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Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature

Nations Dispersion of

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Under this or some similar designation, it has been the prevalent opinion that the outspreading, which is the entire subject of Genesis 10, and the scattering narrated in , refer to the same event, the latter being included in the former description, and being a statement of the manner in which the separation was effected. From this opinion, however, we dissent. An unbiased reading of the text appears most plainly to mark the distinctness, in time and character, of the two narratives. The first was universal, regulated, orderly, quiet, and progressive: the second, local, embracing only a part of mankind, sudden, turbulent, and attended with marks of the Divine displeasure.

The former is introduced and entitled in these words—'Shem, and Ham, and Japheth—these are the three sons of Noah; and from them was the whole earth overspread.' After the mention of the sons of Japheth, it is added, 'From these the isles of the nations were dispersed, in their lands, each to its language, to their families, in their nations.' A formula somewhat differing is annexed to the descendants of Ham: 'These are the sons of Ham, [according] to their families, to their tongues, in their lands, in their nations.' The same phrase follows the enumeration of the house of Shem: and the whole concludes with, 'These are the families of the sons of Noah, [according] to their generations, in their nations; and from these the nations were dispersed in the earth after the Flood' (; ; ; ).

The second relation begins in the manner which often, in the Hebrew Scriptures, introduces a new subject. We shall present it in a literality even servile, that the reader may gain the most prompt apprehension of the meaning. 'And it was all the earth (but with perfect propriety it might be rendered the whole land, country, region, or district): lip one and words one [i.e. ]. And it was in their going forwards that they discovered a plain in the country Shinar; and they fixed [their abode] there.' Then comes the narrative of their resolving to build a lofty tower which should serve as a signal-point for their rallying and remaining united. The defeating of this purpose is expressed in the anthropomorphism which is characteristic of the earliest Scriptures, and was adapted to the infantile condition of mankind. 'And Jehovah scattered them from thence upon the face of the whole earth [or ], and they ceased to build the city' ().





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Nations Dispersion of'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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