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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Genesis 10

 

 

Verse 1

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

The generations of the sons of Noah - Hebrew, towl


Verse 2

The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras.

The sons of Japheth. For the meaning of this name, see the note at Genesis 6:10; Genesis 9:27. Japheth is thought to be the Japetus of the classics. Japheth designates in general the nations situated north of Palestine.

Magog - ancestor of the people known generally as the Scythian tribes which occupied the regions extending from the Caucasus to the Caspian Sea. Cf. Ezekiel 38:2; Ezekiel 39:1 : Josephus, 1: 6, section 1.

Madai (cf. 1 Chronicles 1:5) - progenitor of the Medes, who occupied the country of Media, and established the Medo-Persian kingdom. This name is used elsewhere as a national, not a personal appellation (2 Kings 17:6; Esther 1:3; Daniel 11:1).

Javan - the representative of Greece and the Greeks, including Asia Minor (Isaiah 66:19; Ezekiel 27:13; Daniel 8:21; Daniel 10:20; Joel 3:6). The name occurs not only in the Semitic dialects, but in the Sanskrit; and it is found also in the Assyrian relics as Yavnan or Yunan, and on Egyptian monuments as Uoinim, Ionians; thus showing that the designation was anciently in common use throughout the East.

Tubal - [Septuagint, Thobel] Josephus says the Chalybes and Iberi were originally Thebeli; from Tubal, their founder. Bochart supposes the Tibareni, a people mentioned by ancient writers, to have derived their name from the same source. The settlements of this branch of the Japhetic family lay in the north, between the Caspian and the Euxine, in the country corresponding to the modern Georgia. The Spanish nation claims descent from Tubal; and if it be considered that their country was known to the ancient Greeks by the name of Iberia, and to distinguish it from Asiatic Iberia, by the special designation of Celtiberia, and that some remains of this ancient name are still preserved in the classic Iberus (the Ebro), their claim seems to be well founded.

Mesech , [Septuagint, Mosoch] - the classical Moschi. They spread along the borders of Colchis and Armenia, in what was called Sarmatia (Moscovia Proper). These two Colchian tribes, which, according to Josephus, followed by Knobel, were the rude originals of the Iberians and Ligurians, are generally associated, not only here, and in various other passages of Scripture (Isaiah 66:19; Ezekiel 27:13; Ezekiel 32:26; Ezekiel 38:2-3; Ezekiel 38:15; Ezekiel 39:1), but in Herodotus (book 3: 4), and in the Assyrian inscriptions, where their names appear as Muskai and Tuplai.

Tiras - Thracia, the original seat of the Getae, Goths, and Scandinavians.


Verse 3

And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah.

Ashkenaz - or Ashchenaz. The only other passage of Scripture in which the name occurs is in Jeremiah 51:27, where it is associated with two other localities, that seem to point out as the original settlement of this tribe a province of Armenia, or a region at least in the vicinity of the Caucasus, or toward the Black Sea. Knobel considers the name a compound word 'ash k


Verse 4

And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim.

The sons of Javan; Elishah. Since the descendants of Javan populated Greece, we must seek "Elishah" in some part of that country. Josephus, followed by Knobel, identifies the name with the Aeolians, a race who, addicted to maritime pursuits, settled in various parts of Greece. But since the fabrics of purple and scarlet formed a principal part of their exports to the Tyrian market (Ezekiel 27:27), it is probable that their headquarters was the Peloponnesus.

Tarshish. This is perhaps the ancient Aramaic form of Tartessus, a city and emporium in the south of Spain, situated between the two mouths of the Boetis or Guadalquiver; or it may be applied to the whole Spanish peninsula, or in general to the countries of Western Europe (Psalms 72:10; Isaiah 23:1; Isaiah 23:6; Isaiah 60:19; Jeremiah 10:9; John 2:3; John 4:2), whence the Phoenicians obtained silver, iron, lead, and tin (Ezekiel 28:2).

Kittim - or (1 Chronicles 1:7) Chittim. The plural termination denotes a people who, according to Josephus, were a colony that migrated from Phoenicia to Cyprus and founded the town of Citium, the modern Chitti. At all events, this island was in close relations with Tyre, as appears not only from the books of the prophets (Isaiah 23:1; Isaiah 23:12; Ezekiel 27:6), but from Phoenician inscriptions still extant, of which Gesenius has given an explanation ('Monuments of Phoenicia').

Dodanim - or Rodanim (Septuagint, Rodioi, here and 1 Chronicles 1:7). This branch of Javan's family is identified by Kalisch with the Daunians in Apulia, Italy; while others, influenced by the apparent simularity of the name Dodona, suppose the Dodanim to have established themselves in Epirus.


Verse 5

By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations. The isles of the Gentiles - a phrase by which the Hebrews described all countries which were accessible by sea (Isaiah 11:11; Isaiah 20:6; Jeremiah 25:22). Such, in relation to them, were the maritime countries of Europe, the peninsula of Lesser Asia, and the region lying on the east of the Euxine. Accordingly, it was in these quarters the early descendants of Japheth, so far as known to the Hebrews, had their settlements. These are the Japhetic types of the large and enterprising family-`audax genus Japeti'-which spread over northern Asia and all Europe, 'after their tongues, after their families, in their nations'-one unity of blood in variety of families and dialects.

The very simplicity of the Mosaic statement appears the principal reason why its truth has been impugned. Moses anticipates in a few words, the grand results of all modern researches into the ethnology of Europe. Eastern descent through Japheth is common to all the nations of Europe, and Italy was the first colonized; because Berosus coincides with Moses in stating that Japheth was the first in establishing new settlements; and there is undoubted evidence that Italy was inhabited by Gomer and the Gomeridae before the Delta and the valley of the Nile were settled at all by the human race. The Gomeridae, or Umbri, were the aborigines of Italy.

Links of the derivation here and there, in some of the European nations, may be missing, but the beginning of the whole chain is riveted to the rocks of the Caucasus. The boast of the Cymry of Britain, that they are the children of Gomer, is true; but the same boast can be made, in respect to one or other of the sons of Japheth, by the natives of Italy, Greece, Spain, Gaul, Russia, and Germany. No substantial good is gained by any one race placing itself above the others of mankind. The difference is, that the primitive Britons have preserved, in their tongue and other monuments, evidences of such descent, which their brethren, more exposed to fusions and conquests, have lost.

Moreover, modern science has found that, both in physical type and language, the Medes belong to this branch of the Japhetic family (Pritchard's 'Physical History.'). Japheth is the representative of what are called the Aryan nations; and in the Mosaic account of the common ancestry of Madai and Gomer is traced the origin of that affinity between the Indo-European languages, the Sanskrit, Persian, Greek, Latin, and German, which is one of the most remarkable philological discoveries of modern times.

It is now incontrovertibly established, also, that most of the inhabitants of Europe, and a great number of the most ancient and civilized tribes of Asia, speak, with greater or smaller modifications, the same language. 'At the first patriarchal settlement of Europe by the Japhetidae, there was one common Japhetic language, and seven dialects of that language. Allowing for fusions and amplification of vocabulary, there is much the same unity, with the same differences, now, arising not from Rome, but from a common origin long prior to the foundation of Rome. That primitive language, whether designated Japhetic, Aryan, Gomeric, or Keltic, is more ancient than that of Egypt or India, the Pharaonic or the Sanskrit. To this conclusion the most distinguished etymologists have, by independent inductions, already arrived.

It is impossible to get a step beyond the Japhetidae and their language; and we must leave it to Bunsen to reconcile this established fact of the comparatively very late appearance of this proto-European "family and their tongue" with his theory, that mankind had existed many thousands of years before in Egypt, using a language one-half of which, and the older half, was borrowed from this very Japhetic' (' Mosaic Ethnology').


Verse 6

And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.

The sons of Ham - (see on meaning of this name, Genesis 6:10; Genesis 9:18.) His name was given to Egypt, as appears both from the Biblical views (Psalms 78:51; Psalms 105:23; Psalms 106:22) and from monumental evidence; because the ancient name of that country was Chem or Chemi; and the conjecture that the appellation was derived from the patriarch is confirmed by the fact that the great body of the Hamites, with the exception of Canaan, established themselves, probably, under the personal superintendence of Ham in Egypt, whence colonies from time to time emigrated to overspread Africa. His family line is traced further than that of Japheth; for, excepting in one case, the second generation of all his sons is mentioned, and the third of one of them.

Cush - being named first, he may be presumed to have been the oldest son of Ham. He gave his name to a people as well as to a country, the exact situation of which, however, has been the subject of much discussion. Cush in our English version is rendered Ethiopia, a rendering which is supported by the circumstance that most, if not all the passages in the later books of the Old Testament, in which it is so translated, seem to point to that African region which lies south of Egypt, and that it is frequently conjoined with Mizraim, implying contiguity to that country. In the Egyptian monumental inscriptions, too, it is called Keesh (the modern Geez), which is very like Cush. On all these accounts it has been strenuously maintained that the Biblical Cush exclusively refers to a country in Africa. But conclusive evidence has been obtained that the word Cush was used anciently in a very loose and general acceptation, being applied to an Asiatic as well as an African Ethiopian.

Colonel Chesney ('Euphrates Expedition') found, in his historical researches into the antiquities of Babylonia, that a colony of Cushites had settled north of the Araxes (Jihon), in a district called by classical writers Cossoea or Cissia; a name the mention of which frequently occurs in connection with the territory north and north-eastward of that country, and which is still preserved in Shus, Sus, Susiana (Chuzistan).

Moses of Chorene speaks of some of the early Cushites being located eastward of Persia Proper; and the name of Chus was given to the whole tract lying between Chuzistan and the Caucasus. Other colonies of the Cushites traveled southwards, and occupied the most fertile districts of Arabia; and even in the present day, traces of the Cushite population in the district called Chuzistan (Susiana) may be discovered at the head of the Persian Gulf, and along the coasts, as far as the south-western extremity of the land, where the children of Ham crossed over into Africa, by the straits of Babel-mandeb, in quest of greater security and a larger territory. Further south still, the Cushites had settlements, because they (2 Chronicles 16:8) are in the Syriac version rendered Indians; and Cush (Isaiah 11:11; Zephaniah 3:10) is taken for India both by the Syriac and the Chaldee. In accordance with this is the Hindu tradition that Cush (Valmic) was one of the sons of Brahma, and progenitor of the Indian race (Sir William Jones, 'Origin of Families and Nations').

In short, the descendants of Cush fixed their residence in localities widely separate, and by their influence gave the character of a Cushite population to their various settlements, insomuch that Strabo describes the Ethiopians as a twofold people, whose possessions lay in a tract stretching from the rising to the setting of the sun. The name Cush, like the classical Ethiopian, came to be used for a territory whose boundaries were indeterminate except on the north; and under this name is comprised the whole tract of country from the Indus to the Euphrates, between the Nile on the west, and the Tigris on the east, (see the note at Genesis 2:1-25).

Mizraim. This evidently denotes a people or country, so called from the second son of Ham, whose name was probably Mizr, and who, accompanied by his father, is generally believed to have settled in Egypt. Hence, that country received the name of the "land of Ham," which Gesenius suggests might be the domestic or familiar name of the country (in the Coptic and Sahidic dialects, Chemi or Cheme, the name still given to it by the natives), and of "Mizraim," a dual termination, signifying either on both banks, or rather, perhaps, Lower and Upper Egypt-the first colonizers of Egypt. That country is still known generally throughout the East as the land of Mizr; but the word Mizraim has not yet been discovered in the monumental inscriptions. The settlements of Mizraim stretched from the Philistine territory through Egypt and along the northern coast of Africa to the west.

Phut - or, spelled variously as Put, Pul (Septuagint, Phoud). It is allowed on all hands that the name represents an African people, who, as Josephus says, occupied Mauritania, in which there was a river called Phut (Pliny, 'Natural History'); but, according to the Septuagint and Vulgate versions, they settled on the oases of the Lybian desert-these versions rendering the Hebrew word Phut, Lybia, in the several texts where it occurs (Isaiah 66:19; Jeremiah 46:9; Ezekiel 27:10; Ezekiel 30:5; Ezekiel 38:5; Nahum 3:9). The descendants of Phut, with some correlative tribes, particularly Ludim (Genesis 10:13), are found located in the Foota and Ludamar districts of the river Dhioliba, where they pursue the trade of traveling merchants. Poole ('Smith's Dictionary') doubts these identifications, as founded merely on similarity of sound, and has put forth another hypothesis, that Phut, from the frequent mention of it in the Bible as a dependency of Egypt, may be the Egyptian Set, "the land of the bow," i:e., Nubia.

Canaan - the fourth son of Ham. This name designates the country afterward known as Judea, now as Palestine. But whether he, as the progenitor of the original colonists, gave this appellation to the country, or the name of the country was applied to the founder, cannot be determined. The meaning of the word is, depressed (see the note at Genesis 9:18), and the name Canaan, therefore, is very descriptive of the most striking feature of the country. that of being low-lying; for, excepting the central hills, it consists of two great plains-the maritime lowland, the Shephela, on the west, and the still deeper valley of the Jordan, the Ghor, on the east.


Verse 7

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

The sons of Cush; Seba. Since Seba is associated (Isaiah 43:3) with Egypt and Ethiopia in such a manner as to indicate contiguity or affinity, this tribe is generally referred to Suba, a native name of the island of Meroe, on the borders of Egypt and Ethiopia.

Havilah - a district of Yemen, lying between the Arabian and Persian Gulfs. It was an extensive tract of country, populated by two tribes-the one of Cushite, the other of Shemite descent-but, from contiguity or by intermarriages, united into one. It was a fertile country; and the two original portions into which it was divided are probably traceable in the districts called Khawlans, which Niebuhr supposes to represent the ancient Havilahs; the one a town situated between Sanaa and Yemen, the other a district at a little distance, south-east of Sanaa (see the note at Genesis 11:11).

Sabtah. Winer and Bunsen identify Sabtah with Sabbatha, an important trading place on the southern coast of Arabia.

Raamah - [Septuagint, Regma.] This youngest son of Cush is sometimes associated with his sons Sheba and Dedan; at other times the two brothers are mentioned together (Ezekiel 27:21-23; Ezekiel 38:11-13). Ptolemy places the Rhabanites and the Sabeans, with their capital Marsuaba, in the present province of Sabbia, with a town of similar name. Strabo speaks of the Rhamanites as being near the Wady Duwahir; and according to Ptolemy, the present town of Rums, on the gulf in the northern part of the peninsula Awal Rhegma, is the same as Raamah.

Sheba and Dedan - both noted for their trade and opulence, were situated on the western districts of Arabia. The remarkable circumstance of two Shebas occurring in this genealogical chart has been illustrated by the discovery that there are two races of Arabs-one (the Joktanian) Semitic, the other (the Himyaric) Cushite or Ethiopian (Rawlinson's 'Bampton Lectures').

Dedan. The tribe which gave name to that region, and which was engaged in the pursuits of traveling merchants (Ezekiel 27:15), had their head-quarters in a district which lay along the shores of the Arabian Gulf (Red Sea); and in this name Bochart, followed by J.D. Michaelis and Gesenius, recognizes the important island of Daden, or Aden, in that sea. It is probable that this Cushite tribe formed intermarriages at a later period with the Keturahite tribe of Dedan, in the north of Arabia; and this theory, which was propounded by Winer, may serve to account for the fact, that the name Dedan is found in both lines. Cf. with this passage Genesis 25:3.


Verse 8

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

Cush begat Nimrod. Rawlinson, viewing this chart as having an exclusively national and geographical bearing, rejects as inconsistent with that character the notion of a biographical notice in the midst of such a document; and in the belief that the word Nimrod is the regular past-participle of an Assyrian verb, signifying 'those who are found,' or 'the settlers,' assigns its application to the collective body of original colonists of Babylonia. This interpretation, however, appears inadmissible, not only because, in introducing the name of Nimrod, the usual formula at the commencement of each family register is dropped, and a phraseology adopted which intimates that the ensuing narrative relates to an individual, but because the personal existence of the subject of it is plainly implied in the whole details. Nimrod is here expressly declared to have been a Cushite.

Bunsen, who maintained that the Biblical Cush uniformly points to Africa, regarded the reading in this text as corrupt [ Kuwsh (Hebrew #3568) being erroneously put for Kows], and consequently that Nimrod was a Cossoean -

i.e., belonged to a Scythian or Turanian tribe, which, issuing from the highland region east of Mesopotamia, came under his leadership to invade that country. But the remarks made above relative to the various settlements of the Cushites in Asia will show that there is no ground for scepticism as to the recorded genealogy of Nimrod; and there is the clearest historical evidence that the first Chaldean kingdom was established and governed by a Hamite dynasty.

According to the natural import of the words "Cush begat Nimrod," this person was the great-grandson of Ham, and the brother of those sons of Cush who are mentioned in the first clause of Genesis 10:7; he is introduced in a special manner, and out of the family order, in consequence of his extraordinary pre-eminence. Since there is, however, force in the objection which has been urged, that in the course of two generations after the deluge there could not have been a sufficient number of people to inhabit the cities erected, the words "Cush begat Nimrod," are probably used in a loose sense, merely to denote that he was a descendant of Cush.

The name "Nimrod" was, according to ancient usage, allusive to circumstances in the history of this person, and bestowed on him in his mature age, or after death. The Septuagint calls him Nebrood, from the Assyrian root nipru, meaning to pursue in the chase; whereas "Nimrod," if of Hebrew etymology, comes from a verb signifying to rebel, being by some considered as the past participle, and denoting a determined, an extremely impious rebel; and by others taken for the first person plural future, 'we will rebel,' that being, in their view, the watchword of the leader and his party in resisting the divine decree for dispersion over the earth. But this is purely conjectural, as it is impossible to say whether the name be of Cushite or of Semitic origin. Havernick considers it an appellative, synonymous with Belus, or Bel - i:e., lord; and therefore, instead of conveying the idea of 'rebel' to be taken in the wider sense of 'ruler-sole ruler' [ Turannos (Greek #5181)].

He began to be a mighty one in the earth. The phrase "began to be" is an idiomatic form of expression, very appropriate in this case, as it intimates the gradual progress of Nimrod in the acquisition of imperial power, (see the note at Genesis 6:1; Genesis 9:20, etc.) Classical antiquity, which assigned to Bel or Belus an Egyptian descent (Diodorus Siculus, 1: 28), this corroborates the Mosaic genealogy. Isolated notices similar to this episode of Nimrod are not unfrequently introduced into the Hebrew genealogies (1 Chronicles 11:7; 1 Chronicles 11:23; 1 Chronicles 4:22-23; 1 Chronicles 4:39-41). 'These analogies,' observes Delitzsch, 'overthrow the assertion that the verses before us have been interpolated by the Jahwist into the Elohistic document, since the use of the name Yahweh (Hebrew #3068) is no proof of difference of authorship.'


Verse 9

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

He was a mighty hunter before the Lord. In a desert or newly colonized country overrun by wild beasts there was ample scope for the sportsman's skill and daring; and Nimrod, as leader in the chase, acquired a wide-spread fame by the boldness of his exploits, as well as his dexterity in the use of ingenious and successful stratagems. The adjunct "before the Lord" - literally, in the presence of Yahweh-has been variously interpreted. [The Septuagint adds 'Elohiym (Hebrew #430) after Yahweh (Hebrew #3068).] By one class it is taken in a bad sense, as in the Septuagint [ enantion (Greek #1726) Kuriou (Greek #2962)], in the face, in spite of, against Yahweh. This also is the view of Josephus and the Jewish Targumists, who unite in regarding Nimrod as the originator of a systematic opposition to the true God. By another class it is believed to bear a good meaning, as implying favour and approval for employing the great powers which he had received as gifts from God in the performance of useful and important services to society, by clearing the country from ferocious beasts. But, since it is not the manner of the sacred historian to make reflections on the character of persons introduced into his narrative, the probability is, that there is no expression of moral approbation, and that the phrase, "before the Lord," is used only as a common Hebrew idiom, to heighten the personal qualities of Nimrod (cf. Jonah 3:3, where Nineveh is called "an exceeding great city" - literally, a great city before God).

Altogether, the Scripture account conveys the impression that he was a remarkable man, who, along with the possession of physical qualities such as extraordinary strength and stature, which procured him the epithet of the Hebrew gibowr (Hebrew #1368), the 'mighty' [the Septuagint, gigas, and Arabic, El Jabbar, the giant], was endowed also with great energy of mind. It is a laconic, but very significant account, and evidently implies that, like the apostles, who were first fishers, then fishers of men, Nimrod, from being a mighty hunter of beasts, became a mighty ruler of men, giving laws, maintaining military discipline, and establishing a political organization.

In short, he laid the foundation of his great authority and dominion in the same way as the Assyrian and Persian monarchs, at a later date, were trained to war and government, by hunting in the field. He impressed his own character upon that of his age; and, having lived at a period when the worship of departed heroes was introduced, his apotheosis took place immediately after his death, under the name of Baal (Bilu-nipru, the Hunter Lord, in the cuneiform inscriptions); and, according to the Eastern traditions, he was represented in the Zabian mythology as the constellation Orion with the belt, the dog, and the hare.


Verse 10

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

The beginning of his kingdom. Since kingdoms in the early ages of the World were very inconsiderable, consisting frequently but of a single town, with the surroundiing country, we may believe that Nimrod's kingdom was comprehended within narrow limits, and that the cities here mentioned were all situated to the south at equal, at least not remote, distances from each other. Accordingly, the localities with which they have been identified by recent researches lie in the plain between the Euphrates and the Tigris. [ Ree'shiyt (Hebrew #7225), "beginning," if applied to Babel only, may signify that it was the first in respect to dignity and importance as well as to time, the chief city, the capital. But it is more probable that it refers to the four cities, as comprising the territory of which Nimrod's kingdom was at first composed.]

Babel (see the note at Genesis 11:9) was doubtless the original of the imperial city Babylon, which retains the same name, with the addition of a Greek termination. Its traditional site was at the ruins near Hillah, fifteen miles east of Birs Nimroud.

Erech , [Septuagint, Horech] - the Huruk of the cuneiform lists, has been identified with the Orchoe of the classics, the Urka, or Warka, or Irak of modern times. It is situated about four miles from the nearest point on the east or left bank of the Euphrates, distant south-east from Babel (Hillah) about from 80 to 110 miles, as variously estimated, and distinguished by the magnitude and importance of its remains. These comprise a mass of immense mounds, extending over a circular area of six miles, and encompassed by an earthen rampart, rising in some places to the height of 40 feet. These mounds, which are called El Assayah, the place of Pebbles, are supposed to cover the debris of the ancient city, whose greatness may be traced by the ruins of brick buildings, heaps of broken pottery, and grave-site relics, for three miles beyond the rampart.

Accad - [Septuagint, Archad]. (It is written Accar, or Akar by eminent scholars.) It is generally supposed to be the Sittace of the Greeks, the Akkerkuf of modern times, about nine miles from the Euphrates, where it approaches nearest the Tigris, about 55 miles north and 13 miles west from Babel. In the neighbourhood is a primitive monument, 125 feet in height and 400 feet in circumference at the base, called by the Arabs Tel Nimroud, and by the Turks Nimroud Tepasse-both signifying the Hill of Nimroud, and covering a mass of ruins. Although, however, the prevailing opinion has long been to assign the site of Accad to Sittace, as containing some elements of the ancient name. Sir H. Rawlinson is strongly inclined to prefer placing it at Sinkhara, 15 miles south-east of Warka, on the ground that its true form, Sikkara, comprehends all the radical letters of the name Accar, with the prefix of a sibilant, which is frequent in proper names both in the Hebrew and Aramaean languages.

Calneh - or Canneh (Ezekiel 27:23). The locale of this city was long fixed by the concurrent authorities of ancient and modern writers at Ctesiphon, opposite to Seleucia, on the banks of the Tigris, about 18 miles below Baghdad, chiefly on account of resemblance to the name of a province thereabout called Chalonites. Rawlinson, and more particularly Loftus ('Researches in Chaldea and Susiana') believe the true site of Calneh to be at Niffer, about 56 miles south-east by east of Babylon. It is a slightly altered form of the ancient name which, in the cuneiform tablets, is read Nipur, and in the Talmud, Nopher. 'The Chaldean god Anu-our Scriptural Noah-was worshipped there' says Rawlnson, 'under the form of the fish god Oannes; and his worship must have been tolerably early introduced into that city ere it could have acquired by the time of Moses the appellation of Calneh (chalanee in the Septuagint translation), which is clearly Kal-Ana-the Fort of Ana, or Anu.'

These four cities were all situated "in the land of Shinar" - i:e., Lower Babylonia. Their position, as defined, shows how far 'the beginning of Nimrod's kingdom' extended; because the space from Erech in the south to Accad in the north formed a territorial line of about one hundred and thirty miles. The invasion of Shinar by this Cushite conqueror was followed by more serious and lasting consequences than the terror or expulsion of the Shemite population. It changed the existing aspect of the ancient world insomuch that history from that time appeared in an entirely new phase; because "the beginning of his kingdom" was founded on the overthrow of the old natural and hereditary system of patriarchal government, by converting society into a state. He established a monarchical rule, which, in process of time, seems to have assumed the character of a pure despotism.


Verse 11

Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah,

Out of that land went forth Asshur. Our translators, in this rendering of the original, have followed the Septuagint and Vulgate; but it appears an abrupt and strange diversion of the course of the narrative to introduce among the descendants of Ham a notice of a son of Shem, which would come more appropriately in Genesis 10:22; and therefore the weight of critical opinion preponderates in favour of the marginal reading-namely, 'Out of that land he (Nimrod) went forth into Assyria.' Internal evidence strongly supports this translation; and although there is a difficulty connected with the grammatical construction, Asshur not having the appended sign of motion, yet, since there are other instances of a similar anomaly in the sacred history (1 Kings 11:17; 2 Kings 15:14), the omission of the local affix should not prevent our adoption of a version which the tenor of the context obviously requires, especially since the monumental inscriptions have clearly established the fact, that the earliest rulers of Assyria were not of Shemite, but Hamite descent (cf. Micah 5:6). The Hamites were the earliest and chief movers in the great work of social organization. Besides, the Arab tradition is, that Asshur, or Athur was lieutenant of Nimrod (Layard).

Builded Nineveh - the habitation of Nin, an Assyrian deity. This city was situated on the eastern bank of the Tigris, a little above the point of confluence of the greater Zab with that river, opposite to Mosul, which now stands on the western bank. And the city Rehoboth - literally, streets of a city; or, streets, a city; and hence, Jerome ('Quaest. in Genes.') considers it as referring to Nineveh. The Septuagint has teen Rooobooth polin-the city Rehoboth. Various sites have been chosen as representing Rehoboth; but strong objections have been urged against many of them. The most probable is one suggested by Colonel Chesney, who says that, 'on the right bank of the Euphrates, at the north-western extremity of the plain of Shinar, and three and a half miles south-west of the town of Mayadin, are extensive ruins, around a castle, still bearing the name of Rehoboth.'

Calah - or Halah (2 Kings 17:6). There is every reason to believe that the site of Calah is now occupied by the ruins of Nimrod, about twenty miles direct south from Nineveh.


Verse 12

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

And Resen , [Septuagint, Dasee] - supposed to be represented by Kileh-Shergat, or by Selamiyeh, both of which ruins belong to the proto-Assyrian period. Bochart thought it the Larissa of Xenophon. But that idea is now exploded.

The same ... a great city. This is commonly supposed to refer to Resen. But Knobel and other recent critics think it includes all the four as constituting Nineveh. Sir H. Rawlinson considers ('Outlines of Assyrian History') that 'the names of these eight primeval cities are not intended to denote capitals then actually built, and so named, but rather to point out the localities where the first colonies were established, by titles which became famous under the empire, and which were thus alone familiar to the Jews.' There is in the Mosaic account of them a noticeable difference of phraseology.

Thus, in the record of the first four it is not asserted that Nimrod was the actual founder, but rather conveys the impression that he, with his followers, entered upon the occupation of cities previously established. But when the increasing population of his kingdom induced him to look out for a larger territory, he "built," or laid the foundation of other cities in Assyria, where the inhabitants, though necessarily ruled by his deputies, were placed under the same common form of government.

The record of Nimrod and his achievements forms an insulated portion of this chapter; and therefore its position does not determine the era at which he flourished. Whether he was a contemporary with the builders of the town and tower of Babel, and was the prime instigator and leader in that impious project, cannot, though it be the common opinion, be ascertained by any data found in Scripture; and the light reflected by the cuneiform monuments would seem to point to a date considerably posterior to the dispersion at Babel. Into this interesting but wide field of illustration our limits forbid our entering, and we take leave of the subject with the remark, that there is certain evidence of the dynasty of Nimrod-which comprised eleven sovereigns-having reigned for a period of more than two centuries. 'It is curious,' says Professor Rawlinson ('Ancient Monarchies') 'that in Assyria, as in early Chaldea, there is a special pre-eminence of four cities, as afterward, in the flourishing periods of the empire, there were actually four capitals. On the whole, however, it is more probable that we have here a mistranslation (which is corrected in the margin), and that three cities only are ascribed by Moses to the great patriarch.'

A conjecture is thrown out by Knobel, Delitzsch, Ewald, etc., that the four cities here enumerated form the angles of the parallelogram described by Layard as comprising the ruins of ancient Nineveh;-Nimrud, Kouyunjik, Khorsabad, and Karamles, corresponding with the sixty miles of the geographer; and the three days' journey of Jonah. But the soundness of this conjecture is doubted by Professor Rawlinson, who adduces various historycal, as well as topographical, arguments against it ('Ancient Mon.,' vol. 1:, p. 312, 313).


Verse 13

And Mizraim begat Ludim, and Anamim, and Lehabim, and Naphtuhim,

Mizraim begat Ludim. These are mentioned by Jeremiah 46:19, and associated by Ezekiel 30:5, with Cush and Phut, Egypt, Ethiopia, and Lybia. Thus they appear a distinct, though not a distinguished tribe in the mixed mass of the Egyptian nation.

Anamim - [Septuagint, Enemetieim.] From the very slight resemblance, says Miss Corbaux, 'between this and the royal family name Anememha, recurring in the 11th and 12th dynasties of Manetho, some incline to recognize in this tribe the original stock of the Thebans. But it is very doubtful.'

Lehabim - Lubims, the Lebu of the Egyptian monuments, are mentioned in 2 Chronicles 12:3; 2 Chronicles 16:8; Nahum 3:9; Daniel 11:43, and gave their name to Lybia.

Naphtuhim - [Septuagint, Nephthaleim.] This name, being connected with Ptah, signifies the worshippers of Ptah, and therefore unmistakably refers to the Memphites, whose capital was called Na-Ptah, the habitation of Ptah, contracted by Isaiah into Noph. Bochart, however, considers this name as referring to Nephthis), the northern coastline of Egypt (Delitzsch).


Verse 14

And Pathrusim, and Casluhim, (out of whom came Philistim,) and Caphtorim.

Pathrusim - [Septuagint, Patrosoonieim.] Pathros is the Egyptian name for the south, and hence, the Thebaid (Upper Egypt) was sometimes called Nomos Phaturites. The Pathrusim, therefore, means the people whose settlement was in Upper Egypt (Isaiah 11:11; Jeremiah 44:1; Jeremiah 44:15; Ezekiel 29:14; Ezekiel 30:14).

Casluhim - [Septuagint, Chasmoonieim.] Bochart supposes the reference is to the Colchians, who, though remote, were of Egyptian origin. But Knobel takes Casluhim to denote the desert country which separated the Delta of Egypt from Palestine.

(Out of whom came Philistim) , [Septuagint, Phulistieim] - i:e., emigrants (cf. Jeremiah 47:4; Amos 9:7); originally a Casluhian colony: they were reinforced by intermixture with a Caphtorite tribe. Caphtorim , [Septuagint, Gaphthorieim] - probably the Copts, a people who occupied Lower Egypt (Daniel 2:23; Jeremiah 47:4; Amos 9:7), called also Cherethites (1 Samuel 30:14; Ezekiel 25:16; Zephaniah 2:5); hence, some consider Caphtorim-Cretans from Crete, since Caphtor is thought to signify that island (Jeremiah 47:4). But here it must be confined to Egypt, and refers to the eastern part of the Delta-namely, the land of Goshen. The Philistines were Egyptian exiles, who, when expelled by Amosis, sought refuge in Palestine among their clansmen settled in the southern parts of that country. These were probably the names of the primitive homes or districts of Egypt, which, as Josephus informs us, were obliterated in the Ethiopian war ('Antiquities,' 1:6).

The historian having described Babel-the extreme eastern, and Egypt, or Ethiopia-the extreme western settlement of the Hamites, proceeds to fill up his ethnographical map by the enumeration of the Canaanite tribes who populated the intermediate regions.


Verse 15

And Canaan begat Sidon his firstborn, and Heth,

Canaan begat Sidon his first-born , [Hebrew, Tsiydon (Hebrew #6721)] - Zidon, or Tsidon, now Saida. In this genealogical list it stands for the name of a man, as is evident from its being coupled with an adjective masculine, whereas when it designates the town it is feminine. It signifies fishing, fishery, fisherman [whence the Alieus of Philo of Byblus], and was probably bestowed at first with reference to the favourite employment of Canaan's oldest son, whose descendants, being also addicted to nautical pursuits, made choice of a place for their residence, noted for the abundance of its fish, and which became the future site of the town Sidon, situated on the northern slope of a rocky promontory, jutting out for a few hundred yards into the sea.

The original founder probably gave the name to the place-a conjecture which may serve to reconcile the statement of Justin (18: 3), that the town derived its appellation from its fishery, with the declaration of Josephus ('Antiquities,' 1: 6:, sec. 2), that it was called after Canaan's first-born. Sidon alone is mentioned (cf. Genesis 49:13), because Tyrus did not rise to greatness until the time of Joshua (Joshua 11:8; Joshua 19:28), and the mention of it in this passage was probably owing to its early pre-eminence among the cities of Phoenicia, although in point of time it was preceded by Berytus and Byblos, which are mentioned by Sanchoniathon before it. It once gave name to the whole surrounding territory, which was called 'the great plain of Sidon' (Josephus, 'Antiquities,' 6: 3, sec. 1).

Heth , [Hebrew, Cheet (Hebrew #2845); Septuagint, Chet]. Gesenius derives the name from a Hebrew root denoting terror or dread, probably from the fierce, warlike character in which the descendants of Heth afterward appear; but more probably it originated, like the other tribes enumerated in this passage, in some local allusion. Heth was the father of the Hittites, who are called Benecheth-`sons' or 'children' of Heth (Genesis 23:3; Genesis 23:5; Genesis 23:7; Genesis 23:10; Genesis 23:16; Genesis 23:18; Genesis 23:20; Genesis 25:10; Genesis 49:32; Genesis 26:34; Genesis 27:46; Genesis 28:1; Genesis 28:8). In the original, as well as in the English version, Sidon and Heth appear as personal, not national names, while those that follow are gentilic nouns in the singular. They are mentioned by their tribe names. The Septuagint, however, considers the second name, Heth, as gentile [ton Chettaion].

The sacred record does not mention any special territory as assigned to the Hittites. The Hittites at first occupied the lands west of the Sea of Chinneroth (Lake of Tiberius) to the Mediterranean coast. A large colony of them, in Abraham's time, seems to have formed a permanent settlement in the vicinity of Hebron, the south of Palestine-a sub-tribe called Amorite (Genesis 14:13). But they afterward became so numerous and powerful that they are frequently mentioned as representing all the Canaanites (Joshua 1:4; 2 Kings 7:6). They figure prominently in the Egyptian monuments, under the name of Khet, or Kheta (having the same radicals as Hittites), as formidable opponents of the Egyptian monarchs of the 18th and 19th dynasties in their invasions of Syria. (See further the note at Genesis 10:18.)


Verse 16

And the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite,

The Jebusite , [Hebrew, Y


Verse 17

And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite,

The Hivite - [ ha-Chiwiy (Hebrew #2340), singular; Septuagint, ton Euaion, denoting nomadic villagers]. They are not mentioned among the Canaanite tribes whose land was promised to Abraham in the Hebrew text (Genesis 15:19), though they stand in the Septuagint and Samaritan versions of that passage. Some have supposed that they were intended by the Kadmonites (children of the East) there specified. But that name is too vague and general. A more likely conjecture has been recently suggested, that they were the same as the Avvim-an early, but not aboriginal tribe of Canaan-settled on the south-west corner of the Shephela, or seacoast. They dwelt in Bedouin villages, 'such as are generally formed of tent-cloths, spread over stone walls' (Stanley). But the Hivites were a numerous tribe, which had many settlements near Shechem (Genesis 34:1-31; Genesis 48:22; Joshua 9:7), and also in the base of Lebanon and Hermon (Joshua 11:3; Judges 3:3).

Arkite , [ ha-`Arqiy (Hebrew #6208); Septuagint, ton Aroukaion] - the people of Arca or Arce, a city of Phoenicia, not far from Tripolis. Its ruins are still visible at Tel Arka (Robinson's 'Researches in Palestine,' vol. 3:, p. 183; Burckhardt, 'Syria').

The Sinite , [Hebrew, ha-Ciyniy (Hebrew #5513); Septuagint, ton Asennaion] - a tribe of Canaanites in the northern parts of the Lebanon region, occupying the highland district of Jebal Sunnin. There are several names in that district that bear a resemblance to the ancient name, partiularly a mountain fortress called, Sinna (Strabo, 16:), and a village named Syn (Jerome, 'Quaestiones in Genesin').


Verse 18

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

The Arvadite , [Hebrew, haa-'Arwaadiy (Hebrew #721); Septuagint, ton Aradion; Josephus, Aroudaion] - Arvad, or Arphad (2 Kings 19:13; Ezekiel 27:8; Ezekiel 27:11). The seat of the Arvad city was an island north of Tyre, about three miles from the coast of Phoenicia, above the embouchure of the river Eleutherus (Nahr el Kebir), called by the Greeks and Romans Aradus, now Ruad; pronounced by the Arabs as Rwad. A city was built on it, according to Strabo, by Sidonian exiles. Considerable portions of the very ancient walls remain, and, from the size of the stones, these walls must have been prodigiously strong.

The Zemarite - [Hebrew, ha-Ts


Verse 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.

The border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza. This was the western boundary of Canaan-the coastline. "Sidon (see the note at Genesis 10:15), as thou comest to Gerar" an idiomatic phrase used to denote the situation of one place as lying in the line of another more remote (cf. Genesis 10:30; Genesis 13:10; Genesis 25:18).

"Gaza" [Hebrew, `Azaah (Hebrew #5804)] - 'the strong,' now Guzzeh, was the most southwestern city of Canaan, the last inhabited place on the confines of the desert on the southern journey from Phoenicia to Egypt. Being a border town, it was exposed to great vicissitudes during the frequent wars between the kings of the north and the south, and therefore it was, from the earliest times, a fortified place, as its name imports. "Gerar," near Beersheba (see the note at Genesis 20:1).

As thou goest, unto Sodom ... even unto Lasha. "As thou goest" - i:e., in the direction of "Lasha." This was, according to Jerome, Callirrhoe (beautiful spring), on the east of the Dead Sea, in Wady Serka Main; but far more probably, as Havernick remarks, the town (Joshua 19:47) Leshem; or (Judges 18:7; Judges 18:29) Laish, afterward called Dan, near the sources of the Jordan. The eastern boundary is here described by a line drawn from the western coast of the Dead Sea and along the course of the Jordan. All the territory included within these eastern and western limits (the southern are not defined) was 'counted to the Canaanite' (Joshua 13:3).


Verse 20

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

These are the sons of Ham, after their families ... tongues ... countries, and ... nations. Recent researches have furnished unexpected, but most interesting and important illustrations of this statement. The Cushite inhabitants of Southern Babylonia are said by Sir H. Rawlinson 'to have been of a cognate race with the primitive colonists of Arabia and the African Ethiopia;' and this view of their common origin he proves by the identity of their system of writing, which has the closest affinity with that of Egypt; by their language, which is unquestionably Cushite or Ethiopian; by the traditions of Babylon and Assyria, which point to an early connection between Ethiopia, Southern Arabia, and the cities of the Lower Euphrates; and by the name of Nimrod being the eponym of the Chaldean race, while those of the other sons of Cush mark the line of colonization along the southern and eastern shores of the Arabian peninsula, from the Red Sea to the mouth of the Euphrates (Rawlinson, 'Herodotus' 1:, p. 442) The same indefatigable ethnologist has established the Hamitic descent of the Canaanites, whom Bunsen pronounced to be Semites. 'All the Canaanites,' he says, 'were, I am satisfied, Scyths; and the inhabitants of Syria retained their distinctive ethnic character until quite a late period of history. According to the inscriptions, the Kheta, or Khatta - i:e., the Hittites-were the dominant Scythic race from the earliest times, and they gave way very slowly before the Aramaeans, Jews, and Phoenicians, who were the only extensive Semitic immigrants' ('Asiatic Journal,' 15:, p. 230).

Then as to Egypt, it is remarkable that in this list of Ham's descendants, Cush, representing Ethiopia, is first mentioned, and secondly Mizraim (the Old Egyptians) - a name which is put in the dual form (see the note at Genesis 10:6), to designate the two divisions of the Nile valley; and although Knobel rejects this reference to Upper and Lower Egypt, founding on Isaiah 11:11, where Pathros, Upper Egypt, seems to be separated from Mizraim, the lower part of the country, the use of the Hebrew dual in other analogous instances, as Jerusalem, warrants adherence to the common view, which considers Egypt as one.

The form of the original name, then, indicates that 'all the earliest layers of population, as well below the frontier island of Elephantine as throughout the present Nubia and Ethiopia, were originally homogeneous-a fact which is corroborated by Egyptian history, and in no wise inconsistent with modern discoveries. Moreover, with regard to the Coptic, or, with slight corrections, the Old Egyptian language, which Bunsen asserted to have its roots in the Hebrew - i:e., to be a Semitic language-it has been demonstrated to be connected with the Hamite or Scythic tongues. Uhlemann, Renan, and Jarrett of Cambridge have shown that instead of a relationship being traceable between Coptic and Hebrew, they belong to two distinct classes of languages' (Hardwick, 'Christ and other Masters,' vol. 2:, p. 439). 'It is impossible to say at what exact time the form of speech known as Hamitic originated. Probably its rise preceded the invention of letters; and there are reasons for assigning it to Egypt, where Ham took up his abode. From the Egyptians, the children of Mizraim, it naturally spread to the other Hamitic races-then perhaps dwelling in that land-and by them was carried in one line to Ethiopia, Southern Arabia, Babylonia, Susiana, and the adjoining coast; in another, to Philistia, Zidon, Tyre, and the country of the Hittites' (Rawlinson's 'Herodotus,' vol. 1:, Appendix).

Thus, the latest linguistic enquiries, by demonstrating that there was an ethnic connection between the Ethiopians, Egyptians, Canaanites, Southern Arabians, and the Chaldeans of Lower Babylonia, have led to a result in exact accordance with this Mosaic table, which declares Cush, Mizraim, and Canaan-the founders of these nations-to have been brothers.


Verse 21

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

Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber. "Father" must be taken here in a general sense for "ancestor;" and "all the children of Eber," viewed literally, would include the descendants of Joktan as well as of Peleg; nay, all the posterity of Peleg, also Ishmael and Esau, as well as the Arabs and Edomites; Jacob and the Israelites. It is better not to consider Eber here as a patronymic, but a preposition, 'beyond,' on 'the other side' - i:e., of the Euphrates. His descendants pushed their wanderings to the banks of the Euphrates, but no further. Shem was the father of all these who were established on the other side of the river. This view sustains the ethnological character of this chart. At the same time it must be admitted that the general opinion has long been to consider that it was the purpose of the sacred historian to indicate a connection between Shem, the common ancestor, and a particular tribe of his descendants through Eber, he being selected for notice as the last of the patriarchs previous to the separation of mankind into nationalities, and one branch of his descendants being of special interest.

The brother of Japheth the elder. The true rendering is, 'the oldest brother of Japheth' (cf. Judges 1:13; Judges 9:5). Von Bohlen (in his 'Illustrations of Genesis,' the English edition, vol. 2:, pp. 245-6), renders the verse thus: 'But sons were also born unto Shem, the elder brother of Japheth, who is the father of all the sons of Eber.' This is a total misrepresentation of the meaning of the passage [ '


Verse 22

The children of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram.

Elam - Elymais, Susiana, the name of a Persian province, of which the capital was Susa. The word is used in the early books of Scripture for Persia.

Asshur = Assyria.

Arphaxad. According to Bochart, it was the province [Arrapachitis] Arrapachitis in Northern Assyria, near Armenia.

Lud = the Lydians of Asia-Minor. The Egyptian monuments represent a powerful nation of Shemite type, called Luden, residing not far from Mesopotamia.

Aram - the highland, as Canaan was the sunk, depressed land. This name was applied to a very extensive district of country, because there is generally another descriptive word added to define it, as Aram Damesk (2 Samuel 8:5); Aram Naharayim (Genesis 24:10); Padan-aram (Genesis 25:20). It included not only Mesopotamia, but a part of Northern Syria. The Septuagint here adds, 'and Cainan,' as the youngest son of Shem.


Verse 23

And the children of Aram; Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Mash.

The children of Aram; Uz - Septuagint renders it Ausitis (Job 1:15; Job 1:17): a district at the northern extremity of the Arabian desert, between Palestine, Idumea, and the Euphrates. Josephus and others think that Uz was the founder of Damascus (see the note at Genesis 14:5).

Hul - the second son of Aram, settled on the rivers of Hermon, and gave his name to the land of Huleh, near the source of the Jordan.

Gether - [Septuagint, Gater].

And Mash , (cf. 1 Chronicles 1:17, Meshech) - [Septuagint, Mosoch] settled in some parts of Mesopotamia. Bochart and Gesenius consider Mons Masius, above Nisibis, derived its name from Mash.


Verse 24

And Arphaxad begat Salah; and Salah begat Eber.

Arphaxad begat Salah - Shelah (1 Chronicles 1:18) [Hebrew, shelach (Hebrew #7974)], a shoot, implying that this branch of the family perhaps extended beyond the original settlement in Assyria. (See the note at Genesis 11:12.)

Salah begat Eber , [Hebrew, `Eeber (Hebrew #5677) - a name quite different from Cheebeer] (Genesis 46:17; Judges 4:11; Judges 4:17; Judges 5:24). But this distinction has been overlooked by the translators of the New Testament (Luke 3:35). There is no special distinction attached to Eber. He is only a link in the genealogical chain. The Hebrews never rested on him as their progenitor; and, on the contrary, he is mentioned as the common ancestor of that people and the Arabians.


Verse 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. Peleg , [Septuagint, phaleg] - division.

For in his days the earth was divided. The natural view of these words implies a reference to a formal division of the earth, which, as has been thought, from several passages of Scripture (Deuteronomy 32:8; Acts 17:24-26), as well as from the probability of the thing itself, was made by Noah, acting under divine impulse, into three partitions, one of which was appropriated to each of his three sons. According to the Hebrew chronology, this authoritative distribution took place about a century after the deluge, most probably at the birth of Peleg, and his name was a memorial of that event. Other interpretations have been given of this passage. Some, rendering the words, 'the earth was cut into canals' [ palgeey (Hebrew #6388)] (Psalms 1:3; Psalms 23:2; Proverbs 5:16; Proverbs 21:1), consider that the introduction of canals, by which that part of the world was afterward so much intersected, then first took place.

'The Hebrew verb to cleave, to divide water-courses' (Job 38:25), says Cyril Graham, 'refers rather to a mechanical division of land, such as plowing or cutting, than to a political division. We have no doubt that this notice, short as it is, is a record of the first cutting of some of those canals which are found in such numbers between the Tigris and the Euphrates; and the elder son of Eber, who was probably a man of great consequence in the country, and had large possessions, devised that mode of improving the land, whence he was surnamed a divider, or, strictly, in the modern English term, 'navvie.' We do not know whether this has ever been pointed out before; but we believe that what we are stating is philologically correct' ('Cambridge Essays,' 1858).

Others are of opinion that extensive landslips occurred-the sea bursting through many parts of the solid land and forming straits and gulfs, or separating continents, and that it was to such breaches 'the dividing of the earth' refers.

A third class suppose that the allusion is not to the general dispersion of Noah's descendants, but to a division in Eber's family-the Joktanidoe, leaving the paternal settlement in Mesopotamia, to which the elder branch adhered, migrated into Southern Arabia (old Arabia Felix; the Yemen). This view would necessitate the bestowment of the name Peleg at an advanced period of his life. The common interpretation of the passage is preferable to any of these. The posterity of Peleg are neither forgotten nor overlooked, but reserved to the next chapter.

Joktan , [Septuagint, Iektan] - called by the Arabs Yuktan, or Kahtan, not, as is commonly supposed, by a corruption of the original name, but on account of his sufferings from drought (Poole). He was the father of all the primitive tribes of Arabia.


Verse 26

And Joktan begat Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazar-maveth, and Jerah,

Almodad - the progenitor of an Arab tribe whose name is preserved in Mudad, or El-Mudad; a person famous in Arabian history as chief of the Joktanite tribe Jurhum, in Southeastern Arabia.

Sheleph - [the Saleph of the Greek geographer Ptolemy; the Salfie, or Salafiyeh, of Niebuhr, who describes it Sheleph - [the Saleph of the Greek geographer Ptolemy; the Salfie, or Salafiyeh, of Niebuhr, who describes it as an extensive district of Yemen]. The primeval name has been transmitted by the Arab tribe Beni Sulaf.

Hazormaveth - the court of death: in reference to its unhealthy climate. [Septuagint, ton Sarmooth; Vulgate, Asarmoth; Pliny, Adramitae, or Chadramitae; Ptolemy, Chatramitae-the modern Hadramawt; on the shores of the Indian Ocean.] This tribe has for ages been celebrated, not only for its bold, energetic character, but for its trade-in pursuing which it is favoured by its nearness to the coast and the neighbourhood of the spice-hills of Shichr with the harbours, Cane Emporium and Lyagrum Promontorium, at equal distances from Africa and India.

Jerah , [Septuagint, Iarach]. The settlement of this tribe is probably to be identified with the fortress of Gerakh, in the Nejd.


Verse 27

And Hadoram, and Uzal, and Diklah,

Hadoram , [Septuagint, Hodorra]. The identification of this tribe with a particular locality is uncertain.

Uzal , [Septuatint, Aibeel]. Golius ('Lex. Arab.') says, the ancient name was Azal, now Sanaa, south-west of Mareb, the capital city of Yemen, which, for size and beauty of situation, rivals Damascus in Syria,

Diklah - a palm-tree; possibly Dakalah, a place distinguished by its palm groves. The south-eastern part of Arabia, which was called Bahrein, was celebrated for dates.


Verse 28

And Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba,

Obal - or Ebal (1 Chronicles 1:22), supposed by Bochart to be identified with the Avalitae, a troglodyte tribe, who, emigrating from East Africa, settled in Southern Arabia, and gave name to the Sinus Avalites (Pliny, 'Natural History,' 6:34). But there is no certainty in this identification.

Abimael. Bochart thinks the name is preserved in that of Mali (Ptolemy); but nothing is now known of them.

Sheba , [Septuagint, Saba]. He is universally regarded as the founder of the Sabaean kingdom in Yemen, the Capital of which is variously called Mariaba by Eratosthenes, Sabatha by Ptolemy, Mareb and Sabur by the Arabians. The Arabian queen who visited Solomon came from this kingdom, which was in the south (Matthew 12:42), and the presents she brought corresponded with the products of this country.


Verse 29

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

Ophir. All the other sons of Joktan having settled in the south of Arabia, Ophir must be looked for in the same quarter, not in India or Ceylon. But whether, as Foster says it is a town and district (Ofer, in D'Anville's map) in the eastern part of the mountain of Oman, not far from the river of that name, or whether, according to Niebuhr, it is the principal port of the Sabaeans, situated between Aden and Dafar (Zafar), it is impossible, in the present state of knowledge, to determine.

Havilah - (see the note at Genesis 10:7.)

Jobab. The last son of Joktan is not identified with any Arab tribe; but it is probable that they are to be found in the Ioobaritai of Ptolemy, whom Bochart, followed by Gesenius, considers should be read as Ioobabitai.


Verse 30

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

The genealogy of Joktan is traced to the fifth generation-further than in any instance in this chapter-and the whole family of Joktan, consisting of thirteen sons, are enumerated.

Their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest, unto Sephar, a mount of the east. "Sephar" still retains its old name. It is the mountain Sabber in Yemen, near the town Taas, and upon it grow, as the Arabians think, all the spices and vegetable productions in the world. Mesha, though unknown, must be looked for in the northeast of Arabia. Gesenius takes it to be Mesene, on the Persian Gulf, near Bassorah: and Knobel, to be the valley of Bisha, or Beishe, in the north of Yemen. Ptolemy places the Catanites to the south of the mountain of Zametas - i:e., in the south-east of Nejd; and, according to Burckhardt, this very district is still used every season by various sections of the Beni Kahtan as pasture land, while the great body of them inhabit the fertile hills and dales of Yemen. Saadias translates the clause, 'from Mecca until you come to Medina.' Gesenius separates "Sephar" from 'a mountain of the East,' translating thus: 'from Mesha even unto Sephar (and beyond, even) unto the mountains of Arabia' - i:e., the chain running across the middle of Arabia, from the vicinity of Mecca and Medina to the Persian Gulf, called the Nejd highlands.


Verse 31

These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations.

These are the sons of Shem. Thus, according to the preceding exposition, the Semitic nations (not to speak of the Hebrews in Palestine) were located along the banks of the Euphrates and the Tigris, upon the highlands of Assyria, the plains of Babylonia, in Syria and Arabia, as far as the shores of the Persian Gulf. The people spoke what are known as the Semitic languages; and although the Cushite wanderers from Africa spread over the whole of Southern Asia, and especially in the north of Arabia, where the Joktanidae were originally settled, they mingled with the Shemites, and adopted a common language.


Verse 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.

These are the families of the sons of Noah after their generations, in their nations. The tendency of a certain class of critics in the present day is to throw ridicule on most of these names as fabulous-to regard them as similar to the ethnographic mythology of the Greeks, in which the individual is epically introduced for the people (Havernick); or as holding the same place in the primitive traditions of the Jews as the myths relating to Romulus and Remus in the early history of Rome. But the researches of travelers and historical inquirers have furnished ample data to prove that these names, as far as has been ascertained, are not only authentic, but are really the names of men, or of tribes of men, who once existed. There are difficulties, it must be admitted; but as in the geography of these countries, so in the names of individuals and tribes, every additional ray of light thrown upon them shows that they have a real value and great importance.

Sir H. Rawlinson says ('Asiatic Society's Journal'), 'The Toldoth Beni Noah is undoubtedly the most authentic record we possess for the affiliation of those branches of the human race which sprang from the triple stock of the Noachidae. It is probably of the very greatest antiquity; and instead of drawing ethnological inferences from the linguistic indications of a very early age, it will be far safer to follow in these early times the general scheme of ethnic affiliation which is given in the tenth chapter of Genesis.'

This register of the early colonization of the world is both interesting and vastly important. It was not drawn up, as has been alleged, by some Hebrew writer, to uphold the glory of his own countrymen by tracing their descent from Shem, nor to gratify his national hatred to the Canaanites, by placing them falsely in the genealogy of Ham. There is not discoverable throughout any appearance either of sympathy on one side or prejudice on the other. It is simply a historical view of the genesis of the nations as it existed at the time it was written, including all but such tribes as were either insignificant and obscure, or did not come within the horizon of the historian, such as the Rephaim, Avvim, etc. And the source whence it was drawn was probably patriarchal tradition, together with later accessions, which might have been obtained from the extensive knowledge of foreign nations, which, as appears from the monuments, was possessed in Egypt-all of which were embodied in this record under the superintendence and direction of the Spirit of inspiration.

It has been objected to on various grounds. Ewald in particular has pronounced it not only a dislocation of the sacred history, its proper position in the course of time and events being at the end of Genesis 11:9, but an unreliable record, because, in Genesis 10:29, and in other parts, it exhibits the state of geographical knowledge which existed not in the days of the paulo-postdiluvian patriarchs, but in the later age of Solomon. Both of those objections, however, are groundless; for, as a contribution to general history, it was properly interjected in this place before the narrative assumed the continuous form of a particular biography.

Moreover, while a genealogical table, constructed in the advanced times of the Hebrew monarchy, could have been little more than a work of invention or conjecture, the repetition of this register in 1 Chronicles 1:1-54 furnishes the strongest testimony to its exact truth. Still further, it bears internal evidence of being a very ancient document; because it not only speaks of Magog as a nation in actual existence, whereas Ezekiel, Ezekiel 38:1-23; Ezekiel 39:1-29, uses the term for an ideal people; of Tiras, which is not mentioned in any of the later Scriptures; of Nineveh, not as the "exceeding great city" which it afterward became; and of Sidon, before Tyre was in existence; but by a statement in Genesis 10:19 it fixes the date of its original compilation at an early period in the history of Abraham's settlement in Canaan-namely, before the destruction of the cities of the plain.

An additional proof of its antiquity arises from the consideration of how limited a radius is assigned to the great emigration. The territory described as occupied by the primeval colonists comprises only a small portion of Europe, Persia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Arabia, Canaan, and Egypt. And this is just what might be expected would have been the case at the early period to which the record refers: for let the chronology of the deluge be removed as far back as some modern critics are disposed to fix it, still Abraham was the tenth in succession from Shem; and as the dispersion from the concentrated population of Shinar commenced in the days of Peleg, the fourth from Shem, it must have necessarily been confined within an area of comparatively small dimensions.

The world, after the deluge, was to be populated on a new plan, and civilization to be advanced, not as formerly by two great divisions, as the families of Cain and Seth, but by the distribution of mankind into a plurality of nations. Although the population in the years immediately subsequent to the flood probably increased at a very rapid rate, owing to a concurrence of favourable circumstances-the still protracted duration of human life, the occurence of few or no deaths, the vigour of the soil, active but not oppressive labour, and a high state of civilization at the starting point, Noah and his sons possessing a knowledge of the arts and chief acquirements of the antediluvians-yet the location of the Noachidae in their respective settlements must have been slow and gradual. We are not informed of the impelling motives which prompted one group to go in a particular direction rather than another; but we can take our position at the fountain-head of emigration, and survey the parting of the mighty streams as they flowed into contiguous regions. Their movements were not left to the blind direction of chance.

The world was all before them where to choose, And Providence their guide.'

Instead of advancing in vast bodies in one line, like the irruption into Europe of the northern hordes under Attila, overwhelming in successive waves those who had preceded them, the diffusion of mankind in the early post-diluvian age was a quiet and orderly process, the force of numbers being weakened through the various channels in which the current of emigration found an outlet. Separating into the great divisions, and though not absolutely unmixed, yet each preserving its chief distinctive features, they started in different directions.

The personal idiosyncrasies of the sons of Noah would be transmitted to their respective descendants, and become the characteristics of their posterity. But it must not be supposed that the forms of life were stereotyped at once; they could become generally fixed and complete only at an advanced period. The progress was probably something like this: A detachment of the emigrants found a suitable place for their habitation, and there they settled. In course of time, as their numbers outgrew the means of sustenance which that locality yielded, adventurers went off to form a new settlement more or less distant, where they were that locality yielded, adventurers went off to form a new settlement more or less distant, where they were socially disunited, or at least geographically divided.

Change of country, and of climate, gave rise to physical and intellectual peculiarities, which time and an insulated situation gradually rendered permanent and indelible; and thus, through the influence of natural causes operating in a constantly extending series of new colonies, originated those varieties of mankind in form, stature, colour, bodily constitution, and mental characteristics which constitute races.

In short, a work was then begun, not by human design or choice, but under the superintending, though unseen and unfelt direction, of the Providential Ruler who fixed for each branch of the human family the bounds of their habitation-a work tending not only to the diffusion of mankind over all the world, but to the production of those physical differences which adapt each nation to the region it was destined to inhabit.

The historical truth of this chapter has been surprisingly illustrated by modern science. 'It is no longer probable,' says Sir William Jones (Works, 1:, p. 137), 'it is absolutely certain, that the whole race of man proceeded from Iran as from a center, whence they migrated at first in three great colonies' Bunsen Gfrorer, Von Raumer, Wagner, Frederick Schlegel, Gesenius, and Knobel in Germany; Pritchard, Rawlinson, Carpenter, and other ethnologists of high authority in Britain, agree with that eminent linguist in declaring that all the conclusions to which their researches in the historical records of antiquity, as well as all their investigations into the recesses of language and mythology have led them, point to the tableland of Upper Asia as the original center whence the various branches of the human family diverged.

Comparative philology has thrown no small light on the early migrations of men, by discovering many strange and unexpected affinities between various nations, separated from each other by immense tracts of country, and differing from one another in almost every conceivable manner. Amid the apparent chaos of languages, patient and philosophic inquirers have traced affinities in structure and grammatical inflection, have grouped together tongues which, though separated by the distance of half the globe, seem very closely allied.

Of these different families, the two with which we are best acquainted are the Aramaic or Semitic and Indo-European or Aryan; the former, comprising the Hebrew, Arabic, the ancient Assyrian, Phoenician, Syriac, Chaldee, etc., derives its name from the real or supposed descent of the people who spoke these languages from Shem (excepting Elam, Genesis 10:22); and the latter, divided into six branches, two of which belong to Asia, and three to Europe, and through European colonies to other parts of the world, includes:

(1) The Indian branch, of which the Sanskrit is the principal;

(2) The Medo-Persic or Aryan, the most important of which is the Zend, the sacred dialect of the Parsees;

(3) The Teutonic, embracing the Gothic, and the various German dialects, the Anglo-Saxon, Swedish, Danish, Icelandic;

(4) The classical languages of ancient Greece and Rome;

(5) The Slavonic branch, to which belong the Lithuanian, Russian, Polish, Bohemian languages, with those of large tribes in Hungary and Saxony;

(6) The Celtic branch, comprehending the Erse, Gaelic, Manx, Welsh, Cornish, and the Bas Breton in France ('Journal of Education,' No. 18).

The languages which do not harmonize with either of these two large groups are ranged by Max Muller ('Last Results of Researches') under a separate class, called Turanian. It is impossible here to enter into details. Suffice it to remark, that so great and rapid is the progress of comparative philology, that many dialects in Europe, Africa, Polynesia, and America have now been found to be derivative, and can be traced to their original stock. Thus, Bunsen ('Philosophy of Universal History') says, in regard to the Indian tribes of America, 'The linguistic data, combined with the traditions and customs, and particularly with the system of pictorial or mnemonic writing, enable me to say that the Slavic origin of these tribes is as fully proved as the unity of a family among themselves.'

Humboldt pronounces the Polynesian languages to be evidently connected with the Malay, which is a leading class in the Turanian group. And Dr. Livingstone, after remarking on the many striking coincidences between the customs of ancient Egypt and Central Africa, enters into a lengthened comparison between the African dialects and the language of the Old Egyptians. He declares generally, that all the tongues now spoken to the south of the equator, with the exception of the Bush or Hottentot, are homogeneous, and in particular, that the Sichuana tongue, as elevated by the powerful Bechuana chieftains, bears in structure a very close resemblance to the language of Egyptian monuments ('Cambridge Lectures,' quoted by Hardwick).

Thus, as Rawlinson observes ('Herodotus,' vol. 1:, Appendix, Essay 11:), 'the original unity between the languages of Africa and Asia, a unity sufficiently shadowed out (Genesis 10:6-20), is confirmed by these linguistic resemblances, as well as by the manifold traditions concerning the two Ethiopias-the Cushites above Egypt, and the Cushites of the Persian Gulf. And the triple division corresponding to the sons of Noah, which the earlier ethnologers adopted, may still be retained-the Turanian being classed with the Hamite form of speech, of which it is an earlier stage.'

This chapter is not only of great historical interest and value, but bears directly on the purposes of the sacred history; because it not only affiliates the people of the various nations as the common descendants of Noah, and consequently of Adam, but shows that, while a temporary separation was to be made of the Jews, that special dispensation was to be subservient to a grand scheme of providence for diffusing the knowledge of divine grace and salvation among all mankind.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Genesis 10:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/genesis-10.html. 1871-8.

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