Genesis Chapter 10: Generations of Noah, Nimrod The Mighty Hunter

Jan 11th, 2010 | By | Category: Genesis, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Genesis Chapter 10: Generations of Noah, Nimrod The Mighty Hunter

Gen. 10:1 Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood.

This sequence of Noah’s sons is not according to age (which would be Japheth, Shem, and Ham) or importance (which would be Shem, Japheth, and Ham). This different sequence will be explained later.

Gen. 10:2 The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras.

These were the sons of Japheth. Four of the names are in Ezekiel chapter 38.

Gen. 10:3 And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah.

The sons of Gomer, which were the next (or third) generation, were the grandsons of Japheth. Today’s Jews are usually broken down into two categories: Sephardic or Ashkenazi.

Gen. 10:4 And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim.

Again the third generation is listed, this time the sons of Javan, who were also grandsons of Japheth. Some of the names in verses 3 and 4 appear in Ezekiel chapter 38.

Gen. 10:5 By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.

Verse 5 is a summary of Japheth’s progeny, who are called “Gentiles” in contradistinction to the Semitic races, who came through Shem. (Ham’s offspring were also “Gentiles.”) Verse 5 was true both before and after the Tower of Babel, for some of Japheth’s offspring spread out even prior to that incident.

Verse 5 describes conditions that existed after the Flood. Some of these names appeared in Ezekiel chapter 38 and other places thousands of years later. In the meantime, a natural migration occurred. Verses 2-4 merely show the origin of such individuals—that they were of Japheth. Generally speaking, Japheth’s children went north and west, and Shem’s and Ham’s offspring migrated in other directions.

Gen. 10:6 And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.

These were the sons of Ham. Note the order here: Cush, Mizraim, Phut, and Canaan. Although Canaan was the firstborn, he was listed last because of the curse. He had already been born and named when the curse came as a punishment for Ham’s mocking of his father.

Verse 1 listed the order of Noah’s three sons as Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Now the details were being presented in reverse order: Japheth, Ham, and Shem.

Gen. 10:7 And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtecha: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan.

Sheba and Dedan are mentioned in Ezekiel chapter 38. The name Havilah appears in Genesis 2:11. The river Pison (the most important of the four rivers outside of Eden) encompassed the land of Havilah, which had gold and bdellium.

Gen. 10:8 And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth.

Cush begat Nimrod, who “began to be a mighty one in the earth.” This elevation of a human being above what was proper was the start of a false worship.

Gen. 10:9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD.

Nimrod was “a mighty hunter before the LORD [Jehovah].” “Before the LORD” signifies that reverence belonging to Jehovah was going to Nimrod. His influence was such that those who esteemed him regarded him above Jehovah. Nimrod became an idol because of his prowess in hunting. Probably he had a good physical build too.

The commandment was, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exod. 20:3). There can be mighty ones in the earth but not in the sense of robbing something that belongs to Jehovah, not in the sense of worship.

Gen. 10:10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.

Babel was the beginning of Nimrod’s kingdom and also the beginning of the Babylonian kingdom. The tower was in Babel. A couple of these towns or cities, under other names, were excavated recently.

Shinar is mentioned in Zechariah 5:11. Shinar, another name for Babylon, was the territory in which these four cities were located: Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh.

Gen. 10:11 Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah,

The King James margin is correct: “Out of that land [Shinar] he [Nimrod] went out into Assyria, and builded Nineveh, and the city of Rehoboth, and Calah.” “Asshur” was Assyria. In addition to being a mighty hunter, Nimrod built Nineveh and other cities. His deflection from the Lord began early in life. No doubt he was proud and self-confident, and others admired his abilities, industry, and activity. Admiration, if given in moderation, is all right for one who is humble before the Lord, but here the object of admiration had a big head. Those who did the admiring put Jehovah secondary.

Gen. 10:12 And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.

Nimrod also built Resen, “a great city.”

Gen. 10:13 And Mizraim begat Ludim, and Anamim, and Lehabim, and Naphtuhim,

Gen. 10:14 And Pathrusim, and Casluhim, (out of whom came Philistim,) and Caphtorim.

A lot of the names in verses 13 and 14 end in “im,” which can indicate either singular (as in the individual named Ephraim) or plural (as in the tribe of Ephraim). Context is the deciding factor in determining whether “im” is singular or plural in meaning, and here the names Mizraim, Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, Pathrusim, Casluhim, and Caphtorim—each having an “im” ending—all refer to a single individual. The multiplicity of singular “im” endings is interesting because Trinitarians stress the “im” ending of Elohim to indicate the plurality of God.

Gen. 10:15 And Canaan begat Sidon his firstborn, and Heth,

The fact that Sidon was mentioned as the “firstborn” of Canaan indicates that other sons listed first in this chapter were not necessarily the firstborn, for example, Shem and Cush. Thus there were other reasons why an individual was listed first. For example, Canaan was important because of the curse that came through Ham, and Sidon was important because a city with that name still exists today in Lebanon.

Gen. 10:16 And the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite,

Hundreds of years later, when the Israelites entered the land, they failed to subdue and capture all the pockets of resistance. The Amorites and the Girgasites were traditional enemies of the Israelites. The Jebusites occupied Jerusalem, and David had to conquer them in order to make Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

Gen. 10:17 And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite,

Gen. 10:18 And the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad.

Verses 17 and 18 list more traditional enemies of Israel: Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, Arvadites, Zemarites, and Hamathites.

Q: The thought is often presented that when the curse was put on Canaan, his skin became black, but his offspring, the traditional enemies of Israel, were not of the black race, were they?

A: No, and neither was Cush, although his name later came to mean “black.”

Comment: Since the curse was not on Cush, the change in skin color had to be something additional.

Reply: That is correct, and Nimrod was black.

Q: Canaan was the cursed one. Since many of his offspring became resistant and recalcitrant enemies of the Israelites, is there any way we can pin down what that curse was?

A: That is the third topic we will go back to. The three subjects are (1) the sequence of Shem, Ham, and Japheth in verse 1; (2) the story of Nimrod; and (3) the curse on Canaan. There is something paradoxical about Canaan.

Gen. 10:19 And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha.

Verse 19 describes the Canaanite borders and territory: from the city of Sidon in Lebanon on the Mediterranean to the north, to Gaza on the Mediterranean to the south, to Sodom and Gomorrah under the Dead Sea to the east (and also to the south) and to Admah, Zeboim, and Lasha also on the east (but up north).

Gen. 10:20 These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations.

Verse 20 completes the lineage of Ham. Notice the similarity to verse 5, which pertains to Japheth’s progeny.

Gen. 10:21 Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born.

Here in chapter 10, Shem’s lineage was mentioned last, but he was mentioned first in verse 1. Shem was “the father of all the children of Eber”; that is, Shem was the ancestor of the Hebrew race. “Eber” means Hebrew. Of the three sons of Noah, Japheth was the oldest, the firstborn.

Gen. 10:22 The children of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram.

Today there is a Syria but no Assyria. The two have a similarity and yet a dissimilarity.

Assyria’s farthest, northernmost point was originally up near Mount Ararat, Kars being the capital city at one time. This “Asshur” is different from the Asshur/Assyria of verse 11 under Ham’s lineage. The “Mount Ararat” Assyria was related to Shem; the Syria of today is connected more with Ham and Nimrod.

Elam was a nation associated with Media-Persia. Arphaxad, Shem’s firstborn son, was born two years after the Flood (Gen. 11:10). He is listed in Messiah’s lineage (Luke 3:36). Although Arphaxad was the firstborn, he was mentioned third; hence the names in Genesis chapter 10 are neither in birth sequence nor according to importance. What, then, one might ask, was the purpose of this tenth chapter? It gives the geographic distribution of Noah’s posterity.

Gen. 10:23 And the children of Aram; Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Mash.

Job was associated with Uz (which became Oz in stories). Job lived a little after Abraham— probably in the time gap following Joseph but before Moses.

Gen. 10:24 And Arphaxad begat Salah; and Salah begat Eber.

The lineage was as follows: Noah, Shem, Arphaxad, Salah, Eber, and Peleg.

Gen. 10:25 And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan.

Eber had two sons: Peleg and Joktan. “Peleg” means division. When he was born and given that name, his parents would not have realized the full significance. The prophetic name pertained to the incident of the Tower of Babel, which occurred in Peleg’s lifetime. (The Tower of Babel will be described in the next chapter; hence this is advance information.) The lineage of Noah indicates a passage of time between his leaving the Ark and the building of the Tower of Babel five generations later.

Gen. 10:26 And Joktan begat Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah,

Gen. 10:27 And Hadoram, and Uzal, and Diklah,

Gen. 10:28 And Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba,

Gen. 10:29 And Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab: all these were the sons of Joktan.

Gen. 10:30 And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar a mount of the east.

Gen. 10:31 These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations.

Gen. 10:32 These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.

Joktan had 13 sons—more than the others. Ophir and Havilah stand out in the lineage, and Sheba is mentioned. In Abraham’s day, Keturah’s children included another Sheba and Dedan.

A man’s life is “more precious … than the golden wedge of Ophir” (Isa. 13:12). This golden wedge, a tremendous block of solid gold that adorned a gateway, was the keystone that kept an arch from caving in. The Romans used the following method to build an arch. They laid arch stones on top of a pile of mud bricks. The mud held the arch stones in position. Once the uprights were in place to hold the arch, the dirt and/or mud was dug out. The arch was built in a slightly graduating curve with mortar holding the arch stone. However, at a certain height, there was danger of collapse because of the weight of the stones. Thus the mortar was allowed to dry up to a certain level, and then, near the peak of the arch, the stones were held in place by men, and a wedge was dropped in. The wedge was a keystone, locking the arch stones in place.

Solomon had a navy of ships by contracting with Hiram, king of Tyre, to cooperate on naval expeditions. Gold was plentiful in Solomon’s kingdom. He rented ships from Hiram to bring back gold from Ophir and Havilah, which were quite a distance away. Havilah was mentioned in connection with Eden. The Pison River encompassed the whole land of Havilah, where there was gold, and the gold of that land was “good” (Gen. 2:11,12).

Q: This question pertains to verses 5, 20, 31, and 32. Weren’t all peoples of one tongue until after the Tower of Babel? What is the time sequence here?

A: We will discuss that in the next chapter. There were two types of division: (1) natural migration and (2) a forced separation of the group of people who were involved in building the Tower of Babel. Certain families lived in the area and were thus connected with constructing the Tower—but not all people living on the earth at that time. Thus the confusion of tongues involved a lot of people but not everyone.

We would now like to discuss certain points about the verses covered thus far. 1. Sequence of names (Gen. 10:1). Shem, Ham, and Japheth are listed according to the geographic dispersion of the families and the time elements involved.

2. Nimrod (Gen. 10:10-12). These verses tell about the beginning of Nimrod’s kingdom. Eventually, many years later according to tradition, Nimrod died in Egypt. Although he did not build cities in Egypt, he was worshipped there. When Ham asked Shem to liberate Egypt from the despotic rule of Nimrod and his worship, Shem slew Nimrod. Thus Shem helped Ham, who was the Pharaoh in Egypt, called in the Psalms the “land of Ham” (Psa. 105:23,27; 106:22).

The Book of the Dead tells a lot about Egyptian worship, which imitated many things in the ebrew religion but gave an immoral twist, emphasizing strength and lust instead of righteous principles. Incidentally, in Egyptian, Ham was Khamu Khufu and Noah was Sneferu or Nofru.

The list of cities shows the passage of time, for it would have taken many years for Nimrod to build so many cities. The Bible does not say how long Ham, Nimrod, or Japheth lived. We know only that Shem died at 600 years of age because Messiah’s lineage went through him (Gen. 11:10,11). The others probably lived to an age somewhat comparable.

3. Canaan’s curse (Gen. 9:25-27). “And he [Noah] said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” Canaan was to be the servant of Shem and Japheth, and Japheth would dwell in the tents of Shem, yet history seems to completely contradict this prophecy—at first. Canaan had a desirable territory from Sidon to Gaza, etc.; that is, he had the land of Canaan.

And Abraham lived and died without receiving the inheritance in the land of Canaan promised in the covenant that God had made with him. Abraham owned only his burial cave, which he bought in Hebron. Canaanites possessed Canaan until Joshua’s day, when Joshua fought them and other peoples involved with this family. Hence many people living back there questioned the prophecy uttered by Noah. In other words, Noah’s prophecy became a test. The same principles of testing the faith and trust of Christians in God during the Gospel Age were upon the Jewish people, who were told they would inherit the Promised Land. They did not enter the land until Joshua’s day, so for a long time, Canaan seemed to be prospering.

The situation is the same for us as Christians. If faithful, we will get into the spiritual Promised Land, but in the present life, we are in the testing period when everything seems to be the opposite. We are nobodies now, without the world’s esteem, but if faithful, we will reign as kings and priests.

For a long time, Canaan’s descendants seemed to be superior to both Shem’s and Japheth’s descendants. Eventually, however, the tables began to turn. Joshua did conquer the Canaanites—but not fully. In the 450-year Period of the Judges, there was a problem with the Canaanites. Only later, in the Period of the Kings, did the Canaanites begin to fade out entirely, relatively speaking. Then the Shemites clearly occupied Canaan. Finally, the prophecy began to take place from the natural standpoint. Later on, “Japheth” was involved with the Phoenicians to the north. He was successful over the Canaanites faster than the Shemites.

Meanwhile, the test was to walk by faith. Hebrews chapter 11 lists heroes of faith from the Old Testament. The Ancient Worthies all died not having received the promises, for the Little Flock must first be fully developed. Hence the full entrance into the Land of Promise in the spiritual sense will not occur until the Kingdom. Stated another way, the Land of Promise will be fully entered in the Kingdom.

Christians are not the only ones who have to live by faith, for the Ancient Worthies did too. Both classes have similar experiences. The Ancient Worthies got rewarded certain ways in the present life, and so do Christians. We have a large “family” of sincere brethren. We get blessings of prophetic understanding. We have hope and peace. We know about the past, the present, and the future. We are living on the threshold of a new era, yet we are still laboring to enter into the full rest beyond the veil. The Ancient Worthies labored too, still awaiting the full promise. The inheritance will come in God’s due time.

The Canaanites and Ham’s descendants prospered for a long time. Egypt was a great world empire. (Nebuchadnezzar’s image started later in history, from the Babylonian Empire on, but earlier Egypt and Assyria were great world empires.) Today we can see that the Jews are the top intellectuals in the world in every area. Israel has had a great influence among the nations.

Hence we see the superiority of the Shemites over the Hamites and the Japhethites. More is to come, in fullness, in the Kingdom.

There are three great time periods: (1) the very early period prior to Israel’s establishment as a nation, (2) Israel’s development, and (3) the Christian Age. Not only did testing periods occur in each great time span, but also the bitter seemed to predominate over the sweet—and will continue to do so until the Kingdom. Then Israel will be the blesser nation, and the Church will be the kings and priests. As an addendum, the Bible went westward to Europe and then to the United States. Where the Bible and the Reformers went, the blessings were greater.

Q: Did the development of the black race come through Cush and Nimrod? The lineage was Ham, Cush, and then Nimrod.

A: Yes, through Cush and through Ham’s children. In a broad sense, Canaan developed into the “Canaanites.” And there were bedouins of Ham’s children. “Ethiopia” and “Cush” mean black. The Cush aspect included Ethiopians and Nubians in Egypt, but Ham and his other children were not marked with dark color as much—only to a certain degree.

The Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles come from Shemites. Most of the early Church were Jews. The gospel Church is composed of Jews and Gentiles, of Japheth and of Shem. The twelve apostles (Shemites) will have the chief place in the Little Flock.

(1987–1989 Study)

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