Well, you can open your Bible to the tenth chapter of Genesis, and tonight you’re going to find out whether you would like seminary.
Genealogies are very popular today. And you can find a number of websites on the Internet where you can trace your genealogy, the most notable source of genealogical information, of course, is the Mormon Church. But people seems to be compelled to find their origin, from the adopted child who wants to find birth parents, to those who would like to go back into their family tree and find out what their heritage really is. It seems to be somehow important, as a contribution, to the chase for self-esteem and this need for people to feel good about themselves. And they can feel good about themselves, boosting up their psychological self-esteem if they can find that the come from some important family, or if there is somebody in the background who himself or herself was important.
This whole genealogical effort could lead to a new genre of bumper stickers, I think, like “My forefathers were Philistines” or like “Goliath was in my family” or “I come from a long line of Hittite kings” or here’s a good one, “My ancestors killed your ancestors.”
Well, one thing is for sure in your heritage file. You descended from the family of Noah. And so, you can say, “My family survived the great flood.” Because back in the ninth chapter of Genesis, verses 18 and 19, it says, “The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem and Ham and Japheth.” And in verse 19, “These three were the sons of Noah, and from these the whole Earth was populated.” Noah is in your family tree through one of these three sons.
We can even do better than Noah, because Scripture indicates for us these three sons, and then in the tenth chapter and in the eleventh chapter, we have lines of descent from these three sons. In verse 2 of chapter 10, “The sons of Japheth...” and it goes on. Verse 6, “The sons of Ham...” and it goes on to list them. And then in verse 21, “Also to Shem...” and it goes on to list them.
What is this chapter? It is what’s called the table of nations or the family of nations. It traces the descent of man through the three sons of Noah. And there is more of this genealogical tracking found in chapter 11, which we will consider in the future. But it only considers the issue of the children of Shem because they are the dominant people in the story of redemption in Scripture. But for this chapter, we follow the line of human history through the three sons of Noah.
Human history kind of goes like this genealogically: Adam to Seth, to Enoch, to Methuselah, to Lamech, to Noah. In six names you get down to Noah. That is Noah’s line: Adam, Seth, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah. So, if you want to trace your line back from Noah – Noah, Lamech, Methuselah, Enoch, Seth, Adam. The whole human race, then, follows that line because all of humanity was destroyed in the flood, leaving only Noah.
So, here you have, with Noah and his three sons, the second starting point for human history. This is history in the new world, and we can, as I said, all claim Noah as a distant relative.
The next crucial man on the genealogical charts in redemptive history is Abraham. And Abraham is introduced in the twelfth chapter. We really get into the singular importance of Abraham - the Lord’s purpose for Abraham - in chapter 12, though his name appears at the end of chapter 11 in the genealogies. Noah, obviously a critically important person. The next significant person is Abraham. And so, between Noah and Abraham, we have this genealogical record which includes sons of Japheth, sons of Ham, but most particularly and specifically, sons of Shem, because Abraham comes from the line of Shem. And from Abraham comes the Jewish race, the Hebrews, the people of Israel, God’s missionary nation.
From Abraham came the Jews, to whom God gave covenants, promises, adoption, the Law, the Scriptures, the ministry, and most importantly, through whom God sent the Messiah, the Conqueror and Destroyer of Satan, and the Savior of the world.
So, when we get to Abraham, we are then focused in on the line of redemptive history. From Abraham comes the people of God. From Abraham comes the great king David. From Abraham comes the Messiah who fulfills all the promises made to Abraham and to David.
But we have to get to Abraham to start with, and to get there, we have to work our way through this interesting genealogy of the sons of Noah. This is the only accurate source of this period. This is the only existing written record - authored by Moses, who wrote the five books of the Law, and inspired by God. At the outset, I want you to know that the listings of the sons of Japheth and the sons of Ham and then the sons of Seth are designed to move toward the people of God. That’s why Shem is the last one listed here. It’s as if the Lord talks about Japheth, talks about Ham, gives something of their history, and that clears the path to get to Shem. Because it was from Shem that Abraham came, and from him the people of God and the line of redemption.
The survey is selective. Not everybody is named here. It is not by any means exhaustive. Not every person, not every family is named. For example, there are sons named of Japheth, in verse 2, but only two of them are followed as to their sons. Five of them are not. So, the genealogies are selective.
This selectivity, I think, is an important thing. It doesn’t, in any sense, indicate that this is not a legitimate genealogy; it rather, on the other hand, indicates that it is a legitimate record, written by Moses, and these are the people of whom Moses knew. Something of the authenticity of the passage, then, is indicated by its selectivity; it is true to the knowledge of Moses, and these were people who were known to the children of Israel at the time they were entering the Promised Land.
Remember, the first time that Genesis was read, after Moses had written it, was when the children of Israel – 600 or so years after this – were on the edge of going in to take the land of Canaan. And on the way to taking the land of Canaan, which had been promised to Abraham, they heard the book of Genesis. They were familiar with something of the genealogy and the history and the peoples of that time. And the ones that are named here would have been, in many cases, familiar to them. So, the fact that it is a selective genealogy doesn’t speak against its authenticity; it rater speaks to its authenticity. These were known to Moses as he wrote under divine inspiration.
There are enough listed here, 70 to be exact – 70 persons, tribes, and families and nations are listed altogether. To make this a fairly comprehensive early history, and to establish the flow of history to Abraham. And from Abraham, later on, of course, to the Messiah.
The listing is also a witness to the fact that in chapter 9, verse 1, God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the Earth. This was what God said. This was what God commissioned, this was what God pledged, and this is what God commanded. And this indicates that this was fulfilled. It was fulfilled.
And so, what we have here is a listing of people – that is individual people – tribes, nations, and even cities which were associated with people so that even here today, we who live in Los Angeles are often called Angelinos. So, you have these various families of people. And the design here is to show how they were scattered into the world from that starting point in the Middle East, which is still the theater of redemptive history and will be until the very end.
It is another one of those things that the Hebrew calls a toledoth. It is another genealogy or “generation” is the word. Look at chapter 10, verse 1, “These are the records” – or literally in the Hebrew, “These are the toledoth of Shem, Ham, and Japheth.” This is the genealogy of Shem, Ham, and Japheth. That’s a familiar device used throughout the book of Genesis. Back in chapter 2, verse 4, “This is the record of the heavens and the Earth.” That’s the first one that is a toledoth or a record.
Chapter 5, verse 1, “This is the toledoth” or the generation of Adam.” Chapter 6, verse 9, “This is the generation of Noah.” Now we come into chapter 10, “This is the generation” – the toledoth – of Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
So, Genesis is largely broken down by generations of people. First of all, the heaven and Earth being generated, then Adam. Then the next major person, Noah; then Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And there will be more to come as the book is broken up into those patterns of records of generations.
Now, I want to also note for you that the listing in this section is just inherently sad. It’s inherently tragic. We do have a specific indication, in verses 8 to 12, about a rebel against God who built the city of Babel. His name was Nimrod, and I’ll say more about that. He’s the only individual person about whom much is said, and he demonstrates for us, in a specific illustration, that humanity is sinking again into rebellion and sin and rejection of God. He is a specific illustration of where humanity is going. Dropped right in the middle of the chapter, verses 8 to 12, is this man Nimrod who built Babel. And we’ll learn a lot more about Babel when we get to chapter 11. He is a specific individual illustration of the deterioration of man very soon. Very soon. The son of Ham was Cush. The son of Cush was Nimrod. This is Noah’s grandson who leads a worldwide rebellion against the true living God who was Creator and Judge.
So, the story is a story of sadness, both in the specific illustration and in the fact that as you follow these lines, and you wind up with all these people and tribes and nations, they’re all idolatrous. They have abandoned the true and living God. And what you see here is the hopelessness of humanity. The warning of the flood, which drowned the entire world, didn’t seem to have any effect on anybody. Noah lived for 350 years after the flood. They would have had first-hand testimony that he would have given to his children and his grandchildren about the tremendous flood.
The father of Nimrod, Cush, the great-grandson of Noah, would have heard stories about the flood, perhaps from his own grandfather who survived it. And what you see here is this relentless wickedness of man, in spite of what he can have as firsthand information about the fact that God judged the entire world and drowned the whole Earth, all of humanity and everything that breathed, still seemingly has no effect. And the genealogies are really the record of Romans 1, men knowing God and glorifying him not as God and not being thankful, moving away from God into idolatry; people and nations hopelessly scattered all over the Earth, away from each other, and away from God.
Here and there, in ancient times, there pops up a Job or a Melchizedek, a priest of the true God, a man who believed in and loved and served the true God as Job did. But for the most part, apart from the Melchizedeks and the Jobs, human history was one sad repeat of the original decline of man.
Finally, God establishes a witness nation. As I said, 600 years of decline. And God calls Abraham and says, “Out of you I’m going to bring a great people, and this people I’m going to give My Law, and My covenants, and My promises, and My blessings. And they’re going to be a witness nation to the world.” That was God’s purpose for Israel, to witness to a world of polytheists and polydemonists and animists that there was one true God. And it was Israel that God called into existence to be that witness nation.
But as we study the tenth chapter, it becomes apparent to us that life in the new world was just the same as life in the old world. Why didn’t God drown them? Because this was the age of grace, and God said that He wouldn’t do that again. Man was no better, but God decided to be patient and gracious for His own sovereign purposes. Instead of judgment, He sent a people as a witness nation. He gave them His Law, the Scripture, and His covenants, and His promises to take to the world.
And so, this genealogy shows this drift, this decline, and how these nations spread around and oriented themselves around Israel by divine providence. Remember Acts 17:26? God determines the times of the nations and their location.
So, here we are at the dawn of world history number two, and we’re going to see these nations, in relationship to Israel, who are hearing this read for the first time as they were about to enter the Promised Land.
Now, when you look at a genealogical record like this, it tends to be a blur. So, let me help you sort things out. It’s pretty easy to break down. There are three sons, and so, there are three sections. There’s the sons of Japheth, then followed by the sons of Ham, followed by the sons of Shem, and that’s how the flow goes.
Each of these three sections has three categories. First, the son is listed: Japheth, Ham, Shem. Secondly, the descendants of the son are listed. And thirdly, a summary is given concerning these offspring. So, in each of the three sections, the son is listed, his descendants are listed, and a summary is given at the end. It’s a one-verse summary. One appears in verse 5, one appears in verse 20, another appears in verse 31.
Verses 1 and 32 basically make the same statement. Verse 1 says, “These are the generations of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah.” Verse 32 says essentially the same thing, “These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, by their nations; out of these the nations were separated on the Earth after the flood. So, those statements bracket what is in between.
Now, in order to jump into this with a little bit of velocity, we need to go back to verses 25 to 27, where I broke off last week. And I’m going to try to do this as rapidly as I can. And as I said this morning, I don’t want to do it more than once, and we need to finish it tonight.
When Noah awoke – the only time we have any recorded words of Noah in all of the Bible, they are these, starting in verse 25. He woke up – remember? – from his drunken stupor, in which he had made himself naked. And his son Ham had come in and mocked his nakedness in some way, and then gossiped about it to his brothers.
And so, “When Noah woke up, he knew what his son had done to him. He said, ‘Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants he shall be to his brothers.’ He also said, ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant.’”
So, here are curses and blessings, the polarizations. They are pronounced upon these sons, and there’s an interrelation of the sons. Canaan is cursed and winds up being a servant to both Ham and – or to both Shem and Japheth. Shem is blessed and is served by Canaan who was the son of Ham. Japheth is enlarged, as a peaceful partnership with Shem, and is served by Canaan who’s a descendant of Ham, and we talked briefly about that.
Let me just make a couple of comments so you’ll understand this. Why was Ham not cursed? We asked the question last time, “Why doesn’t he curse Ham? Ham is the one who saw his nakedness. Ham is the one who went out and told his brothers about it and didn’t cover his father, didn’t contribute to his modesty, but rather relished his father’s indiscretion. Why is Ham not cursed?”
Answer: you can’t curse someone who is God’s. Ham was a true believer; that’s why he survived the flood. Ham believed in the true God, and his faith had been counted to him for righteousness. He was therefore justified by God. He was a believer. Back in chapter 9 and verse 1, God blessed Noah and his sons. That includes Ham. And so, Ham, having been blessed by God, cannot be among the cursed. And I believe the reason out of the four sons that could have been cursed - listed in chapter 10, verse 6 – Cush, Mizraim, Put or Phut, and Canaan - Canaan was cursed because he was an unbeliever. I think that unbelievers are the ones that are cursed. And God, perhaps, had to move all the way to that last son to attach an appropriate punishment to that family because the first three believed what their father believed. Canaan certainly was an unfaithful and ungodly son, and not a worshiper of the true God, and thus he could be cursed.
To give you a footnote on this, God doesn’t curse those who belong to Him. Go back, in your mind, to Genesis 3. We talk about the curse in Genesis 3. Read carefully verses 14 to 17; God actually cursed the serpent. Obviously He could curse the serpent. God actually cursed the ground, but God did not actually curse Adam nor curse Eve. They came under the curse. The curse on Satan affects mankind. The curse on the ground – that is the creation – affects mankind. But curses, as such, are reserved for unbelievers.
And so, the curse falls on Canaan. And the curse is that he would be a servant of servants, and he would wind up enslaved under the dominant rulership of others. The others – all nations in the world come from Japheth or Ham or Shem. And here we find that in God’s purposes, children of Ham through Canaan would be servants to the descendants of Japheth and Shem. And we’ll see in a moment that that, in fact, did come to pass.
And then the blessing comes in verse 26. Shem is blessed and Canaan is his servant. And Japheth is blessed by enlargement and peace with Shem, and Canaan is his servant. Now, ultimately, that comes to fulfillment when the children of Shem, the Semites, the Jewish people, conquer the Canaanites and take over the Promised Land. But there’s more to it than that. That’s the ultimate, ultimate end of this oracle or this prophecy when the Jewish people take over the land of Canaan. That explains how Canaan becomes a servant of Shem; it doesn’t fully explain, however, how Canaan becomes a servant of Japheth. We’ll see that in a moment.
The plan of God, then, was that when the wicked children of Canaan, Ham’s ungodly son, produced families and nations, they would eventually occupy the most precious piece of real estate on the planet, what we know as the Promised Land, the land pledged to Abraham in Genesis 15. In God’s sovereign, providential design, the Canaanites would occupy the land that we call Israel until the descendants of Shem, through Abraham, would conquer them, kill many of them, and take over that land.
And so, we have the account here. If there are no gaps, if we take the genealogy at face value, both in chapter 10 and particularly in chapter 11, where the actual genealogy is given down to Abraham, if we follow the genealogy from Noah down to Abraham, Noah lived almost to Abraham’s life – almost to Abraham’s life. And then, of course, after Abraham, there were several hundreds of years until the children of Israel actually formed as a nation, went to Egypt, came back from Egypt, and took the Promised Land.
Now let’s look at the final statement in verse 27 of this blessing, “‘God enlarge Japheth.’” Japheth was promised expansion and that Canaan would be his servant. This happened. Let’s take the second part first. Canaan did become the servant of Japheth. Genesis 14 talks about a king by the name of Tidal – T-I-D-A-L – king of Goiim. Have you ever heard that? Jewish people called Gentiles Goiim. It means nations, peoples. So, it is true. Descendants of Japheth, under this king of Goiim, imposed servitude on the Canaanite cities of Judea. And as I said later on, sons of Shem conquered the Canaanites when the Jewish people took the land, as had been promised to them.
The Canaanites here, then, are doomed to perpetual slavery because they followed the moral turpitude of their ancestors, Ham and Canaan. It isn’t that God punished them by making them evil; it is that they followed the evil of their fathers, and thus in the providences of God were to be cursed, and the land taken from them and given to the people of Israel.
Now, all this is background to chapter 10. As we come into chapter 10, we come, first of all, to Japheth. And I want to tell you that I’m indebted to a number of writers who have done the tedious work in sorting out all of this: Umberto Cassuto, the Hebrew commentator’ Dr. Henry Morris, who has written extensively on the book of Genesis; and my friend Jim Boice, who’s now with the Lord, did a lot of work on this family of nations section of Scripture. And all of them have contributed, as well as some others to my understanding of this.
Let’s start with Japheth’s line. Okay? “The sons of Japheth were Gomer and Magog and Madai and Javan and Tubal and Meshech and Tiras. And the sons of Gomer were Ashkenza and Riphath and Togarmah. And the sons of Javan were Elishah and Tarshish, Kittim and Dodanim. From these the coastlands of the nations were separated into their lands, every one according to his language, according to their families, into their nations.”
So, here are the descendants of Japheth listed. Japheth mentioned first, then the listing of the descendants, and then in verse 5, the summary: these people were separated into lands and languages and families and nations. All of this, of course, assumes the scattering of the Tower of Babel. It won’t be described until the first part of chapter 11.
Now, Japheth is the father of what we call Indo-European nations. Japheth’s descendants go west and east. North from, let’s say, Israel, and west and stretch all the way to the east. He is the father of the Indo-European nations. From Europe, across the north section of Israel, sweeping toward India.
It was in the nineteenth century that it became clear that the languages of the east and the west were related, requiring a common language ancestor. For centuries, people didn’t make a connection between languages of the east and languages of the west. In the nineteenth century, they made that connection. And one of the earliest languages that is at the base of both eastern and western languages is a language that has been extinct for a long time; it’s called Sanskrit. Have you ever heard of that? Sanskrit.
Linguistic students, even in modern times, go to India to study Sanskrit, because it is the closest language to this entire range of languages. And what that means is that it’s way back early on, the source of many of these languages. And so, it was in the nineteenth century that we discovered that there is a common source of the languages that stretch from Europe all the way toward India. This relationship of east and west to a common language, unsuspected until some of the technical work of the nineteenth century, yet here it is in Genesis.
Now, you will notice that if you have a MacArthur Study Bible, you turn the page, there’s a map of where these various people are located. You also will find the same map in color in the back section of the maps at the back of the Bible. But if you’re a little bit hard pressed to trust me, let me help you.
Let me quote Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary. The Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary states that, “The Indo-European languages” - quote – “are the most important linguistic family of the globe, comprising the chief languages of Europe, together with the Indo-Iranian and other Asiatic tongues. In the nineteenth century, comparative and historical study of these languages, called also Indo-Germanic or Aryan languages, established their descent from a common ancestor” - and they say - “spoken in the late Stone Age.” We can delete that.
They say, “This language sourced probably in eastern Europe by a people or group of people of unknown, perhaps mixed race.” This is quoting from the dictionary. “The prehistoric dialects of the primitive Indo-Europeans accompanied their migrations into India, Persia, Greece, Rome” - India, Persia – that’s east; Greece, Rome – that’s west – “and the western borders of Europe, where they are found at the beginning of history. The parent speech was highly inflected, but historically the general tendency of the Indo-European languages has been toward the analytical type such as French or English.”
In a table accompanying this rather extended definition in the dictionary, “This family of languages is divided into two types,” the dictionary says, “the eastern languages involving the languages of India, Afghanistan, Iran, Armenia, the Balkans, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Russia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, parts of Germany, East Prussia, Lithuania, and Latvia. And the western division of the languages, languages of Greece, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Romania, Cornwall, Wales, Brittany, Ireland, Scotland, Scandinavia, parts of Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and England.” That’s the dictionary.
The Webster’s Dictionary understands that languages of Europe and languages into India are all coming from the same source. And I can give you lots of evidence; I don’t want to beg the issue, one little illustration. The Greeks traced themselves back – they traced their heritage back to a Japetos, a form of Japheth. And you will read about him in the writings of Aristophanes. People in the east - in India, Persia – trace themselves back to a flood account with a man named Japeti as their father. Japeti – Japetos – Japheth. And so, go west, you find Japheth. Go east, you find Japheth.
Now, let’s look at the text itself. Verse 2 we meet Gomer. Information from historians Herodotus, Strabo, and Plutarch indicate that Gomer’s people settled north of the Black Sea, in an area called Cimmeria, or Crimea. You’ve heard the word Crimea, and that’s where they originally settled, according to ancient writers.
The sons of Japheth, called Gomer, went north in the Black Sea area and even beyond it. Later they expanded into Europe, settling in France, called Gauls; in Spain, called Galicia; in Britain, called Kelts or Celts; even in Wales, called Cymru. All of those are variations of the three consonants in Gomer. And there may be some connection to Germany as well, although the consonants are switched. Some connect the three consonants in linguistics with Cumberland Umbria, which is Ireland and so forth. But all of that is in Europe to the north and then migrating to the west.
Six other sons are mentioned. Magog is mentioned. Hard to identify. You find Magog in Ezekiel 38 as well. Magog is symbolic of the end time confederacy that comes to fight against the Messiah in the last days. But it’s hard to know where Magog is. Almost all interpreters of history would say it’s to the north. This is a people in the north.
It could refer to those who became known as Scythians who went to the north and a little bit east. Some associate them with Mongols and the Huns who went east as well. Others say they were the people of Gog, a familiar name around the Caspian and the Black Sea. Josephus identifies Magog as the place where the people of Gog lived around the Caspian Sea. That’s the region of southern Russia, the Ukraine.
And then there are a couple of other sons named Tubal and Meshech. We want to mention them because they were also people in the north. Pretty easy to trace these people. We have found Assyrian monuments. The Assyrians were the people to the north. Remember the Jews always feared the Assyrians coming down? The Assyrians were in the north.
And we have found some – when I say “we,” I mean those which study history – have found some monuments among the Assyrian ruins identifying a people called Mushki, or Mushku, which is a lot like Meshech, and another people called Tubali. Tubali. These later show up on the Moskva River and the city of Moscow, and the Tobol River and the city of Tobolsk. And several other cities in the Russian area have that derivative name. They are associated also, in Ezekiel 38, with the name Rosh, which is probably an early name that ends up as Russia in later days.
Now, in verse 3, we meet some of the sons of Gomer. As I said, not all of these sons of Japheth have their lines listed, but two of them do. The sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz and Riphath and Togarmah. Ashkenaz went north to settle. He name is preserved in a place called Lake Ascanius. And the people of that area are called in as ancient writings as Homer the Askani. They later moved to Germany so that Jews identified their people – German Jews – as – have you ever heard this term? – Ashkenazi Jews. Some of you who are Jewish have heard that phrase and that title. So, the Ashkenaz family went north into the Lake Ascanius area, later moved to Germany, and still have that name identified with Jewish people in Germany.
Then there is Riphath – very hard to trace. Josephus says he was the father of the Paphlagonians, and we don’t know exactly how they got mixed into the races after that.
Togarmah – very interesting. Togarmah we know about. Direct ancestor of Armenians. We have a number of Armenian people in our church, and you probably have heard, in your Armenian background, the house of Targum. The house of Targum. It’s a familiar identification of Armenian descent. Terms like “Turkey,” “Turkistan,” “Targum” come from Togarmah, the ancestor of Armenians.
Now, it’s hard to be exact about this; these are migrating people – moving, mixing – but all agree they went north and west. And we find that words like these words, the GMR consonants – Megog, Meshech, Tubal, Ashkenaz, Rophath, Togarmah – appear in those regions, towns, cities, peoples, both ancient and modern, that still bear similarity to those names.
Now we move from the west to the east. Let’s go to the Indo part. The Indo part – I know you’re wondering how we’re going to get through all the rest of it, but this is an important section; we’ll cover the rest a little more rapidly. The Indo part we want to look at now.
Look at Madai, the third son mentioned in verse 2. Madai. The root of the Medes, the ancient Medes who lived in Persia, later lived in India and were part of an empire called the Medo-Persian Empire. The Medes.
And then back to verse 2 again, Javan, the fourth son of Japheth. Very interesting. Very interesting. The father of various Greek peoples. Javan. “In fact, when we think of Greeks,” writes Jim Boice, “we think they belong to various families: the Hellenes, the Ionians, the Achaeans, the Dorians. But to the ancient people of the east, they were known by only one name: Yavan or Ionian. This term comes from Yavan.
“Our most inclusive term, with the exception of the word “Greek,” is Hellas, from which we have the word Hellenist and Hellespont. Sometimes we talk about the Greeks; we talk about the Hellenists. Hellas, Hellenist, Hellespont is a derivative,” he writes - look back at verse 4 - “of Elishah – Elishah, one of the sons of Yavan.” So, you have in Yavan the Ionian, which is the most generic term for the Greeks. The next most generic term for the Greeks – Hellas – is associated with Elishah.
Then you have Tarshish listed there as another son of Javan. Tarshish is a city. You know it because Jonah tried to escape when running away from God. Its location is unknown, though many would identify it with Tartessos in Spain.
And then he had sons from which the Kittim and the Dodanim came. That’s not the name of the son but the people who came from the son. Most associate Kittim with Cyprus and Rodanim with Rhodes. And so, we see these people in the south a little bit and in the east, with the exception of – I should say we see Javan in the west with his people, and the other people moving toward the east.
Let’s go back to the east. I want to pick up as much as I can. Modai or Madai – either pronunciation – is the Medes. And his people were the ones that moved to the east. And one other name, Tiras, is included here.
Now again, this appears to be people who settled both in the east and the west. Hard to identify them - some say the Etruscans, which were known in the Roman Empire and eventually moved to the west and settled in Italy. Bottom line, they’re all around that area: in the west, in Europe, and some of them drifted to the east. That’s as far as we can go.
So, verse 5, “They were separated into their lands, every one according to his language, according to their families, into their nations.” And that fulfills the prophecy that Japheth would be enlarged.
Now, let me get down to where we are. Thos of us who come from European stock most likely come from Japheth. Our forefathers in Europe, obviously, were the descendants of Japheth. Even those who come from Russia, even those who come across into Persia and India. And it is believed that people migrating across Russia, sons of Japheth, very possibly came all the way to the Bering Strait, crossed the Bering Straits down into Alaska, down into the North American continent, down into the South American continent. Where else would they come from? They had to all come from Noah’s family. And they became the Native Americans so that those of us who are Europeans may be close relatives to the Native Americans, both in North America and South America.
They found their way around the world, but they lost their souls in the process – how sad. They became the great colonizers of the world. Most of the world’s population, based on this scheme, are Japhethites. And God said they will be enlarged. And the students of history will tell you that they occupy most of the world’s land: Europe – eastern Europe, western Europe. They went west and east, all the way to India, all the way across Russia, all the way down the Americas. A huge portion of the Earth belongs to the Japhethites who were enlarged.
Ham’s line, quickly. Verses 6 and following, just a quick look. “And the sons of Ham were Cush and Mizraim and Put and Canaan. The sons of Cush were Seba and Havilah and Sabtah and Raamah and Sabteca; and the sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan.”
Now, jump down to verse 13, “And Mizraim became the father of Ludim and Anamim and Lehabim and Naphtuhim and Pathrusim and Casluhim (from which came the Philistines)” – as a note – “and Caphtorim.
“And Canaan became the father of Sidon, his firstborn, and Heth and the Jebusite and the Amorite and the Girgashite and the Hivite and the Arkite and the Sinite and the Arvadite and the Zemarite and the Mathite; and afterward, the families of the Canaanite were spread abroad. And the territory of the Canaanite extended from Sidon as you go to Gerar, as far as Gaza; as you go toward Sodom and Gomorrah and Admah and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha.”
And there we get a look at the whole Hamite flow. Ham had four sons: Cush, Mezraim, Put, and Canaan. Cush has five sons and two grandsons from Raamah, named Sheba and Dedan. Seven names associated in verses 13 and 14 are families, not individuals. “Mizraim” – any time you see “im” it’s an ending that means a people. And all those “ims” in verses 13 and 14. They could be “ites” or “ims.” Later he changes to “ites,” but “ites” or “ims,” it’s the same thing; it’s people groups. So, Ham has four sons. From Cush come five sons, two grandsons. Cush becomes the father of Nimrod. And then from Mizraim come all the “ims” that are indicated there.
Now, just a couple of things. Cush is the Bible’s name for Ethiopia. So, Ham’s people went south. We have to conclude that anyway by process of elimination if the Japhethites went east and west. Who populated Africa? Who populated the southern part of the Middle East and east of that? Cush is the Bible’s name for Ethiopia. There was also a Cush in Arabia. And Nimrod, the son of Cush, built his world empire in the Mesopotamian valley, directly east of Israel, what’s known as the Fertile Crescent, the Tigris-Euphrates valley.
All the sons of Cush went east. How do you know that? If you would look at the sons of Cush in verse 7 – I’m not going to read those names again – all of those names can be identified with places in Arabia. Mizraim is Egypt. Verse 13, where Mizraim is indicated, and the people who came out of him – that’s associated with Egypt and that area. Put is Libya in North Africa, west of Egypt And Canaan, the fourth son, was the ancestor of the various tribes that settled in the Promised Land. And those various tribes include the Jebusite, the Amorite, the Girgashite, the Hivite, the Arkite, the Sinite, the Arvadite, the Zemarite, the Hamathite, and all those families of Canaanites that were scattered all over everywhere.
So, the Canaanites were people who descended from Canaan, but there were all kinds of families of them. All kinds of families.
The Hittites, an interesting people, they had sort of a life of their own. The Hittites – we don’t need to introduce something that’s not important in this text, but in case you’re wondering what happened to the Hittites, they had an empire of their own, which today is in the area of modern Turkey. At the time of Abraham, they were in the land of Canaan, and they were a powerful people. They were still a power a thousand years after Abraham at the time of Solomon.
Now, I want to just give you a little thought. Okay? What about the Oriental people? Some of you here are Asian in descent. You say, “Did the Japhethites get to China? Did the Japhethites get to Japan? Did the Japhethites get to Asia, Malaysia, or Indonesia, or wherever?”
It doesn’t seem that the Japhethites did. Most of the evidence connects the heritage of Asian people to the descendants of Ham. Perhaps the Hittites who came out of Ham were the ones who populated China. Let me read you just a thought on this. The Hittite Empire endured a long time – as I said, over a thousand years. And there are indications survivors of the Hittite Empire fled into China, that they went into China east of Turkey, moving, migrating on a route which Marco Polo took when he opened a new era of commerce many centuries later. And some say it’s the Hittites who got the name Chitti, which brought to the east the name Cathay, which, of course, is a name associated with the Orient.
And some archeologists say that the Hittites and the Mongols have very similar features: shoes which had toes that turned up, hair in a pigtail, pioneer work in smelting and casting iron, and the domestication of horses. That’s one possibility.
The other possibility of the origin of the Asians is from the Sinites. Look at verse 17, at the end of the verse, “Sinite” – S-I-N-I–T-E. When we talk about American-Chinese relations, what do we call those? What do we call them? Sino-American relations. Why do we call them Sino-American relations? Well, the word “sin” – S-I-N – is a common word in the Orient. There is a dynasty – the Sin [Qing] Dynasty. It’s a word that means purebred. Many emperors used Sin as a title. There is the study of China. Do you know what it’s called? Sinology. And so, it is possible that they came from Ham. But I’ll tell you this; they came from Noah’s family. There is a Chinese scholar in the church who keeps giving me lessons in the Chinese language all through the book of Genesis and showing me how the Chinese letters – Chinese letters are really pictures – prove their connection. They have words that are connected that demonstrate in pictures the story of the garden of Eden – the serpent, the tree, Adam, Eve, the whole thing.
One of the ones that’s very interesting, that I just discovered, is the Chinese word for ship – the Chinese figure for ship; it’s not really a word, it’s a figure. The Chinese figure for ship is made of three components - if I had a board; I’d draw it for you - three components. Component number one is container. Component number two is person. And they depict a person by a mouth that’s open. Because what distinguishes a person is the ability to communicate, speak.
So, these three figures are all pressed together for the sign of a ship. And one of them is a container; it’s the sign for a container. One is the sign for a person. And the other is the number eight. That’s the Chinese word for ship. A ship is how eight people got in a container and survived. That’s how the Chinese language – and that’s one of hundreds of illustrations; there’s an entire book on this. They take their roots all the way back to the ark. And it’s most likely that they came either from the Hittite strains of Ham, or from their Sinite strains of Ham.
Now, for just a brief moment, verses 8 to 12. Verses 8 to 12 introduce us to this one child of Cush named Nimrod. “He became a mighty one on the Earth. He was a mighty hunger before the Lord; therefore it is said, ‘Like Nimrod a mighty hunger before the Lord.’” In other words, if you wanted to say somebody was really powerful, you would say he was like Nimrod. He was the prototypical powerful guy. “And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel” - and here we are introduced to Babel – “and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went forth into Assyria, and built Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah, And Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.” There’s that little interlude. In the middle of this genealogy of Ham, or this flow of families, we are introduced to this Nimrod person. And he’s really important, because this is the first time in the Bible that the word “kingdom” is used. There’s never been a kingdom before, and the beginning of his kingdom was Babylon. The beginning of a kingdom was Babylon. He’s the world’s first king. The first world empire. Even the Lord recognized his power. Verse 9, “He was a mighty hunger before the Lord; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.’” Even the Lord noted his tremendous power. First great world king who built the first great world empire. And we’ll find out, when we get to chapter 11, that the world empire called Babel was idolatrous, and anti-God, and rebellious, and wicked.
Now, when it says he was a mighty hunter, it doesn’t mean he was a hunter of animals. He was a killer of men. A better way to translate that is he was a mighty warrior. He was a mighty soldier. This great-grandson of Noah, grandson of righteous Ham, wielded deadly power, ruled ruthlessly right in the middle of the Euphrates valley, and no doubt conquered all kinds of people, and consolidated families and people groups and tribes into his great Babel. Great in power, great in sin, great in idolatry, great in defiance of God. This was the first real city of man in the new world; built for man’s glory. It was a preview of a later city called Babylon, which a preview of a final Babylon that will be built by the Antichrist at the end of human history.
Nimrod built Babel. Nebuchadnezzar, a Nimrod-like man, built Babylon. And the Antichrist will build the final Babylon. By the way, Nimrod’s name in Hebrew? Rebel. Rebel. And all of the places of his kingdom named – I won’t go over them – verses 10 to 12. See all those names? They stretch from the northernmost point of the Mesopotamian valley at Nineveh, down to the Persian Gulf and the southernmost point at Iraq. And all the area in between. This was a massive kingdom.
And so, we meet the sons of Japheth, the families, tribes, peoples, and nations, and of Ham. That clears the path. Now we can get to the main one.
Verse 21, just quickly, “And also to Shem, the father of all the children of Eber, and the older brother of Japheth, children were born.” He isn’t listed last because he’s the youngest. He’s actually older than Japheth. He’s listed last because that clears the path for the genealogy and the account that leads to Abraham. And immediately, in verse 21, we meet, “Shem, the father of all the children of Eber” = and here is the first reference to a word that we use all the time: the word “Hebrew.” Hebrew. It is from Shem that the Semites come. It is from Shem that comes all the sons of Eber, who gave the name Hebrew to the chosen people.
Now, verses 22 and following list the sons of Shem. They all settled in the Middle East. Lud, mentioned in verse 22, was the farthest north, up by the Black Sea. Havilah, Ophir, Sheba, and several others were the farthest south. All the way – literally all the way down to the Gulf of Aden at the tip of the Red Sea, when it goes into the Arabian Ocean. I mean this group stretched across the Middle East from north to south. All the way to Lud in the north, all the way to Havilah and Ophir – remember the gold of Ophir? – in the south, and the rest – the bulk of them in the middle, in the land surrounding Canaan to the east. So, all the way to the south, the north, and east of the land of Canaan.
Just a couple of them are mentioned. Elam is mentioned in verse 22, the father of the Elamites. There was a king - we’ll find about him in Genesis 14 – named Chedorlaomer. Remember him? King of Elam invaded Canaan so that the sons of Canaan served the sons of Shem. They didn’t have to wait till the Canaanites were conquered by the Israelites; Chedorlaomer was a Shemite who conquered Canaanites in the fourteenth chapter of Genesis.
And among the allies of Chedorlaomer was this Tidal king of Goiim, the nations, the Hagoyim, the coastland people from Japheth. So, in the battle of Chedorlaomer, Canaan was subdued both by the sons of Japheth and the sons of Ham.
Elamites lived east of Mesopotamia, had their capital in a little place called Susa or Shushan, mixed with the Medes and made up the Persian Empire. You also notice Asshur, father of the Assyrians, conquered by Nimrod. They became racially mixed. You have the name Arphachshad or Arpachshad. He is in the line of Abraham. We’ll see that over in chapter 11, verse 12. Lud, the father of the Lyddians in Asia Minor. Aram, the father of Arameans or Syrians who play a major role in the rest of the Bible history. And by the way, it was the Arameans who developed – guess what language? – Aramaic. A couple of portions of the Bible – Daniel and Ezra – are in Aramaic.
Then there was another descendant. The sons of Aram – Uz. Do you know who lived in Uz? Not the wizard. Job lived in Uz, Job 1:1.
One more name. Okay? All those other names I kind of alluded to, but there’s one name in verse 25, “Two sons were born to Eber; the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the Earth was divided” – hmm, what does that mean? Peleg means divided. And I think he was named for the judgment of God at Babel. We’re going to find out in chapter 11 that when the world was one big empire under Nimrod, God came down and judged and divided it. He divided them into separate locations and separate languages. Nimrod was a contemporary of Eber. So, Babel was built with its tower in Eber’s lifetime. And Eber named his son Peleg – division – when he saw what God did to Babel. And we’ll see that story in the eleventh chapter. So, Eber, whose name came down to the word “Hebrew,” named his son, in those days when the Earth was divided.
Well, the rest of those names stretch the children of Shem, the Semites, all across the Middle East, as I said, from near the Black Sea in the north, all the way down to where the Red Sea dumps into the Gulf of Aden and the ocean. Extensive range of people all remaining in the Middle East.
So, Ham settles the south: Africa and to Asia. Japheth settles to the north: Europe – and into the northeast: Persia, India. And Shem stays in the Middle East.
“These” – verse 31 says – “are the sons of Shem, according to their families, according to the languages, by their lands, according to the nations.” Twenty-six families are listed from Shem, 30 from Ham, 14 from Japheth, totaling 70. The Philistines are mentioned parenthetically to explain to the Jews, who were hearing this read hundreds of years later.
What is it a story about? It’s a story about how far man fell and how fast. Go across the face of the Earth today and all you’re going to find is that Romans 1 came to pass. Right? When they knew the true God, they abandoned that true knowledge, and they developed all these bizarre, wacky, idolatrous, rebellious religions that cover the face of the Earth. Idolatry started very early at Babel. It’s still going on. It’ll end up, ultimately, in the final Babylon.
Martin Luther – Martin Luther – wrote this many centuries ago, “We have reason to regard the Holy Bible highly, and to consider it a most precious treasure. This very chapter, even though it is considered full of dead words, has in it the thread that is drawn from the first world to the middle and to the end of all things, from Adam the promise concerning Christ is passed on to Seth, from Seth to Noah, from Noah to Shem, and from Shem to Eber, from whom the Hebrew nation received its name as the heir for whom the promise about the Christ was intended in preference to all other peoples of the whole world.”
Says Luther, “This knowledge the Holy Scripture revealed to us. Those who are without them live in error, uncertainty, and boundless ungodliness, for they have no knowledge about who they are and whence they came.”
And so, now you know that when it says in Romans 1, “When they knew God, they glorified him not as God.” This is where that began, and now it stretches across the globe.
Next time we’re going to see how God scattered the people from Babel in one of the most fascinating sections of Genesis.
Lord, thank You for helping us to get through this tonight, and I trust and pray that some of it will stick in our minds and that to dominate our thoughts would be that overwhelming reality that You are the God of history, and You have revealed Yourself and been gracious to man, who continually, under all circumstances, turns his back and rebels.
And You have always, however, reached out in grace and mercy, to the repentant sinner, who hears Your Word and believes. And may You use us to call this wayward world back to the One they once knew and have so willfully abandoned. And we thank You for this privilege of being Your witness nation in our world, in Christ’s name, amen.
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