1 Chronicles 1:17
The sons of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram, and Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Meshech.
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THE SONS OF SHEM, OR THE SEMITES (1Chronicles 1:17-23).

(17) Blam.—The Elamtum of the Assyrian inscription, the classic Susiana, a mountainous land eastward of Babylonia, to which it was subject in the days of Abraham (Genesis 14). The names Assurû, Elamû, Kassû, and Accadû occur together in an old Assyrian list of nations. Êlama, from which the Assyrian and Hebrew names are derived, is Accadian. The native designation was Ansan. The Sargonide kings of Assyria had frequent wars with Elam.

Asshur.—Assyria proper, i.e., a district on the Tigris, about twenty-five miles long, between the thirty-sixth and thirty-seventh parallels of latitude. Asshur was the name of its older capital and tutelar god. The Semitic Assyrians appear to have been settled at Asshur as early as the nineteenth century B.C. They were emigrants from Babylonia (Genesis 10:11). The original name was A-usar, “water-meadow.”

Arphaxad apparently means Babylonia, or, at least, includes it. Babylonian monarchs styled themselves “King of the Four Quarters” (of heaven); and Arphaxaa may perhaps mean land of the four quarters or sides, and be derived from the Assyrian arba-kisâdi “four sides” (Friedrich Delitzsch). More probably it is Arph-chesed, “boundary of Chaldea.”

Lud, usually identified with the Lydians (Assyrian Luddi), perhaps their original home in Armenia. The name has also been compared with Rutennu, the Egyptian name of the Syrians (I and r being confused in Egyptian). But comp. Ezekiel 27:10; Ezekiel 30:5.

Aram.—The high land—that is, eastern and western Syria, extending from the Tigris to the Great Sea. The name is constantly used for the Arameans, or Syrians.

Uz.—An Arab tribe, called Hâsu by Esarhaddon, who reduced them. Perhaps, however, Uz (Heb., Ûç), is the Assyrian Uçça, a district on the Orontes, mentioned by Shalmaneser II. (B.C. 860-825). Job lived in the “land of Uz.” The remaining names appear to be also those of Arab tribes, who must have lived northward in the direction of Aram; these are called sons of Aram in Genesis 10

Hul is the Assyrian Hûlî’a, which formed a part of the mountain land of Kasiar or Mash (Inscription of Assurnâçirpal, B.C. 885-860). For Meshech Genesis 10 has Mash, which is compared with Mount Masius, near Nisibin. (So the Syriac and some Heb. MSS.)

(18) Eber.—The land on the other side (Gr., ἡ πέραν) Peræa. Here the land beyond the Euphrates is meant, from which “Abraham, the Hebrew” (i.e., Eberite), migrated.

(19) Two sons.—This indicates the ancient consciousness that the Hebrew and Arabian peoples were akin.

The earth was divided.—Or, divided itself. (Comp. Deuteronomy 32:7-9.) The words probably refer to a split in the population of Mesopotamia.

(20) Joktan begat Almodad.—The Joktanite tribes lived along the coast of Hadhramaut (Hazarmaveth) and Yemen, in southern Arabia. The tribes of Yemen call their ancestor Qahtân (= Joktan). The names in 1Chronicles 1:20-21, are all explicable from Arabic sources.

(22) Ebal.Genesis 10:28. Obal, where, however, the LXX. read Εὐάλ (Ebal). The different spelling is due to the common confusion in MSS. of the Hebrew letters w and y. Both Ebal and Abimael are unknown.

(23) Ophir.—Abhîra, at the mouth of the Indus.

Jobab.—Probably a tribe of Arabia Deserta. (Comp. the Arabic yabâb, a desert.)

All these were the sons of Joktan.Genesis 10:30 adds a definition of their territory: “Their dwelling was from Mesha” (Maisânu, at the head of the Persian Gulf), “until thou comest to Sephar” (probably Zafâru or Isfor, in South Arabia) “and the mountains of the east” (i.e., Nejd, a range parallel to the Red Sea).

From the whole section we learn that the Elamites, Assyrians, Chaldees, Arameans, Hebrews, and Arabs, were regarded as belonging to the great Semitic family. In regard to Elam, modern philologers have questioned the correctness of this view. It is, however, quite possible that at the time when the original of this table of nations was composed, some Semitic tribes were known to have effected a settlement in Elam, just as kindred tribes occupied Babylonia and Assyria.

The fourteen sons of Japheth and the thirty sons of Ham, and the twenty-six sons of Shem, make a total of seventy eponyms of nations. The number seventy is probably not accidental. Comp. the seventy elders (Numbers 11:16); the seventy members of the Sanhedrin; and even the seventy disciples of Christ (Luke 10:1). The seventy nations of the world are often mentioned in the Talmud. Ezekiel’s prophecy concerning Tyre, and the peoples that had commerce with her (Ezekiel 27), is a valuable illustration of the table.

1 Chronicles 1:17-19. The sons of Shem — Either the name of sons is so taken here as to include grandsons, or the children of Aram are understood before Uz, out of Genesis 10:23, where they are expressed. Arphaxad begat — Either immediately, or mediately by his son Canaan, who is expressed Luke 3:35. Divided — In their languages and habitations.

1:1-27 This chapter, and many that follow, repeat the genealogies, or lists of fathers and children in the Bible history, and put them together, with many added. When compared with other places, there are some differences found; yet we must not therefore stumble at the word, but bless God that the things necessary to salvation are plain enough. The original of the Jewish nation is here traced from the first man that God created, and is thereby distinguished from the obscure, fabulous, and absurd origins assigned to other nations. But the nations now are all so mingled with one another, that no one nation, nor the greatest part of any, is descended entirely from any of one nation, nor the greatest part of any, is descended entirely from any of these fountains. Only this we are sure of, that God has created of one blood all nations of men; they are all descended from one Adam, one Noah. Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us? Mal 2:10.The sons of Shem - i. e., descendants. Uz, Hul, Gether, and Meshech (or Mash), are stated to have been "sons of Aram" Genesis 10:23. Meshech is the reading of all the MSS., and is supported by the Septuagint here and in Genesis 10:23. It seems preferable to "Mash," which admits of no very probable explanation. Just as Hamites and Semites were intermingled in Arabia (Genesis 10:7, note; Genesis 10:29, note), so Semites and Japhethites may have been intermingled in Cappadocia - the country of the Meshech or Moschi (Genesis 10:2 note); and this Aramaean ad-mixture may have been the origin of the notion, so prevalent among the Greeks, that the Cappadocians were Syrians. 17. Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Meshech—or, "Mash"; these were the children of Aram, and grandsons of Shem (Ge 10:23). The sons of Shem; either the name of sons is so taken here as to include grandsons, who are called sons, Genesis 29:5 2 Samuel 19:21; or, these words, the children of Aram, are understood and inserted before

Uz, out of Genesis 10:23, where they are expressed.

The sons of Japheth, Gomer,.... Here begins the genealogy of the sons of Noah after the flood; of the sons of Japheth the elder, in this and the two following verses; next of the sons of Ham, the younger brother, 1 Chronicles 1:8, then of Shem, whose posterity are mentioned last, because from him, in the line of Heber, sprang Abraham, the ancestor of the Jewish nation, of whom the Messiah was to come, for whose sake this genealogy is given, 1 Chronicles 1:17. The whole is the same with the account in The sons of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and {d} Aram, and Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Meshech.

(d) Of whom came the Syrians, and therefore they are called Amramites throughout all scripture.

17 (= Genesis 10:22-23). The Sons of Shem

17. The sons of Shem] These occupied the middle geographical “zone.”

Elam] “Semites neither in blood nor in speech” (Sayce, Higher Criticism, p. 122). If this be so, the reason of their being reckoned to Shem must be that they were in the geographical zone which belonged to the Semites.

Asshur] The Assyrians, who spoke a Semitic dialect and were doubtless Semites.

Arphaxad] R.V. Arpachshad. The second half of the word (“chshad”) contains the name of the Casdim, the “Chaldeans” or “Chaldees” of the A.V.

Lud] Perhaps the Lydians. In 1 Chronicles 1:11, which is an extract from an earlier document (“J”), Ludim (“the Lydians”) are reckoned as the children of Mizraim (Egypt). Lydia itself was in the Japhetic “zone,” but the people may have been recognised as Semites independently of their geographical position.

Aram] the “Syrians” of the A.V.; better called Aramaeans. In Damascus they held an independent power for centuries and were constantly at war with Israel. Further north they seem to have been under the hegemony of the Hittites.

Uz] From Genesis 10:23 it appears that in Chron. the words “And the children of Aram[1]” have dropped out, so that “Uz” etc. appear as the immediate descendants of Shem.

[1] The Alexandrine MS (A) of the LXX. has the words.

Neither Uz nor the three following names have been satisfactorily identified. For “Meshech” Genesis 10:2 (Heb. not LXX.) reads “Mash.”

Verses 17-27. - D. THE LIST OF SHEM'S DESCENDANTS TO ABRAM. This list is broken in two; it pauses a moment exactly halfway to Abram, at the name Peleg, to mention Peleg's brother Joktan and Joktan's thirteen sons. Then, repeating the first five names of lineal descent, and picking up the thread at Peleg, the list gives the remaining five to Abram. In the first half of this list, we have apparently the names of nine sons of Shem, but, as Genesis explains, really the names of five sons, and through Aram, the last of them, the names of four grandsons. Another grandson, through Arphaxad the third son, follows, and through this grandson two consecutive lineal descents bring us, in the name Peleg, half-way to Abram. It is here the lineal table pauses to give Joktan and his thirteen sons. The names then in this portion of the list are twenty-six in number. In the Authorized Version they correspond with those in Genesis, except that Meschech (וָמֶשֶׁך) here is called Mash (וָמַשׁ) there; Shelah here is spelled Salah there; and Ebal (עֵיבָל) here is written Obal (עובָל) there. The difference between the Hebrew texts justifies the first and last of these variations in the Authorized Version, but in all other respects those texts are in entire accord with one another, for this paragraph. The Septuagint gives very little of this portion of the list. It corresponds, whether with the Hebrew or the Authorized Version, only as far as to the name Arphaxad, after which it carries down the line at once to Abram by the remaining eight names as given in our twenty-fourth to twenty-seventh verses. Nor is it in agreement with its own version in Genesis, which has points of important variation with the Hebrew text also. It is then at this break of the list that, after the names of Joktan's sons, we have in Genesis these words, "And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar a mount of the east. These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lauds, after their nations. These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations; and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the Flood." Upon this follows the account of Babel, in nine long verses, and then a chronological summary is furnished in lineal descent only from Shem to Abram. It is with the names in this chronological summary that those in this second part of our list (vers. 24-27) are found to agree. But any attempt at reproduction of the chronology found in Genesis is again absent here. At this point a significant stage of these genealogies is reached. The ever-broadening stream of population now narrows again. Two thousand years have flown by, then Abraham appears on the stream and tide of human life. Of that long period the life of Adam himself spanned nearly the half. So far we learn without partiality of all his descendants in common. But henceforth, the real, the distinct purpose of the genealogy becomes apparent, in that the line of the descendants of Abraham, and that by one family, alone is maintained, and proves to be a purpose leading by one long straight line to Christ himself. With Abraham "the covenant of innoceney," long forfeited in Adam, is superseded by the everlasting "covenant of grace," and we lose sight in some measure of Adam, the "common father of our flesh," to think of a happier parentage found in Abraham, the "common father of the faithful." 1 Chronicles 1:17The peoples and races descended from the sons of Noah. - These are enumerated according to the table in Genesis 10; but our author has omitted not only the introductory and concluding remarks (Genesis 10:1, Genesis 10:21, Genesis 10:32), but also the historical notices of the founding of a kingdom in Babel by Nimrod, and the distribution of the Japhetites and Shemites in their dwelling-places (Genesis 10:5, Genesis 10:9-12, Genesis 10:18-20, and Genesis 10:30 and Genesis 10:31). The remaining divergences are partly orthographic, - such as תּבּת, 1 Chronicles 1:5, for תּוּבל, Genesis 10:2, and רעמא, 1 Chronicles 1:9, for רעמה, Genesis 10:7; and partly arising from errors of transcription, - as, for example, דּיפת, 1 Chronicles 1:6, for ריפת, Genesis 10:3, and conversely, רודנים, 1 Chronicles 1:7, for דּדנים, Genesis 10:4, where it cannot with certainty be determined which form is the original and correct one; and finally, are partly due to a different pronunciation or form of the same name, - as תּרשׁישׁה, 1 Chronicles 1:7, for תּרשׁישׁ, Genesis 10:4, the aa of motion having been gradually fused into one word with the name, לוּדּיּים, 1 Chronicles 1:11, for לוּדים, Genesis 10:13, just as in Amos 9:7 we have כּוּשׁיּים for כּוּשׁים; in 1 Chronicles 1:22, עיבל for עובל, Genesis 10:28, where the lxx have also Εὐάλ, and משׁך, 1 Chronicles 1:17, for משׁ, Genesis 10:23, which last has not yet been satisfactorily explained, since משׁך is used in Psalm 120:5 with קדר of an Arabian tribe. Finally, there is wanting in 1 Chronicles 1:17 ארם וּבני before עוּץ, Genesis 10:23, because, as in the case of Noah's sons, 1 Chronicles 1:4, where their relationship is not mentioned, so also in reference to the peoples descended from Shem, the relationship subsisting between the names Uz, Hul, etc., and Aram, is supposed to be already known from Genesis. Other suppositions as to the omission of the words ארם וּבני are improbable. That this register of seventy-one persons and tribes, descended from Shem, Ham, and Japhet, has been taken from Genesis 10, is placed beyond doubt, by the fact that not only the names of our register exactly correspond with the table in Genesis 10, with the exception of the few variations above mentioned, but also the plan and form of both registers is quite the same. In 1 Chronicles 1:5-9 the sections of the register are connected, as in Genesis 10:2-7, by וּבני; from 1 Chronicles 1:10 onwards by ילד, as in Genesis 10:8; in 1 Chronicles 1:17, again, by בּני, as in Genesis 10:22; and in 1 Chronicles 1:18 by ילד, and 1 Chronicles 1:19 by ילּד, as in Genesis 10:24 and Genesis 10:25. The historical and geographical explanation of the names has been given in the commentary to Genesis 10. According to Bertheau, the peoples descended from the sons of Noah amount to seventy, and fourteen of these are enumerated as descendants of Japhet, thirty of Ham, and twenty-six of Shem. These numbers he arrives at by omitting Nimrod, or not enumerating him among the sons of Ham; while, on the contrary, he takes Arphaxad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, and Joktan, all of which are the names of persons, for names of people, in contradiction to Genesis, according to which the five names indicate persons, viz., the tribal ancestors of the Terahites and Joktanites, peoples descended from Eber by Peleg and Joktan.
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