Origin of the Nations of the World
This is a chapter of genealogies, of families, which are the origin of the nations of the world. This chapter is far more important than the space I’m giving to it would indicate.
If you are interested in ethnology and anthropology and the story of mankind on the earth, you may want a far deeper study than you will find here.
Neither the sons of Japheth nor the sons of Ham ever comprised what some folk call the lost ten tribes of Israel. Here in chapter 10 we have the genealogies of all three sons of Noah.
First we see the genealogy of Japheth (vv. 2–5), then the genealogy of Ham (vv. 6–20)—this was the outstanding people at the very beginning and finally the genealogy of Shem (vv. 21–32).
Notice that throughout the Bible God follows this same pattern of giving the rejected line first and saying a word about it, then He drops that subject entirely and does not bring it up again.
Finally, He gives the accepted line, the line which is leading to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Genesis 9 described events that happened between God, Noah, and his three sons after the flood. Genesis 11 will tell the story of the Tower of Babel and the dispersal of the nations.
Between them, Genesis 10 is a table of the nations that come from Japheth, Ham, and Shem after God divides and disperses humanity.
Genesis 10:1 KJV
 Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood.
Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood.
Genesis 10 opens and closes with verses that bracket the genealogies between them and reveal their purpose.
Verses 1 and 32 both refer to the chapter as a record of the sons of Noah . . . after the flood, and verse 32 states that these lines of descent and the geographical distribution of the respective clans ultimately produce “nations” (people groups living in specific territories) that Abram and the patriarchs encounter later.
Genesis 10 is sometimes called the table of nations. It describes, in three sections, the peoples that descended from Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Japheth’s people settled mostly to the north of what would be Israel.
Ham’s people became great nations in the region of the Middle East, including the people that would settle in the Promised Land before Israel drove them out. Shem’s line would lead to Abraham and the Israelites.
Genesis 10:1–5 details the descendants of Noah’s son, Japheth. Japheth’s sons will largely settle in the regions north of what would later become the nation of Israel.
While some mention is made of these descendants, they will not be directly involved in many biblical events.
Chapter 11 will describe the event that causes the peoples to be dispersed across the world into their separate regions.
The chapter rehearses the genealogies of Noah’s three sons, beginning with Japheth, who seems least influential of the three in history.
Next comes Ham and then Shem, the latter being our next focus.
This verse introduces what is sometimes called the table of nations. In addition to listing some of the descendants of Noah’s sons, the chapter also mentions the lands and nations that formed among these descendants.
This is the purpose God intended for mankind in His commands after the flood: to repopulate the earth (Genesis 9:7). As part of His will, God had promised to never again destroy the earth with a flood (Genesis 9:11).
It’s an awesome thought to realize that the descendants of these individuals became the peoples of the ancient world, the nations that Israel would eventually interact with as a nation themselves.
The incidents of the prior chapter have a drastic impact on these future generations. Since Ham dishonored Noah (Genesis 9:24), his son Canaan was cursed.
The out-workings of that curse will not be clear until many generations later, when Israel arrives in the Promised Land.
The verse is clear that these sons were born to Noah’s three sons after the flood and not before.
SONS OF JAPHETH
You can see that the majority of us in America descended from these lines.
Genesis 10:2-5 KJV
 The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras.
 And the sons of Gomer; Ashpenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah.
 And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim.
 By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.
The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras.
The listing of Japheth’s descendants is briefer than the others. Among the persons and peoples mentioned is Javan, an ancient name for the Greek people. It is thought that many of Japheth’s descendants migrated to Europe.
The first section in chapter 10’s “table of nations” follows the sons of Japheth. Japheth’s descendants mostly settled to the north of the where the nation of Israel would eventually reside.
While the Old Testament prophets sometimes mentioned them, they will not feature greatly in biblical events. Thus, less is said of Japheth’s successors. They were not cursed, in the way that Canaan was (Genesis 9:25).
Nor were they especially blessed, in the way Shem’s descendants led to Abraham and the eventual Messiah, Jesus Christ (Genesis 9:26).
However, the names of Japheth’s seven sons can be correlated with the names and peoples of specific geographic regions in the ancient world, some of whom would intersect with the people of Israel from time to time.
Some of these names would be associated with city-states mentioned later in Scripture, such as Magog (Ezekiel 38:2), Tarshish (Genesis 10:4; Psalm 72:10; Ezekiel 38:13) and Kittim (Genesis 10:4; Numbers 24:24; Daniel 11:30).
And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah.
The descendants of Gomer came from near the Upper Euphrates region north of the Black Sea.
The descendants of Ashkenaz were the later Scythians who inhabited the region between the Black and Caspian Seas.
Riphath is near Carchemish.
The descendants of Togarmah are associated with Til-garimmu, the capital of Kammanu in modern Armenia.
Chapter 10 is sometimes called the table of nations. In listing the names of the descendants of Noah’s sons, it is also describing the origins of the nations of the ancient world.
The chapter explains the divisions of earth’s ancient tribes according to their family line. Rather than a deep line of fathers and sons, this passage shows a broad spread of brothers and cousins.
The previous verse listed Japheth’s seven sons. This verse lists three sons of Japheth’s son, Gomer. The descendants of these three sons became three tribes who settled to the north of the Promised Land.
These people appear to be the Cimmerians, also known as the Scythians.
And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim.
Elishah is probably Cyprus.
Tarshish is possibly southwest Spain (see note on Jon 1:3).
The Kittim were inhabitants of southern Cyprus.
The Dodanim were inhabitants of the island of Rhodes, later a territory of Greece.
Chapter 10 lists the names of the descendants of Noah’s sons. Rather than tracing a long line of fathers and sons, it shows the wide spread of Noah’s descendants into various tribes.
Accordingly, this passage explains the origins of the nations of the ancient world. The previous verse listed the sons of Japheth’s son Gomer.
This verse lists the sons of Japheth’s son Javan. These four sons are apparently connected to the peoples who would later become the Greeks.
Though Israel would not have many dealings in the Old Testament with the northern peoples who came from Japheth, these names and people do seem to be included in Bible prophecies.
Some of these can be found in Ezekiel chapters 27 and 37—39. Culturally, the Greeks would become profoundly influential and would even conquer the territories of Israel under Alexander the Great.
By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.
seafaring peoples . . . various lands: They settled around the Mediterranean and on various islands.
Language: This occurred after the Tower of Babel episode.
All the ancient world’s nations are described in this passage, according to their descent from Noah. Other genealogies in the Bible follow a chain of fathers and sons deep into history.
This text is broad, showing the various tribes which came from the major descendants of Noah. The previous verses named the sons and grandsons of Japheth.
From Israel’s perspective, the tribes and nations that formed from these men were located, for the most part, to the far north.
Most of these tribes would have little impact on Israel’s history, until their descendants—the Greeks—conquered Israel’s territory under Alexander the Great.
It’s helpful to remember that this spreading out and having separate languages came after the events surrounding the tower of Babel in Genesis 11.
Until that time, all the people of the earth were concentrated in one region and spoke one language.
I hope that you have really enjoyed this post,
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