Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
1 (P). The Generations of the Sons of Noah.
2–5 (P). The Sons of Japheth.
6, 7, and 20 (P). The Sons of Ham.
8–19, and 21 (J). Nimrod, Babylon, and Assyria: Egypt and Canaan.
22–31 (P). The Sons of Shem.
The names of Noah’s sons only occur in Genesis and in the parallel genealogical list in 1 Chronicles 1. The distribution of the races of the earth between their descendants necessarily results from the record, in Genesis 7:21, of the destruction of all flesh in the Flood.
As will be seen from the names contained in this list, they represent not a formal genealogy, but a table of the principal races and peoples known to the Israelites. They are arranged, as if they were members of families intimately related to one another. This, however, represents the common attitude of the ancient world in explaining the complexity of tribes and peoples, out of which nations had arisen. We may compare early Greek and Roman accounts of the origin of the inhabitants of Greece and Italy in prehistoric times. The names are some of them racial, and some of them geographical. The attempts at identification are precarious, and cannot often be relied upon.
Observe that the order of the sons of Noah is here reversed. Thus the family of Shem is the last to be enumerated, leading up to the Narratives of the Patriarchs (chaps. 12–50).
Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood.1. Now these are the generations] The title of a new section in P; see note on Genesis 2:4.
The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras.2. The sons of Japheth] These are names of peoples who for the most part seem to have dwelt in remote northern and western regions in Asia Minor.
Gomer] Mentioned also in Ezekiel 38:6. Probably the people dwelling in the region of Pontus in Asia Minor, and called by the Greeks Cimmerians (Κιμμέριοι). Cf. 1 Chronicles 1:5-6.
Magog] appears as the name of a country in Ezekiel 38:2, and of a northern people in Ezekiel 39:6, generally identified with the Scythians. Sayce conjectures that Magog is for “Mat-Gog” = “land of Gog.” The allusions to Gog and Magog in Revelation 20:8 are based upon the prophetic passages in Ezekiel 38, 39.
Madai] Almost certainly “the land of the Medes.” The people of Media are referred to in the Assyrian inscriptions as “Madai” in the 9th century b.c. In the history of Israel they are first mentioned in 2 Kings 17:6. Cf. Isaiah 13:17; Isaiah 21:2; 1 Chronicles 1:5.
Javan] This is the Hebrew name for “the Greeks.” The Ionians were the Greeks of Asia Minor and of the islands of the Ægean Sea, who were first known to the peoples of Western Asia. They were called in Assyrian Javanu. For other passages in which the Greeks are mentioned in the O.T., cf. Isaiah 66:19; Ezekiel 27:13; Ezekiel 27:19; Daniel 8:21; Daniel 10:20; Joel 3:6; Zechariah 9:13.
Tubal … Meshech] These two names are mentioned, along with Javan, in Ezekiel 27:13; Ezekiel 39:1. They have been identified with peoples in N.E. Asia Minor, Tibarenians and Moschians.
In Isaiah 66:19 Tubal is classed with Javan and “the isles afar off.” In Psalm 120:5, “Meshech” is used as the name of a barbarous and remote people, “Woe is me that I sojourn in Meshech.”
Tiras] Identified by Josephus (Ant. i. 6) with the Thracians, but now more frequently with a race of sea pirates of the Ægean Sea called Τυρσηνοί. Another conjecture is Tarsus; another, Tarshish; cf. 1 Chronicles 1:6.
And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah.3. Ashkenaz] Mentioned in Jeremiah 51:27 along with Ararat; and now generally identified with the region of Armenia. It is worth noticing that the mediaeval Jews explained this name as denoting Germany. Thus the Ashkenazim are the German Jews.
Riphath] In 1 Chronicles 1:6 the name appears as “Diphath.” The letters, R (ר) and D (ד), are very similar in Hebrew. Cf. “Dodanim” for “Rodanim,” Genesis 10:4. Josephus identified “Riphath” with the Paphlagonians. The name is now unknown.
Togarmah] Mentioned also in Ezekiel 27:14, with Javan, Tubal and Meshech; and in Ezekiel 38:6, with Gomer, and generally identified with the western part of Armenia. Cf. 1 Chronicles 1:6.
And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim.4. the sons of Javan] The names here mentioned are evidently geographical. Javan’s sons are well-known Greek colonies and settlements or communities. This example will serve to illustrate the composition of the genealogical list.
Elishah] Mentioned in Ezekiel 27:7 as a place from which there was a trade in purple. Josephus identified it with the Æolians. Other conjectures have been Hellas, Elis, Sicily, and Carthage. Possibly, it is Alasa, the modern Cyprus.
Tarshish] Probably the ancient commercial town of Tartessus, at the mouth of the river Guadalquivir. It is classed with the isles in Psalm 72:10, Isaiah 60:9. Its trade is mentioned in Ezekiel 27:12. On “the ships of Tarshish” in King Solomon’s time, see 1 Kings 10:22; 1 Kings 22:48. There were Greek settlements at Tartessus. Cf. Herodotus, i. 163.
Kittim] Usually identified with Cyprus and its inhabitants. The chief town was Κιτίον, the modern Larnaca, and was probably occupied at an early time by Greek-speaking people. The name “Kittim” became transferred from Cyprus to other islands. Cf. Jeremiah 2:10; Ezekiel 27:6.
Dodanim] In 1 Chronicles 1:7, Rodanim. The LXX and Sam. agree with 1 Chronicles 1:7; and this reading is generally preferred, Rodanim being identified with the island of Rhodes. In Ezekiel 27:15, “the men of Dedan” similarly appear in LXX as ῥόδιοι, i.e. the Rhodians trafficking with the city of Tyre.
By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.5. Of these, &c.] It is probable that the text in this verse has suffered. As in Genesis 10:20 we find “these are the sons of Ham” and in Genesis 10:31 “these are the sons of Shem,” so we should expect in this verse “these are the sons of Japheth.” We should, therefore, probably put a full stop after the word “divided,” and insert: “These are the sons of Japheth.” This will improve the sense; for (1) the words “of these” cannot refer generally to the contents of Genesis 10:2-3, but only to the contents of Genesis 10:4; (2) while the expression “the isles were divided in their lands” is intolerably harsh. “Of these” should be taken to refer to “the sons of Javan” only. From them the Greek settlements branched off in all directions among the islands and the coastlands, i.e. “the isles of the nations.” After this piece of information the genealogist summarizes the foregoing list, “These are the sons of Japheth in their lands, every one after his tongue,” &c.
isles] Better, as R.V. marg., coastlands. Cf. Isaiah 11:11; Jeremiah 2:10; Ezekiel 27:6.
And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.6–20. The Sons of Ham
6. The races described as “the sons of Ham” are first traced in the most southerly regions. If the name has any connexion with Kamt, the native name of Egypt, it is noticeable that it is here applied to the parent stock of peoples, not only in Egypt, but also in South Arabia, Phoenicia, and Syria. “Ham” is used as a synonym for Egypt in Psalm 78:51; Psalm 105:23; Psalm 105:27; Psalm 106:22.
Cush] A name of frequent occurrence in the O.T. for Ethiopia and the Ethiopians, i.e. the country and the people between Egypt and Abyssinia; the “Kas,” or “Kes,” of the Egyptian inscriptions. Cf. on Genesis 2:13.
Mizraim] The regular Hebrew name for Egypt. Cf. the Assyrian Muṣur. The termination “-aim” denotes the dual number; and hence it has been supposed that “Mizraim” means the two “Mizrs,” i.e. Upper and Lower Egypt. But we cannot rely on this for certain. “Mizraim” is the Hebrew name for Egypt without necessarily containing an allusion to this geographical division. It is best not to press the grammatical meaning that may be claimed to underlie the popular pronunciation of a geographical name; cf. Ephraim, Naharaim, Jerusalaim (= Jerusalem).
Put] Mentioned also in Ezekiel 27:10; Ezekiel 38:5; Jeremiah 46:9; Nahum 3:9. In these passages “Put” is mentioned together with the composite materials of an Egyptian mercenary army. It is generally identified with the Libyans. Pliny mentions a river “Fut” in Libya. In Nahum 3:9 Put is associated with the “Lubim,” and with Ethiopia and Egypt. Punt occurs in Egyptian inscriptions for the African “littoral” of the Red Sea.
Canaan] This is the land of Phoenicia, probably in its widest sense, like Kinaḥi in the Tel-el-Amarna tablets (1400 b.c.). The Canaanites were Semites, and spoke a language which closely resembled Hebrew, and was more akin to Aramaean and Assyrian than Egyptian. Canaan was possibly associated by Israelite tradition with Egypt on account of the general similarity of its culture. Perhaps the Israelites, who regarded the Egyptians and the Canaanites as their two racial foes, and as the two corrupters of their faith, classed them together for that reason among “the sons of Ham.”
And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtecha: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan.7. And the sons of Cush] The names given in this verse are usually identified with the names of tribes, or places, on the African coast, or on the opposite shores of Arabia.
Seba] Cf. Psalm 72:10; Isaiah 43:3; Isaiah 45:14, where it is named with Egypt and Cush; identified by Josephus (Ant. Jud. ii. 10, § 2) with “Meroë”; but now generally supposed to denote tribes on the coast of the Red Sea in the neighbourhood of Massowah.
Havilah] The name occurs again in Genesis 10:29 among “the sons of Joktan”; possibly a branch of the same Arabian tribe which had settled on the African coast. See also Genesis 2:11, Genesis 25:18.
Raamah] Mentioned also in Ezekiel 27:22 for its trade with Tyre, and with Sheba.
Sabtah … Sabteca] Unknown.
Sheba] Also in Genesis 10:28, among “the sons of Joktan,” and in Genesis 25:3, among “the sons of Keturah.” The trade of this people and their dependencies consisted especially of spices, precious stones, and gold (Ezekiel 27:22). The occurrence of the name of “Sheba” here among the sons of Ham, and in Genesis 10:28 among the sons of Shem, illustrates the difficulty of identification.
Dedan] Mentioned also in Genesis 25:3; apparently an Arabian tribe, bordering on Edom (Ezekiel 25:13), and occasionally brought into contact with Israel through trade. Cf. Isaiah 21:13; Jeremiah 25:23; Ezekiel 27:20.
And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth.8–19 (J). Nimrod, Assyria and Babylon: Canaan and Egypt
8–12 (J). Nimrod
8. Cush begat Nimrod] In connexion with the “sons of Cush” we have here an Israelite tradition that the foundation of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires was due to “a son of Cush,” named Nimrod. What, if any, was deemed to be the connexion between Cush, and the origin of Babylon and Nineveh, is not related. At least, the explanation which has been hazarded, that some prehistoric Ethiopian monarch, having invaded and conquered Western Asia, founded the great cities of the Euphrates Valley, has not hitherto received confirmation.
Modern scholars call attention to the prominence of a people designated as the Cossaeans, Κοσσαῖοι, Assyr. Kashu, in Babylonian history. They were predominant in Babylonia between 1800 and 1200 b.c. It is suggested that the early Israelite tradition identified the name of this people with the similarly sounding name of the African Cush, and that, in the halo of romance and legend encircling the name of Nimrod, the Ethiopian origin of the founder of Babylon presented no serious difficulty.
Nimrod] Mentioned elsewhere in 1 Chronicles 1:10, Micah 5:6. Here he is described under two aspects: (1) as a mighty hunter, (2) as king of Babylonia, and founder of the chief cities in Assyria.
Assyriologists have been inclined to identify Nimrod with the mythical Babylonian hero, Gilgames, the hunter and lion-slayer, represented in Babylonian art as throttling, or gripping, a wild animal. No similarity in the name has yet been ascertained. Jeremias suggests that Nimrod is the Hebrew pronunciation of Nâmir-Uddu = “shining light.” Another conjecture would identify him with the Cassite, or Cossaean, king Nazi-maruttash (circ. 1350 b.c.): but, if so, Israelite tradition seems to have transferred the name of a comparatively recent king (more recent than the patriarchs) into the ages of legendary obscurity.
began to be a mighty one] A strange expression. The word “began” should be connected with “the beginning of his kingdom” in Genesis 10:10. “He was the first great monarch.” Compare “began to be an husbandman” (Genesis 9:20).
He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD.9. a mighty hunter before the Lord] The phrase “before the Lord” is merely descriptive of magnitude, cf. Genesis 23:6, “a great prince” (Heb. a prince of God), Jonah 3:3, “Nineveh was an exceeding great city” (Heb. a city great unto God). But it is possible that the expression is traceable to some primitive traditions respecting the hunting exploits of Nimrod, and the favour shewn to him by his God.
The popularity of hunting scenes in Assyrian art may have led to a general impression that the founders of the Assyrian and Babylonian kingdoms were famous huntsmen.
It is noteworthy that in later times Nimrod was identified with Orion, both as a hunter and as a constellation. Hence some have fancifully explained these words to mean “a hunter in heaven.”
wherefore it is said] The quotation of a proverb: Nimrod’s name became proverbial for a great hunter.
And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.10. the beginning of his kingdom] Nimrod is represented, not as the founder of the Babylonian cities, but as their king. His four cities are enumerated:
1. Babel, i.e. Babylon, as the Hebrew is rendered in the Greek: Assyrian Babilu, possibly = “the gate of God.” This was the capital of the Babylonian empire from the time of Hammurabi who founded that empire, circ. 2130 b.c.
2. Erech, the Uruk of the inscriptions. LXX Ὀρέχ, the modern Warka, was the principal seat of the Babylonian deities Anu and Istar, and the scene of the exploits of the mythical hero Gilgames.
3. Accad, the Agade of the inscriptions, the chief town in ancient northern Babylonia, and the capital of Sargon the First, one of the earliest Babylonian kings.
4. Calneh, of doubtful identification; not to be identified with the Syrian town Calneh (Amos 6:2). Jensen conjectures that there is an error of one Hebrew letter, and that we should read for Calneh Cullaba, an important town in Babylonia. Another conjecture is Nippur.
in the land of Shinar] i.e. in Babylonia, which comprised both northern Babylonia or Accad, and southern Babylonia or Sumer.
Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah,11. Out of that land, &c.] This verse preserves an historical tradition: (1) that the cities of Assyria were of later origin than those of Babylonia; (2) that they owed their existence to the development of the Babylonian power in a northerly direction; whether by conquest or by colonization we cannot tell.
into Assyria] or “Asshur.” There is no difference in the Hebrew between the name of the country and that of its first capital (see Genesis 2:14). The city Asshur was distant about 300 miles from Babylon.
The rendering of the R.V. marg. = A.V. went forth Asshur has no probability, though it has the support of LXX, Vulg., and Targ. Onk.
Nineveh] Assyr. Nina, the modern Kouyunjik, situated on the left bank of the Tigris, opposite to the modern Mosul. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria in its most famous period, but it was not until about 1000 b.c. that it became the royal residence of Assyrian monarchs. Nothing historical is known of its earliest days.
Rehoboth-Ir] Possibly to be identified, as some Assyriologists suggest, with Rêbit Nina, on the site of the modern Mosul, over against Nineveh.
Calah] The modern Kellach, at the confluence of the upper Zab and the Tigris, some 20 miles S. of Nineveh. It stands on the ruined mounds of Nimrud. The capital of Assyria was transferred by Shalmaneser I, circ. 1300 b.c., from Asshur to Calah.
And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.12. Resen] Not yet identified; but conjectured to lie among the mounds which conceal ruins between Nineveh and Nimrud.
(the same is the great city)] This is a note added by the compiler; or, possibly, as Skinner suggests, a gloss, referring to Nineveh, which is misplaced.
13–19 (J). The descendants of Mizraim (Egypt), Genesis 10:13-14; and of Canaan (Phoenicia), Genesis 10:15-19. The names of tribes (the plural termination -im) in Genesis 10:13-14, and of peoples (Genesis 10:16-19), seem to imply a different source of tradition from that in Genesis 10:2-7.
And Mizraim begat Ludim, and Anamim, and Lehabim, and Naphtuhim,13. Mizraim] In Genesis 10:6, “the sons of Ham” are Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. The “sons of Cush” were given in Genesis 10:7. In Genesis 10:13-14 the genealogy is continued with the “sons of Mizraim.” The intervening passage (Genesis 10:8-12) has been a parenthesis. The names here mentioned are probably tribes on the borders of Egypt.
Ludim] Mentioned also in Jeremiah 46:9; presumably the same as Lud in Isaiah 66:19; Ezekiel 27:10; Ezekiel 30:5.
the Anamim] W. Max Müller suggests that these are the Kinamim who dwelt in the largest and southernmost oasis, designated in the Egyptian inscriptions K’n’mt. Very strange is the reading of the LXX Αἰνεμετιείμ. Cf. 1 Chronicles 1:11.
Lehabim] Possibly the same as the “Libyans,” who appear as Lubim in 2 Chronicles 12:3; 2 Chronicles 16:8; Daniel 11:43; Nahum 3:9. The Libyans were the African tribes west of Cyrene.
Naphtuhim] The Egyptologist Erman suggests that this name is the corruption of the word P-t-mḥi, the Egyptian designation for the dwellers in the north, i.e. the Delta of Egypt (Z. A. T. W. 1890, pp. 118, 119).
Another suggestion is that it represents the name of the third great oasis, between Ammon and K’n’mt, bearing the name of Ferâfia. Cf. 1 Chronicles 1:11.
And Pathrusim, and Casluhim, (out of whom came Philistim,) and Caphtorim.14. Pathrusim] Clearly to be identified with Upper Egypt, “the southlanders.” “The land of the midday,” Egyptian Ptrsi, is the Pathros of Isaiah 11:11; Jeremiah 44:1; Jeremiah 44:15; Ezekiel 29:14; Ezekiel 30:14.
Casluhim] Not known; LXX Χασμωνιείμ, which has caused Max Müller to conjecture Nasamonim, a tribe in the vicinity of the great oasis of Ammon. Cf. 1 Chronicles 1:12.
(whence went forth the Philistines), and Caphtorim] The parenthetical clause within the brackets seems to be out of place. According to Deuteronomy 2:23, Jeremiah 47:4, Amos 9:7 the Philistines came out of Caphtor. Accordingly, we may conjecture the clause originally stood after the word “Caphtorim,” and has been accidentally transposed. On the other hand, this explanation seems so obvious, that some scholars consider that the clause “whence … the Philistines” is in its right place, but that the words “and Caphtorim” are only a gloss on the mention of “the Philistines.”
the Philistines] Heb. Pelishtim, identified by many Assyriologists with the Purasati, a predatory horde which established itself in the 13th century b.c. in the south of Phoenicia. On the origin of the Philistines, see Macalister’s Excavations at Gezer (Pal. Ex. Fund, 1912).
Caphtorim] The people of Caphtor which has commonly been identified with Crete. The only traces of real artistic work found at Gezer by Macalister were Minoan in character.
And Canaan begat Sidon his firstborn, and Heth,15. Canaan] Observe that we pass from Cush and Mizraim to Canaan, the fourth son of Ham; omitting Put, the third son in Genesis 10:6.
Zidon his firstborn] “Firstborn”; i.e. the capital, and most ancient city, of the Phoenicians. The Phoenicians called themselves Zidonians, and were so called by the Israelites. Cf. 1 Kings 16:31. Zidon probably means “fish-town.”
Heth] i.e. the Hittites called by the Egyptians “Khêta,” and by the Assyrians “Khatti.” It is more than doubtful whether the Hittites had any connexion with the Phoenicians. Their language has not yet (1913) been deciphered. The Hittite empire appears to have lasted from 1800 b.c. to 700 b.c. Carchemish on the Euphrates was for a time their capital. They made their influence felt throughout Syria and Asia Minor. Their famous collision with Egypt occurred in the reign of Rameses III, about 1180 b.c. The mention of Heth as the “son of Canaan” is probably to be understood as indicating the presence of a large number of Hittite dwellers in Phoenicia and Palestine. There are traces of these elsewhere in O.T., e.g. ch. 23; Numbers 13:29; Jdg 1:26; 1 Kings 10:29; 2 Kings 7:6. The supremacy of the Hittites throughout Syria and Canaan belongs to the period shortly after the age represented by the Tel-el-Amarna tablets (1400 b.c.).
And the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite,16. the Jebusite] The Canaanite tribe dwelling in Jerusalem and its neighbourhood: cf. Joshua 15:63; Jdg 1:21; 2 Samuel 5:6.
the Amorite] In the Tel-el-Amarna tablets the name Amurru is given to the dwellers in the north of Canaan in distinction from the Kinaḥi, the dwellers in southern Canaan. Later on, the name Amorite seems to have been used by the Assyrians to designate Palestine. In the O.T. the original inhabitants of Canaan are sometimes called by this name; e.g. Jdg 1:34-36; Amos 2:9. See Driver, Schweich Lectures, p. 36.
the Girgashite] Mentioned e.g. Genesis 15:21, Deuteronomy 7:1, with the other dwellers in Canaan, but their locality is not indicated.
And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite,17. the Hivite] The Hivites, dwellers in the country about Gibeon (Joshua 9:7) and Sichem (Genesis 34:2); while Joshua 11:3 and Jdg 3:3 speak of the Hivites as dwelling near Mount Hermon and Mount Lebanon, though in neither passage is the reading (? Hittites) certain.
the Arkite] A Phoenician tribe represented by the modern Tell Arḳa, some 80 miles north of Zidon, and not far from Tripolis.
the Sinite] Jerome mentions a town Sini near Arka.
And the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad.18. the Arvadite] Arvad, a famous maritime town, the modern Ruwâd on an island 100 miles north of Zidon; cf. Ezekiel 27:8; Ezekiel 27:11.
the Zemarite] The dwellers in Simyra, modern Sumra, a few miles south of Ruwâd. It appears in the Tel-el-Amarna Letters as Zumur.
the Hamathite] The dwellers in Hamath, modern Ḥama, the famous ancient town to the extreme north of Canaan, on the Orontes, and the capital of a small kingdom overthrown by Sargon. Cf. Numbers 34:8; 2 Kings 18:34; Amos 6:14.
and afterward] It has been conjectured that this clause followed originally upon the mention of “Zidon his firstborn and Heth,” Genesis 10:15, and that the intervening passage (Genesis 10:16-18 a) is a later addition. The clause leads up to the description, in Genesis 10:19, of the subsequent boundaries of Canaan. The writer implies that the “families of the Canaanite,” who were driven out by the Israelites, were themselves not the original inhabitants.
In favour of 16–18a being a gloss, note (1) the change from the proper names, “Zidon” and “Heth,” to the appellatives, “the Jebusite,” “the Amorite,” &c.: (2) the delimitation of “the Canaanite” in Genesis 10:19 excluding the Arkite, Sinite, Arvadite, Zemarite, and Hamathite, who in Genesis 10:16-17 are included in the “sons of Canaan.”
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.19. And the border of the Canaanite] This verse describes the geographical limits of the extension of the Canaanite peoples in a southerly direction, with Zidon as the starting-point in the north. As the limit on the south-west, we have “toward Gerar unto Gaza,” and on the south-east “toward Sodom and Gomorrah, &c. unto Lasha.” This would represent a triangle, having Zidon on the north, with Gaza and Lasha on the south-west and south-east. The description is not free from obscurity. “Toward Gerar unto Gaza” is hardly a natural definition; since Gaza lies to the north of Gerar.
“Lasha,” or, as we should read it, “Lesha,” was identified by Jerome with “Callirrhoe” on the east side of the Dead Sea; but, as the name does not occur elsewhere, this is only a traditional conjecture. Kittel (Biblia Hebraica) identifies it with “Bela,” or “Zoar” (Genesis 14:2) which is mentioned together with the four “cities of the plain.”
For “Lasha,” Wellhausen conjectures “unto Laish” in the north-east of Palestine, which would give a fourth geographical limit of the Canaanite border, and alter the scheme of delimitation from a triangular to a four-sided area of country.
These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations.20. These are the sons of Ham (P), &c.] Cf. Genesis 10:31; and the note on Genesis 10:5.
The synonyms here given are characteristic of P’s fondness for redundancy and repetition.
Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born.21–31. The Sons of Shem (J and P)
21. And unto Shem, &c.] The brief account in verse is from J.
the father of all the children of Eber] This is the point in the description of Shem which would seem most honourable to Israelite readers. The names “Eber” and “Hebrew” are almost identical in the Hebrew language. “Eber” was accepted as the ancestor of the Hebrew-speaking peoples. In the widest sense of the word, “Hebrews” are a group of Semitic peoples who issued from the Arabian Peninsula. They are included among the descendants of Joktan and Peleg, as well as of Terah. For the ordinary derivation of the word “Hebrew,” as = “the man from the further side” of the river, see Genesis 10:24 and Genesis 14:13. The term “Hebrew” is racial, “Israelite” national; though ultimately used as synonyms.
the elder brother of Japheth] These words seem to be inserted, in order to remind the reader that Shem, though here mentioned last, was the eldest of Noah’s sons. The rendering of R.V. marg., the brother of Japheth the elder, is very improbable.
The children of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram.22. The sons of Shem] This is the account by P, corresponding to the previous mention of “the sons of Japheth,” Genesis 10:2, and “the sons of Ham,” Genesis 10:6.
Elam] The name of a people and a country east of the Tigris and north of the Persian Gulf. The Elamites were at one time supreme in Western Asia (see note on Genesis 14:1). They do not appear to have been a Semitic race; but the place of Elam in this verse probably indicates the easternmost people with which the descendants of Shem were brought into contact.
Asshur] See note on Genesis 10:11. The Assyrians were the most powerful of the Semitic peoples.
Arpachshad] This name used to be identified with Ἀῤῥαπαχῖτις, a mountainous region north of Assyria, but this does not explain the two final syllables in which we naturally recognize Chesed, or the Chasdim, viz. = the “Chaldeans,” a people dwelling in the south of Babylonia. Sayce explains the word to mean “the wall of Chesed,” i.e. “the fortress-protected country of the Chaldeans.” Cheyne thinks that the name in this passage and elsewhere is an erroneous fusion of two names, “Arpach” and “Chesed.” (Z.A.T.W. 1897, p. 190.
Lud] Presumably the Lydians of Asia Minor, though it is difficult to explain why they should be here associated with the “sons of Shem.”
Aram] The people inhabiting the whole country north-east of Palestine, the northern region of the Euphrates Valley (Aram-Naharaim) and the country of Syria proper (Aram-Dammesek).
The people denoted by Aram were destined to exercise a great influence throughout Western Asia. The Aramaean language gradually prevailed over the other Semitic dialects, and before the Christian era it had displaced even the Hebrew language among the Jews. The Aramaic tongue spoken by our Lord and the Apostles was like the language in which portions of the books of Ezra and Daniel were written.
And the children of Aram; Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Mash.23. the sons of Aram] These names convey nothing to us, though presumably they possessed importance in the geography of the Hebrews.
Uz] The country of Job: see Job 1:1. Generally considered to have been in the south of Palestine. The name occurs again in another genealogy, Genesis 22:21, Genesis 36:28; cf. Jeremiah 25:20. In Lamentations 4:21, Uz is associated with Edom. These references however do not suit “a son of Aram.”
Mash] In the parallel passage (1 Chronicles 1:17) = Meshech.
And Arphaxad begat Salah; and Salah begat Eber.24. begat Shelah] R.V. marg. “The Sept. reads begat Cainan, and Cainan begat Shelah.” This addition is followed in Luke 3:36.
Eber] See note on Genesis 10:21. Eber is evidently the most important name in this genealogy. As the grandson of Arpachshad, his name stands geographically in some kind of connexion with Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad and Aram. Êber in the Hebrew means “on the other side of.” The ancestors of Israel are described as those who “dwelt of old time beyond the River” (êber ha-nâhâr = “on the other side of the Euphrates river”). See Joshua 24:2.
24–30 (J). Genealogy of Shem
A section from J, who speaks not of peoples, but of individuals of the heroic age. See Genesis 11:10-19 (P) for a duplicate mention of “Arpachshad, … Peleg.”
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.25. Peleg] R.V. marg. That is, Division. His descendants are not recorded. In Genesis 11:18-23 (P) Peleg is the father of Reu, the father of Serug, the father of Nahor. Eber’s two sons, Peleg and Joktan, apparently represent the two divisions of Shemites, Peleg the northern or Mesopotamian, Joktan the southern or Arabian.
was the earth divided] The reference is generally assumed to be to the division, or dispersion, of the peoples at the tower of Babel, the words being an anticipation of the story in Genesis 11:1-9. “The earth” will then mean “the inhabitants of the earth,” as in Genesis 11:1 and Genesis 19:31.
Sayce, on the strength of palgu being Assyrian for “canal,” would conjecture “the division of the earth” to signify the introduction of a system of canals into Babylonia during the reign of Hammurabi.
Perhaps, however, the name Peleg may indicate the historic “severance” of the northern Shemites from their southern brethren.
Joktan] The genealogy of Eber’s elder son, Peleg, is here omitted, evidently because the compiler is giving the descendants of Peleg in Genesis 11:18 from P; in which passage Joktan’s name is not mentioned.
The thirteen sons of Joktan probably represent tribes in Arabia. The division of the population into tribes, continually warring with each other, has always been a feature of the Arabian Peninsula.
Dillmann suggests that one name has been interpolated; and that, as in the case of Israel, the number of tribes was originally twelve. Obal’s name is omitted in some MSS. of LXX.
Most of their names have been, with more or less reason, identified with places in Arabia, for details of which the student should consult the dictionaries.
Sheleph] The name of a tribe, or region, in the Yemen, or southern Arabia.
And Joktan begat Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah,26. Hazarmaveth] This name is very probably reproduced in the district of S. E. Arabia called the Ḥadramaut.
And Hadoram, and Uzal, and Diklah,27. Uzal] Mentioned in Ezekiel 27:19, cf. R.V. marg., as a place from which iron was brought. Traditionally the old name of Sana the chief town of Yemen.
And Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba,28. Obal] In 1 Chronicles 1:22 Ebal, where LXX Cod. B omits. Here several MSS. of the LXX omit the name.
Sheba] See also Genesis 10:7 : presumably the Sabeans of south-west Arabia whose extant inscriptions shew that at one time they must have been a prosperous and civilized community. For the Queen of Sheba, see 1 Kings 10.
For its exports of frankincense cf. Isaiah 60:6, Jeremiah 6:20. Its merchandise is mentioned in Job 6:19, Ezekiel 27:22, Psalm 72:10.
And Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab: all these were the sons of Joktan.29. Ophir] Famous for its trade in the days of Solomon, 1 Kings 9:28; 1 Kings 10:11; 1 Kings 22:48, and for its gold of especial purity. Cf. Job 22:24; Job 28:16; Psalm 45:9; Isaiah 13:12. Its locality has been much disputed; it has been identified, at different times, with regions in India, East Africa, and the south coast of Arabia. In the present context it is evidently connected with Arabia.
Havilah] See Genesis 2:11 and Genesis 25:18. Possibly a district in north-east Arabia.
And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar a mount of the east.30. Mesha] Dillmann conjectures “Massa” (Genesis 25:14), a north Arabian tribe. This is not improbable, if this verse delimits the geographical borders of “the sons of Joktan.”
Sephar] Probably the same as Daphar, a town on the south coast of Arabia.
the mountain of the east] Better, as marg., the hill country. Probably the famous frankincense mountain in south Arabia, with Daphar as its furthest point, was reputed the southern limit of “the sons of Joktan.”
These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations.31. These are, &c.] Cf. Genesis 10:5; Genesis 10:20.
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.32. of these were the nations divided] Cf. Genesis 10:1, Genesis 9:19. The word rendered “divided” is different from that in Genesis 10:25, but is the same as that which is found in Genesis 10:5. Looking back we can discern the object of the compiler in demonstrating (1) the unity of the race through Noah; (2) the origin of the peoples through his sons; (3) the origin of Israel through Shem and Eber.