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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 10

The Pulpit CommentariesThe Pulpit Commentaries

Verses 1-32




I. THE historical credibility of the present section has been challenged.

1. On account of a fancied resemblance to the ethnographic mythologies of Greece, the genealogical table of the nations has been relegated to the category of fictitious invention. It has been assigned by many critics to a post-Mosaic decried, to the days of Joshua (Delitzsch), to the age of Hebrew intercourse with the Phenician Canaanites (Knobel), to the era of the exile (Bohlen); and the specific purpose of its composition has been declared to be a desire to gratify the national pride of the Hebrews by tracing their descent to the first-born son of Noah, that their rights might appear to have a superior foundation to those of other nations (Hartmann). But the primogeniture of Sham is at least doubtful, if not entirely incorrect, Japheth being the oldest of Noah's sons (vide Genesis 5:32; Genesis 10:21); while it is a gratuitous assumption that not until the days of the monarchy, or the exile, did the Israelites become acquainted with foreign nations. The authenticity and genuineness of the present register, it is justly remarked by Havernick, are guaranteed by the chronicler (Genesis 1:1). "In the time of the chronicler nothing more was known from antiquity concerning the origin of nations than what Genesis supplied. Supposing, then, that some inquiring mind composed this table of nations from merely reflecting on the nations that happened to exist at the same period, and attempting to give them a systematic arrangement, how could it possibly happen that his turn of mind should be in such complete harmony with that of the other? This could only arise from the one recognizing the decided superiority of the other's account, which here lies in nothing else than the historical truth itself belonging to it" (Intro; § 17). And the historical truthfulness of the Mosaic document is further strikingly authenticated by the accredited results of modern ethnological science, which, having undertaken by a careful analysis of facts to establish a classification of races, has divided mankind into three primitive groups (Shemitic, Aryan, Turanian or Allophylian), corresponding not obscurely to the threefold arrangement of the present table, and presenting in each group the leading races that Genesis assigns to the several sons of Noah; as, e.g; allocating to the Indo-European family, as Moses has done to the sons of Japheth, the principal races of Europe, with the great Asiatic race known as Aryan; to the Shemitie, the Assyrians, Syrians, Hebrews, and Joktauite Arabs, which appear among the sons of Sham in the present table; and to the Allophylian, the Egyptians, Ethiopians, Southern Arabs, and early Babylonians, which the primitive ethnologist of Genesis also writes among the sons of Ham.

2. The narrative of the building of the tower of Babel has also been impugned, and that chiefly on two grounds: viz.,

(1) an incorrect derivation of the term Babel, which is now said to have no connection whatever with the confusion of tongues, but to be the word "Babil," the house or gate of God, or "Bab-Bel," the gate or court of Bolus; and

(2) an incorrect explanation of the present diversity of tongues among mankind, which modern philology has now shown to be due to local separation, and not at all to a miraculous interference with the organs or the faculty of speech. To each of these objections a specific reply will be returned in the exposition of the text (q.v.); in the mean time it may be stated that there are not wanting sufficiently numerous testimonies from ancient history, archaeological research, and philological inquiry to authenticate this most interesting portion of the Divine record.

II. The literary unity of the present section has been assailed. Tuch ascribes Genesis 10:1-32. to the Elohist and Genesis 11:1-9 to the Jehovist; and with this Bleek and Vaihinger agree, except that they apportion Genesis 10:8-12 to the Jehovist. Davidson assigns to him the whole of Genesis 10:1-32; with the exception of the expression "every one after his tongue" (Genesis 10:5), the similar expressions (Genesis 10:20, Genesis 10:31), the story of Nimrod commencing at "he began" (Genesis 10:8), Genesis 10:21, and the statement beginning "for" (Genesis 10:25), all of which, with Genesis 11:1-9, he places to the credit of his redactor. But the literary unity of the entire section is so apparent that Colenso believes both passages, "the table of nations" and "the confusion of tongues," to be the work of the Jehovist; and certainly the latter narrative is represented in so intimate a connection with the former that it is much more likely to have been composed by the original historian than inserted later as a happy afterthought by a post-exilian editor.


It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of this ethnological table. Whether regarded from a geographical, a political, or a theocratical standpoint, "this unparalleled list, the combined result of reflection and deep research," is "no less valuable as a historical document than as a lasting proof of the brilliant capacity of the Hebrew mind." Undoubtedly the earliest effort of the human intellect to exhibit in a tabulated form the geographical distribution of the human race, it bears unmistakable witness in its own structure to its high antiquity, occupying itself least with the Japhetic tribes which were furthest from the theocratic center, and were latest in attaining to historic eminence, and enlarging with much greater minuteness of detail on those Hamitic nations, the Egyptian, Canaanite, and Arabian, which were soonest developed, and with which the Hebrews came most into contact in the initial stages of their career. It describes the rise of states, and, consistently with all subsequent historical and archaeological testimony, gives the prominence to the Egyptian or Arabian Hamites, as the first founders of empires. It exhibits the separation of the Shemites from the other sons of Noah, and the budding forth of the line of promise in the family of Arphaxad. While thus useful to the geographer, the historian, the politician, it is specially serviceable to the theologian, as enabling him to trace the descent of the woman's seed, and to mark the fulfillments of Scripture prophecies concerning the nations of the earth. In the interpretation of the names which are here recorded, it is obviously impossible in every instance to arrive at certainty, in some cases the names of individuals being mentioned, while in others it is as conspicuously those of peoples.

Genesis 10:1

Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah (cf. Genesis 5:1; Genesis 6:9), Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Not the order of age, but of theocratic importance (vide Genesis 5:32). And unto them were sons born (cf. Genesis 9:1, Genesis 9:7, Genesis 9:19, Genesis 9:22) after the flood. An indication of the puncture temporis whence the period embraced in the present section takes its departure.

Genesis 10:2

The sons of Japheth are first mentioned not because Japheth was the eldest of the three brothers, although that was true, but because of the greater distance of the Japhetic tribes from the theocratic center, the Hamites having always been much more nearly situated to and closely connected with the Shemites than they. The immediate descendants of Japheth, whose name, Ἰαìπετος, occurs again in the mythology of a Japhetic race, were fourteen m number, seven sons and seven grandsons, each of which became the progenitor of one of the primitive nations. Gomer. A people inhabiting "the sides of the north" (Ezekiel 38:6); the Galatae of the Greeks (Josephus, 'Ant.,' 1.6); the Chomarii, a nation in Bactriana on the Oxus (Shulthess, Kalisch); but more generally the Cimmerians of Homer ('Odyss.,' 11.13-19), whose abodes were the shores of the Caspian and Euxine, whence they seem to have spread themselves over Europe as far west as the Atlantic, leaving traces of their presence in the Cimhri of North Germany and the Cymri in Wales (Keil, Lange, Murphy, Wordsworth, 'Speaker's Commentary ). And Magog. A fierce and warlike people presided over by Gog (an appellative name, like the titles Pharaoh and Caesar, and corresponding with the Turkish Chak, the Tartarian Kak, and the Mongolian Gog: Kalisch), whose complete destruction was predicted by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 38:1-23; Ezekiel 39:1-29.); generally understood to be the Scythians, whose territory lay upon the borders of the sea of Asoph, and in the Caucasus. In the Apocalypse (Genesis 20:8-10) Cog and Magog appear as two distinct nations combined against the Church of God. And Madai. The inhabitants of Media (Mada in the cuneiform inscriptions), so called because believed to be situated περιÌ μεσην τηÌν Ασιìαν (Polyb. 5.44) on the south-west shore of the Caspian And Javan. Identical with Ἰαìων (Greek), Javana (Sanscrit), Juna (Old Persian), Jounan (Rosetta Stone); allowed to be the father of the Greeks, who in Scripture are styled Javan (vide Isaiah 66:19; Ezekiel 27:13; Daniel 8:21; Daniel 10:20; Joel 3:6). And Tubal, and Meshech. Generally associated in Scripture as tributaries of Magog (Ezekiel 38:2, Ezekiel 38:3; Ezekiel 39:1); recognized as the Iberians and Moschi in the north of Armenia, between the sources of the Tigris and Euphrates, and the Black Sea (Josephus, Knobel, Lange, Kalisch). And Tiras. The ancestor of the Thraciaus (Josephus), of the Tyrrheni, a branch of the Pelasgians (Tuch), of the Asiatic tribes round the Taurus (Kalisch), in support of which last is a circumstance mentioned by Rawlinson, that on the old Egyptian monuments Mashuash and Tuirash, and upon the Assyrian Tubal and Misek, stand together as here. Tiras occurs nowhere else in Scripture.

Genesis 10:3

And the sons of Gomer; Ash-kenaz. Axenus, the ancient name of the Euxine, is supposed to favor Phrygia and Bithynia as the locality possessed by Askenaz (Bochart); Iskus; equivalent to Ask, Ascanios, the oldest son of the Germanic Mannus, to point out Germany as his abode (Jewish commentators); but Jeremiah 51:27 seems to indicate the region between the Euxine and the Caspian. Kalisch, following Josephus, identifies the name with the ancient town Rhagae, one day's journey to the south of the Caspian. Murphy and Poole, on the authority of Diodorus Siculus, believe the Germans may have been a colony of the Ashkenians. And Riphath. Diphath (1 Chronicles 1:6)—the Paphlagonians (Josephus); more generally the tribes about the Riphaean mountains, on the north of the Caspian (Knobel, Kalisch, Clericus, Rosenmüller, Murphy, ' Speaker's Commentary'); but both are uncertain (Keil). And Togarmah. Mentioned again in Ezekiel 27:14; Ezekiel 38:6; the Phrygians (Josephus), the Cappadocians (Bochart), the Armenians (Michaelis, Gesenius, Rosenmüller), the Taurians, inhabiting the Crimea (Kalisch). The tradition preserved by Moses Chorensis, that the ancestor of the Armenians was the son of Thorgom, the son of Comer, is commonly regarded as deciding the question.

Genesis 10:4

And the sons of Javan; Elizhah. The isles of Elishah are praised by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 27:7) for their blue and purple; supposed to have been Elis in the Peloponnesus, famous for its purple dyes (Bochart); AEolis (Josephus, Knobel); Hellas (Michaelis, Rosenmüller, Kalisch); without doubt a maritime people of Grecian stock ('Speaker's Commentary'). And Tarshish. Tarsus in Cilicia (Josephus); but rather Tartessus in Spain (Eusehius, Michaelis, Bochart, Kalisch). Biblical notices represent Tarshish as a wealthy and flourishing seaport town towards the west (vide 1 Kings 10:22; Psalms 48:7; Psalms 72:10; Isaiah 60:9; Isaiah 66:19; Jeremiah 10:9; Ezekiel 27:12). Kittim. Chittim (Numbers 24:24); Citium in Cyprus (Josephus), though latterly the name appears to have been extended to Citium in Macedonia (Alexander the Great is called the king of Chittim, 1 Macc. 1:1; 8:5), and the colonies which settled on the shores of Italy and Greece (Bochart, Keil, Kalisch). Isaiah 23:1, Isaiah 23:12; Daniel 11:30 describe it as a maritime people. And Dodanim. Dordona in Epirus (Michaelis, Rosenmüller); the Dardaniaus, or Trojan's (Gesenius); the Daunians of South Italy (Kalisch); the Rhodani in Gaul, reading as in 1 Chronicles 1:7 (Bochart). Josephus omits the name, and Scripture does not again mention it.

Genesis 10:5

By these were the isles of the Gentiles. Sea-washed coasts as well as islands proper (cf. Isaiah 42:4 with Matthew 12:21). Isaiah (Genesis 20:6) styles Canaan an isle (cf. Peloponnesus). The expression signifies maritime countries. Divided in their lands; every one after his tongue. Indicating a time posterior to the building of Babel (Genesis 11:1). After their families Ἐν ταῖς φυλαῖς αὐτῶν (LXX.); in their tribes or clans, a lesser subdivision than the next. In their nations. The division here exhibited is fourfold:

(1) geographical,

(2) dialectical,

(3) tribal, and

(4) national

The first defines the territory occupied, and the second the language spoken by the Japhethites; the third their immediate descent, and the rough the national group to which they severally belonged.

Genesis 10:6

And the sons of Ham. These, who occupy the second place, that the list might conclude with the Shemites as the line of promise, number thirty, of whom only four were immediate descendants. Their territory generally embraced the southern portions of the globe. Hence the name Ham has been connected with חָמַס, to be warm, though Kalisch declares it to be not of Hebrew, but Egyptian origin, appearing in the Chme of the Rosetta Stone. The most usual ancient name of the country was Kern, the black land. Scripture speaks of Egypt as the land of Ham (Psalms 78:51; Psalms 105:23; Psalms 106:22) Cush. Ethiopia, including Arabia "quae mater est," and Abyssinia "quae colonia" (Michaelis, Rosenmüller). The original settlement of Cush, however, is believed to have been on the Upper Nile, whence he afterwards spread to Arabia, Babylonia, India (Knobel, Kalisch, Lange, Rawlinson). Murphy thinks he may have started from the Caucasus, the Caspian, and. the Cossaei of Khusistan, and. migrated south (to Egypt) and east (to India). Josephus mentions that in his day Ethiopia was called Cush; the Syriac translates ἀνηÌρ Ἀιθιìοψ (Acts 8:27) by Cuschaeos; the ancient Egyptian name of Ethiopia was Keesh, Kish, or Kush ('Records of the Past, Genesis 4:7). The Cushites are described as of a black color (Jeremiah 13:23) and of great stature (Isaiah 45:14). And Mizraim. A dual form probably designed to represent the two Egypts, upper and lower (Gesenius, Keil, Kalisch), though it has been discovered in ancient Egyptian as the name of a Hittite chief, written in hieroglyphics M'azrima, Ma being the sign for the dual. The old Egyptian name is Kemi, Chemi, with obvious reference to Ham; the name Egypt being probably derived from Kaphtah, the land of Ptah. The singular form Mazor is found in later books (2 Kings 19:24; Isaiah 19:6; Isa 35:1-10 :25), and usually denotes Lower Egypt. And Phut. Phet (Old Egyptian), Phaiat (Coptic); the Libyans in the north of Africa (Josephus, LXX; Gesenins, Bochart). Kalisch suggests Buto' or Butos, the capital of the delta of the Nile. And Canaan. Hebrew, Kenaan (vide on Genesis 9:25). The extent of the territory occupied by the fourth son of Ham is defined in Genesis 10:15-19.

Genesis 10:7

And the sons of Cush; Seba. Meroe, in Nubia, north of Ethiopia (Josephus, 'Ant.,' 2. 10). And Havilah. ΕὐΐλαÌ (LXX.); may refer to an African tribe, the Avalitae, south of Babelmandeb (Keil, Lange, Murphy), or the district of Chaulan in Arabia Felix (Rosenmüller, Kalisch, Wordsworth). Genesis 10:29 mentions Havilah as a Shemite territory. Kalisch regards them as "the same country, extending from the Arabian to the Persian Gulf, and, on account of its vast extent, easily divided into two distinct parts" (cf. Genesis 2:11). And Sabtah. The Astaborans of Ethiopia (Josephus, Gesenius, Kalisch); the Ethiopians of Arabia, whose chief city was Sabota (Knobel, Rosenmüller, Lange, Keil). And Raamah. Ρεìγμα (LXX.); Ragma on the Persian Gulf, in Oman (Bochart, Rosenmüller, Kalisch, Lange). And Sabtechah. Nigritia (Targum, Jonathan), which the name Subatok, discovered on Egyptian monuments, seems to favor (Kalisch); on the east of the Persian Gulf at Samydace of Carmania (Bochart, Knobel, Rosenmüller, Lange). And the sons of Raamah; Sheba. The principal city of Arabia Felix (1 Kings 10:1; Job 1:15; Job 6:19; Psalms 72:10, Psalms 72:15; Isaiah 60:6; Jeremiah 6:20; Ezekiel 27:22; Joel 3:8); occurs again (Genesis 5:28) as a son of Joktan; probably was peopled both by Hamites and Shemites. And Dedan. Daden on the Persian Gulf (vide Isaiah 21:13; Jeremiah 49:8; Ezekiel 25:13; Ezekiel 27:12-15).

Genesis 10:8

And Cush begat—not necessarily as immediate progenitor, any ancestor being in Hebrew styled a father—Nimrod; the rebel, from maradh, to rebel; the name of a person, not of a people;—Namuret in ancient Egyptian. Though not one of the great ethnic heads, he is introduced into the register of nations as the founder of imperialism. Under him society passed from the patriarchal condition, in which each separate clan or tribe owns the sway of its natural head, into that (more abject or more civilized according as it is viewed) in which many different clans or tribes recognize the sway of one who is not their natural head, but has acquired his ascendancy and dominion by conquest. This is the principle of monarchism. Eastern tradition has painted Nimrod as a gigantic oppressor of the people's liberties and an impious rebel-against the Divine authority. Josephus credits him with having instigated the building of the tower of Babel. He has been identified with the Orion of the Greeks. Scripture may seem to convey a bad impression of Nimrod, but it does not sanction the absurdities of Oriental legend. He began to be a mighty oneGibbor (vide Genesis 6:4); what he had been previously being expressed in Genesis 10:5in the earth. Not ἐπι τῆς γῆς (LXX.), as if pointing to his gigantic stature, but either among men generally, with reference to his widespread fame, or perhaps better "in the land where he dwelt, which was not Babel, but Arabia (vide Genesis 10:6).

Genesis 10:9

He was a mighty hunter. Originally doubtless of wild beasts, which, according to Bochart, was the first step to usurping dominion over men and using them for battle. "Nempe venationum prsetextu collegit juvenum robustam manum, quam talibus exercitus ad belli labores induravit" ('Phaleg.,' 54.12). Before the Lord.

1. Ἐναντιìον κυριìου (LXX.), in a spirit of defiance.

2. Coram Deo, in God's sight, as an aggravation of his sin—cf. Genesis 13:3 (Cajetan).

3. As a superlative, declaring his excellence—of. Genesis 13:10; Genesis 30:8; Gen 35:5; 1 Samuel 11:7; John 3:3; Acts 7:20 (Aben Ezra, Kimchi, Kalisch, ' Speaker's Commentary').

4. With the Divine approbation, as one who broke the way through rude, uncultivated nature for the institutions of Jehovah (Lange). Cf. Genesis 17:18; Genesis 24:40; 1 Samuel 11:15; Psalms 41:12. Probably the first or the third conveys the sense of the expression. Wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the (a) mighty hunter before the Lord. The precise import of this is usually determined by the view taken of the previous phrase.

Genesis 10:10

And the beginning of his kingdom. Either his first kingdom, as contrasted with his second (Knobel), or the commencement of his sovereignty (Keil, Kalisch), or the principal city of his empire (Rosenmüller); or all three may be legitimately embraced in the term reshith, only it does not necessarily imply that Nimrod built any of the cities mentioned. Was Babel. Babylon, "the land of Nimrod" (Micah 5:6), the origin of which is described in Genesis 11:1, grew to be a great city covering an area of 225 square reties, reached its highest glory under Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:30), and succumbed to the Medo-Persian power under Belshazzar (Daniel 5:31). The remains of this great city have been discovered on the east bank of the Euphrates near Hillah, where there is a square mound called "Babil" by the Arabs (Rawlinson's 'Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 1.Genesis 1:1-31; Genesis 1:1-31). And Erech. The Orchoe of Ptolemy, identified by Rawlinson as Wurka, about eighty miles south of Babylon. And Accad. Ἀρχαìδ (LXX.); the city Sittace on the river Argade (Bochart); Sakada, a town planted by Ptolemy below Ninus (Clericus); Accete, north of Babylon (Knobel, Lange); identified with the ruins of Niffer, to the south of Hillah (Keil); with those of Akkerkoof, north of Hillah (Kalisch). Rawlinson does not identify the site; George Smith regards it as "the capital of Sargon, the great city Agadi, near the city of Sippara on the Euphrates, and north of Babylon ('Assyrian Discoveries,' Genesis 12:1-20.). And Calneh. Calno (Isaiah 10:9); Canneh (Ezekiel 27:23); Ctesiphon, east of the Tigris, north-east of Babylon (Jerome, Eusebius, Bochart, Michaelis, Kalisch); identified with the ruins of Niffer on the east of the Euphrates (Rawlinson). In the land of Shinar. Babylonia, as distinguished from Assyria (Isaiah 11:11), the lower part of Mesopotamia, or Chaldaea.

Genesis 10:11

Out of that land went forth Asshur, the son of Shem (Genesis 10:22; LXX; Vulgate, Syriac, Luther, Calvin, Michaelis, Dathe, Rosenmüller, Bohlen). i.e. the early Assyrians retired from Babylon before their Cushite. invaders, and, proceeding northward, founded the cities after mentioned; but the marginal rendering seems preferable: "Out of that land went (Nimrod) into Asshur," or Assyria, the country northeast of Babylon, through which flows the Tigris, and which had already received its name from the son of Shem (the Targums, Drusius, Bochart, Le Clerc, De Wette, Delitzsch, Keil, Kalisch, Lange, et alii). And builded Nineveh. The capital of Assyria, opposite Mosul on the Tigris, afterward§ became the largest and most flourishing city of the ancient world (Jonah 3:3; Jonah 4:11), being fifty-five miles in circumference (Diod; Genesis 2:3), and is now identified with the ruins of Nehbi-yunus and Kouyunjik. And the city Rehoboth. Rehoboth-ir, literally, the streets of the city (cf. Platea, a city in Boeotia), a town of which the site is unknown. And Calah. The mounds of Nimroud (Layard and Smith), though Kalisch and Murphy prefer Kalah Shergat (about fifty miles south of Nineveh), which the former authorities identify with Asshur, the original capital of the country.

Genesis 10:12

And Resen, i.e. Nimrod, between Kalah Shergat and Kouyunjik (Kalisch); but if Calah be Nimroud, then Rosen may be Selamiyeh, a village about half way, between Nineveh and Calah, i.e. Kouyunjik and Nimroud, ut supra (Layard). The same. Rosen (Kalisch), which will suit if it was Nimroud, whose remains cover a parallelogram about 1800 feet in length and 900 feet in breadth; but others apply it to Nineveh with the other towns as forming one large composite city (Knobel, Keil, Lange, Wordsworth). Is a great city. With this the record of Nimrod's achievements closes. It is generally supposed that Nimrod flourished either before or about the time of the building of the tower of Babel; but Prof. Chwolsen of St. Petersburg, in his 'Ueber die Ueberreste der Altbabylonischen Literatur,' brings the dynasty of Nimrod down as late as 1500 B.C; relying principally on the evidence of an original work composed by Qut ami, a native Babylonian, and translated by Ibnwa hachijah, a descendant of the Chaldaeans, and assigned by Chwolsen to one of the earlier periods of Babylonian history, in which is mentioned the name of Nemrod, or Nemroda, as the founder of a Canaanite dynasty which ruled at Babylon. Perhaps the hardest difficulty to explain in connection with the ordinary date assigned to Nimrod is the fact that in Genesis 14:1-24; which speaks of the reigning monarchs in the Euphrates valley, there is no account taken of Nineveh and its king—a circumstance which has been supposed to import that the founding of the capital of Assyria could not have been anterior to the days of Abraham. But early Babylonian texts confirm what Genesis 14:1-24. seems to imply—the fact of an Elamite conquest of Babylonia, B.C. 2280, by Kudur-nanhundi (Kudurlagamar, the Chederlaomer of Genesis), who carried off an image of the goddess Nana from the city Erech (vide 'Assyrian Discoveries,' Genesis 12:1-20; 'Records of the Past,' vol. 3.), so that this difficulty may be held to have disappeared before the light of archaeological discovery. But at whatever period Nimrod flourished, the Biblical narrative would lead us to anticipate a commingling of Hamitic and Shemitic tongues in the Euphrates valley, which existing monuments confirm.

Genesis 10:13

And Mizraim begat Ludim. An African tribe, a colony of the Egyptians, like the next seven, which are "nomina non singulorum hominum sed populorum" (Aben Ezra, Michaelis, Rosenmüller, Kalisch, Murphy); probably referred to in connection with Tarshish and Put (Isaiah 66:19), with Kush and Put (Jeremiah 46:9), and in connection with Put (Ezekiel 27:10; Ezekiel 30:5). Lud (Genesis 10:22) was Shemitic. And Anamim. Not elsewhere mentioned; the inhabitants of the Delta (Knobel). And Lehabim. Lubim (2 Chronicles 12:3; Daniel 2:43; Nahum 3:9); Libyans (Daniel 11:43); probably the Libyaus west of Egypt (Michaelis, Kalisch, Murphy). And Naphtuhim. Nephthys, near Pelusium; on the Lake Sirbenis (Bochart); the Libyan town Napata (Kalisch); the people of Middle Egypt (Knobel).

Genesis 10:14

And Pathrusim. Pathros in Upper Egypt. And Casluhim. The Colchians, of Egyptian origin (Bochart, Gesenius); the inhabitants of the primitive Egyptian town Chemuis, later Panoplis (Kalisch). Out of whom came Philistim. The Philistines on the Mediterranean from Egypt to Joppa, who had five principal cities—Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron. They are here described as an offshoot from Casluhim. The name has been derived from an Ethiopic root falasa, to emigrate; hence "immigrants" or "emigrants." Jeremiah 47:4 and Amos 9:7 trace the Philistines to the Caphtorim. Michaelis solves the difficulty by transposing the clause to the end of the verse; Bochart by holding the Casluhim and Caphtorim to have intermingled; Keil and Lange by the conjecture that the original tribe the Casluhim was subsequently strengthened by an immigration from Caphtor. Against the Egyptian origin of the Philistines the possession of a Shemitic tongue and the non-observance of circumcision have been urged; but the first may have been acquired from the conquered Avim whose land they occupied (Deuteronomy 2:28), and the exodus from Egypt may have taken place prior to the institution of the rite in question. And Caphtorim. Cappadocia (Bochart), Syrtis Major (Clericus), Crete (Calmer, Ewald), Cyprus (Michaelis, Rosenmüller), Coptos, Kouft or Keft, a few miles north of Thebes (Kalisch).

Genesis 10:15

And Canaan begat Sidon his firstborn. A famous commercial and maritime town on the coast of Syria (1 Kings 5:6; 1 Chronicles 22:4; Isaiah 23:2, Isaiah 23:4, Isaiah 23:12; Ezekiel 27:8); here including Tyre. From the mention of the circumstance that Sidon was Canaan's firstborn, we may infer that in the rest of the table the order of seniority is not followed. And Heth. The father of the Hittites (Genesis 23:3, Genesis 23:5), identified by Egyptologers with the Kheta, a powerful Syrian tribe.

Genesis 10:16

And the Jebusite. Settled at and around Jerusalem (Joshua 15:8; Judges 19:10, Judges 19:11; 1 Chronicles 11:4, 1 Chronicles 11:5). And the Amorite. On both sides of the Jordan, though dwelling chiefly in the Judaean mountains (Genesis 14:7; Joshua 10:5), to which the name "mountaineer," from "Amor," elevation (Gesenius), is supposed to refer. And the Girgasite. The name only is preserved (Joshua 24:11).

Genesis 10:17

And the Hivite. "Villagers" (Gesenius); "settlers in cities" (Ewald); their localities are mentioned in Genesis 34:2; Joshua 9:1, Joshua 9:7; Joshua 11:3; Judges 6:3. And the Arkite. Inhabitants of Arka, a city of Phoenicia (Josephus): afterwards called Caesarea Libani; its ruins still exist at Tel Arka, at the foot of Lebanon. And the Sinite. The inhabitants of Sin. Near Arkf are a fortress named Senna, ruins called Sin, and a village designated Syn.

Genesis 10:18

And the Arvadite,—dwelt in Arvad, Aradus, now Ruad (Josephus)—and the Zemarite,—Simyra, a city of Phoenicia (Bochart, Michaelis, Gesenius, Kalisch) whose ruins are still called Sumrah—and the Hamathite. The inhabitants of Hamath, called Hammath Rabbah (Amos 6:2); Epiphaneia by the Greeks; now Hamah. And afterwards—i.e. subsequent to the formation of these distinct tribes by the confusion of tongues—were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad.

Genesis 10:19

And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon (its northern boundary), as thou comesti.e. as thou goest, in the direction of—to Gerar,—between Kadesh and Shur (Genesis 20:1)—unto Gaza (now called Guzzeh, at the south-west corner of Palestine); as thou gout, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim (vide Genesis 19:24),—Callirrhoe (Hieronymus, Jerusalem Targum, Josephus, Rosenmüller, Keil, Kalisch); possibly a variation of Laish and Leshem, a Sidonian city near the sources of the Jordan (Murphy).

Genesis 10:20

These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations (vide Genesis 10:5).

Genesis 10:21

Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber,—as Ham of Canaan (Genesis 9:22; vide Genesis 9:24)—the brother of Japheth the elder. Either the eldest brother of Japheth (Syriac, Arabic, Vulgate, Gesenius, Rosenmüller, Kalisch); or the brother of Japheth who was older (LXX; Symmachus, Onkelos, Raschi, Aben Ezra, Luther, Clerieus, Michaelis, Dathe); or the elder of Japheth's brothers, as distinguished from Ham the younger, i.e. the son who was older than Ham, But younger than Japheth (Murphy, Quarry; vide Genesis 5:32). Even to him were children born.

Genesis 10:22

The children of Shem were twenty-six in number, of whom five were sons. Elam. Elymais, a region adjoining Snaiana and Media, stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Rod Sea; the people first met with as Persians. And Asshur. The ancestor of the Assyrians (vide Genesis 10:11). And Arphaxad. A region in the north of Assyria; the Arrhapacitis of Ptolemy (Rosenmüller, Keil, Kalisch). The explanation of the name is "fortress of the Chaldaeans ' (Ewald); "highland of the Chaldaeans" (Knobel). And Lud. The Lydians of Asia Minor, to which they appear to have migrated from the land of Shem (Josephus, Bochart, Keil, Kalisch). And Aram. "The high land;" Mesopotamia being the Aram of the two rivers, and Syria the Aram of Damascua

Genesis 10:23

And the children of Aram; Uz, from whom was named the land of Uz (Job 1:1), south-east of Palestine, a tract of the Arabia Deserta. And Hul. In Armenia (Josephus); that part called Cholobetene, or house of Hul (Bochart); the Hylatae of Syria, near the Emesenes (Delitzsch); Coele-syria (Michaelis); Huleh, near the sources of the Jordan (Murphy). And Gether—of uncertain situation—and Mash—traced in Mous Masius of Armenia (Bochart).

Genesis 10:24

And Arphaxad begat Salah. The nation descended from him has not been identified, though their name, "Extension," may imply that they were early colonists. And Salah begat Eber. The father of the Hebrews or Emigrants (vide Genesis 10:21).

Genesis 10:25

And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg. "Division," from palg, to divide; cf. πεìλαγος and pelagus, a division of the sea. For in his days was the earth divided. At the confusion of tongues (Bochart, Rosenmüller, Keil, Lange, Murphy); at an earlier separation of the earth's population (Delitzsch), of which there is no record or trace. And his brother's name was Joktan. Father of the Arabians, by whom he is called Kachtan.

Genesis 10:26-30

And Joktan begat Almodad. Usually said to be Yemen. And Sheleph. The Salapenoi of Ptolemy, belonging to the interior of Arabia. And Hazarmaveth. Hadramaut, southeast of Arabia (Bochart, Michaelis). And Jerah. Contiguous to Hadramaut. And Hadoram. Adramitae of Ptolemy, or the Atramitae of Pliny (Bochart) And Uzal. Awzal, the capital of Yemen (Bochart). And Diklah. The palm-bearing region of Arabia Felix (Bochart); a tribe between the mouth of the Tiber and the Persian Gulf (Michaelis). And Obal, and Abimael, whose settlements are not known. And Sheba. Vide supra, Genesis 10:7. And Ophir. In Arabia; probably in Oman, on the Persian Gulf (Michaelis, Rosenmüller, Kalisch, Keil), though it has also been located in India (Josephus, Vitringa, Gesenius, Delitzsch). The gold of Ophir celebrated (1 Kings 9:27, 1Ki 9:28; 2 Chronicles 9:10, 2 Chronicles 9:13, 2 Chronicles 9:21). And Havilah. The Chaulan in Arabia Felix, but vide supra, Genesis 10:7. And Jobab. The Jobabitae of Ptolemy, near the Indian Sea (Michaelis, Rosenmüller); but more probably a tribe in Arabia Deserta if Jobab—Arabic jebab, a desert (Bochart, Gesenius, Kalisch). All these were the sons of Joktan. And their dwelling was from Mesha. The seaport of Muza (Bochart); Messene, at the mouth of the Tigris (Michaelis, Rosenmüller, Kalisch). As thou goest into Zephar. Zafar or Dhafari, on the coast of the Hadramut. The difficulty of identifying a seaport town with a mountain is got over (Kalisch) by reading "to the" instead of a mount of the east—the thunderous range of hills in the vicinity.

Genesis 10:31, Genesis 10:32

These are the sons of Shorn, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations. The pedigree of the Shemite tribes is closed with the customary formula (vide Genesis 10:5); that which follows being the concluding formula for the entire table of nations. These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations (literally, according to their Tholdoth, or historical developments), in their nation,: and by these (literally, from the) were the nations divided (or, did the nations scatter themselves) in the earth after the flood.


Genesis 10:32

The ethnological register.


1. It declares all the successive families of mankind to have sprung from a common stock. Diverse as they flow are in their geographical situations, ethnic relations, physical capabilities, national peculiarities, according to the doctrine of this genealogical table they all trace their origin to Noah and his sons.

2. It condemns all those theories which derive man from several pairs. Equally the heathen superstition which assigned to each particular region its own Autochthones, and the modern scientific dogma of varieties of species and distinct centers of propagation is here condemned. Even now ethnologists, archaeologists, and philologists of the highest repute lend their sanction to the sublime sentiment of the great Mars' hill preacher, that "God hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell upon all the face of the earth." The anatomical structure of the human frame, especially of the brain and skull, the physiological properties and functions possessed by the body, the psychological nature of man, and the power of indefinite propagation, which are the same in all nations, with the ascertained results of comparative grammar, which have already traced back all existing languages to three primitive branches, tend in a powerful degree to confirm the doctrine which this table teaches.

3. It implies certain other truths on which Scripture with equal emphasis insists, such as the brotherhood of man, the universal corruption of the race, and the necessity and universality of Christ's redemption.


1. It asserts the fact of the division. It states that in the days of Peleg the earth's population was divided. The means employed are described in the succeeding chapter.

2. It confirms the truth of this division. Had the confusion at Babel not occurred. and the subsequent dispersion not followed. this table could not have been written. Its existence as a literary document in the time of Moses authenticates the fact which it reports.

3. It defines the extent of this division. It shows that the scattered race were to be split up into nations, families, tongues.

III. ILLUSTRATES THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE RACE. The geographical distribution of the earth's population was—

1. Effected in an orderly manner. They were neither scattered promiscuously nor suffered to wander and settle at hazard. Divided into tribes and nations according to their tongues and dialects of speech, they were allocated to distinct portions of the earth's surface.

2. Specially adapted to the characters and destinies of the several nations. The operation of purely natural principles makes it impossible that tribes can permanently settle in countries that are either incapable of yielding to them a maintenance or affording an outlet to their powers. More extensive information would doubtless enable the suitability of each locality in this table to the occupying people to be exhibited; but in broad outline it is perceptible even here—Japheth, whose destiny it was to spread abroad, being established on the coasts of the Euxine, the Caspian, and the Mediterranean; Ham finding rest in the warmer climates, whose enervating influences tended largely to develop his peculiar character, and ultimately to lay him open to subjection by the more vigorous races of the North; and Shem, whose function in the Divine economy it was to conserve religion and religious truth, being concentrated mainly in the Tigris and Euphrates valley.

3. The result of Divine appointment. Moses (Deuteronomy 32:8) and Paul (Acts 17:26) conspire to represent the allocation of territory to the different races of mankind as the handiwork of God (the special means employed for the breaking up of the originally united family of Noah's sons is detailed in the ensuing chapter); the import of which is, that nations have a God-assigned title to the countries which they occupy.

4. The Divinely-ordered distribution of the earth's population is capable of being disturbed by the sinful interference of man. Instances of this appear in the present table, e.g. the intrusion of the Cushite into Shinar, and of the Canaanite into what originally belonged to Skein.

IV. PREDICTS THE FUTURE OF THE RACE. As it were, the separation of the earth's population into races and the moving of them outward to their respective habitations was the starting of them on the lines along which it was designed they should accomplish their respective destinies and common work. They were meant to overspread the globe; and this was the initiation of a great movement which would only terminate in the complete occupation of their God-given heritage.


1. The equal rights of men.

2. The sinfulness of wars of aggression.

3. The hopefulness of emigration.


Genesis 10:8


1. His ancestral pedigree—a Cushite.

2. His early occupation—a hunter of wild beasts, a pioneer of civilization.

3. His rising ambition—he began to be a "Gibber," or mighty one.

4. His regal authority—the beginning of his kingdom was Babel.

5. His extending empire—out of that land went he forth into Asshur.

6. His posthumous renown: "Wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod."—W.

Genesis 10:15-19

The Canaanites.






1. Wicked men and nations may greatly prosper.

2. Prosperity sometimes leads to greater wickedness.

3. The greatest prosperity cannot turn aside the punishment of sin.—W.

Genesis 10:25

Peleg, or the division of the people.

I. WHEN IT TOOK PLACE. In the fourth generation after the Flood.


1. By the Divine interposition.

2. By the confusion of tongues.


1. To punish sin.

2. To separate the Church.

3. To occupy the earth.

IV. BY WHAT IT WAS REMEMBERED. The naming of Eber's son.


1. To read well the signs of the times.

2. To understand well the cause of God's judgments.

3. To remember well the gift of God's mercies.—W.

Genesis 10:32


I. THEIR ROOTS. Individuals.


1. As to time, after the Flood.

2. As to cause, Divine impulse.

3. As to instrumentality, variation of speech.


1. A common head.

2. A common tongue.

3. A common land.

IV. THEIR DESTINIES. To overspread the earth.—W.

Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Genesis 10". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tpc/genesis-10.html. 1897.
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