Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood.Genesis 10:1. Although this chapter may appear to some unprofitable, it is indeed of great use. 1st, It gives us a true, and the only true account of the origin of the several nations of the world. 2d, It discovers and distinguishes from all other nations, the people in which God’s church was to be preserved, and from which Christ was to come. 3d, It explains and confirms Noah’s prophecy concerning his three sons, and makes the accomplishment of it evident. 4th, It enables us to understand many other parts of Scripture, as well prophetical and poetical, as historical and doctrinal. It is therefore well worth our attention. These are the sons of Noah, Shem, &c. — Although Shem is always named first, when the sons of Noah are enumerated, because he was the progenitor of Abraham and of Christ, and because the church of God was continued in his line, yet it is generally thought he was the youngest of the three, and that Japheth, though always mentioned last, was the eldest.
The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras.Genesis 10:2. Moses begins with Japheth’s family, either because he was the eldest, or because it lay most remote from Israel, and had least concern with them at the time when he wrote; and therefore he mentions that race very briefly; hastening to give account of the posterity of Ham, who were Israel’s enemies, and of Shem, who were Israel’s ancestors: for it is the church of which the Scripture is designed to be the history: and of the nations of the world, only as they were some way or other interested in the affairs of Israel.
And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah.
And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim.
By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.Genesis 10:5. The posterity of Japheth were allotted to the isles of the Gentiles, which were solemnly by lot, after a survey, divided among them, and probably this island of ours among the rest. All places beyond the sea from Judea, are called isles. Jeremiah 25:22; and this directs us to understand that promise, Isaiah 42:4, The isles shall wait for his law, of the conversion of the Gentiles to the faith of Christ.
And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.
And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtecha: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan.
And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth.
He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD.Genesis 10:9. Nimrod was a mighty hunter — In the Septuagint it is, He was a giant hunter: — the Arabic has it, He was a terrible giant before the Lord: and the Syriac, He was a great warrior. It is probable he began with hunting, and for this became famous to a proverb. He served his country by ridding it of wild beasts, and so insinuating himself into the affections of his neighbours, he got to be their prince. And perhaps, under pretence of hunting, he gathered men under his command, to make himself master of the country. Thus he became a mighty hunter, a violent invader of his neighbours’ rights and properties. Great conquerors are but great hunters before the Lord. Alexander and Cesar would not make such a figure in Scripture history as they do in common history. The former is represented in prophecy, but as a he-goat pushing, Daniel 8:5.
And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.Genesis 10:10. The beginning of his kingdom was Babel — Some way or other, he got into power; and so laid the foundation of a monarchy which was afterward a head of gold. It does not appear that he had any right to rule by birth; but either his fitness for government recommended him, or by power and policy he gradually advanced himself to a throne. See the antiquity of civil government, and particularly of that form of it which lodges the sovereignty in a single person.
Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah,Genesis 10:11. Out of that land went forth Asshur — He was the son of Shem, Genesis 10:22 : and, it seems that, not being able to endure Nimrod’s tyranny, who possessed himself of other men’s territories, (Chaldea, which Nimrod had seized upon, being Shem’s part,) he went away beyond Tigris, where he founded the empire of Assyria, whose chief city was Nineveh, Isaiah 23:13.
And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.
And Mizraim begat Ludim, and Anamim, and Lehabim, and Naphtuhim,
And Pathrusim, and Casluhim, (out of whom came Philistim,) and Caphtorim.
And Canaan begat Sidon his firstborn, and Heth,Genesis 10:15. The account of the posterity of Canaan, and of the land they possessed, is more particular than that of any other in this chapter; because these were the nations that were to be subdued before Israel, and their land was to become Immanuel’s land. And by this account it appears that the posterity of Canaan were both numerous and rich, and very pleasantly seated; and yet Canaan was under a curse. Canaan here has a better land than either Shem or Japheth; and yet they have a better lot, for they inherit the blessing.
And the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite,
And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite,
And the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad.
And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha.
These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations.
Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born.Genesis 10:21. Unto Shem, &c. — The word Shem signifies a name; but two titles are also added whereby to distinguish him: 1st, He was the father of all the children of Eber. Eber was his great-grandson; but why should he be called the father of all his children, rather than of all Arphaxad’s or Salah’s? Probably because Abraham and his seed, from Eber, were called Hebrews. Eber himself, we may suppose, was a man eminent for religion in a time of general apostacy; and the holy tongue being commonly called from him the Hebrew, was retained in his family in the confusion of Babel, as a special token of God’s favour to him. 2d, He is styled the brother of Japheth, perhaps to signify the union of the Gentiles and Jews in the church.
The children of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram.
And the children of Aram; Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Mash.
And Arphaxad begat Salah; and Salah begat Eber.
And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name was Joktan.Genesis 10:25. In his days the earth was divided — That is, about the time of his birth it was divided among those that were to inhabit it, either when Noah made an orderly distribution of it among his descendants, as Joshua divided the land of Canaan by lot; or when, upon their refusal to comply with that division, God, in justice, divided them by the confusion of tongues.
And Joktan begat Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah,
And Hadoram, and Uzal, and Diklah,
And Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba,
And Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab: all these were the sons of Joktan.
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 lands, 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.