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The Table of the Nations (Gen 10)

Julian Spriggs M.A.

Related articles

How to interpret OT Narratives Introduction to Genesis
Are chapters 1 to 11 of Genesis historical? Long lives of the patriarchs
Chronology of the flood (Gen 7-8)
Table of the Nations (Gen 10) The Tower of Babel (Gen 11)
Names of God in the Old Testament Covenants in the Old Testament

The table of the nations

The Table of the Nations lists the descendants of the three sons of Noah, who had survived the flood. “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God. And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth” (Gen 6:9). “The sons of Noah who went out of the ark were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham was the father of Canaan. These three were the sons of Noah; and from these the whole earth was peopled”. (Gen 9:18-19). Shem was the oldest son (10:21), Ham was the youngest (9:24), which gives the actual order of their births.

The Table of the Nations is arranged in order of the three sons of Noah, beginning with Japheth, then Ham, and finally Shem, even though this is different from their birth order or the order they are normally listed. After the descendants of each son is a brief summary with wording similar to this, “These are the descendants of (Japheth, Ham, Shem) in their lands, with their own language, by their families, in their nations” (v5,20,31). The table concludes with a final summary, “These are the families of Noah’s sons, according to their genealogies, in their nations; and from these the nations spread on the earth after the flood”. (v32).

The same genealogy is listed at the start of the lengthy genealogy in 1 Chronicles (1 Chr 5-26). Josephus also gives an account of the table of the nations, giving some extra information about many of the nations (Ant 1.6.1-5)

It is an interesting study to compare the names listed in the Table of the Nations with other references to them through the rest of the Old Testament, as well as any evidence that can be found from early historical writings and inscriptions. The identification of some names can be more certain, while others are less so. Over the period of history many names become modified and altered, so the identification of many remains uncertain.

The three sons of Noah

1. Nations descended from Japheth (Gen 10:2-5, 1 Chron 1:5-7)

The family of Japheth is listed down to the third generation. There are seven sons of Japheth, and two of these (Gomer and Javan) have their descendants listed. Many of these names with a reasonable level of certainty can be identified as the ancestors of the Indo-European nations.

1. GomerAshkenaz, Riphath, Togarmah
2. Magog
3. Madai
4. JavanElishah, Tarshish, Kittim, Dodanim
5. Tubal
6. Meshech
7. Tiras

Japheth, second of three sons of Noah (10:2)

In the mythology of the ancient world, Japheth was regarded as the father of many peoples, particularly the Indo-European nations. Iapetos, who is probably to be identified with Japheth, was the legendary father of the Greeks. He was believed to the son of heaven and earth, and the father of many nations. The very similar name, Iyapeti, was believed to be the ancestor of the Ayrians in India. In Hindu Vedas and early Upanishads, Pra-Japati, which could be translated as Father Japheth, was the sun and lord of creation, and the source of life for those descended from him. The chief Roman god was Iu-Pater (Father Jove), which later became Jupiter. It is likely that all these names are corruptions of the original name Japheth.

Early Irish Celts, early Britons, and several other pagan European races traced the descent of their royal houses from Japheth. This included the Saxons, who knew him as Sceaf, as well as the Scandinavians.

Josephus wrote this, “Japheth had seven sons. Beginning from the mountains Taurus and Amaus, they proceeded along Asia as far as River Tanais and along Europe to Cadiz, and settling themselves on the land which they light upon, which none had inhabited before, and they called the nations by their own names” (Ant 1.6.1). The River Tanais is to the North-East of the Black Sea.

Generation II: The Seven Sons of Japheth (Gen 10:2)

The descendants of Japheth spread all over Europe, with one major branch of the family migrating eastwards into Persia and India.

1. Gomer, first of seven sons of Japheth

Gomer founded a people known to the ancient Greeks as the Cimmerians, or Gimirrai, who lived north of the Black Sea and on the shores of the Caspian Sea. The Greek writers Herodotus and Plutarch both identified Gomer with the district of Cimmeria, north of the Black Sea. The name of this district is probably to be identified with the modern Crimea.

It is likely that one branch of the descendants of Gomer later moved westward. The traditional Welsh belief was that descendants of Gomer came to Wales from France about 300 years after the flood. In the Welsh language Gomeraeg became Cymraeg, the Welsh word for the Welsh language. It is likely that the name of Gomer is also preserved in the names of Cambria (Wales) and Germany. France was called Gaul for many centuries, including by the Romans, North-Western Spain is called Galicia, from the Greek name for Gomer, today.

Ezekiel described Gomer, as “those who dwelt in the uppermost parts of the north” (Ezek 38:6). In Assyrian records, the Gimirraya were defeated by Esarhaddon, and Ashurbanipal records the Cimmerian invasion of Lydia in days of King Gugu (660 BC).

Josephus wrote, “Gomer founded those whom the Greeks now call Galatians (Galls), but were then called Gomerites” (Ant 1.6.1).

Nennius describes Gomer as the ancestor of the Gauls, but does not mention his three sons. The Maiostu people of China trace their ancestry from Noah, through Gomer.

Gomer was the father of three nations, Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah (v3), which are described below.

2. Magog, second of seven sons of Japheth

According to Josephus, Magog founded the Magogites, who are called Scythians by the Greeks. (Ant 1.6.1). It is the ancient name for the land now part of Romania and Ukraine. It is most probable that they were assimilated into the people of Ashchenaz, together forming the Scythian hordes.

The names of Gog and Magog appear in the Book of Revelation representing the final opponents of the Messiah (Rev 20:8). They also appear frequently in the same sense in Jewish apocalyptic literature. Ezekiel described Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, who comes out of the remotest parts of the north to invade Israel (Ezek 38:2,15, 39:1).

Nennius describes Magog as the ancestor of both the Scythians and Goths. The Irish Celts trace their lineage from Japheth through the line of Magog.

3. Madai, third of seven sons of Japheth

Madai is the Hebrew name for the Medes, who were his descendants.They lived in North-Western Iran, south and west of the Caspian Sea, and were the ancestors of modern Iranians.

The Medes are mentioned many times in the Bible. Assyria deported the northern tribes of Israel to Media (2 Kg 17:6, 18:11). The Medes fought with Babylon against Assyria, then with the Persians against Babylon. It was King Darius the Mede who had Daniel thrown into the den of lions, signing a document which according to the law of the Medes and Persians could not be changed (Dan 6:8)

Josephus wrote that Madai founded the Madeans, called Medes by Greeks. (Ant 1.6.1)

The land of the Medes was often mentioned in Assyrian historical records, being conquered by Shalmaneser III (858 - 824 BC) and Adad-nirari III (810 - 781 BC), Tiglath-pileser III (743 BC), and Sargon II (716 BC).

The Greek historians Strabo and Herodotus both confirm that the Medes were of Indo-European origin. Herodotus wrote, “These Medes were called anciently by all people Arians; but when Medea, the Colchian, came to them from Athens, they changed their name. Such is the account that they themselves give” (History 7:62)

4. Javan, fourth of seven sons of Japheth

Javan is the Hebrew word for Greece (Dan 8:21). Isaiah refers to Javan and Tubal as some of the nations living in distant coastlines (Is 66:19). In the Septuagint (LXX) translation of this passage, Javan is translated as Hellas (Greece).

According to Josephus, Javan founded Ionia, from whom all Grecians are derived (Ant 1.6.1). Homer's Iliad says that Iawones was ancestor of the Ionians (13.685). The Assyrian records of Sargon II (721 - 705 BC) describe a major sea battle against Javan's descendants the Iamanu. Nennius traces the ancestry of many European nations to Javan, including the Romans, Britons, Albans, Saxons, Bavarians, Thuringians and Lombards.

Javan was the father of four nations, Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim and Dodanim (v4), who are associated with regions north and west of the Middle East. They are described below.

5. Tubal, fifth of seven sons of Japheth

Tubal was a region in the centre of Asia Minor called Tabal in the Assyrian records of Tiglath-pileser I (1100 BC), where they were associated with the Muski (Meshech). They became the eastern portion of the Phyrigian empire from the 12th to 9th centuries BC. Tabal became a neo-Hittite state in central Turkey, who resisted the Assyrian advance in alliance with surrounding peoples. Part of this region is the modern nation of Georgia, whose capital Tbilisi, may retain the name Tubal.

Together with Tarshish, Javan and Meshech, they were known for their metallurgy and trade with Tyre (Ezek 27:13).

Josephus calls Tubal's descendants the Thobelites, later known as the Iberes or Iberians (Spain) (Ant 1.6.1). Nennius states that the Iberian, Spanish and Italian races were also descended from Tubal.

6. Meshech, sixth of seven sons of Japheth

In the Bible and other ancient literature, the descendants of Meshech are often listed together with the descendants of Tubal. The Bible describes them as a remote barbaric warlike people threatening from the north. (Ezek 32:26, 38:2-3, 39:1, Ps 120:5). The Septuagint translates Meshech as Mosoch.

Ezekiel notes that Meshech was trading bronze vessels and slaves with Tyre, in partnership with Javan and Tubal (Ezek 27:13, 38:2)

Meshech founded a small but formidable warlike kingdom in Asia Minor, known as Moschoi in Greek literature, including the Septuagint, and Muski in Assyrian annals. The Muski later migrated to an area of Armenia, south-east of the Black Sea, establishing mountain strongholds, from where they fought against the Assyrians. They were defeated by Tiglath-pileser I around 1100 BC. After other minor battles over the next few hundred years, Sargon II (727 - 705) decided to conquer the allies of the Muski one by one, first Carchemish, then Que (Cilicia). Mita, the Muski ruler in Asia Minor was defeated in 709 BC. Mita is probably to be identified with the legendary king Midas of Greek tradition.

Assyrian records name them as Tabal and Musku. An inscription of Tiglath-pileser I (1100 BC) records that the Mus-ka-a-ia had an army of 20,000 men. Mushki were also reported in records by Tikulti-ninurta II, Ashurbanipal II, Sargon, and Shalmaneser III.

Josephus says that Mosoch founded the Mosocheni, now known as the Cappadocians. He mentions the city of Mazaca, the original name of the whole nation (Ant 1.6.1)

The Greek historian Herodotus calls the descendants of Tubal and Meshech, Tiberanoi and Moschoi. He writes that, “The Moschi, Tibareni, Macrones, Mosynoeci, and Mares had to pay three hundred talents. This was the nineteenth satrapy” (History 3:94). They also served in the army of Xerxes “The Moschians wore helmets made of wood, and carried shields and spears of a small size: their spear-heads, however, were long”. (History 7:78)

There is also a possible connection between Mechesh and the old tribal name of the Muscovites of Russia, after whom Moscow (Moskva) is named, similar to the Assyrian Musku. The Meschera lowland around Moscow retains the name of Meshech.

7. Tiras, seventh of seven sons of Japheth

Josephus wrote that Tiras ruled over the Thirasians, and the Greeks changed their name to Thracians (Ant 1.6.1). Tiras was worshipped by his descendants as Thuras or Thor, the god of thunder and war. The river Athyras was named after him, as well as the ancient city of Troy, and the Taurus mountain range. The mysterious nation of the Etruscans may also be descended from Tiras. He also may have given his name to the region of Thrace which stretched from Macedonia to the Danube and the Black Sea, including most of Yugoslavia. Greeks referred to the Tyrehenoi, or Tyrrenoi, a nation of marauding pirates.

Herodotus wrote that the Etruscans settled in Italy after leaving Lydia in Asia Minor. (History 1.94). Merneptah of Egypt recorded that in the 13th century BC that the Tursha or Turusha invaded Egypt from the north.

Generation III:

A. Three sons of Gomer (Gen 10:3)

1. Ashkenaz, first of three sons of Gomer, first son of Japheth

Ashkenaz is the Hebrew name for Germany. Jewish writers associated them and their father Gomer with the Germanic races. German Jews today are still called Ashkenazi Jews.

They were found in earliest times in Armenia and regions between Black and Caspian Seas, giving their name to the lake and harbour of Ascanius. The Armenians claim descent from Togarmah and Ashkenaz.

According to Assyrian records from the sixth century BC, the Askuzai were allied with the Mannai (Manneans) in a revolt against Assyria. Jeremiah predicted that the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz will join with the Medes in conquest of Babylon (Jer 51:27)

Herodotus described the Scythai, or Scythians as a warlike people who caused unrest in the Assyrian empire. He also describes their conquest of the Cimmerians, descendants of Gomer (History 1.103-107, 4.1, 11-12)

Josephus wrote that Aschanax founded the Aschanaxians, says that the Greeks knew them as the Rheginians (Ant 1.6.1)

2. Riphath, second of three sons of Gomer, first son of Japheth

The descendants of Riphath gave their name to the Riphaean mountain range, which was considered the northernmost boundary of the earth by early cosmographers. Josephus recorded that Riphath founded the Ripheans, now called Paphlagonians (Ant 1.6.1). Pliny called them Riphaei, Melo called them Riphaces, and Solinus called them Piphlataei.

3. Togarmah, third of three sons of Gomer, first son of Japheth

The descendants from Togarmah settled in Armenia. The names of the countries of Turkey and Turkmenistan are probably derived from Togarmah.

The Hittites in the 14th century BC refer to Tegarama, a region on a main trade route between Carchemish and Haran, later overrun by an enemy from Isuwa (beyond the Euphrates). In Assyrian records of both Sargon II and Sennacherib mention the city of Til-gari-manu, destroyed in 695 BC, 30 miles east of modern Gurun in Turkey. After 695 BC, the descendants of Togarmah were lost, after being scattered by the Assyrians.

Josephus wrote that the Thrugramma were descendants of Togarmah, called Phyrgians by Greeks (Ant 1.6.1)

Ezekiel mentions Togarmah as one of the nations from the north, who with Tubal, Javan and Meshech, supplied horses and mules to Tyre (27:14), and soldiers to Gog (38:6).

B. Four sons of Javan (Gen 10:4)

"From these the coastland peoples spread" (Gen 10:5). All the sons of Javan have connections with Greek peoples.

1. Elishah, first of four sons of Javan, fourth son of Japheth

Ezekiel refers to Elishah as a coastal people who traded purple to Tyre (Ezek 27:7), probably referring to the Aegean Islands. Elishah was probably the ancestor of Aeolians, or Elysians, who are frequently mentioned in Greek history and mythology. Two Greek towns, Elis, and Elissus, and a region Ellas were named after him. It is probably the origin of Hellas, the Greek name for Greece, the description Hellenic, and the Greek paradise the Elysian Fields.

Josephus wrote that Elisa founded the Eliseans, who are now called the Aeolians (Ant 1.6.1). They are also mentioned in the Armana tablets as Alashia, by the Egyptians as A-ra-sa, and by the Hitttites as Alasiya.

2. Tarshish, second of four sons of Javan, fourth son of Japheth

Tarshish was the ancestor of the peoples of Tarshish, or Tartesis, who are thought to have settled in Spain. It appears to be a land in the Western Mediterranean where there were good deposits of minerals. The Mediterranean Sea was once known as the Sea of Tarshish. Jonah tried to flee from Joppa in one of the ships of Tarshish (8th century BC) (Jonah 1:3). Otherwise its location remains a mystery. The word Tarshish suggests the idea of mining or smelting, so any land rich in minerals could be called Tarshish. The Phoenicians built a class of ships known as ships of Tarshish. Phoenician inscriptions mention Tarshish without describing its geographical location. Some inscriptions from the 9th century BC in Sardinia have the name Tarshish.

Herodotus wrote that Tartessus was an unfrequented port beyond the Pillars of Hercules, now known as the Straits of Gibraltar. “They were driven past the pillars of Hercules, and at last, by some special guiding providence, reached Tartessus. This trading town was in those days a virgin port, unfrequented by the merchants”. (History 4:152)

Strabo located Tartessus in the Gualdalquivir Valley in Spain. Josephus wrote that Tharsus became the Tharsians, an older name of Cilicia and the city of Tarsus (Paul's home town) (Ant 1.6.1)

3. Kittim, third of four sons of Javan, fourth son of Japheth

Josephus wrote that Cethimus possessed the island of Cethima, now called Cyprus, so all islands and sea coasts are named Chetim by Hebrews. (Ant 1.6.1)

Old Phoenician records name Kittim as Kt, or Kty, who settled on island of Cyprus, giving name to the ancient Cypriot city of Kition, known as Citium by the Romans, which is now the city of Larnaca.

The Bible refers to ships from Kittim in several places. One is by Balaam, “But ships shall come from Kittim and shall afflict Asshur and Eber; and he also shall perish forever” (Num 24:24). Isaiah also mentions ships coming to Tyre from Kittim, which is translated Cyprus (Is 23:1,12). Jeremiah and Ezekiel also refer to the coasts of Kittim, also translated Cyprus (Jer 2:10, Ezek 27:6).

4. Dodanim, or Rodanim, fourth of four sons of Javan, fourth son of Japheth

The Dodanim was a collective name of a people descended from Dodan. The founder was deified by his descendants and worshipped as Jupiter Dodonaeus, joining the names Japheth and Dodan, in the city of Dodona, where there was an oracle.

Dodanim is translated as Rodanim in the Septuagint (1 Chr 1:7). Ezekiel wrote that the Dedanites traded with Tyre (Ezek 27:15). This is translated Rhodians, following the translation in the Septuagint. The name of the island of Rhodes is probably derived from the Rodanim.

Greeks refer to the Dardani, or Dardanians of Asia Minor, who settled in area of Troy. The area is still called the Dardanelles today. Egyptian records refer to the Drdny who were allied to the Hittites, at the battle of Kadesh. Early Britons including Nennius trace descent their from Dardanus.

2. Nations descended from Ham (Gen 10: 6-20, 1 Chron 1:8-16)

The family of Ham is listed down to the fourth generation. There are four sons of Ham and three of these (Cush, Mizraim and Canaan) have their descendants listed, some to a fourth generation. Many of these names are associated with the enemies of Israel, particularly following the conquest of the Promised Land. Because of this, the descendants of Ham are listed in more detail than those of Japheth.

1. CushSebah, Havilah, Sabta, Raamah (Sheba, Dedan), Sabtecha, Nimrod
2. MizraimLudim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, Pathrusim, Casluhim (Philistim), Caphtorim
3. Put
4. CanaanZidon, Heth, Jebusite, Amorite, Girgashite, Hivite, Arkite, Sinite, Arvadite, Zemarite, Hamathite

The descendants of Ham settled mostly in South-western Asia and Africa. Josephus wrote that the children of Ham possessed land from Syria and Amanus and mountains of Libanus, seizing all seacoasts as far as the (Atlantic ?) ocean (Ant 1.6.2)

Ham, third of three sons of Noah

Ham was the youngest of Noah's sons (Gen 9:24), even though he is normally listed second . He was cursed by Noah for telling his brothers about his father's nakedness. “Cursed be Canaan, lowest of slaves shall he be to his brother” (Gen 9:25). The curse was actually on his son Canaan, not on all the descendants of Ham.

In the Psalms, Egypt is called the Land of Ham, “He struck all the firstborn in Egypt, the first issue of their strength in the tents of Ham” (Ps 78:51). “Then Israel came to Egypt; Jacob lived as an alien in the land of Ham” (Ps 105:23). “They performed his signs among them, and miracles in the land of Ham (Ps 105:27). “They forgot God, their Saviour, who had done great things in Egypt, wondrous works in the land of Ham” (Ps 106:21-22). It is possible that the name of the Egyptian deity Amon is derived from Ham.

Generation II: The four sons of Ham (Gen 10:6)

1. Cush, first of four sons of Ham

The land of Cush was later known as Nubia, in the area of modern northern Sudan. It is often called Ethiopia by classical writers, and in English Bibles. It was an independent kingdom from 11th century BC, which conquered Egypt in the eighth century, and ruled it until the Assyrian conquest in 670 BC.

Josephus wrote, “Time has not at all hurt the name of Cush, for the Ethiopians, over whom he reigned, are even at this day, both by themselves and by all men in Asia, called Cushites” (Ant 1.6.2).

Egyptian hieroglyphics record the nation of Kush lying between the second and third cataracts of the Nile. The Assyrian records of Esarhaddon (681-668 BC) says he made himself king of Cush.

It is also possible that the Babylonian city of Kish, which was one of the first cities to be built after the flood, may be named after Cush.

Six nations descended from Cush are named and described below (v7).

2. Mizraim, second of four sons of Ham

Mizraim is translated 'Egypt' in many English Bibles. The Hebrew word is plural, Misrayim, probably referring to both Upper and Lower Egypt. Mizraim is the normal word for Egypt in both the OT and in modern Hebrew. Mizraim is a collective name for the people who settled in Egypt. It is possible that Menes, who was the founder of the first Egyptian dynasty should be identified as Mizraim.

Josephus describes the Mesraites in the Ethiopic War, in which seven of the descendants of Mizraim were destroyed. Josephus lists these nations as: Lubim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, Pathrusim, Casluhim and Caphtorim, the same list as the descendants of Mizraim in the Table of the Nations. He says that Jews call Egypt Mestre, and Egyptians Mestreans. (Ant 1.6.2).

Variations of the name are found in Ugaritic inscriptions, the Tel Amarna tablets, Assyrian and Babylonian records and in modern Arabic.

Seven nations descended from Mizraim are named and described below (v13).

3. Put, or Phut, third of four sons of Ham

The descendants of Put settled on the north-African coast to the west of Egypt, in the area of modern Libya, and is always recorded as having a close connection with Egypt.

Josephus wrote, “Phut also was the founder of Libya, and called the inhabitants Phutites, from himself: there is also a river in the country of the Moors which bears that name; whence it is that we may see the greatest part of the Grecian historiographers mention that river and the adjoining country by the appellation of Phut: but the name it has now, has by change given it from one of the sons of Mesraim, who was called Lybyos.” (Ant 1.6.2)

Egyptian records frequently referred to Put or Punt. The archives of Darius the Great of Persia (522 - 486 BC) locate the land of 'Puta' in the region of Cyrenaica, on the coast to the west of Egypt.

4. Canaan, fourth of four sons of Ham

The descendants of Canaan settled in Phoenicia and in the land that was later given to Israel. At the time of the conquest under Joshua, the population consisted of the tribes descended from Canaan, known as the Canaanites. Both Sanchuniathon and Phylo of Biblos confirm that the Canaanites derived their name from their founder. In spite of their Hamitic descent, they spoke a Semitic language.

Josephus wrote, “Canaan, the fourth son of Ham, inhabited the country now called Judea, and called it from his own name Canaan.” (Ant 1.6.2). Varieties of the name Canaan were used by the Greeks, Phoenicians, Egyptians and Assyrians. The Hurrians referred to dyed cloths as Canaanite cloth.

Eleven sons of Canaan are listed and described below (v15-18).

Generation III:

A. Four Sons of Cush (Gen 10:7a, 1 Chron 1:9)

1. Sebah, first of six sons of Cush, first son of Ham

He founded the nation later known as the Sabeans on the south-west coast of Arabia, as recorded by Josephus (Ant 1.6.2). The Greek historian Strabo wrote about the city of Sabai, with a harbour known as Saba on the west coast of the Arabian peninsula. Isaiah also mentions the Sabeans, “The wealth of Egypt and the merchandise of Ethiopia, and the Sabeans, tall of stature, shall come over to you (Cyrus) and be yours, they shall follow you; they shall come over in chains and bow down to you.” (Is 45:14).

2. Havilah, second of six sons of Cush, first son of Ham

There were two tribes of Havilah, one Hamitic, and one Semitic. His descendants settled on the east coast of Arabia on the shores of the Persian Gulf. Josephus names him Evilas, the founder of the Evileans, who are called Getuli (And 1.6.2).

3. Sabta, third of six sons of Cush, first son of Ham

His descendants settled on the eastern side of Arabia. Sabta's name is preserved in the ancient city of Shabwat, modern Sabota, the capital of Hadramaut (Hazarmaveth). Josephus wrote that Sabas founded the Sabeans (Ant 1.6.2). They are named Sapta by Ptolemy and Messabathi by Pliny.

4. Raamah, fourth of six sons of Cush, first son of Ham

Inscriptions of ancient Sheba indicate that Raamah's descendants settled near the land of Havilah, to the east of Ophir. They traded with the descendants of Zidon and Tyre. There is still a place called Raamah near Ma'im in south-west Arabia.

The Septuagint names him Regma. Josephus wrote, “Ragmus the Ragmeans; and he had two sons, the one of whom, Judadas, settled the Judadeans, a nation of the western Ethiopians, and left them his name; as did Sabas to the Sabeans” (Ant 1.6.2)

Raamah had two sons, Sheba and Dedan (v7), which are described below.

5. Sabtecha, fifth of six sons of Cush, first son of Ham

His descendants settled in southern Arabia, in modern Yemen. Josephus wrote, “Sabathes founded the Sabathens; they are now called by the Greeks, Astaborans” (Ant 1.6.2).

6. Nimrod, sixth of six sons of Cush, first son of Ham (Gen 10:8-12)

His name means 'Let us rebel!' It was probably given to him by Cush, in resentment against the curse on Canaan. Instead of being a slave to Shem (9:24,26), he would become a ruler.

He is given a longer description in the Table of the Nations, “He was the first to become a mighty warrior. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, ‘Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD.’ The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, and Accad, all of them in the land of Shinar. From that land he went into Assyria, and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-ir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.” (Gen 10:9-12). It appears that Nimrod developed a complex of cities forming an empire centred in Babylon, which spread to the north into Assyria. The Assyrian city of Calah was also known as Nimrud.

Nimrod was the most notorious man in the ancient world, who is credited with instigating the great rebellion at Babel, and of founding the worst features of paganism, including magical arts, astrology and human sacrifice. There is much evidence that he was worshipped from the very earliest times. His image was incorporated into the Chaldean zodiac as a child seated on his mother's lap, who were both worshiped, she as the Queen of Heaven, and her son.

A mountain near Ararat has been called Nimrud Dagh (Mount Nimrod) from the earliest times after the flood. The Caspian Sea was once called the Mar de Bachu, meaning Sea of Bacchus, Baachus being the son of Cush. It is named this on Walter Raleigh's map of the world in 1634. Bacchus was worshipped as the god of wine and fertility by the Romans.

The city of Calah was founded by Nimrod and became one of the chief cities of Assyria, also being known as Nimrud. This became the royal seat and military capital in 9th century BC. The Plain of Shinar was known as the Land of Nimrod. Iraqi and Iranian Arabs still speak the name of Nimrod with awe. Acccording to legend, the tomb of Nimrod is in Damascus.

The Jerusalem Targum says this about Nimrod, “He was powerful in hunting and in wickedness before the Lord, for he was a hunter of the sons of men, and he said to them, ‘Depart from the judgement of the Lord, and adhere to the judgement of Nimrod!’ Therefore it is said, ‘As Nimrod the strong one, strong in hunting, and in wickedness before the Lord.’”

In his account of the Tower of Babel, Josephus follows the Rabbanic tradition in saying that Nimrod led the rebellion against God, and became a tyrant in Babylon, and the instigator of the building of the Tower of Babel (Ant 1.4.1-3)

For more about the Tower of Babel and the role of Nimrod, see the Tower of Babel page.

The prophet Micah said this, “They shall rule the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod with the drawn sword” (Micah 5:6)

His name may be the basis of Ninurta or Ninus, the Assyrian god of war and founder of Nineveh, as well as Marduk the Babylon king of the gods.

B. Seven Descendants of Mizraim (Egypt) (Gen 10:13, 1 Chron 1:11-12)

All seven of these descendants of Mizraim were listed by Josephus as being destroyed or defeated in the Ethiopic War. “Now all the children of Mesraim, being eight in number possessed the country from Gaza to Egypt, though it retained the name of one only, the Philistim; for the Greeks call part of that country Palestine. As for the rest, Ludicim, and Enemim, and Labin, who alone inhabited in Libya, and called the country from himself, Nedim, and Phethrosim, and Chesloim, and Cephthorim, we nothing of them besides their name, for the Ethiopic war, which we shall describe hereafter (Ant 2.10), was the cause that those cities were overthrown.” (Ant 1.6.2).

1. Ludim, first of seven sons of Mizraim, second son of Ham

The Ludim settled on the north coast of Africa, and gave their name to Libya. Several times the land of Lebu provided Egypt with mercenary troops. Jeremiah lists three nations who help the Egyptians at the Battle of Carchemish (605 BC), “Let the warriors go forth: Ethiopia (Cush) and Put who carry the shield , the Ludim, who draw the bow” (Jer 46:9). Some scholars have identified the Ludim with the Lydians of Asia Minor, but this is less likely.

2. Anamim, second of seven sons of Mizraim, second son of Ham

Very few records of these people are found, probably because of their destruction in the Ethiopic War. Assyrian records of Sargon II mention the land of A-na-mi adjacent to the land of Kaptara (Caphtor).

3. Lehabim, third of seven sons of Mizraim, second son of Ham

These people were destroyed by the Ethiopic War, so it is difficult to locate their home. Libya is most likely.

4. Naphtuhim, fourth of seven sons of Mizraim, second son of Ham

These people settled in the Nile Delta and western parts of Egypt. Egyptian records mention the p't'mhw, the people of the marshland or delta, or northland, or Na-patoh-im.

5. Pathrusim, fifth of seven sons of Mizraim, second son of Ham

These people migrated to Upper Egypt, between Cairo and Aswan. The district of Pathros bears their name.

When predicting the recovery of the remnant, Isaiah lists people from Egypt (Misraim), from Pathros, and from Ethiopia (Cush), moving from north to south (Is 11:11). Jeremiah lists Pathros with regions of Egypt, “The word that came to Jeremiah for all the Judeans living in the land of Egypt, at Migdol, at Tahpanhes, at Memphis, and in the land of Pathros” (Jer 44:1). He also mentions Pathros with Egypt, “all the people who lived in Pathros in the land of Egypt” (Jer 44:15).

Egyptian records refer to p't'rs, or Ptores, meaning the southern areas of Egypt. The Assyrian king Esarhaddon (681 - 668 BC) records his conquest of the Paturisi, so they were evidently not completely destroyed in the Ethiopic War. He boasted as being king of Musur, Paturisi and Cush.

6. Casluhim, sixth of seven sons of Mizraim, second son of Ham.

Their location is unknown, but the Table of the Nations names them as the ancestor of the Philistines, who are described below. A location in northern Egypt is most likely.

7. Caphtorim, seventh of seven sons of Mizraim, second son of Ham

Many people have tried to identify Capthor with Crete, so the Philistines could identified as the Sea Peoples of the 13th century BC. However evidence for this is questionable. The Philistines were already in Canaan at the time of Abraham in the 19th century BC (Gen 21:32, 26:1-18). The Table of the Nations lists the Caphtorim as descendents from Ham and Mizraim (Egypt). Jeremiah describes the Philistines as the remnant of the coastline of Caphtor (Jer 47:4).

It appears that only the descendants of Japheth inhabited the Mediterranean islands, like Cyprus, and Crete, and not the descendants of Ham. The early Cretans were a Indo-European people, in race, culture and language.

Josephus wrote about the Cephthorim, saying, “we nothing of them besides their name, for the Ethiopic war, which we shall describe hereafter, was the cause that those cities were overthrown.” (Ant 1.6.2). This conflict was limited to Egypt and Ethiopia, and did not involve the islands in the Mediterranean, like Crete.

Egyptian records refer to kftyw or Kaphtur, to describe the area of Phoenicia, not the island of Crete.

C. Eleven sons and descendants of Canaan, fourth son of Ham (Gen 10:15-19, 1 Chron 1:13- 16)

More information is given about the descendants of Canaan, as many of these people were the inhabitants of the land at the time of the conquest of the Promised Land under Joshua. “Afterwards the families of the Canaanites spread abroad” (v18), and, “And the territory of the Canaanites extended from Sidon, in the direction of Gerar, as far as Gaza, and in the direction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha” (v19).

For more information about the enemies of Israel at the time of the conquest of the Promised Land, see the Enemies of Israel page.

1. Zidon, first of eleven sons of Canaan, fourth son of Ham

His descendants settled on the Mediterranean coast of Canaan, where his name is still retained in the modern city of Sidon. Originally known as the Zidonians, they were later known as the Phoenicians. Josephus wrote that Sidonius was called by Greeks Sidon (Ant 1.6.2)

2. Heth, second of eleven sons of Canaan, fourth son of Ham

Heth was the ancestor of the Hittite nation, which became a great empire through Old Testament times. These were the first people to smelt iron on a large scale. The Armana tablets contain letters between the Hittite emperor, Subbiluliuma and Amenhotep IV of Egypt. Rameses II records how he engaged the Hittites at the battle of Kadesh, in the earliest recorded battle involving massed battle chariots. Heth's name was retained in the Hittite capital of Hattushash, now modern Baghazkoy in Turkey. The Hittites are referred to as the sons of Heth in Hebrew, which is translated as Hittites (Gen 23:3,5,10,18,20).

Some people have suggested that following the collapse of the Hittite empire, the remnant of the Hittite people migrated to the far east. In cuneiform inscriptions, Hittites are often recorded as Khittae, which might possibly have been modified to Cathay.

3. Jebusite, third of eleven sons of Canaan, fourth son of Ham

The remainder of the descendants of Cannan are named by their collective name, ending -ite. So the Jebusites were probably descended from a son of Canaan called Jebus.

His descendants settled in the mountainous regions of Judea. Their chief city was later called Jerusalem (Judges 19:10), which was taken by David (2 Sam 5:6-10). Their strong and natural fortifications enabled them to withstand the armies of Israel.

4. Amorite, fourth of eleven sons of Canaan, fourth son of Ham

His descendants settled in the land of Canaan. Initially adopting a nomadic lifestyle, they soon organised themselves into a very powerful and aggressive nation. The Amorites later conquered Babylonia, and one of the most famous kings of Babylonia, Hammurabi, contains the name Amurru. Akkadians described the Amurru as a desert people unacquainted with civilised life, grain, houses, cities or government.

5. Girgashite, fifth of eleven sons of Canaan, fourth son of Ham

They settled east of the Jordan, between Galilee and the Dead Sea. Their descendants are probably the Gadarenes of the NT. Josephus calls him Gergesus (Ant 1.6.2). Similar names are found in Urgaritic, Hittite and Egyptian records.

6. Hivite, sixth of eleven sons of Canaan, fourth son of Ham

This people moved from Canaan to the foothills of Lebanon during the Israelite conquest of the Promised Land under Joshua. King Solomon later conscripted the remnant of the Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites as slave labour in his building projects (1 Kg 9:20- 21). Josephus named him Eueus (Ant 1.6.2).

7. Arkite, seventh of eleven sons of Canaan, fourth son of Ham

The Arkites were known for the worship of Astarte. Their city is still known today as Tell- Arqa, 20 km north-east of Tripolis. Arqa was known to Thutmose III of Egypt as Arkantu, who conquered it in his 16th or 17th campaign. Arqa was taken by Tiglath-pileser III in 738 BC. Josephus wrote, “Arucas who possesed Acre, in Libabus” (Ant 1.6.2). Assyrian inscriptions of both Shalmaneser II, and Tiglath-pileser III describe the Arkites as being rebellious. The Arkites are also mentioned in Egyptian records, and the tel-Amarna tablets.

8. Sinite, eight of eleven sons of Canaan, fourth son of Ham

The name of these people can be identified with the northern Phoenician city-state of Siyannu. Their name is still found in the modern towns of Nahr as-Sinn, and Sinn addarb, which are near Arqa. Siyanni and the nearby city of Ushnatu formed a vassal state controlled by the Ugarit, until they came under the control of the Hittite king of Carchemish around 1300 BC. They were one of the coalition of twelve nations, including Israel, who fought against the Assyrians at the Battle of Qarqar (853 BC). In 738 BC, they came under the control of Assyria when conquered by Tiglath-pileser III. They appear in records from the Phoenicians and Assyrians, and are mentioned by the historians Strabo and Hieronymous.

One of the important Assyrian gods was called Sin, which could be identified as this son of Canaan. Worship of ancestors, particularly the founder of the peoples, was very common in the ancient world. His name may also be linked with well-known Biblical locations, including Sinai and the wilderness of Sin.

It has been suggested that there is also a link with China. The prefix Sino- is still used today to describe China. Isaiah refers to a land to the east called Syene, or Sinim (Is 49:12). It is possible that a branch of the Sinites migrated east and became the origin of the Chinese people.

9. Arvadite, ninth of eleven sons of Canaan, fourth son of Ham

These people settled on the small island of Arvad, named after their founder, which is today called Ruad. The island is under one mile around, and was heavily populated. It lies north of the bay of Tripoli about two miles out to sea. The Arvadites constructed an artificial harbour, and were famous for their skilful seamanship. Even the Assyrians admired them for this. Josephus named him, “Arudeus, on island of Aradus” (Ant 1.6.2)

Shalmaneser listed Mattan Baal, king of Arvad as one of the enemies defeated at the Battle of Qarqar (853 BC). Sennacherib (on his hexagonal prism) lists Abdilihit of Arvad as one of the three Phoenician kings paying tribute in 701 BC. In the annals of Ashurbanipal, Yakinlu king of Arvad, in submitting to Assyria, sent his own daughter to Nineveh with a large tribute in the form of a dowry (664 BC). They are also mentioned on the tel-Amana tablets, as well as in Egyptian records.

The Persians allowed them to form a federation with Tyre and Sidon. They played an important part in the conquests of Alexander the Great, when they lent a large fleet to Alexander for his attack on Tyre.

Ezekiel said that men from Arvad were employed by Tyre to serve as sailors and soldiers, “The inhabitants of Sidon and Arvad were your rowers; skilled men of Zemer were within you, they were your pilots” (Ezek 27:8), and “Men of Arvad and Helech were on your walls all around, men of Gamad were at your towers. They hung their quivers all around your walls; they made perfect your beauty.” (Ezek 27:11).

Arvad, translated as Aradus in Greek, is included with a list of cities (1 Macc 15:23)

10. Zemarite, tenth of eleven sons of Canaan, fourth son of Ham

The Zemarites settled on the Phoenician coast at the mouth of the River Eleutheros. Their name is recorded in the modern town of Sumra, on the Mediterranean coast, north of Tripoli, northern Phoenicia, just north of the border between Syria and Lebanon. In Assyrian and Egyptian records their city was a strategic centre and an important Egyptian base before the battle of Kadesh.

11. Hamathite, eleventh of eleven sons of Canaan, fourth son of Ham

The important Hittite royal city of Hamath, meaning citadel, on the Orontes, was named after their founder, Hamath. This is where Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Egyptian armies in 605 BC. The Greeks and Romans called the city Epiphaneia, and today it is again called Hamah. In the Battle of Qarqar, in 853 BC, the men of Hamath successfully defeated the Assyrian forces in their attempt to invade the west by mobilising an army of 63,000 foot soldiers, 2,000 light horses, 4,000 battle chariots, and 1,000 camels.

Josephus wrote, “Amathus inhabited in Amathine, which is even now called Amathe by the inhabitants, although the Macedonians named it Epiphanis, from one of his posterity” (And 1.6.2)

Generation IV:

A. Two Sons of Raamah (Gen 10:7b, 1 Chron 1:9b)

These are Arabian peoples who settled in the southern part of the Arabian peninsula.

1. Sheba, first of two sons of Raamah, fourth of six sons of Cush, first son of Ham

Mineaean inscriptions from northern Yemen from the 9th century BC indicate that Sheba was the southern neighbour of Yemen. Sheba was famous as the Land of Spices, one of the four spice kingdoms (Minea, Kataban and Hadramaut). There are large archaeological ruins, with 60 foot walls, showing that the land was very fertile, being irrigated by ingenious systems from a great dam across the River Adhanat. In 542 BC, the dam collapsed after 1000 years, which is recorded in the Koran as a judgement of God.

2. Dedan, second of two sons of Raamah fourth of six sons of Cush, first son of Ham

Their main settlement was in a city now known as Al-ula, 70 miles south-west of modern Taima. They traded with the Phoenicians.

Isaiah refers to caravans of Dedanites in his oracle concerning the desert plain (Is 21:13). In his prediction of the fall of Tyre, Ezekiel mentions the trade with the Dedanites, also mentioning the traders of Sheba and Raamah (Exek 27:20,22)

In the genealogies in Genesis there are two pairs of brothers with the same names. This pair are Hamite, descended from Ham and Ramaah. The other are Semite, descended from Abram and Keturah, through Jokshan (Gen 25:3)

B. One descendant from Caphtorim (Gen 10:14b, 1 Chron 1:12b)

1. Philistines (Philistim) son of of Caphtor, seventh son of Egypt, second son of Ham

The book of Genesis clearly implies that the Philistines occupied parts of Canaan as early as the time of Abraham (Gen 20) and Isaac (Gen 26). Often today it is assumed that the Philistines appeared in the 13th century BC, and are the people Egyptian literature calls the Sea People, from Crete. Their origin is more likely to have been northern Egypt, from where they migrated north to Canaan.

Josephus wrote about the Philistim; for the Greeks call part of that country Palestine (Ant 1.6.2). It is the Greek name for the Philistines, Palastine, which is the origin of the modern name Palestine.

In his word against the Philistines, Jeremiah wrote, “For the LORD is destroying the Philistines, the remnant of the coastland of Caphtor” (Jer 47:4). Amos declared that the LORD brought the Philistines from Caphtor (Amos 9:7).

3. Nations of Shem (Gen 10:21-30, 1 Chron 1:17-27)

The family of Shem is listed down to the fifth generation. There are five sons of Shem and two of these (Arphaxad and Aram) have their descendants listed, some to a fifth generation.

In the Table of the Nations the line of Shem is traced for five generations as far as Peleg. Later the Semetic line is extended a further five generations to Abram (Gen 11:10-26).

1. Elam
2. Asshur
3. ArphaxadShelahEberPeleg, Joktan
4. Lud
5. Aram Uz, Hul, Gether, Mash

Sons of Joktan
Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah,Obal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah, Jobab.

1. Shem, first of three sons of Noah

The title Semite comes from Shem. His descendants settled mostly to the north and east of Israel. According to Josephus, Shem was the third son of Noah. He had five sons, who inhabited the land that began at the Euphrates and reached the Indian Ocean. (Ant 1.6.4)

Generation II:

A. Five sons of Shem (Gen 10:22, 1 Chron 1:17a)

I. Elam, first of five sons of Shem

The founder of Elamites who lived in the Plain of Khuzistan, where the Kerkh River joins the Tigris, just north of the Persian Gulf. The capital was Susa, now Shush. They called themselves Haltamti. In Middle Persian huz, the archaic form of the modern Persian name Khuzistan. Modern Persians are descended from Madai, son of Japheth, and Elam, son of Shem, so they are a mixed people.

Josephus wrote, “Elam left behind him the Elamites, the ancestors of the Persians” (Ant 1.6.4). They are mentioned many times in the Bible.

2. Asshur, second of five sons of Shem

The founder of Assyria, and name of the earliest capital city of Assyria. He was worshipped as god by Assyrians. All Assyrian accounts of battles, diplomatic affairs, and foreign bulletins were read out to his image, and every Assyrian king believed that he wore the crown only with the permission of Asshur's deified ghost. King Ashurbanipal's name means “Ashur has made a son”. On Assyrian battle reliefs Asshur is represented by a winged disc above the battlefield. Asshur is also the Hebrew word for Assyria. Josephus wrote, “Ashur lived at the city Nieve; and named his subjects Assyrians, who became the most fortunate nation, beyond others.” (Ant 1.6.4)

3. Arphaxad, or Arpachshad, third of five sons of Shem

The ancestor of the Chaldeans, and of the Hebrews through his grandson Eber. The Assyrians called their descendants Kaldu, who were expert astrologers, magicians and mathematicians. There is a 2.5 acre ruin of an ancient settlement called Arpachiya. Josephus wrote, “Arphaxad named the Arphaxadites, who are now called Chaldeans.” (Ant 1.6.4) “He was the son of Shem, born twelve years after the deluge.” (Ant 1.6.5)

4. Lud, fourth of five sons of Shem

The ancestor of the Ludim. The land of Lydia in western Turkey is a direct Greek derivation of the name Lud. Its capital was the city of Sardis, the recipient of a letter in the Book of Revelation (Rev 3:1-6). The Lydians were famous for their skill as archers, and were conquered by Cyrus of Persia in 546 BC. The Lydians spoke an Indo-European (Japhetic) language, found in inscriptions on Egyptian monuments. Assyria and Babylon records refer to Ludu.

Isaiah lists Lud together with Put, nations which draw the bow (Is 66:19). Ezekiel also lists Lud and Put as nations allied with Tyre (Ezek 27:10). He also predicts that Ethiopia, Put, Lud, Arabia and Libya shall fall together with Egypt (Ezek 30:5)

Josephus wrote, “Laud founded the Laudites, which are now called Lydians” (Ant 1.6.4)

Herodotus gives an account of the origin of the Lydians from Lydus. “The sovereignty of Lydia, which had belonged to the Heraclides, passed into the family of Croesus, who were called the Mermnadae, in the manner which I will now relate. There was a certain king of Sardis, Candaules by name, whom the Greeks called Myrsilus. He was a descendant of Alcaeus, son of Hercules. The first king of this dynasty was Agron, son of Ninus, grandson of Belus, and great-grandson of Alcaeus; Candaules, son of Myrsus, was the last. The kings who reigned before Agron sprang from Lydus, son of Atys, from whom the people of the land, called previously Meonians, received the name of Lydians. The Heraclides, descended from Hercules and the slave-girl of Jardanus, having been entrusted by these princes with the management of affairs, obtained the kingdom by an oracle. Their rule endured for two and twenty generations of men, a space of five hundred and five years; during the whole of which period, from Agron to Candaules, the crown descended in the direct line from father to son.” (History 1:7)

5. Aram, fifth of five sons of Shem

The founder of the Arameans, occupying the area of modern Syria. Aramaic was language of Israel at time of Jesus, and is still spoken today. Aram is the Hebrew word for Syria. Josephus wrote, “Aram had the Aramites, which the Greeks call Syrians” (Ant 1.6.4). They are mentioned many times in the Bible, particularly during the ministry of Elisha in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. They are also mentioned in Akkadian and Assyrian records.

The Aramaic language became prominent in the ancient near east, being spoken in many nations, including Assyria and Babylon. Parts of the books of Daniel and Ezra were written in Aramaic, and it became widely spoken amongst the Jews at the time of Jesus.

Generation III:

A. One son of Arphaxad (Gen 10:24, 1 Chron 1:18a)

1. Shelah, only son of Arphaxad, third of five sons of Shem

Not found in non-Biblical sources apart from Josephus, who lists, “Sala son of Arphaxad” (Ant 1.6.4)

B. Four sons of Aram (Gen 10:23, 1 Chron 1:17b)

1. Uz, first of four sons of Aram, fifth of five sons of Shem

Because the Arameans were rather nomadic, it is difficult to locate the region where the descendants of Uz settled. Regions of northern Arabia between Babylon and Edom are most likely. The land of Uz was Job's homeland, in the east (Job 1:1,3). The area of the Wadi Sirhan, a shallow flat depression 50 miles east of Amman, 210 miles long and 20 miles wide is a likely location.

Together with the Philistines, Edom, Moab and the sons of Ammon, Jeremiah prophesied that they must drink the cup of God's wrath for the nations (Jer 25:20-26). In Lamentations, Uz is the land where the daughters of Edom dwelt (Lam 4:21).

Josephus says that Uz, son of Aram, founded Trachonitis and Damascus, the country between Palestine and Celesyria. (Ant 1.6.4)

2. Hul, second of four sons of Aram, fifth of five sons of Shem

His descendants settled to the north of the Sea of Galilee. The lake and valley of Huleh were named after them.. In Victorian times, the area was notorious for its tribes of Bedouin robbers. Lake Huleh and its marshes and swamps have now been drained, and the reclaimed land is settled and farmed. In modern Israel there is a nature reserve there called the Vale of Hula. In the Book of Joshua, this area was called the Waters of Merom (Josh 11:5,7). Josephus says that Ul founded Armenia (Ant 1.6.4).

3. Gether, third of four sons of Aram, fifth of five sons of Shem

His descendants settled to the south of Damascus. Josephus calls them Gather, and identifies them as the Bactrians (Ant 1.6.4). This may not be correct, as Bactria was settled by Japhetic tribes by late Assyrian times, rather then Semitic.

4. Mash, fourth of four sons of Aram, fifth of five sons of Shem

His descendants were people who lived in Lebanon. In 1 Chr 1:17, he is called Meshech, which should not be confused with the Meshech from the line of Japheth. Josephus wrote, “Mesa the Mesaneans; it is now called Charax Spasini” (Ant 1.6.4)

Generation IV:

A. One son of Shelah (Gen 10:24b, 1 Chron 1:18b)

1. Eber, only son of Shelah, only son of Arphaxad, third of five sons of Shem

Eber gave his name to the Hebrew people, the children of Eber. His name means one who emigrates, or crosses over (Gen 10:21), describing a tribe which came from the other side of the River (Euphrates). Eber is sometimes used as a name for Israel (Num 24:24). Some have tried to identify him with Ebru, king of Ebla, but this is unlikely.

Josephus wrote, “Heber, from whom they originally called the Jews Hebrews" (Ant 1.6.4). Abram is described as Abram the Hebrew (Gen 14:13).

Generation V:

A. Two Sons of Eber (Gen 10:25, 1 Chron 1:19)

1. Peleg, first of two sons of Eber, only son of Shelah, only son of Arphaxad, third of five sons of Shem

Peleg was named after the division and scattering of the nations from Babel. According to Genesis, his name was Peleg, “for in his days the earth was divided” (Gen 10:25). This sets The Tower of Babel (Gen 11) as being during the fourth generation after the flood.

The Hebrew word Peleg means water course, or division. His name corresponds with the Akkadian word Pulukku, which means dividing up of territory with boundaries. The Assyrian word, palgu means to divide land with canals and irrigation systems. An ancient name of Babylon is Place of Canals, or Place of Division, or Place of Peleg. There are ruins of an Akkadian town called Phalgu where the Euphrates and Chebar (or Chaboras) Rivers join.

Josephus wrote, “he was called Phaleg, because he was born at the dispersion of the nations to their several countries; for Phaleg, among the Hebrews, signifies division” (Ant.1.6.4)

The descendants of Peleg continue the Semetic line which led to Abram (11:18-26), and ultimately to the Jewish people and the Jewish Messiah, Jesus (Matt 1:1-16).

2. Joktan, second of two sons of Eber

The ancestor of 13 southern Arabian tribes listed below (v26). Modern Arabs remember him as Yaqtan, son of Ishmael, and father of all Arabs. Arabs consider that the purest Arabs are Semitic Arabs descended from Joktan, while Hamitic Arabs are referred disdainfully as Musta 'rabs, meaning Pretended Arabs. Joktan's name is preserved in the ancient town of Jectan, near modern Mecca. His name in Hebrew means Younger.

A. 13 Sons of Joktan (Gen 10:26-30, 1 Chron 1:20-23)

The sons of Joktan became tribes who lived in the Arabian desert. “The territory in which they lived extended from Mesha in the direction of Sephas, the hill country of the east” (Gen 10:30)

1. Almodad, first of 13 sons of Joktan, second of two sons of Eber

Almodad's name is Arabic, and means The Agitator. He probably settled in the southern part of the Arabian peninsula. Josephus and the Septuagint name him Elmodad.

2. Sheleph, second of 13 sons of Joktan, second of two sons of Eber

A southern Arabian tribe, known to pre-Islamic Arabs as Salif. They were identified with a tribe from Yemen, whose capital Sulaf was about 60 miles north of modern San'aa, otherwise with Shilph, a district of Yemen, or Shalph or Shulph, other Yemenite tribes.

3. Hazarmaveth, third of 13 sons of Joktan, second of two sons of Eber

His descendants populated the 200 mile long valley that runs parallel to the southern coast of Arabia, known today as The Hadramaut near Aden in Yemen. The kingdom of Hadramaut, with capital city of Shabwa or Sabteca, was a highly developed ancient civilisation from the 5th century BC, to the 1st century AD. Hadramaut is a direct transposition into Arabic of the name Hazarmaveth, which means Town of Death.

Josephus names him Asermoth (Ant 1.6.4). Strabo records that the tribe of Hazarmaveth was one of the four main tribes of Arabs at his time.

4. Jerah, fourth of 13 sons of Joktan, second of two sons of Eber

It is likely that his descendants migrated to southern Arabia. There is an Arab city with this name, known as Jerakon Kome by Ptolemy, which is on the Mara coast close to Hadramaut. The Hebrew yerah is identical with the word for month, or moon, and this word is found in many inscriptions in southern Arabia with this meaning.

On the shores of the Sea of Galilee there is a ruined mound called Beth-Yerah, meaning the house of Jerah, but this is probably not connected with this Jerah.

5. Hadoram, fifth of 13 sons of Joktan, second of two sons of Eber

A southern Arabian tribe, whose town is recorded as Hurarina in inscriptions of Ashurbanipal, which lies close to Yarki.

6. Uzal, sixth of 13 sons of Joktan, second of two sons of Eber

The name Uzal is recorded by Arab historians as Azal, which is the pre-Islamic name for San'aa, the modern capital of Yemen, so his descendants are probably modern Yemenis. Josephus names him Aizel (Ant 1.6.4)

7. Diklah, seventh of 13 sons of Joktan, second of two sons of Eber

As his name in Greek is Tigris, the name of the river where he settled, either north of the Persian Gulf or in the north-eastern corner of the Arabian peninsula. Josephus names him Decla (Ant 1.6.4). The name is also found in Akkadian and Assyrian records.

8. Obal, eighth of 13 sons of Joktan, second of two sons of Eber

A southern Arabian tribe, who Arab historians knew as Ebal, who lived between the Yemeni cities of Hadeida and San'aa. Josephus named him Ebal (Ant 1.6.4). In Yemeni inscriptions he is Abil.

9. Abimael, ninth of 13 sons of Joktan, second of two sons of Eber

His descendants settled in southern Arabia, which is shown in ancient Sabean inscriptions.

10. Sheba, tenth of 13 sons of Joktan, second of two sons of Eber

There are two Sheba's in the Table of the Nations
1. Sheba, tenth son of Joktan in the line of Shem
2. Sheba, son of Raamah, grandson of Cush (Ham)
There is also another Sheba, the first son of Jokshan, grandson of Abram and Keturah (Gen 25:3)

Two of these are found in Arabia, (from Joktan and Cush), so it is impossible to determine where this Sheba's descendants lived. It is likely that the Semitic and Hamitic Shebas became mixed when Semitic groups settled near Hamitic groups. Classical Abyssinian culture shows a blending of Hamitic and Semitic elements. Southern Arabians crossed the sea to Africa as traders and colonists to make a great impact on Abyssinian culture. The Old Testament most frequently identifies Shebans as traders or raiders, trading in gold, frankincense, spices and jewels (Job 6:19). Through their trading, they founded colonies in various oases in northern Arabia.

Sheba or Saba was the most prominent of the Arab kingdoms in the first millennium BC. It was ruled by mukarribs (priest-kings) who supervised both the political affairs and the polytheistic worship of the sun, moon and star-gods. The capital was Marib, where there are significant archaeological remains of temples to the moon-god. The Queen of Sheba came to visit King Solomon (1 Kg 10). Josephus names him Sabeus (Ant 1.6.4)

11. Ophir, eleventh of 13 sons of Joktan, second of two sons of Eber

From pre-Islamic Arabic inscriptions, this tribe settled between Saba (Sheba) in Yemen and Hawlan , or Havilah. Its name is preserved in the coastal town of Ma'afir in south-west Arabia. The gold of Ophir was considered to be among the most precious of materials, by both the Bible and other ancient documents. Solomon's fleet brought gold from Ophir (1 Kg 9-10). The location of Ophir is disputed. The Biblical association is with the south-western corner of the Arabian peninsula.

There are also traditions that Ophir was in India, including Josephus, “Solomon gave this command, that they should go with his own stewards to the land that was of old called Ophir, but was now called Aurea Chersonesus, which belongs to India”. (Ant 8.6.4)

12. Havilah, twelfth of 13 sons of Joktan, second of two sons of Eber

There are two Arabian tribes known as Havilah, which remained as distinct tribes. This Havilah, twelfth son of Joktan, in the line of Shem, and Havilah, the second son of Cush in the line of Ham. The name means “stretch of sand”, from the diminutive of the Hebrew word for sand.

The Arabian cosmographer Yakut says that their dialect Hawil was spoken by the descendants of Midian, the son of Abraham. The Semitic tribe of Havilah lived in areas of northern Arabia, as well as the southernmost tip of the Arabian peninsula, crossing over the Red Sea from there to the African coast, near the modern state of Djibouti. Their city Aualis, noted by Ptolemy and Pliny on the Red Sea coast of Africa, is now known as Zeila.

13. Jobab, thirteenth of 13 sons of Joktan, second of two sons of Eber

His descendants settled in the town named after their founder Juhaibab, which according to Sabean inscriptions is close to modern Mecca.

Related articles

How to interpret OT Narratives Introduction to Genesis
Are chapters 1 to 11 of Genesis historical? Long lives of the patriarchs
Chronology of the flood (Gen 7-8)
Table of the Nations (Gen 10) The Tower of Babel (Gen 11)
Names of God in the Old Testament Covenants in the Old Testament

The Bible

Pages which look at issues relevant to the whole Bible, such as the Canon of Scripture, as well as doctrinal and theological issues. There are also pages about the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha and 'lost books' of the Old Testament.

Also included are lists of the quotations of the OT in the NT, and passages of the OT quoted in the NT.

Why These 66 Books?
Books in the Hebrew Scriptures
Quotations in NT From OT
OT Passages Quoted in NT
History of the English Bible
Twelve Books of the Apocrypha
The Pseudepigrapha - False Writings
Lost Books Referenced in OT

Old Testament Overview

This is a series of six pages which give a historical overview through the Old Testament and the inter-testamental period, showing where each OT book fits into the history of Israel.

OT 1: Creation and Patriarchs
OT 2: Exodus and Wilderness
OT 3: Conquest and Monarchy
OT 4: Divided kingdom and Exile
OT 5: Return from Exile
OT 6: 400 Silent Years

New Testament Overview

This is a series of five pages which give a historical overview through the New Testament, focusing on the Ministry of Jesus, Paul's missionary journeys, and the later first century. Again, it shows where each book of the NT fits into the history of the first century.

NT 1: Life and Ministry of Jesus
NT 2: Birth of the Church
NT 3: Paul's Missionary Journeys
NT 4: Paul's Imprisonment
NT 5: John and Later NT

Introductions to Old Testament Books

This is an almost complete collection of introductions to each of the books in the Old Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Genesis Exodus Leviticus
Numbers Deuteronomy

Joshua Judges Ruth
1 & 2 Samuel 1 & 2 Kings Chronicles
Ezra & Nehemiah Esther

Job Psalms Proverbs

Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations
Ezekiel Daniel

Hosea Joel Amos
Obadiah Jonah Micah
Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah
Haggai Zechariah Malachi

Introductions to New Testament Books

This is a collection of introductions to each of the 27 books in the New Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Matthew's Gospel Mark's Gospel Luke's Gospel
John's Gospel

Book of Acts

Romans 1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians
Galatians Ephesians Philippians
Colossians 1 & 2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy
2 Timothy Titus Philemon

Hebrews James 1 Peter
2 Peter 1 John 2 & 3 John


Old Testament History

Information about the different nations surrounding Israel, and other articles concerning Old Testament history and the inter-testamental period.

Canaanite Religion
Israel's Enemies During the Conquest
Syria / Aram
The Assyrian Empire
Babylon and its History
The Persian Empire
The Greek Empire
The 400 Silent Years
The Ptolemies and Seleucids
Antiochus IV - Epiphanes

Old Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for OT studies. These include a list of the people named in the OT and confirmed by archaeology. There are also pages to convert the different units of measure in the OT, such as the talent, cubit and ephah into modern units.

More theological topics include warfare in the ancient world, the Holy Spirit in the OT, and types of Jesus in the OT.

OT People Confirmed by Archaeology
The Jewish Calendar
The Importance of Paradox
Talent Converter (weights)
Cubit Converter (lengths)
OT People Search
Ephah Converter (volumes)
Holy War in the Ancient World
The Holy Spirit in the OT
Types of Jesus in the OT

Studies in the Pentateuch (Gen - Deut)

A series of articles covering studies in the five books of Moses. Studies in the Book of Genesis look at the historical nature of the early chapters of Genesis, the Tower of Babel and the Table of the Nations.

There are also pages about covenants, the sacrifices and offerings, the Jewish festivals and the tabernacle, as well as the issue of tithing.

Are chapters 1-11 of Genesis historical?
Chronology of the Flood
Genealogies of the Patriarchs
Table of the Nations (Gen 10)
Tower of Babel (Gen 11:1-9)

Authorship of the Pentateuch
Chronology of the Wilderness Years
Names of God in the OT
Covenants in the OT
The Ten Commandments
The Tabernacle and its Theology
Sacrifices and Offerings
The Jewish Festivals
Balaam and Balak
Highlights from Deuteronomy
Overview of Deuteronomy

Studies in the Old Testament History Books (Josh - Esther)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the history books. These include a list of the dates of the kings of Israel and Judah, a summary of the kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and studies of Solomon, Jeroboam and Josiah.

There are also pages describing some of the historical events of the period, including the Syro-Ephraimite War, and the Assyrian invasion of Judah in 701 BC.

Dates of the Kings of Judah and Israel
King Solomon
The Kings of Israel
King Jeroboam I of Israel
The Syro-Ephraimite War (735 BC)
Sennacherib's Invasion of Judah (701 BC)
King Josiah of Judah
Differences Between Kings and Chronicles
Chronology of the post-exilic period

Studies in the Old Testament Prophets (Is - Mal)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the OT prophets. These include a page looking at the way the prophets look ahead into their future, a page looking at the question of whether Satan is a fallen angel, and a page studying the seventy weeks of Daniel.

There are also a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of two of the books:
Isaiah (13 pages) and Daniel (10 pages).

Prophets and the Future
The Call of Jeremiah (Jer 1)
The Fall of Satan? (Is 14, Ezek 28)
Daniel Commentary (10 pages)
Isaiah Commentary (13 pages)
Formation of the Book of Jeremiah

Daniel's Seventy Weeks (Dan 9:24-27)

New Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for NT studies. These include a list of the people in the NT confirmed by archaeology.

More theological topics include the Kingdom of God and the Coming of Christ.

NT People Confirmed by Archaeology
The Kingdom of God / Heaven
Parousia (Coming of Christ)
The Importance of Paradox

Studies in the Four Gospels (Matt - John)

A series of articles covering various studies in the four gospels. These include a list of the unique passages in each of the Synoptic Gospels and helpful information about the parables and how to interpret them.

Some articles look at the life and ministry of Jesus, including his genealogy, birth narratives, transfiguration, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and the seating arrangements at the Last Supper.

More theological topics include the teaching about the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete and whether John the Baptist fulfilled the predictions of the coming of Elijah.

Unique Passages in the Synoptic Gospels
The SynopticProblem
Genealogy of Jesus (Matt 1)
Birth Narratives of Jesus
Understanding the Parables
Peter's Confession and the Transfiguration
Was John the Baptist Elijah?
The Triumphal Entry
The Olivet Discourse (Mark 13)
Important themes in John's Gospel
John's Gospel Prologue (John 1)
Jesus Fulfilling Jewish Festivals
Reclining at Table at the Last Supper
The Holy Spirit as the Paraclete

Studies in the Book of Acts and the New Testament Letters

A series of articles covering various studies in the Book of Acts and the Letters, including Paul's letters. These include a page studying the messages given by the apostles in the Book of Acts, and the information about the financial collection that Paul made during his third missionary journey. More theological topics include Paul's teaching on Jesus as the last Adam, and descriptions of the church such as the body of Christ and the temple, as well as a look at redemption and the issue of fallen angels.

There are a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of five of the books:
Romans (7 pages), 1 Corinthians (7 pages), Galatians (3 pages), Philemon (1 page) and Hebrews (7 pages)

Apostolic Messages in the Book of Acts
Paul and His Apostleship
Collection for the Saints
The Church Described as a Temple
Church as the Body of Christ
Jesus as the Last Adam
Food Offered to Idols
Paul's Teaching on Headcoverings
Who are the Fallen Angels
The Meaning of Redemption
What is the Church?
Paul and the Greek Games

Romans Commentary (7 pages)

1 Corinthians Commentary (7 pages)

Galatians Commentary (3 pages)

Philemon Commentary (1 page)

Hebrews Commentary (7 pages)

Studies in the Book of Revelation

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the study of the Book of Revelation and topics concerning Eschatology (the study of end-times).

These include a description of the structure of the book, a comparison and contrast between the good and evil characters in the book and a list of the many allusions to the OT. For the seven churches, there is a page which gives links to their location on Google maps.

There is a page studying the important theme of Jesus as the Lamb, which forms the central theological truth of the book. There are pages looking at the major views of the Millennium, as well as the rapture and tribulation, as well as a list of dates of the second coming that have been mistakenly predicted through history.

There is also a series of ten pages giving a detailed commentry through the text of the Book of Revelation.

Introduction to the Book of Revelation
Characters Introduced in the Book
Structure of Revelation
List of Allusions to OT
The Description of Jesus as the Lamb
Virtual Seven Churches of Revelation
The Nero Redivius Myth
The Millennium (1000 years)
The Rapture and the Tribulation
Different Approaches to Revelation
Predicted Dates of the Second Coming

Revelation Commentary (10 pages)

How to do Inductive Bible Study

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study the Bible inductively, by asking a series of simple questions. There are lists of observation and interpretation questions, as well as information about the structure and historical background of biblical books, as well as a list of the different types of figures of speech used in the Bible. There is also a page giving helpful tips on how to apply the Scriptures personally.

How to Study the Bible Inductively
I. The Inductive Study Method
II. Observation Questions
III. Interpretation Questions
IV. Structure of Books
V. Determining the Historical background
VI. Identifying Figures of Speech
VII. Personal Application
VIII. Text Layout

Types of Literature in the Bible

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study each of the different types of book in the Bible by appreciating the type of literature being used. These include historical narrative, law, wisdom, prophets, Gospels, Acts, letters and Revelation.

It is most important that when reading the Bible we are taking note of the type of literature we are reading. Each type needs to be considered and interpreted differently as they have different purposes.

How to Understand OT Narratives
How to Understand OT Law
Hebrew Poetry
OT Wisdom Literature
Understanding the OT Prophets
The Four Gospels
The Parables of Jesus
The Book of Acts
How to Understand the NT Letters
Studying End Times (Eschatology)
The Book of Revelation

Geography and Archaeology

These are a series of pages giving geographical and archaeological information relevant to the study of the Bible. There is a page where you can search for a particular geographical location and locate it on Google maps, as well as viewing photographs on other sites.

There are also pages with photographs from Ephesus and Corinth.

Search for Geographical Locations
Major Archaeological Sites in Israel
Archaeological Sites in Assyria, Babylon and Persia
Virtual Paul's Missionary Journeys
Virtual Seven Churches of Revelation
Photos of the City of Corinth
Photos of the City of Ephesus

Biblical Archaeology in Museums around the world

A page with a facility to search for artifacts held in museums around the world which have a connection with the Bible. These give information about each artifact, as well as links to the museum's collection website where available showing high resolution photographs of the artifact.

There is also page of photographs from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem of important artifacts.

Search Museums for Biblical Archaeology
Israel Museum Photos

Difficult Theological and Ethical Questions

These are a series of pages looking at some of the more difficult questions of Christian theology, including war, suffering, disappointment and what happens to those who have never heard the Gospel.

Christian Ethics
Never Heard the Gospel
Is there Ever a Just War?
Why Does God Allow Suffering
Handling Disappointment

How to Preach

These are a series of pages giving a practical step-by-step explanation of the process of preparing a message for preaching, and how to lead a small group Bible study.

What is Preaching?
I. Two Approaches to Preaching
II. Study a Passage for Preaching
III. Creating a Message Outline
IV. Making Preaching Relevant
V. Presentation and Public Speaking
VI. Preaching Feedback and Critique
Leading a Small Group Bible Study

Information for SBS staff members

Two pages particularly relevant for people serving as staff on the School of Biblical Studies (SBS) in YWAM. One gives helpful instruction about how to prepare to teach on a book in the SBS. The other gives a list of recommended topics which can be taught about for each book of the Bible.

Teaching on SBS Book Topics for SBS