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Genesis 10:30-32

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Genesis 10:30
  • Genesis 10:31
  • Genesis 10:32

Genesis is a book about many beginnings. The beginnings of the world, the human race, sin and redemption, and the nation of Israel to name a few. In fact, the word Genesis from the Greek means “origin,” and in Hebrew it means “beginning.” The book of Genesis contains the events of the flood, tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the lives of the Patriarchs.

In the beginning, God created everything by simply speaking, “God said…and it was so” (Genesis 1:6-7, 9, 11, 14-15). This is not a scientific technical account of creation, but it shows a loving God creating a universe and mankind to rule it and fellowship with God. Man was formed especially from the ground and given the breath of life from God. The woman was made from the man’s rib (Genesis 2:7).

After man fell into sin, things began to spin out of control quickly. Cain murdered his brother Abel and the human race became so violent that God decided to destroy them all with a flood. God saved one righteous man (Noah) and his family in an ark filled with animals to deliver the human race from extinction. God chose Abraham and blessed a special group of people named “Israel.” God began to unfold a plan of salvation from a coming famine by sending Joseph to rule in Egypt. The failure of man in every circumstance is met by the salvation of God. We fail, but the good news is God saves us.


In chapter 10, the flood account is over and the descendants of Noah are repopulating the earth as God instructed them to “be fruitful and multiply.” From Noah’s three sons, all the nations of the world were established. For instance, from the seven sons of Japheth, the Gentile nations descended. This chapter is sometimes called the Table of Nations. It is arranged in three divisions according to the three sons of Noah. It is a list of major people groups, tribes, and regions. This list does not cover all the nations of the earth, only the most relevant for biblical history and most relevant to Israel. There is a total of seventy descendants listed for Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Noah’s sons). From these seventy, we have approximately three thousand languages and one hundred fifty nations today.


Shem had twenty-six descendants listed in the table of nations. A total of seventy nations were credited to Noah by his descendants.

 

Now their settlement extended from Mesha as you go toward Sephar, the hill country of the east. This refers to all the sons of Joktan in the previous verses. Mesha was a region in northern Arabia, south of Hadramaut. Mesha was perhaps a branch of the Ishmaelites (see “Massa,” Genesis 25:14). Sephar was south of Hadramaut in Yemen, southern Arabia. Sephar may be Ẓafar, a port city, and center of the spice trade in Hadramaut. Shem has a total of 26 descendants with the most detail given to the descendants of Joktan, who has thirteen sons. This closes the accounting of the sons of Shem.

 

Genesis Chapter 10 indicates the separate locations of the races and chapter 11 explains how the separation occurred. Genesis 10:1 spoke of “Noah’s sons, who themselves had sons,” and verse 32 shows the consequence: “From these the nations spread out.” From Japheth came 14 nations (7 sons and 7 grandsons), Shem produced 26 nations (5 sons, 5 grandsons, 1 great-grandson, and at least 20 descendants into the 6th generation) and Ham 30 nations (4 sons, 23 grandsons, and 2 great-grandsons). The total of 70 nations indicates completeness and represents the races of the world, which would later be blessed by the descendants of Abraham (Genesis 18:18). These are the sons of Shem, according to their families, according to their languages, by their lands, according to their nations. These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, by their nations; and out of these the nations were separated on the earth after the flood. All people come from one source, namely Noah. Their “lines of descent” inevitably led to the multiplicity of “nations” that “spread out” (Genesis 10:5) over the earth. Israel would become God’s chosen nation but was called to be a blessing to a world of 70 nations.

Biblical Text

30 Now their settlement extended from Mesha as you go toward Sephar, the hill country of the east. 31 These are the sons of Shem, according to their families, according to their languages, by their lands, according to their nations. 32 These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, by their nations; and out of these the nations were separated on the earth after the flood.

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