Genesis
1 The Descendants of Noah 2-5 The Descendants of Japheth 6-20 The Descendants of Cham 21-31 The Descendants of Sem 32 Summary
The Descendants of Noah

1Now these are [the records of] the generations of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah; and sons were born to them after the flood.

In this chapter God shows us the origins of the nations of the world. In this verse the sons of Noah are mentioned in order of importance.


The Descendants of Japheth

2The sons of Japheth [were] Gomer and Magog and Madai and Javan and Tubal and Meshech and Tiras. 3The sons of Gomer [were] Ashkenaz and Jdgphath and Togarmah. 4The sons of Javan [were] Elishah and Tarshish, Kittim and Dodanim. 5From these the coastlands of the nations were separated into their lands, every one according to his language, according to their families, into their nations.

The descendants of Japheth are the first to be mentioned. Only four verses are dedicated to him. Of the predicted expansion (Gen 9:2727“May God enlarge Japheth,
And let him dwell in the tents of Shem;
And let Canaan be his servant.”
) does not seem to come too much for the time being. Yet that will be the case later, especially during the fourth world empire, that is the Roman empire.

The nations are divided over the earth, counted from Israel as the center of the nations and taking into account the number of Israelites (Deu 32:88“When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance,
When He separated the sons of man,
He set the boundaries of the peoples
According to the number of the sons of Israel.
; Eze 5:55“Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘This is Jerusalem; I have set her at the center of the nations, with lands around her.). The sons of Japheth settle north of Israel, far from it.


The Descendants of Cham

6The sons of Ham [were] Cush and Mizraim and Put and Canaan. 7The sons of Cush [were] Seba and Havilah and Sabtah and Raamah and Sabteca; and the sons of Raamah [were] Sheba and Dedan. 8Now Cush became the father of Nimrod; he became a mighty one on the earth. 9He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD.” 10The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. 11From that land he went forth into Assyria, and built Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah, 12and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city. 13Mizraim became the father of Ludim and Anamim and Lehabim and Naphtuhim 14and Pathrusim and Casluhim (from which came the Philistines) and Caphtorim. 15Canaan became the father of Sidon, his firstborn, and Heth 16and the Jebusite and the Amorite and the Girgashite 17and the Hivite and the Arkite and the Sinite 18and the Arvadite and the Zemarite and the Hamathite; and afterward the families of the Canaanite were spread abroad. 19The territory of the Canaanite extended from Sidon as you go toward Gerar, as far as Gaza; as you go toward Sodom and Gomorrah and Admah and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. 20These are the sons of Ham, according to their families, according to their languages, by their lands, by their nations.

The descendants of Cham settled east and south of Israel. The prophecy of Noah does not seem to be fulfilled in the descendants of Cham either. There is no question of serving his brothers (Gen 9:25-2725So he said,
“Cursed be Canaan;
A servant of servants
He shall be to his brothers.”
26He also said,
“Blessed be the LORD,
The God of Shem;
And let Canaan be his servant.
27“May God enlarge Japheth,
And let him dwell in the tents of Shem;
And let Canaan be his servant.”
) yet. His descendants provide impressive people. Thus Nebuchadnezzar, the ruler of the first empire, the Babylonian, is a descendant of Cham.

The enumeration of the names of the peoples is interrupted by the insertion of the history of Nimrod. He is the origin of the Babylonian realm and is “a mighty hunter before the LORD”. This has become a proverb for people who, in his footsteps, have established kingdoms on the cost of the blood of many people.

“Before the LORD” means in this context that he defies the LORD in the face with his conduct and deeds. He does not respect Him, nor subdues himself to Him, but subdues others to himself. He is the founder of the earliest power of an empire. He establishes the kingdom of Babylon (verse 1010The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.).

Nimrod is a hunter. A hunter sheds blood. Nimrod, the tyrant, first shed blood from animals. He will also trample people for the establishment of his empire.

People who want to build God’s kingdom are always shepherds. They give their own lives for those who are entrusted to their care. Examples of shepherds are: Abel, Jacob, Moses, David. The greatest example is the Lord Jesus, “the good Shepherd” (Jn 10:11,1411“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.14I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me,).


The Descendants of Sem

21Also to Shem, the father of all the children of Eber, [and] the older brother of Japheth, children were born. 22The sons of Shem [were] Elam and Asshur and Arpachshad and Lud and Aram. 23The sons of Aram [were] Uz and Hul and Gether and Mash. 24Arpachshad became the father of Shelah; and Shelah became the father of Eber. 25Two sons were born to Eber; the name of the one [was] Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided; and his brother’s name [was] Joktan. 26Joktan became the father of Almodad and Sheleph and Hazarmaveth and Jerah 27and Hadoram and Uzal and Diklah 28and Obal and Abimael and Sheba 29and Ophir and Havilah and Jobab; all these were the sons of Joktan. 30Now their settlement extended from Mesha as you go toward Sephar, the hill country of the east. 31These are the sons of Shem, according to their families, according to their languages, by their lands, according to their nations.

A special characteristic of Shem is that he is the “father of all the children of Eber”. Eber – in other translations Heber – means something like ‘the area on the other side of a river, or the sea’ It is generally explained that Hebrew means something like ‘someone who is opposite’ and/or someone who has ‘crossed’. Abraham is the first to be called “Hebrew” (Gen 14:1313Then a fugitive came and told Abram the Hebrew. Now he was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner, and these were allies with Abram.), which is a son of Heber. Abraham distinguishes himself by distancing himself from Babylon and ‘crossing’ a river. He ‘crosses’ from his homeland to a new area God designates him to (Jos 24:2-32Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘From ancient times your fathers lived beyond the River, [namely], Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods.3Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River, and led him through all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his descendants and gave him Isaac.).

In the days of “Peleg”, one of the sons of Heber, the earth, that is to say the earth population, is divided. This division is the result of God’s judgment about the tower building of Babel, about which the next chapter tells us. Eber, the pilgrim, will have condemned the pursuit of unity. In the name of his son the event is reflected. “Peleg” means “division”.


Summary

32These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, by their nations; and out of these the nations were separated on the earth after the flood.

The enumeration of the nations ends with the recalling that all the generations are descendants of Noah and that the generations were formed into nations. After the flood, the nations that came forth from the sons of Noah spread out over the earth.

The division in the days of Peleg is the result of the tower construction of Babel which is described in the next chapter. With this striving for unity, people turn against God’s earlier command to spread themselves over the earth and to populate it.


Read more