Genesis 10:30
And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar a mount of the east.
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10:15-32 The posterity of Canaan were numerous, rich, and pleasantly seated; yet Canaan was under a Divine curse, and not a curse causeless. Those that are under the curse of God, may, perhaps, thrive and prosper in this world; for we cannot know love or hatred, the blessing or the curse, by what is before us, but by what is within us. The curse of God always works really, and always terribly. Perhaps it is a secret curse, a curse to the soul, and does not work so that others can see it; or a slow curse, and does not work soon; but sinners are reserved by it for a day of wrath Canaan here has a better land than either Shem or Japheth, and yet they have a better lot, for they inherit the blessing. Abram and his seed, God's covenant people, descended from Eber, and from him were called Hebrews. How much better it is to be like Eber, the father of a family of saints and honest men, than the father of a family of hunters after power, worldly wealth, or vanities. Goodness is true greatness.The situation of Mesha is uncertain. But it is obviously the western boundary of the settlement, and may have been in the neighborhood of Mecca and Medina. Sephar is perhaps the Arabic Zaphari, called by the natives Isfor, a town on the south coast near Mirbat. It seems, however, to be, in the present passage, the "mount of the east" itself, a thuriferous range of hills, adjacent, it may be, to the seaport so-called. Gesenius and others fix upon Mesene, an island at the head of the Persian Gulf, as the Mesha of the text. But this island may have had no existence at the time of the Joctanite settlement. These boundaries include the greater part of the west and south coast of the peninsula, and are therefore sufficient to embrace the provinces of Hejaz (in part), Yemen, and Hadramaut, and afford space for the settlements of the thirteen sons of Joctan. The limits thus marked out determine that all these settlers, Ophir among the rest, were at first to be found in Arabia, how far soever they may have wandered from it afterward.25. Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided—After the flood (Ge 11:10-16) the descendants of Noah settled at pleasure and enjoyed the produce of the undivided soil. But according to divine instruction, made probably through Eber, who seems to have been distinguished for piety or a prophetic character, the earth was divided and his son's name, "Peleg," was given in memory of that event (see De 32:8; Ac 17:26). These places were either,

1. In India, where there are places called by Ptolemy and Pliny, Maesae, and Saparum, and Sabara. Or rather,

2. In Arabia, where there was a noted port called Musa; and near it, and eastward from it, a people called Sapharitae, and a royal city called Saphar; from whence this famous and long mountain doth here receive its name. If it be said Arabia is not east but south from Judea, it may be answered,

1. That Arabia, as it is not east in respect of Egypt, where the Jews long dwelt, and part of it is so to Judea also; so it is not seldom in Scripture reckoned as a part of the east country, as appears from Genesis 25:6,18 Jud 6:3 1 Kings 4:30 Job 1:3 Isaiah 11:14 Jeremiah 49:28. And Tacitus describing Judea, saith: It is bounded on the east by Arabia.

2. That this mountain is said to be easterly, not simply, but in respect of the city Mesha, on the east whereof Ptolemy placeth this mountain, though he call it by another name, Climax; add to this, that Moses speaks of these places as known to the Jews, and therefore not so far distant from them as India, a place wholly unknown to them, and wherewith, as yet, they had no communication. If it be further objected, that if these people had been so near and well known to the Jews, we should have had more mention of them in Scripture; I answer, there is mention of some of them; and for others, it is no wonder if by the following wars among nations, and mixtures and confusions of people, some of them were extirpated, and others lost their names, though not their beings, as oft happened.

And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Zephar, a mount of the east. Mesha, which is thought to be the Muza of Ptolemy and Pliny, was a famous port in the Red sea, frequented by the merchants of Egypt and Ethiopia, from which the Sappharites lay directly eastward; to whose country they used to go for myrrh and frankincense, and the like, of which Saphar was the metropolis, and which was at the foot of Climax, a range of mountains, which perhaps might be formerly called Saphar, from the city at the bottom of it, the same with Zephar here: by inspecting Ptolemy's tables (o), the way from one to the other is easily discerned, where you first meet with Muza, a port in the Red sea, then Ocelis, then the mart Arabia, then Cane, and so on to Sapphar or Sapphara; and so Pliny says (p), there is a third port which is called Muza, which the navigation to India does not put into, only the merchants of frankincense and Arabian odours: the towns in the inland are the royal seat Saphar; and another called Sabe; now the sons of Joktan had their habitations all from this part in the west unto Zephar or Saphar eastward, and those were reckoned the genuine Arabs: Hillerus (q) gives a different account of the situation of the children of Joktan, as he thinks, agreeably to these words of Moses; understanding by Kedem, rendered the east, the mountains of Kedem, or the Kedemites, which sprung from Kedem or Kedomah, the youngest son of Ishmael, Genesis 25:15 and Zephar, the seat of the Sepharites, as between Mesha and Kedem; for, says he, Mesha is not Muza, a mart of the Red sea, but Moscha, a famous port of the Indian sea, of which Arrian and Ptolemy make mention; and from hence the dwelling of the Joktanites was extended, in the way you go through the Sepharites to the mountainous places of Kedem or Cadmus: perhaps nearer the truth may be the Arabic paraphrase of Saadiah (r), which is"from Mecca till you come to the city of the eastern mountain, or (as in a manuscript) to the eastern city,''meaning perhaps Medina, situate to the east; so that the sense is, according to this paraphrase, that the sons of Joktan had their dwelling from Mecca to Medina; and so R. Zacuth (s) says, Mesha in the Arabic tongue is called Mecca; and it is a point agreed upon by the Arabs that Mesha was one of the most ancient names of Mecca; they believe that all the mountainous part of the region producing frankincense went in the earliest times by the name of Sephar; from whence Golius concludes this tract to be the Mount Zephar of Moses, a strong presumption of the truth of which is that Dhafar, the same with the modern Arabs as the ancient Saphar, is the name of a town in Shihr, the only province in Arabia bearing frankincense on the coast of the Indian ocean (t).

(o) Geograph. l. 6. c. 7. (p) Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 23. (q) Onomastic. Sacr. p. 116. (r) In Pocock. Specimen Hist. Arab. p. 34. (s) In Juchasin, fol. 135. 2.((t) Universal History, vol. 18. p. 353.

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.”

Genesis 10:30The settlements of these Joktanides lay "from Mesha towards Sephar the mountain of the East," Mesha is still unknown: according to Gesenius, it is Mesene on the Persian Gulf, and in Knobel's opinion, it is the valley of Bisha or Beishe in the north of Yemen; but both are very improbable. Sepher is supposed by Mesnel to be the ancient Himyaritish capital, Shafr, on the Indian Ocean; and the mountain of the East, the mountain of incense, which is situated still farther to the east. - The genealogy of the Shemites closes with Genesis 10:31, and the entire genealogy of the nations with Genesis 10:32. According to the Jewish Midrash, there are seventy tribes, with as many different languages; but this number can only be arrived at by reckoning Nimrod among the Hamites, and not only placing Peleg among the Shemites, but taking his ancestors Salah and Eber to be names of separate tribes. By this we obtain for Japhet 14, for Ham 31, and for Shem 25, - in all 70 names. The Rabbins, on the other hand, reckon 14 Japhetic, 30 Hamitic, and 26 Semitic nations; whilst the fathers make 72 in all. But as these calculations are perfectly arbitrary, and the number 70 is nowhere given or hinted at, we can neither regard it as intended, nor discover in it "the number of the divinely appointed varieties of the human race," or "of the cosmical development," even if the seventy disciples (Luke 10:1) were meant to answer to the seventy nations whom the Jews supposed to exist upon the earth.
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