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Bible Commentaries

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

Genesis 10

Verses 1-32


Genesis 10:1. Generations] The origins, genesis, or developments; a characteristic note of this book. The whole chapter is a table of the nations which descended from the sons of Noah.—

Genesis 10:2. Japheth] “The order of the generations of the sons of Noah here followed is Japheth, Ham, Shem. The reason why this arrangement begins with Japheth is that he was the eldest of the three. Ham follows next, in order that the main subject, the line of Shem, may be free for treatment; the object of secondary interest having been first disposed of, according to the practice of the sacred writer” (Alford). There is a striking similarity between the name Japheth and the Iapetus, which the Greeks and Romans regarded as the progenitor of the human race.—Gomer] This name has been traced to the Cimmerians of Homer, and also to the Cymry, the national name of the Welsh. The name occurs in the Cimmerian Bosphorus—the Crimea. This people inhabited the N.W. portion of Japheth’s territory; they are mentioned in Ezekiel 38:6.—Magog] Identified with the Scythians—generally the north-eastern nations. “The chief people in the army of Gog (Ezekiel 38:2-3; Ezekiel 39:1) is Rosh, that is, the Rossi, or Russians” (Knobel).—Madai] The Medes, inhabiting the S. and S.W. They became incorporated in the Persian Empire, hence the two nations are spoken of together.—Javan] The Ionians, or Greeks.—Tubal and Meshech] These names frequently occur together in the Old Testament. They are supposed to be identical with the Tiberians, inhabiting Pontus and the districts of Asia Minor generally.—Tiras] Probably the Thracians, dwellers on the River Tiras, or Dniester.—

Genesis 10:3. Ashkenaz] Some suppose this name to designate the Asen race, which is said to be the origin of the Germans. “It is somewhat remarkable that the Jews, to this day, call Germany Askenaz” (Alford).—Riphath] Probably the Celts, who dwelt originally on the Riphœan, or Carpathian mountains.—Togarmah] The Arminians, whose first king was named Thorgom, and who still call themselves the House of Thorgom.—

Genesis 10:4. Elishah] Josephus and Knobel suppose that the Æolians are represented; others have traced the name to Hellas.—Tarshish] The Tyrseni, or Etruscans, colonised the east and south of Spain, and north of Italy.—Kittim] The original inhabitants of Cyprus, whose ancient capital was Citium, an old Greek town. Alexander the Great is said to have come out of the land of Chittim (1MMalachi 1:1; 1Ma. 8:5).—Dodanim] The Dardanians, who in historic times inhabited Illyrium and Troy.

Genesis 10:5. The isles of the Gentiles] “would appear to include the coast of the Mediterranean. The word signifies not only island, but also any maritime tracts. The notice in this verse must evidently be regarded as anticipatory of chapter Genesis 11:1” (Alford), The Jews applied the word, besides its strict sense, also to describe those countries which could only be conveniently reached by water.—Every one after his tongue] “Thus clearly evincing that this dispersion took place after the confusion of tongues, though related before it” (Bush).—

Genesis 10:6. Cush] This name designates the Ethiopians, also including the Southern Asiatics. Cush is generally rendered Ethiopia in the A. V.—Mizraim] The O. T. name for Egypt or the Egyptians.—

Genesis 10:7. Saba] “Meroe-Ethiopians living from Elephantine to Meroe. The prophets represent the accession of Seba to the Church of God as one of the glories of the latter-day triumphs (Psalms 72:10).—Candace seems to have been the queen of this region” (Acts 8:27.—Jacobus.)—Sheba] The Sabeans, dwelling on shores of the Persian Gulf. They are referred to as men of stature and of commercial importance, in Isaiah 45:14-18. And Cush begat Nimrod] “The historian here turns aside from the list of nations to notice the origin of the first great empires that were established on the earth. Of the sons of Cush, one is here noted as the first potentate in history” (Jacobus). “The occurrence of the name Jehovah marks the insertion as due to the Jehovist supplementer” (Alford).—A mighty one in the earth] A hero—a conqueror—the first founder of an empire.—

Genesis 10:9. He was a mighty hunter] “Taken in its primary sense, that this great conqueror was also a great follower of the chase, a pursuit which, as Delitzch remarks, ‘has remained to this day, true to its origin, the favourite pleasure of tyrants’ ” (Alford).—Before the Lord] An expression denoting his eminent greatness. Some suppose that it refers to his defiance of Jehovah, and this interpretation is favoured by the meaning of his name—let us rebel.

Genesis 10:10. The beginning of his kingdom] The first theatre of his sovereignty.—Babel] Babylon.—

Genesis 10:11. Out of the land went forth Asshur] A more probable rendering is, “He came forth to Asshur,” i.e., he extended his conquests from Shinar.—

Genesis 10:12. The same is a great city] “Knobel refers this to the whole four just mentioned, Nineveh, Rehoboth, Calah, and Resen; these four places are the site which is named the great city, viz., Nineveh in the wider sense. See Jonah 4:11; Jonah 3:3” (Alford).

Genesis 10:13-20. A continuation of the sons of Ham]

Genesis 10:21. The father of all the children of Eber] “This declaration calls attention beforehand to the fact, that in the sons of Eber the Shemetic line of the descendants of Abraham separates again in Peleg, namely, from Joktan, or his Arabian descendants” (Lange).—

Genesis 10:25. In his days was the earth divided] These words have given rise to much speculation, but the more probable opinion is that they refer to the incident described in ch. 11.



Many readers might be disposed to undervalue a chapter like this, since it is but a collection of names—some of which are quite unknown—and is made up of barren details promising little material for profitable reflection. Yet a thoughtful reader will be interested here, and discover the germs and suggestions of great truths; for the subject is man, and man, too, considered in reference to God’s great purpose in the government of the world. This chapter “is as essential to an understanding of the Bible, and of history in general, as is Homer’s catalogue, in the second book of the Iliad, to a true knowledge of the Homeric poems and the Homeric times. The Biblical student can no more undervalue the one than the classical student the other.” (Dr. T. Lewis, in Lange’s Genesis.) Let us consider what are the chief characteristics and lessons of this, the oldest ethnological table in all literature.

I. It is marked by the features of a truthful record.

1. It is not vague and general, but descends to particulars. The forgers offictitious documents seldom run the risk of scattering the names of persons and places freely over their page. That would expose them to detection. Hence those who write with fraudulent design deal in what is vague and general. This chapter mentions particulars of names and places, and, in this regard, has the marks of a genuine record. Heathen literature does not furnish so wide and universal a register. One cause why that literature is so deficient in documents of this nature lies in the fact that each heathen nation was shut up within itself, having little relations with others except those of trade and war. But this chapter is framed on a wider basis, is concerned with all races of men, however diversified, and contemplates the human family as having an essential unity under all possible varieties of character and external conditions.

2. Heathen literature when dealing with the origin of nations employs extravagant language. The early annals of all nations, except the Jews, run at length intofable, or else pretend to a most incredible antiquity. National vanity would account for such devices and for the willingness to receive them. The Jews had the same temptations to indulge in this kind of vanity as the other nations around them. It is therefore a remarkable circumstance that they pretend to no fabulous antiquity. We are shut up to the conclusion that their sacred records grew up under the special care of Providence, and were preserved from the common infirmities of merely human authorship. The sober statements of this chapter regarding the origin of nations is a presumption of their truth.

3. Here we have the ground-plan of all history. The physical, intellectual, moral, social, and religious forces represented here sufficiently account for all subsequent history. We have, in this sacred portion of history, a light to guide and inform us over those tracts of time where the records of other nations leave us in darkness. We learn further—

II. That history has its basis in that of individual men. We speak of God’s relations to humanity, of the history of the world; but it will be found that this ultimately resolves itself into the history of individual men, who represent social and moral forces which have determined the currents of events. We find that God’s successive revelations were made to depend upon the characters of individual men. The revelation of salvation itself ever tends to take this form. God did not reveal His plans of mercy, in their ever-expanding outline and detail, to large bodies of men, but to individuals whom He deemed worthy of such sacred communications. It is not therefore strange that single human lives occupy so large a portion of Scripture. All history was to issue in One who would be the flower of humanity; and in whom alone the race could be contemplated with any joy of hope. The general lesson of this chapter is plain, namely, that no man can go to the bottom of history who does not study the lives of those men who have made that history what it is.

III. That man is the central figure in Scripture. The Bible differs, in one important feature, from the sacred books of other nations. They lose themselves in endless theories and speculations concerning the origin of the material universe. They have minute and elaborately detailed systems of cosmogony, geography, and astronomy. Hence the advance of the human mind in natural knowledge must be fatal to their authority. But the Bible commits itself to no detailed description of the laws and phenomena of nature. One short chapter in it is deemed sufficient to tell us that God made the heavens and the earth. The world is only considered as it is a habitation for man, and the platform on which the Supreme works out His great designs. Man is regarded in Scripture not merely as part of the furniture of this planet, but as lord of all. Everything is put under his feet. Hence the sacred records describe a God of men rather than a God of nature. They give a history of man as distinct from nature. Infidels have made this characteristic of revelation a matter of reproach; but all who know how rich God’s purpose towards mankind is, glory in it, and believe that great things must be in store for a race which has occupied so much of the Divine regard.

IV. The progressive movement of history towards an end. No history is marked by signs of living power that does not advance towards some great and noble end. In the highest things, how aimless have been the histories of the chief nations of mankind! Some particulars of Bible history may be regarded as unimportant, and even contemptible, when compared with the more stately and dignified records of the nations around; yet they show the onward march of humanity towards an end. They show how that humanity was gravitating towards its centre in Shem, Abraham, and Christ. How soon does the sacred history leave many of the great names recorded here—some of them founders of great empires; and important forces, as the world accounts—and proceeds to the delineation of individual lives which in the grey dawn and morning of the world reflect the light of the Sun of Righteousness! The great nations of the earth are afterwards little noticed, except when for a moment they are brought into some relation with the chosen people. The reason of this peculiarity is, that the Bible is not a world-history, but a history of the kingdom of God. All the interest centres successively in one people, tribe, and family; then in one who was to come out of that family, bringing redemption for mankind. “Salvation is of the Jews.” The noblest idea of history is only realised in the Bible. Those of the world had no living Word of God to inspire that idea. That book can scarcely be regarded as of human origin which passes by the great things of the world, and lingers with the man who “believed in God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.”


In this chapter we see the origin of many nations in all parts of the world, and therefore the power of the blessing which God, after the flood, had renewed to men in respect to their multiplying and propagation; and so, finally, we learn the fathers from whom Christ was born according to the flesh. Neither Noah nor his sons begat any offspring during the time of the flood. The same may be conjectured to be true of the animals which were shut up with him in a dark dungeon, and as it were in the midst of death.—(Starke.)

In this outline of the history of all nations, we have a suggestion of the universality of God’s gracious purposes towards mankind. Heaven will draw inhabitants from every kingdom, people, nation, and tongue.
The relation between the history of God’s kingdom and the world-history:

1. The contrast;
2. the connection;
3. the unity (in its wider sense is the whole world’s history a history of the kingdom of God).—(Lange.)

The fifth document relates to the generations of the sons of Noah. It presents first a genealogy of the nations, and then an account of the distribution of mankind into nations, and their dispersion over the earth. This is the last section which treats historically of the whole human race. Only in incidental, didactic, or prophetic passages do we again meet with mankind as a whole in the Old Testament.—(Murphy.)

This chapter illustrates one stage of advance in the development of the human race. The family grows into the nation. The history reaches from Noah to Abraham, who is the representative of all the children of faith. Hence arises the Church, the highest form of life, the home for all mankind, however diversified in country, race, or tongue.
Though the race of man, as a whole, now disappears from the sacred page, yet in the progress of God’s revelation to man we are led on to Christ, in whom all things and men that have been sundered and scattered shall be gathered together.


Genesis 10:1. Note the connection of this with the former history. Noah had prophesied before concerning all his sons, and then was added his expiration, the Spirit meaning to speak no more of him: but now, that being done, He proceeds to show the persons and posterity upon whom all these words were to be fulfilled. God’s word must not fall to the ground. God’s prophecies and performances are joined together in His word, so they should be in our faith and observation.—(Hughes.)

Genesis 10:5. The Scripture, foreseeing that Europe would, from the first, embrace the Gospel, and for many ages be the principal seat of its operations, the Messiah Himself is introduced by Isaiah as addressing Himself to its inhabitants—“Listen, O isles, unto Me; and hearken ye people from afar. Jehovah hath called Me from the womb, and hath said unto Me, It is a light thing that Thou shouldest be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob. I will also give Thee for a light to the Gentiles, that Thou shouldest be My salvation to the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:1-6; Isaiah 49:1-6). Here we see not only the first peopling of our native country, but the kind remembrance of us in the way of mercy, and this, though far removed the means of salvation. What a call is this to us who occupy what is denominated the end of the earth, to be thankful for the Gospel, and to listen to the sweet accents of the Saviour’s voice.—(Fuller.)

It was God’s plan that men should be divided and dispersed all over the earth, and He has Himself determined the bounds of their habitation.

In their nations. We note here the characteristics of a nation—

1. It is descended from one head. Others may be occasionally grafted on the original stock by inter-marriage. But there is a vital union subsisting between all the members and the head, in consequence of which the name of the head is applied to the whole body of the nation.
2. A nation has a country or “land” which it calls its own. In the necessary migrations of ancient tribes, the new territories appropriated by the tribe, or any part of it, were naturally called by the old name, or some other name belonging to the old country.
3. A nation has its own “tongue.” This constitutes at once its unity in itself, and its separation from others. Many of the nations in the table may have spoken cognate tongues, or even originally the same tongue. But it is a uniform law that one nation has only one speech within itself.
4. A nation is composed of many “families,” clans, or tribes. These branch off from the nation in the same manner as it did from the parent stock of the race.—(Murphy.)

Genesis 10:9. The original term for “hunting” occurs elsewhere, not so much in reference to the pursuit of game in the forest, as to a violent invasion of the persons and rights of men. Thus 1 Samuel 24:11, “Thou huntest my soul (i.e. my life) to take it.” This usage undoubtedly affords us a key to Nimrod’s true character; though probably, like most of the heroes of remote classical antiquity, addicted to the hunting of wild beasts; yet his bold, aspiring, arrogant spirit rested not content with this mode of displaying his prowess. With the band of adventurous and lawless spirits which his predatory skill had gathered around him, he proceeded gradually from hunting beasts to assaulting, oppressing, and subjugating his fellow-men. That the inhuman practice of war, at least in the ages after the flood, originated with this daring usurper, is in the highest degree probable.

“Proud Nimrod first the bloody chase began,
A mighty hunter—and his prey was man.”



Scripture Strata! Genesis 10:1-31.

(1) Geologists have found great truths embedded in the earth’s strata. Enduring traces left behind by the eruption of the volcano and the tranquil lapse of the waves on the beach—faint but indelible footprints of creatures which crawled over the soft mud—ripple marks of primeval seas whose murmurs passed into silence countless ages ago—circular and oval hollows produced by showers of rain which no eye witnessed, and which fell on no waving cornfield or flowery meadow—impressions caused by viewless winds indicating the strength of their currents and the direction in which they moved; all these have taught great scientific truths.
(2) Is the Book of Revelation—with its strata pregnant of the annals of the human race—different, in this respect, from the Book of Nature? Both are by the same author, and just as the student of the geological strata reasons, as well as infers from his records, so may the student of the Scripture strata reason and infer from his annals. The names here are full of significance. They are the ripple marks telling of tides of human thought and action—impressions caused by the currents of human conception and purpose under the great wonder-working God!

“O strange mosaic! wondrously inlaid
Are all its depths of shade,
With beauteous stones of promise, marbles fair.”

Toldoth Beni Noah! Genesis 10:1-32. (l) Rawlinson says that this genealogy of the sons of Noah is the most authentic record that we possess for the affiliation of nations. Kalisch says that it is an unparalleled list—the combined result of reflection and deep research, and no less valuable as a historical document than as a lasting proof of the brilliant capacity of the Hebrew mind.

(2) It is indisputable that the majority of scientific ethnologists regard this record as of the very highest value. Ethnological science has established a triple division of mankind, and speaks of all races as either Semitic, Aryan, or Turanian. And certainly Genesis 10:0 may be regarded as a document furnishing an ethnological arrangement of mankind under three heads.

(3) The particular allotment, or portion of each, after their families, &c., is distinctly specified. And although the different nations descended from any one of the sons of Noah have intermingled with each other, and undergone many revolutions—even as the various strata of the earth have been dislocated, and undergone convulsions—yet the three great divisions of the world remain intact and distinct, as separately peopled and possessed of the posterity of each of the sons of Noah, by the holy will and wisdom of Him whose purpose is fixed, and whose counsel shall stand, to make all things new.

“Is blessing built upon such dark foundation!

And can a temple rising from such woe,
Rising upon such mournful crypts below,

Be filled with light and joy and sounding adoration?”

Human Unity! Genesis 10:1.

(1) Humboldt funishes an interesting suggestion as to the unity of the human race. In a letter to Dr. Ahrendt at Guatemala, he asks whether the idols Bhudda in India, Woden in Western Europe, and Votan in Central America—all of which gave name to the Wednesday of the week—are not the same, evidencing most distinctly a unity of origin.
(2) Forbes and Pickering have apparently established the fact that, in regard to the animal and vegetable families, these have not been created in particular centres, and that Nature has not reproduced any species in different quarters of the globe. It may, therefore, be reasonably inferred that different human races have not been created in different centres.

(3) The unity of the human race, as detailed in Genesis 10:0, may further be inferred from the scientific discovery that there is a marked similarity between the blood corpuscles of all races of men, and that, as Ragg remarks, while blood has been transfused from human veins without failure, a transfusion from different species to man has invariably proved fatal. And

“Now this truth is felt—believed and felt—
That men are really of one common stock;
That no man ever hath been more than man.”—Pollock.

Human Diversity! Genesis 10:1.

(1) It has been argued that when God, who from the beginning determined the bounds of man’s habitation, parcelled out the earth among the sons of Noah, it is reasonable to conceive that He gave them an adaptation to the portions He allotted them, or endued them with an unusually plastic power, by which the race of Ham became indigenous in Africa, the race of Shem in Asia, and that of Japhet in Europe’s colder clime.
(2) One fact in support of this argument may be drawn from the adaptation of all animal and vegetable matter to their respective peculiar spheres and purposes. Geology has discovered to us that each new and successive creation formed a harmonious part of the great whole. Yet how diversified they each and all are—a diversity explicable to students of Nature by law of preadaptation.
(3) It has been remarked over and over again that there is no exception to this range of adaptation; so that we may fairly include the Shem, Ham, and Japhet diversities. And when we remember that there is no indication in any quarter of separate creations, we realise the grand Scripture assertion of human origin—as of all creation—

“Shade unperceived, so softening into shade,
And all so forming one harmonious whole.”—Ragg.

Human Origin! Genesis 10:1. Shem, Ham, and Japhet were brethren, yet how different the races of the three originals. Is the Scripture record wrong? or has climate produced the remarkable diversity of hue, etc.? Most careful investigation has established the fact that the differences arise from differences in climate.

(1) Ragg says that it has been found that, in a very few generations, the fair European of Shemetic or Japetan race became dark within the tropics. Bishop Heber says that the descendants of Europeans in India have totally changed their colour, though they have not lived as exposed to the influences of the sun as uncivilised or barbarian races. Dr. Wiseman shows that the Portuguese who have been naturalised in the African colonies of their nation have become entirely black.
(2) This is observable in the Jews. In the plains of the Ganges the Jew puts on the jet black skin and crisped hair of the native Hindoo. In milder climates he wears the natural dusky hue and dark hair of the inhabitant of Syria. Under the cooler sky of Poland and Germany he assumes the light hair and fair, ruddy complexion of the Anglo-Saxon. Smythe says that on the Malabar coast of Hindostan are two colonies of Jews—the elder colony black, and the younger comparatively fair, in exact proportion to the length of their sojourn there.

“Amazing race! deprived of land and laws,
A general language, and a public cause;
With a religion none can now obey,
With a reproach that none can take away.”—Crabbe.

Heathen History! Genesis 10:2-30.

(1) The history of almost all ancient peoples show, at their commencement, a number of mythological stories, as in Greece, Rome, and Britain, which are of great interest in regard to any inquiries into their origin and early history. There are traces of a large and singularly rich collection of these legends, both in Assyria and in Babylonia. A good example of such documents is the cuneiform account of the descent of the goddess Ishtar into Hades—she who conceived an ardent passion for Nimrod. The whole account is most curious, as showing the religious opinions of that age; and the story has some striking parallels in the poems and legendary stories of other and later countries.
(2) Contrast all these heathen histories with the unique Sacred History. Legends and portents there are none. The history of the origin of nations is unrivalled for its stern simplicity—its freedom from all wonderful details. Free and natural as the plan of a river, it begins at the source in Noah, and flows on in quiet, easy course, with an entire absence of all portents and prodigies, such as make heathen history ridiculous even to children.

“They, and they only, amongst all mankind,
Received the transcript of the Eternal Mind;
Were trusted with His own engraven laws,
And constituted guardians of His cause.”—Cowper.

Bible Annals! Genesis 10:2-31.

(1) An eminent professor says that there are glories in the Bible on which the eye of man has not gazed sufficiently long to admire them. There are notes struck in places which, like some discoveries of science, have sounded before their time, and only after many days been caught up, and found a response on the earth. There are germs of truth which, after thousands of years, have never yet taken root in the world.
(2) Jukes remarks on the names here that in them we have the true theory of development, given by One who cannot lie, and given for our learning and instruction in righteousness. It would be full of deepest interest to trace the course of these different families through their successive generations. For in them (he thinks) is prefigured the parentage and birth of every sect and heresy which has sprung up, and troubled the bosom of the regenerate Church; and which

“As prowls a pack of lean and hungry wolves,
Driven by fierce winter from Siberian steppes,
Around a camp’s bright flashing fires, have fix’d
Their ravenous glances on the Bride of Christ.”

Life Architecture! Genesis 10:2-14.

(1) Carlyle remarks that, instead of saying that man is the creature of circumstance, it would be nearer the mark to say that man is the architect of circumstance. It is character that builds an existence out of circumstance. Thus it is that in the same family, in the same circumstances, one man rears a stately edifice, while his brother, vacillating and incompetent, lives in a hovel. The block of granite, which was an obstacle in the pathway of the weak, becomes a stepping-stone in the pathway of the strong.

(2) The Hamertons were brothers; both were nearly of an age, and both were brought up in the same home. In due time both attended the same seminary, and both entered upon the theatre of life under parallel advantages and disadvantages. The elder was of ordinary mind, liked by the world for his frank, openhanded spirit, but entirely void of energy, fixedness of purpose and forethought. The younger resolutely set himself to establish a name and a fame, and he succeeded. The difficulties which seemed to the elder colossal and insurmountable became steps of a staircase up which the younger climbed.
(3) Nimrod, a man of immense ambition, and endured with a resolute mind firm as iron, soon began to tower above his fellows. In Carlyle’s sense, he became the architect of circumstance—building upon the foundation of pride a huge fabric of power, which held in awe his foes, and secured the admiration of his friends. Yet of him and others we may ask—

“Where are the heroes of the ages past?
Where the brave chieftains, where the mighty ones
Who flourished in the infancy of days?
All to the grave gone down.”—White.

Church and World! Genesis 10:2-31. From the very first we seem to have two divisions of men. These the Judge is marking off, as the shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats. Before the Deluge, we had the distinct divisions of men in the persons of Cain and Seth—Lamech and Enoch. We may call these the Church and the World. The Church is that body which is chosen and separated by God

(1) to testify to things unseen, to the existence of God—His love—power—judgment; and
(2) to teach men that the world which is passeth away. The World is that spirit which loves nothing, and looks for nothing save that which is now. It cares not for God, neither has God in all its thoughts. It recognises only things which are visible, and esteems the invisible as empty shadow and dreamland. Under its deadly prince, it is ever against the Church,

“Weaving its snares, and plying arts to draw
From God’s allegiance all the sons of men,
And so to reign without a rival there—
The whole round earth its theme for ever.”

Gomer! Genesis 10:2. Japhet’s eldest son seems to have gone to the shores around the Sea of Azof, especially the peninsula. His children were called Cimmerians, and the name of the Crimea is a relic. That place was thought then to be next door to the infernal regions. It was supposed that the people could not see much of the sun because of the clouds and mists of their savage country. Here Gomer’s children dwelt until the Scythians drove them west. They took possession of Denmark, and the northern coast of Germany and Belgium, until, in the time of the Romans, they were known as the Cimbri. They crossed over into Britain, but were driven to the north and west, i.e., Wales and Scotland. Here came the truth of Christ to them.

“And then, o’er all the trouble of their day,
A downy veil of tranquil stillness stole,
And with TRUTH’S arm beneath their head they feel

It is GOD’S heart on which they rest so safe.”—Williams.

Magog! Genesis 10:2.

(1) The children of Magog were the wild hordes of men who inhabited Northern Asia; beginning at the east of the Caspian Sea, and spreading north and north-east into the cold and savage regions of those parts. They were the Scythians, a terrible and fierce people. They were said to be the inventors of the bow and arrow, and they were great at the use of them on horseback. Just prior to the time of Ezekiel, the Scythians—or children of Magog—were driven out by another tribe. Going southward, they spread terror everywhere.
(2) Ezekiel took them as a type of the foes of the church. In his awful predictions of Gog and Magog he foretells with what an overthrow the Lord would destroy them. In the latter days the Church should suffer terribly from their cruel, fierce incursions. Magog thus typifies the great adversaries of the Church at the dawn and dusk of the Millennial eventide. Two woeful invasions is that Church to know; but the authors of each of them are to experience a corresponding woeful overthrow, when nearer and nearer still

“The rush of flaming millions, and the tramp
Like as of fiery chivalry. But, hark!
A voice; it is the shout of God. Behold!
A light; it is the glory of the Lord.”—Bickersteth.

Madai! Genesis 10:2. The father of the Medes—among the bitterest enemies of Assyria. They lived on the other side of the Zagros range, which separated them from the Assyrians. A hardy race of tribes, governed by sheikhs. They were united by Cyaxares the Great into one kingdom. He then conquered Assyria; so that the children of Madai became the third great Eastern empire. The northern part was, and still is, a fine fertile country, with a temperate climate. It grows all kinds of corn, wine, silk, and delicious fruits. Tabreez is a beautiful place—a forest of orchards. Farther south there is a lovely mountainous country, where everything grows—cotton, Indian corn, tobacco, wheat, wine, and every variety of fruit. These sweet glimpses of Nature’s beauty and fruitfulness send us

(1) back to the time when all the earth was fair, and
(2) forward to the time when the earth shall be again an Eden.

“And Nature haste her earliest wreaths to bring,
With all the incense of the breathing spring!
When vines a shadow to our race shall yield,
When the same hand that sowed shall reap the field,
When leafless shrubs the flowery palms succeed,
And odorous myrtle to the noisome weed.”—Pope.

Hamites! Genesis 10:6-14. The Cushites were in Ethiopia—the children of Mizraim in Egypt—the descendants of Phut also in Egypt and Ethiopia—and the offspring of Canaan in Syria. All these became great nations. They established themselves in great power. They had arts and accomplishments superior to other peoples at that day. Homes of civilisation grew up from a Hamite stock in many a place. They were merchants and builders, and people of great ability in forming and establishing empire. Wherever they were they left traces of themselves. Very massive pieces of architecture, which once must have belonged to a magnificent nation; a peculiar mixture of language; and a native religion in part, at least, of low creature-worship—all these are before us. On our Thames Embankment rises a monument of the race of Ham, in the shape of Cleopatra’s Needle; while towering amid nature’s desolation in Egypt are the pyramids—those silent records—

“Those deathless monuments which alone do show
What, and how great, the Mizraite empire was.”

Human Helplessness! Genesis 10:8-14.

(1) Kingsley says, that men in the mass are the tools of circumstance. They are thistle-down on the breeze—straw on the river. Their course is shaped for them by the currents and eddies of the stream of life. This was not what man was meant to be; and in proportion as he approaches the Divine ideal does he cease to be the mere tool of circumstance. In proportion as he recovers his humanity—both physically and psychically—in proportion does he rise above circumstance, moulding and fashioning circumstance to suit his purpose.
(2) This explains the rise of such men from among the mass as Nimrod, Cæsar, and Napoleon, in the sphere of ambition and conquest. And the same key unlocks many a cabinet in the halls of science and art—learning and commerce. This power Divine grace lays hold upon—refines and sanctifies it, so that the Christian becomes a marked man among his fellows—eminent not for conquest over others so much as over himself, and distinguished by the loftiest of all ambitions to become conformed to the image of God. With such, ambition becomes a virtue: and at last around his brow shall shine

“In heaven from glory’s source the purest beam,
Whose aspect here, with beauty most divine,
Reflects the image of the Good Supreme.”—Mant.

Nimrod-Myths! Genesis 10:9.

(1) By the Greek mythologists Orion was supposed to be a celebrated hunter, superior to the rest of mankind in strength and stature, whose mighty deeds entitled him after death to the honours of an apotheosis. The Orientals imagined him to be a huge giant who, Titan-like, had warred against God, and was therefore bound in chains to the firmament of heaven. Some authors have conjectured that this notion is the origin of the history of Nimrod, who, according to Jewish tradition, instigated the descendants of Noah to build the Tower of Babel.
(2) In the cuneiform tablets or Chaldean legends, deciphered by Smith, there are some curious details about him. These details are loaded with miraculous and impossible stories, from which it is impossible to separate the historical matter. He is reported to have been a Babylonian chief, celebrated for his prowess. He was also a mighty hunter and ruler of men, who delivered the city of Erech, when the chief of a neighbouring race came down with a force of men and ships against it. He afterwards ruled over it.

“Here Nimrod, his empire raised supreme,
And empire out of ruined empire built;
His greater than the last, and worse by far.”

Supremacy! Genesis 10:9.

1. Nimrod exalts himself to lord it over brethren; for of those over whom he ruled all had sprung—and within a few generations—from one common father. Little is told us of the second form of apostasy; but that little is enough, and indeed, the steps by which lordship over brethren is reached are not many. Jukes asserts that his very name (Rebel) points out the character of those actings, by which the family and patriarchial government instituted by God was changed into a kingdom ruled by violence. There appears to be two steps here:
(1) Nimrod becomes a mighty one, then
(2) he becomes a mighty hunter of beasts and men.

2. It was so in Israel, when that people desired a king. Saul became a mighty one; then followed the natural sequence in the descent of evil, and he became a mighty hunter. Nimrod again appeared after the resurrection of Christ. Rome began to be mighty—like Nimrod and Saul to grow up tall and towering trunks above its fellow-churches. Then as the trunk spreads forth its branches over smaller surrounding trees, Rome became a mighty hunter. Spiritual dominion became a spirit of domination—hunting souls—imposing a grievous yoke upon them. See Revelation 13:0 : where the arch-adversary is represented as building for his harlot bride a mystical metropolis—

“The haunt of devils, Babylon the Great,
Whence in her pride and pomp she might allure
The nations, as the peerless queen of heaven,
Mother and mistress of all lands.—Bickersteth.

Erech! Genesis 10:10.

(1) Wurka is a vast mound, now called “Assagah,” or the place of pebbles. It was probably a city consecrated to the moon, i.e., a kind of necropolis. Great numbers of tombs and coffins have been found here. The arrow-headed account of the Flood, recently discovered and translated by Smith, was a copy of an original inscription at this place. Thus the existence of this city thousands of years ago is established by the discovery of tiles or slabs in its neighbourhood at this date, recording the fact of the Flood in Genesis 9:0.

(2) As of Nineveh, so may we not Say of Erech, that it remained quiet in its sepulchre, till an age like the present, when the reality of its evidence to the truth of revelation could be properly attested. He who is nature’s Creator and Preserver has kept Erech and other ruins hermetically sealed to give evidence to the truth of His Word in an age when that evidence cannot be lost, and when that Word in its truth is called in question. So great is His power, wisdom, and goodness!
“Some are filled with fairy pictures,

Half imagined and half seen;

Radiant faces, fretted towers,
Sunset colours, starry flowers,

Wondrous arabesques between.”—Havergal.

Nimrod Memorials! Genesis 10:10. Nimrod’s name still lives in the mouths of the Arabs. A traveller says, “I shall not soon forget when I first heard his name from one of them. We were going down the Tigris on a raft. Towards evening—one pleasant evening in spring—we came near an immense heap of ruins on the eastern bank of the river. It was all green then, as the Assyrian ruins are after the great rains. The mound and meadows around this ruin were all fresh and green, and full of flowers of every colour. The ruins looked very like a natural hill, but for the pieces of pottery, and brick, and alabaster half hid among the grass. The river was swollen from the rain, and rushed along rather furiously. A sort of dam—a large piece of mason work—stretched across it. Over this, and around, the waters whirled and eddied, and made a tolerably large cataract. We went over safely with a dash. My Arab boatman then went through his religious exclamations, which the danger had called up; after which he told me that the dam had been built by Nimrod, and that it was the remains of a causeway which he had to enable him to pass from his city to a palace on the opposite bank.”

“Ah! who that walks where men of ancient days
Have wrought, with godlike arm, the deeds of praise,
Feels not the spirit of the place control,
Or rouse and agitate his labouring soul?”—Wordsworth.

World-Powers! Genesis 10:10.

(1) As the Apostle stands on the sands of Patmos—the waves of the Ægean sea rolling at his feet—he sees emerging from the bosom of the deep a hideous monster—somewhat akin to, yet differing from the great red dragon. This new fiendish incarnation, Macduff notes, has seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy. These heads and horns are the well known symbols of world power—indicating a mighty hunter, a Nimrod.
(2) Presently, another beast rises from the earth—a giant deceiver, and exacting homage from them which dwell on the earth. The previous monster of the sea was the representative of brute force; this monster of the land is that of moral despotism. Its weapons are moral and spiritual. Its subject and crouching victims are the depraved intellect—the enslaved conscience—the fettered will of nations and men. Material and moral, physical and psychichal antitypes of Nimrod.

“Couching its fell designs in lamblike guise,
It sent through earth its legionary spirits,
And led the shepherds of the silly sheep
Blindfold, and blinding others, to adore
The beast, whose deadly wound was healed.”

Asshur! Genesis 10:11-12, etc. Heeren in his “Handbook” of the History of States remarks that history proper—i.e., the history of States first dawns upon us in the Genesis 10:0. In Genesis 10:11, etc., we are told that Asshur, having previously dwelt in Babylon, went out before the Cushites, and founded the great Assyrian cities. This leads us to infer that the Assyrians, having been originally inhabitants of the low country, emigrated northwards, leaving their previous seats to a people of a different origin. And thus we are drawn to conclude

(1) that Babylon was built before Nineveh;
(2) that Babylon did not, as Diodorus asserts, owe its origin to the conquest of the country by an Assyrian princess; but that
(3) the early Babylonians were an entirely distinct race from the Assyrians; and that
(4) a Babylonian kingdom flourished before there was any independent Assyria. It is interesting to notice, as Loftus points out, that the spread of Asshur’s race—after leaving Babylonia—is northwards stage by stage, Asshur, Calah, Nineveh. The Book of Nahum is assuredly prophetic of the destruction of Nineveh. According to him, Nineveh was not only to be destroyed by an overflowing flood, but the fire also was to devour it. Heathen history—ignorant of holy prophecy—declares such was the case. Lately, the buried arts of the Assyrian have been recovered from beneath the dust; as may be learned from Layard’s Nineveh. It discloses that God is the Lord of Hosts, and that all the vain glories of the proudest mortals perish at His word.

“Cities have been, and vanished, fanes have sunk,
Heaped into shapeless ruin, sands o’erspread
Fields that were Eden.”—Percival.

Divine Methods! Genesis 10:21.

(1) In Cana, the governor of the feast addressing the bridegroom admits that it is man’s ordinary course to bring forth the best wine, and afterwards that which is of inferior quality. That admission is true, if we are to accept the records of universal history down to our own days. Man invariably puts the best fruit uppermost—brings the best robe forth at the beginning.

(2) God acts otherwise. It is His ordinary way to keep the best to the last. Hence in Genesis, chaps 4 and 5, we have first Cain’s line, then that of Seth. Again in Genesis, Genesis 25:0, we have the descendants of Ishmael, and then those of Isaac. Yet again in Genesis, chaps. 36 and 37, we have the detail first of Esau’s family, and afterwards that of Jacob’s. And so here, the Holy Spirit gives us first the families of Japhet and of Ham, then that of Shem. This is explained in Deuteronomy 32:8, “The Lord’s portion is His people.”

“Holy, Father, we poor lambkins

Out of bitter woe do bleat;

Strong men drive us o’er the mountains,

Sharpest stones do pierce our feet.”—Sadie.

Study of Humanity! Genesis 10:32.

(1) It has been noticed that the more extensive our acquaintance becomes with other countries, the more numerous do we find the features which they possess in common with our own. We find the representative forms of life and dead matter which they possess to be in common with each other. In foreign countries what strikes the traveller most at first sight is—not the strange, but—the familiar look of the general landscape. And when the naturalist begins to investigate he finds that the longer and deeper his researches, the more and more numerous and striking are the resemblances of those forms of life to those in his own country.
(2) This similarity is not confined to the different regions of our earth alone. Science is showing to us, more and more every day, that the substances of the stars are identical with those of our globe. Pritchard, in reference to spectrum analysis, says that it has not yet discovered in the remotest stellar ray a single new or unknown element. The meteors which fall are of the same constituents as our earth. ’Tis distance only that makes them stars.
(3) It is precisely the same with the study of man. The more the different human races are studied the more numerous and striking are the similarities of each and all, one to the other. So far from careful investigation and prolonged study contributing to widen the narrow spaces between the different races, they only reveal more connecting links than were supposed to exist between the offspring of Shem, Ham, and Japhet, and show us

“How God wrought with the whole—wrought most with what
To man seemed weakest means, and brought result
Of good from good and evil both.”—Pollok.

Copyright Statement
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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Genesis 10". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.