The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Genesis 10

Gen 10:1

"When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel" (Deu 32:8). Israel's family, 70 in Gen 46:27. Nations number 70 here in Gen 10: Japheth 14, Ham 30, and Shem 26.

Israel should have brought God's message to 70 nations. When Israel failed, Christ sent out 70 disciples: Luk 10:1 (cp Exo 15:27).

Gen 10:2

Vv 2-5: Sons of Japheth, settled in north of Palestine.

JAPHETH: "The elder" (v 21).

GOMER: Sig "completion".

MAGOG: Sig "from top", ie supreme.

MADAI: 'The Medes".

JAVAN: Sig "effervescent"; the Greeks.

MESHECH: Sig "durable". See Elp 422-428.

TIRAS: The Thracians.

Gen 10:3

ASHKENAZ: Sig "collector of fire". Related to Germany: Jer 51:27.

RIPHATH: "A stable". Near Bosporus.

TOGARMAH: "Stronghold". Turkey (Eze 38:6), noted for horses (Eze 27:14).

Gen 10:4

ELISHAH: "Neglected of God". Perh Cyprus; suppliers of purple (Eze 27:7).

TARSHISH: "Beryl". Tartessus, south Spain, Britain, trade center: Isa 23n; Eze 38:13n.

KITTIM: "Bruisers". Southern Italy: Dan 11:30; Num 24:24.

RODANIM: Or "Dodanim" (AV). Rhodes (1Ch 1:7).

Gen 10:5

EACH WITH ITS OWN LANGUAGE (EVERY ONE AFTER ITS TONGUE): Thus, this occurs after the events of Gen 11:1-9. Cp similarities in call to all nations: Rev 5:9; 7:9; 10:11; 14:6.

Gen 10:6

Vv 6-20: Sons of Ham: "Ham" = "Khen", an Egyptian god.

HAM: Sig "burnt" or "black"; a name sig of the regions allotted to his family: The Cushites received the lands along the shores of the Persian Gulf; the sons of Canaan received Palestine and Syria; the sons of Mizraim received Egypt and Libya, in Africa.

CUSH: "Burly, dark". Negroes, Ethiopia. Mixed with Arabs (Hab 3:7). See 2Bab 25; Isa 46:1.

MIZRAIM: "Oppressor" or "adversary". Egypt.

PHUT: Modern Libya.

CANAAN: Wrongfully appropriated the land of Palestine.

Gen 10:7

The other descendants of Ham settled to the south of Promised Land.

SEBA: "Drunkards". Sabeans of northern Africa (Isa 45:18).

HAVILAH: Gen 2:11n. Originally in north Caucasus, migrated south to Egypt.

SABTAH: "To cease".

RAAMAH: "Thunderer". Southwest Arabia. Spices and gold: Eze 27:22.

SABTECHAH: In Ethiopia.

SHEBA: "Oath". Also son of Shem (v 28), Abraham (Gen 25:3) -- intermarriage? Great trading state in southern Arabia (Eze 27:22; 1Ki 10:1,2).

DEDAN: "Judgment". Muscat in Arabia (Elp 433; Eze 38:13).

Gen 10:8

NIMROD: "Rebel". "Subduer of leopard" (2Bab 44). Nimrod = Merodach (or Marduk), the Babylonian god of war? See Jer 50:2.

MIGHTY WARRIOR (MIGHTY ONE): Heb "gibbor", a great "hero".

Gen 10:9

MIGHTY HUNTER: "A hunter of men" (cp Gen 6:4) -- a persecutor of God's people: cp use of "hunt" in Mic 7:2. Typ the "man of sin" (2Th 2:8). Building cities, as Cain (Gen 4:17).

BEFORE THE LORD: "Faced against the LORD" (A. Gibson, Tes 55:24). In brazen defiance: Gen 6:11; sw 1Ch 14:8.

IT IS SAID: The exploits of Nimrod became the basis of comparison for later rulers.

Gen 10:10

Note 4 cities of the empire:

BABEL: Orig sig "the gate of God". Later came to mean "confusion".

ERECH: "Long". Modern Warka, 100 mi se of Babylon.

AKKAD: "Dark"; near modern Baghdad. Gave name to whole region: ie Akkadian.

CALNEH: "Lodging", site uncertain.

SHINAR: "Enemy's tooth". See Zec 5:11n.

Gen 10:11

Vv 11,12: Another 4 cities.

" 'And out of that land (Shinar, Babylon) went forth Asshur, and built Nineveh and the city Rehoboth (even the city of broad places), and Calah and Resen (Larissa, Kuyunijik?) between Nineveh and Calah: the same (Nineveh) is a great city.' This Genesis statement should almost certainly read: 'He (Nimrod: vv 8,9) went forth to Asshur, and built...'. Such a reading is supported by Mic 5:6, where a parallelism describes Assyria as 'the land of Nimrod'... It has been suggested that 'Nimrod the mighty hunter BEFORE THE LORD' was a persecutor of the faithful. These three cities were sufficiently close together to grow into one enormous metropolis including in its compass not only splendid temples to Ashur, the special god of this empire, and to a variety of other deities, but also even more splendid palaces erected and adorned by conquering Assyrian monarchs" (WJon).

Nimrod left Babel, site of God's miracle, but continued in land set aside for Shem (ie the Fertile Crescent), the land watered by Eden's 4 rivers (see bounds, v 30).

NINEVEH: "Place of habitation"; the capital of Assyria.

REHOBOTH: "Broad places" (cp Rev 11:8). "The city of open places" -- a poss description of Nineveh.

IR: In Heb, "city".

CALAH: Where the ruins of Nimrud are.

Gen 10:12

RESEN: "Fountainhead".

THAT (THE SAME): Nineveh.

Gen 10:13

LUDITES: "Generations". Libyans. Always related to Egypt and Ethiopia: Nah 3:9; 2Ch 12:3; Dan 11:43.


NAPHTUHITES: "Openings". Unidentified.

Gen 10:14

PATHRUSITES: Pathros, in upper Egypt: Isa 11:11; Jer 44:1,15; Eze 30:14. Sig "land of the south".

CASLUHITES: Unidentified.

PHILISTINES: A people who came from Crete (Deu 2:23; Amo 9:7). Poss related to the Hyksos kings who ruled Egypt, then were driven out to Canaan. See Lesson, Philistia in prophecy.

CAPHTORITES: "Distinguished". The Cretan/Minoan empire?

Gen 10:15

SIDON: "Place of hunting". The home of Jezebel: 1Ki 16:31.

HITTITES: Sons of Heth. "Terror". The Hittites extended their empire throughout Asia Minor. Some were also in Palestine (Gen 24:7).

Gen 10:16

Vv 16-18: Cp Gen 15:19-21.

JEBUSITES: "Trampler"; a people who occupied Jerusalem (cp Luk 21:24: "Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled"): Jos 15:63; 18:28; 1Ch 11:4,5.

AMORITES: "Talker": Deu 7:1; Jos 10:5.

GIRGASHITES: "Sojourner". Near Sea of Galilee; Gergasenes.

Gen 10:17

HIVITES: "Tent village". Dwelt in Canaan (Deu 7:1), in north (Jos 11:3; Jdg 3:3; 2Sa 24:7).

ARKITES: "Gnawer". Dwelt in Tell Arka, 80 mi n of Sidon.

SINITES: "Thornbush", in Lebanon.

Gen 10:18

ARVADITES: "To sway over"; island of Arvad, in Phoenicia.

ZEMARITES: "Fleece of wool": Jos 18:22, in Benjamin.

HAMATHITES: "Fortress". Hamath, in Syria: 2Ki 18:34.

Gen 10:19

"At that time the Canaanites were in the land" (Gen 12:6). But ct Zec 14:21: "And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD Almighty."

LASHA: East of the Red Sea.

Gen 10:21

Vv 21-31: Sons of Shem: settled in center of earth (Japheth to the north; Ham to the south). "A blessing in the midst of the land" (Isa 19:24,25). Introductory to the main record of Genesis; thus traced here through 6 generations.

EBER: Ancestor of Habiru, or Hebrews. Sig "crossing over": Gen 11:15,16.

Gen 10:22

ELAM: "Highland". Shushan, near Persian Gulf: Dan 8:2.

ASSHUR: "Progressing", "step". First inhabitants of Assyria, probably displaced by Nimrod (cp v 11).

ARPHAXAD: Prob "pouring", in line of Abraham (Gen 11:11,12); settled near Nineveh.

LUD: Prob Lydians of Asia Minor.

ARAM: "Lifted up". The Heb name for Syria.

Gen 10:23

UZ: "Light", "sandy". Arabian territory: Edom, Petra: Lam 4:21; Job 1:15,17; 2:41.

Gen 10:24

EBER: V 21.

Gen 10:25

THE EARTH WAS DIVIDED: Joktan and Peleg soon came to be widely separated: Joktan and sons to Canaan; Peleg and sons to Fertile Crescent.

Gen 10:26

JOKTAN: "Be settled". Arabia.

ALMODAD: "Compression".

SHELEPH: "Drawing forth".

HAZARMAVETH: "Village of death".

JERAH: "Moon, month".

Gen 10:27

HADORAM: "High elevation".


Gen 10:28

ABIMAEL: "Father is El".

SHEBA: See v 7.

Gen 10:29

OPHIR: "Ash". In sw Arabia. The ancient city of Ubar? See Lesson, Ophir.


JOBAB: "Howler". Arabian desert area.

Gen 10:30

MESHA: "Deliverance". A king of Moab (2Ki 3:4).

SEPHAR: "Numberer". A mountain on border of Joktan in Arabia.

IN THE EASTERN HILL COUNTRY: Demonstrating that this genealogy would have first been compiled by someone near or in the Promised Land.

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