|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
10:1-7 This chapter shows concerning the three sons of Noah, that of them was the whole earth overspread. No nation but that of the Jews can be sure from which of these seventy it has come. The lists of names of fathers and sons were preserved of the Jews alone, for the sake of the Messiah. Many learned men, however, have, with some probability, shown which of the nations of the earth descended from each of the sons of Noah To the posterity of Japheth were allotted the isles of the gentiles; probably, the island of Britain among the rest. All places beyond the sea from Judea are called isles, Jer 25:22. That promise, Isa 42:4, The isles shall wait for his law, speaks of the conversion of the gentiles to the faith of Christ.
Verse 5. - By these were the isles of the Gentiles. Sea-washed coasts as well as islands proper (cf. Isaiah 42:4 with Matthew 12:21). Isaiah (Genesis 20:6) styles Canaan an isle (cf. Peloponnesus). The expression signifies maritime countries. Divided in their lands; every one after his tongue. Indicating a time posterior to the building of Babel (Genesis 11:1). After their families Ἐν ταῖς φυλαῖς αὐτῶν (LXX.); in their tribes or clans, a lesser subdivision than the next. In their nations. The division here exhibited is fourfold:
(3) tribal, and
The first defines the territory occupied, and the second the language spoken by the Japhethites; the third their immediate descent, and the rough the national group to which they severally belonged.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands,.... That is, by those sons of Japheth before mentioned; and by "isles" are meant, not countries surrounded with water, for the isles in this sense would not have been sufficient for the posterity of Japheth; nor can it be thought they would leave the continent, where there was room enough for them, and go into islands; and besides must have found it difficult to get there, when shipping and navigation were little known: but it is usual with the Hebrews, of whom Moses, the writer of this history, was, to call all places beyond the Mediterranean sea, or whatsoever they went to by sea, or that were upon the sea coasts, islands, as Greece, Italy, &c. Moreover, the word sometimes signifies countries, as it does in Job 22:30 and so should be rendered here, as it is by some (y), "the countries of the Gentiles"; so called, because in the times of Moses, and at the writing of this history, those countries were inhabited by Heathens and idolaters, strangers to the true religion: and this division was not made at random, and at the pleasure of a rude company of men, but in an orderly regular manner, with the consent, and by the advice and direction of the principal men of those times; and especially it was directed by the wise providence of the most High, who divided to the nations their inheritance, and set the bounds of the people, Deuteronomy 32:8.
everyone after his tongue, after their families, in their nations; this shows, that what is said concerning the division of countries to the sons of Japheth is by way of anticipation; and that, though thus related, was not done till after the confusion of languages, since the partition was made according to the different languages of men; those that were of the same language went and dwelt together, the several nations of them, and the several families in those nations; by which it appears that this was done by consultation, with great care and wisdom, ranging the people according to their tongues; of which nations were formed, and with them were taken the several families they consisted of.
(y) "regiones gentium", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Patrick.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. the isles of the Gentiles—a phrase by which the Hebrews described all countries which were accessible by sea (Isa 11:11; 20:6; Jer 25:22). Such in relation to them were the countries of Europe, the peninsula of Lesser Asia, and the region lying on the east of the Euxine. Accordingly, it was in these quarters the early descendants of Japheth had their settlements.
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