which Nimrod probably connected the other three places so as to form one great capital, possibly also the chief fortress of his kingdom on the Tigris. These four cities most likely correspond to the ruins on the east of the Tigris, which Layard has so fully explored, viz., Nebbi Yûnus and Kouyunjik opposite to Mosul, Khorsabad five hours to the north, and Nimrud eight hours to the south of Mosul.
(Note: This supposition of Rawlinson, Grote, M. v. Niebuhr, Knobel, Delitzsch and others, has recently been adopted by Ewald also.)
From Mizraim descended Ludim: not the Semitic Ludim (Genesis 10:22), but, according to Movers, the old tribe of the Lewâtah dwelling on the Syrtea, according to others, the Moorish tribes collectively. Whether the name is connected with the Laud flumen ( Plin. v. 1) is uncertain; in any case Knobel is wrong in thinking of Ludian Shemites, whether Hyksos, who forced their way to Egypt, or Egyptianized Arabians. Anamim: inhabitants of the Delta, according to Knobel. He associates the Enemetiei'm of the lxx with Sanemhit, or Northern Egypt: “ tsanemhit , i.e., pars, regio septentrionis .” Lehabim (= Lubim, Nahum 3:9) are, according to Josephus, the Δἰβνες or Δύβιες , not the great Libyan tribe ( Phut, v. 6), which Nahum distinguishes from them, but the Libyaegyptii of the ancients. Naphtuchim: in Knobel's opinion, the Middle Egyptians, as the nation of Pthah, the god of Memphis: but Bochart is more probably correct in associating the name with Νέφθυς in Plut. de Is., the northern coast line of Egypt. Pathrusim: inhabitants of Pathros, Παθούρης , Egypt. Petrês, land of the south; i.e., Upper Egypt, the Thebais of the ancients. Casluchim: according to general admission the Colchians, who descended from the Egyptians (Herod. ii. 104), though the connection of the name with Cassiotis is uncertain. “ From thence (i.e., from Casluchim, which is the name of both people and country) proceeded the Philistines.” Philistim, lxx Φυλιστιείμ or Ἀλλόφλοι , lit., emigrants or immigrants from the Ethiopic fallâsa . This is not at variance with Amos 9:7 and Jeremiah 47:4, according to which the Philistines came from Caphtor, so that there is no necessity to transpose the relative clause after Philistim. The two statements may be reconciled on the simple supposition that the Philistian nation was primarily a Casluchian colony, which settled on the south-eastern coast line of the Mediterranean between Gaza (Genesis 10:19) and Pelusium, but was afterwards strengthened by immigrants from Caphtor, and extended its territory by pressing out the Avim (Deuteronomy 2:23, cf. Joshua 13:3). Caphtorim: according to the old Jewish explanation, the Cappadocians; but according to Lakemacher's opinion, which has been revived by Ewald, etc., the Cretans. This is not decisively proved, however, either by the name Cherethites, given to the Philistines in 1 Samuel 30:14; Zephaniah 2:5, and Ezekiel 25:16, or by the expression “isle of Caphtor” in Jeremiah 47:4.
From Canaan descended “ Zidon his first-born, and Heth.” Although Zidon occurs in Genesis 10:19 and throughout the Old Testament as the name of the oldest capital of the Phoenicians, here it must be regarded as the name of a person, not only because of the apposition “ his first-born, ” and the verb ילד , “begat,” but also because the name of a city does not harmonize with the names of the other descendants of Canaan, the analogy of which would lead us to expect the nomen gentile “ Sidonian ” (Judges 3:3, etc.); and lastly, because the word Zidon, from צוּד to hunt, to catch, is not directly applicable to a sea-port and commercial town, and there are serious objections upon philological grounds to Justin's derivation, “ quam a piscium ubertate Sidona appellaverunt, nam piscem Phoenices Sidon vocant ” ( var. hist. 18, 3). Heth is also the name of a person, from which the term Hittite (Genesis 25:9; Numbers 13:29), equivalent to “ sons of Heth ” (Genesis 23:5), is derived. “ The Jebusite: ” inhabitants of Jebus, afterwards called Jerusalem. “ The Amorite: ” not the inhabitants of the mountain or heights, for the derivation from אמיר , “ summit, ” is not established, but a branch of the Canaanites, descended from Emor (Amor), which was spread far and wide over the mountains of Judah and beyond the Jordan in the time of Moses, so that in Genesis 15:16; Genesis 48:22, all the Canaanites are comprehended by the name. “ The Girgashites, ” Γεργεσαῖος (lxx), are also mentioned in Genesis 15:21; Deuteronomy 7:1, and Joshua 24:11; but their dwelling-place is unknown, as the reading Γεργεσηνοί in Matthew 8:28 is critically suspicious. “ The Hivites ” dwelt in Sichem (Genesis 34:2), at Gibeon (Joshua 9:7), and at the foot of Hermon (Joshua 11:3); the meaning of the word is uncertain. “ The Arkites: ” inhabitants of Ἀρκή , to the north of Tripolis at the foot of Lebanon, the ruins of which still exist (vid., Robinson). “ The Sinite: ” the inhabitants of Sin or Sinna, a place in Lebanon not yet discovered. “ The Arvadite, ” or Aradians, occupied from the eighth century before Christ, the small rocky island of Arados to the north of Tripolis. “ The Zemarite: ” the inhabitants of Simyra in Eleutherus. “ The Hamathite: ” the inhabitants or rather founders of Hamath on the most northerly border of Palestine (Numbers 13:21; Numbers 34:8), afterwards called Epiphania, on the river Orontes, the present Hamâh, with 100,000 inhabitants. The words in Genesis 10:18, “ and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad, ” mean that they all proceeded from one local centre as branches of the same tribe, and spread themselves over the country, the limits of which are given in two directions, with evident reference to the fact that it was afterwards promised to the seed of Abraham for its inheritance, viz., from north to south, - “ from Sidon, in the direction (lit., as thou comest) towards Gerar (see Genesis 20:1), unto Gaza,” the primitive Avvite city of the Philistines (Deuteronomy 2:23), now called Guzzeh, at the S.W. corner of Palestine, - and thence from west to east, in the direction towards Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim (see Genesis 19:24) to Lesha, ” i.e., Calirrhoe, a place with sulphur baths, on the eastern side of the Dead Sea, in Wady Serka Maein ( Seetzen and Ritter).
Descendants of Shem. - Genesis 10:21. For the construction, vid., Genesis 4:26. Shem is called the father of all the sons of Eber, because two tribes sprang from Eber through Peleg and Joktan, viz., the Abrahamides, and also the Arabian tribe of the Joktanides (Genesis 4:26.). - On the expression, “ the brother of Japhet הגּדול ,” see Genesis 9:24. The names of the five sons of Shem occur elsewhere as the names of the tribes and countries; at the same time, as there is no proof that in any single instance the name was transferred from the country to its earliest inhabitants, no well-grounded objection can be offered to the assumption, which the analogy of the other descendants of Shem renders probable, that they were originally the names of individuals. As the name of a people, Elam denotes the Elymaeans, who stretched from the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Sea, but who are first met with as Persians no longer speaking a Semitic language. Asshur: the Assyrians who settled in the country of Assyria, Ἀτουρία , to the east of the Tigris, but who afterwards spread in the direction of Asia Minor. Arphaxad: the inhabitants of Ἀῤῥαπαχῖχτις in northern Assyria. The explanation given of the name, viz., “fortress of the Chaldeans” ( Ewald), “highland of the Chaldeans” ( Knobel), “territory of the Chaldeans” ( Dietrich), are very questionable. Lud: the Lydians of Asia Minor, whose connection with the Assyrians is confirmed by the names of the ancestors of their kings. Aram: the ancestor of the Aramaeans of Syria and Mesopotamia.
Descendants of Aram. Uz: a name which occurs among the Nahorides (Genesis 22:21) and Horites (Genesis 36:28), and which is associated with the Αἰσῖται of Ptolemy, in Arabia deserta towards Babylon; this is favoured by the fact that Uz, the country of Job, is called by the lxx χώρα Αὐσῖτις , although the notion that these Aesites were an Aramaean tribe, afterwards mixed up with Nahorides and Horites, is mere conjecture. Hul: Delitzsch associates this with Cheli ( Cheri), the old Egyptian name for the Syrians, and the Hylatae who dwelt near the Emesenes (Plin. 5, 19). Gether he connects with the name give in the Arabian legends to the ancestor of the tribes Themûd and Ghadis. Mash: for which we find Meshech in 1 Chronicles 1:17, a tribe mentioned in Psalms 120:5 along with Kedar, and since the time of Bochart generally associated with the πορος Μάσιον above Nisibis.
Among the descendants of Arphaxad, Eber's eldest son received the name of Peleg, because in his days the earth, i.e., the population of the earth, was divided, in consequence of the building of the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:8). His brother Joktan is called Kachtan by the Arabians, and is regarded as the father of all the primitive tribes of Arabia. The names of his sons are given in Genesis 10:26-29. There are thirteen of them, some of which are still retained in places and districts of Arabia, whilst others are not yet discovered, or are entirely extinct. Nothing certain has been ascertained about Almodad, Jerah, Diklah, Obal, Abimael, and Jobab. Of the rest, Sheleph is identical with Salif or Sulaf (in Ptl. 6, 7, Σαλαπηνοί ), an old Arabian tribe, also a district of Yemen. Hazarmaveth (i.e., forecourt of death) is the Arabian Hadhramaut in South-eastern Arabia on the Indian Ocean, whose name Jauhari is derived from the unhealthiness of the climate. Hadoram: the Ἀδραμῖται of Ptol. 6, 7, Atramitae of Plin. 6, 28, on the southern coast of Arabia. Uzal: one of the most important towns of Yemen, south-west of Mareb. Sheba: the Sabaeans, with the capital Saba or Mareb, Mariaba regia (Plin.), whose connection with the Cushite (Genesis 10:7) and Abrahamite Sabaeans (Genesis 25:3) is quite in obscurity. Ophir has not yet been discovered in Arabia; it is probably to be sought on the Persian Gulf, even if the Ophir of Solomon was not situated there. Havilah appears to answer to Chaulaw of Edrisi, a district between Sanaa and Mecca. But this district, which lies in the heart of Yemen, does not fit the account in 1 Samuel 15:7, nor the statement in Genesis 25:18, that Havilah formed the boundary of the territory of the Ishmaelites. These two passages point rather to Χαυλοταῖοι , a place on the border of Arabia Petraea towards Yemen, between the Nabataeans and Hagrites, which Strabo describes as habitable.
The settlements of these Joktanides lay “ from Mesha towards Sephar the mountain of the East, ” Mesha is still unknown: according to Gesenius, it is Mesene on the Persian Gulf, and in Knobel's opinion, it is the valley of Bisha or Beishe in the north of Yemen; but both are very improbable. Sepher is supposed by Mesnel to be the ancient Himyaritish capital, Shafגr, on the Indian Ocean; and the mountain of the East, the mountain of incense, which is situated still farther to the east. - The genealogy of the Shemites closes with Genesis 10:31, and the entire genealogy of the nations with Genesis 10:32. According to the Jewish Midrash, there are seventy tribes, with as many different languages; but this number can only be arrived at by reckoning Nimrod among the Hamites, and not only placing Peleg among the Shemites, but taking his ancestors Salah and Eber to be names of separate tribes. By this we obtain for Japhet 14, for Ham 31, and for Shem 25, - in all 70 names. The Rabbins, on the other hand, reckon 14 Japhetic, 30 Hamitic, and 26 Semitic nations; whilst the fathers make 72 in all. But as these calculations are perfectly arbitrary, and the number 70 is nowhere given or hinted at, we can neither regard it as intended, nor discover in it “the number of the divinely appointed varieties of the human race,” or “of the cosmical development,” even if the seventy disciples (Luke 10:1) were meant to answer to the seventy nations whom the Jews supposed to exist upon the earth.
The words, “ And by these were the nations of the earth divided in the earth after the flood, ” prepare the way for the description of that event which led to the division of the one race into many nations with different languages.
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Genesis 10". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany