Genesis Ten - Table of Nations


There are claims that Genesis was edited some time after Moses, even as late as the Second Temple era. When we look at the movements of people in Genesis ten, we could ask whether all the movements listed in those chapters had already occurred by the time of Moses? I think the answer to this would be yes. There doesn’t seem to be significant later editing in this chapter. Other parts of the Pentateuch do show some editing, but possibly by the early compilers of the text.

The movements of early peoples across the earth from the sons of Noah was written down by Moses mostly from the perspective of those around the Middle Eastern region, where Israel lived. Moses concentrated more on their neighbours, who they were related to and how they came to be in Israel’s region.

The sons of Noah were Japheth, Ham and Shem. Put simply, Japheth’s sons inhabited the European regions, with some sons, like Tubal and Meshek, pushing east into Russia. The Kittites were among those who pushed further east into Asia and the Pacific. The word Cathay (China) is related to the word Kittim. Ham eventually populated the African nations and Shem the Middle Eastern Nations.

The account in Genesis ten is historically accurate, showing again this text isn’t meant to be taken allegorically, as ahistorical. And this table of nations accounts for the global dispersion of humanity after the Flood, again, indicating the universality of the Flood.

Genesis 10:25 - The Dividing of the Earth

According to the lineage, Nimrod was the son of Cush and Cush the son of Ham. Nimrod was the first to build the cities around Babylon and Assyria, before his people were later pushed out toward Africa. The text doesn’t tell us when the Babel incident occurred but going by the text in Genesis 11 it would seem it occurred before Nimrod’s cities were built for the Hamites. That is, the events of Babel show a more united group before their language was divided. Nimrod’s exploits were likely soon after Babel.

Peleg was a descendant of Shem, four generations later. In Peleg’s day “the earth was divided.” No explanation was given as to what this meant. Some have suggested it refers to the Tower of Babel incident when the people were scattered. However, if the Tower of Babel was before the time of Nimrod, then this “dividing of the nations” happened before Peleg’s time.  I am sure others have researched this and my comments here come only from shallow reflection on the text.

The statement “in that day the earth was divided” is intriguing. I have read geologists who suggest the continents were divided after an initial migration of animals and people after the Flood. However, if the continents divided in Peleg’s day, who died about 300 years after the Flood (see chapter 11) this hardly gives enough time for a natural distant migration. Humans have been well able to migrate across seas to other continents since these ancient times. I have no solid idea myself, but the comment (“in the day that the earth was divided”) seems to have been easily understood by the people for whom Moses compiled the text, so that no explanation was needed. 

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