Genesis 10:6
And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.
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(6) Ham.—Many derive this word from a Hebrew root, and explain it as signifying hot, sunburnt, and so swarthy. Japheth they connect with a word signifying to be fair; and so Ham is the progenitor of dark races, Japheth of those of a fair complexion, while the olive- coloured spring from Shem. More probably it is Chemi, the old name of Egypt, “the land of Ham” (Psalm 78:51), called by Plutarch Chemia, and was taken from the black colour of the soil.

The Hamites are grouped in four principal divisions:—

1. Cush. Aethiopia, but not that of Africa, but of Asia. The home of the Cushites was on the Tigris and Euphrates, where Nimrod raised them to great power. Thence they spread into the southern peninsula of Arabia, and crossing the Red Sea at a later date, colonised Nubia and Abyssinia. In the Bible Cush is watered by the Gihon (Genesis 2:13); and Zipporah, the wife of Moses, and daughter of a priest of Midian, is in Numbers 12:1 called a Cushite. Their high rank in old time is marked by the place held by them in the Iliad of Homer.

2. Mizraim. Egypt. In form the word is a dual, and may point to the division of the country into Upper and Lower Egypt. If we choose to interpret a Hamite word by a Hebrew root, it may signify the narrowed land, but it is safer to leave these words till increased knowledge shall enable us to decide with some security upon their meaning. For the ancient name of Mizraim see Genesis 10:6, and for its extent see Genesis 10:14. From the study of the skulls and bodies of a large number of mummies Brugsch-Bey in his recent history has come to the conclusion that the ancient Egyptians did not belong to any African race, but to the great Caucasian family, “but not of the Pelasgic or Semitic branches, but of a third, Cushite.” He adds that the cradle of the Egyptian nation must be sought in Central Asia.

3. Phut. The Lybians of North Africa.

4. Canaan. See Note on Genesis 10:15-19.

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. - XXXII. Ham

6. מצרים mı̂tsrayı̂m, "Mitsraim." מצר mētser, "straitness, limit, pressure." מצור mātsôr, "distress, siege, mound, bulwark; Egypt." מצרים mı̂tsrayı̂m, "perhaps double Egypt, lower and upper." פוּט pûṭ, "Put, troubled."

7. סבא sebā', "Seba, drinking (man, Ethiopian)." סבתה sabtâh, "Sabtah." רעמה ra‛mâh, "Ra'mah, shaking, trembling." סבתכא sabtekā', "Sabtekha." שׁבא shēbā', "Sheba, captive?" דדן dedān, "Dedan, going slowly?"

8. נמרד nı̂mrod, "Nimrod, strong, rebel."

10. בבל bābel, "Babel; related: pour, mingle, confound." ארך 'erek, "Erek, length." אכד 'akad, "Akkad, fortress." כלנה kalneh, "Kalneh." שׁנער shı̂n‛ār, "Shin'ar."

11. נינוה nı̂ynevēh, "Nineveh, dwelling?" עיר רחבח rechobot 'ı̂yr, "Rechoboth 'ir, streets of a city." כלח kelach, "Kelach, completion, end, age."

12. רסן resen, "Resen, bridle, bit."

13. לוּדים lûdı̂ym, "Ludim, born?" ענמים ‛ǎnāmı̂ym, "'Anamim, possession, sheep. להבים lı̂hābı̂ym, "Lehabim, fiery, flaming?" נפתהים naptuchı̂ym, "Naphtuchim, opening."

14. פתרסים patrusı̂ym, "Pathrusim." כסלחים kasluchı̂ym, "Kasluchim." פלשׁתים pelı̂shtı̂ym, "Pelishtim", Αλλόφυλοι Allophuloi, "related: break, scatter; Aethiopic "migrate." כפתרים kaptorı̂ym, "Kaphtorim; related: crown, capital."

15. צידון tsı̂ydon, "Tsidon, hunting." צת chēt, "Cheth, breaking, affrighting."

16. יבוּסי yebûsı̂y, "Jebusi; related: tread." אמרי 'emorı̂y, "Emori; related: Say, be high." גגשׁי gı̂rgāshı̂y, "Girgashi; related: clay, clod."

17. צוּי chı̂vı̂y, "Chivvi; related: live." ערקי ‛arqı̂y, "'Arqi; related: gnaw, sting." סיני sı̂ynı̂y, "Sini; related: mud, clay."

18. ארודי 'arvādı̂y, "Arvadi; related: roam, ramble." צמרי; tsemārı̂y, "Tsemari; noun: wool; verb: cover." חמתי chāmātı̂y, "Chamathi; noun: fastness; verb: guard."

19. גרר gerār, "Gerar; related: draw, saw, abide." עזה 'azâh, 'Azzah, strong." סדם sedom, "Sodom; related: shut, stop." עמרה 'amorâh, "'Amorah; noun: sheaf; verb: bind." אדמה 'admâh, "Admah; adjective: red; noun: soil." צבים tseboyı̂m, "Tseboim, gazelles; verb: go forth, shine." לשׁע lesha‛, "Lesha; verb: pierce, cleave."


6. sons of Ham—emigrated southward, and their settlements were: Cush in Arabia, Canaan in the country known by his name, and Mizraim in Egypt, Upper and Lower. It is generally thought that his father accompanied him and personally superintended the formation of the settlement, whence Egypt was called "the land of Ham" [Ps 105:23, 27; 106:22]. The posterity of

Ham were disposed into the parts south from Babel, both in Asia and Africa. See 1 Chronicles 4:40 Psalm 105:27.

Cush was father both of the Ethiopians and the Arabians; who, as it seems, sent forth a colony from themselves more eastward, even near to India. See Genesis 2:13 2 Kings 19:9 Job 28:19 Jeremiah 13:23, Jeremiah 46:9.

Mizraim was father of the Egyptians, who are generally known in Scripture by that name.


Phut sprung the Libyans, among whom is the river Put, and the Moors. See Jeremiah 46:9 Ezekiel 27:10, Ezekiel 30:5, Nahum 3:9.

Canaan was the cursed parent of that accursed race of the Canaanites, well known in Scripture, Genesis 10:15.

And the sons of Ham,.... Next to the sons of Japheth, the sons of Ham are reckoned; these, Josephus (z) says, possessed the land from Syria, and the mountains of Amanus and Lebanon; laying hold on whatever was towards the sea, claiming to themselves the countries unto the ocean, whose names, some of them, are entirely lost, and others so greatly changed and deflected into other tongues, that they can scarcely be known, and few whose names are preserved entire; and the same observation will hold good of others. Four of the sons of Ham are mentioned:

Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan; the first of these, Cush, Josephus (a) says, has suffered no loss by time; for the Ethiopians, whose prince he was, are to this day by themselves, and all in Asia, called Chusaeans: but though this word Cush, as used in Scripture, is generally rendered by us Ethiopia, this must not be understood of Ethiopia in Africa, but in Arabia; and indeed is always to be understood of one part of Arabia, and which was near to the land of Judea; so Moses's wife is called an Ethiopian, when she was an Arabian, or of Midian, Numbers 12:1 and Chusan and Midian are mentioned together, Habakkuk 3:7 see 2 Kings 19:9, 2 Chronicles 14:9 and Bochart (b) has shown, by various arguments, that the land of Cush was Arabia; and so the Targum of Jonathan interprets it here Arabia. There was a city called Cutha in Erac, a province in the country of Babylon (c), where Nimrod the son of Cush settled, which probably was called so from his father's name. Here the eastern writers say (d) Abraham was born, and is the same place mentioned in 2 Kings 17:24. The second son of Ham was Mizraim, the same with the Misor of Sanchoniatho (e), and the Menes of Herodotus (f), the first king of Egypt, and the builder of the city of Memphis in Egypt, called by the Turks to this day Mitzir (g). Mitzraim is a name by which Egypt is frequently called in Scripture, and this man was the father of the Egyptians; and because Egypt was inhabited by a son of Ham, it is sometimes called the land of Ham, Psalm 105:23. The word is of the dual number, and serves to express Egypt by, which was divided into two parts, lower and upper Egypt. Josephus says (h), we call Egypt, Mestres, and all the Egyptians that inhabit it, Mestraeans; so the country is called by Cedrenus (i), Mestre; and Kairo, a principal city in it, is to this day by the Arabians called Al-messer, as Dr. Shaw (k) relates. The third son of Ham is Phut; of whom Josephus (l) says, that he founded Libya, calling the inhabitants of it after his name, Phuteans; and observes, that there is a river in the country of the Moors of his name; and that many of the Greek historians, who make mention of this river, also make mention of a country adjacent to it, called Phute: mention is made of this river as in Mauritania, both by Pliny (m) and Ptolemy (n) and by the latter of a city called Putea: this Phut is the Apollo Pythius of the Heathens, as some think. The last son of Ham is Canaan, the father of the Canaanites, a people well known in Scripture. Concerning these sons of Ham, there is a famous fragment of Eupolemus preserved in Eusebius (o); and is this;"the Babylonians say, that the first was Belus, called Cronus or Saturn (that is, Noah), and of him was begotten another Belus and Chanaan (it should be read Cham), and he (i.e. Ham) begat Chanaan, the father of the Phoenicians; and of him another son, Chus, was begotten, whom the Greeks call Asbolos, the father of the Ethiopians, and the brother of Mestraim, the father of the Egyptians.''

(z) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 1. c. 6. sect 1.) (a) Ibid. (b) Phaleg. l. 4. c. 2.((c) Vid. Hyde Hist. Relig. Pers. c. 2. p. 39, 40. (d) Vid. Hyde Hist. Relig. Pers. c. 2. p. 72. (e) Apud Euseb. Evangel. Praepar. l. 1. p. 36. (f) Enterpe sive, l. 2. c. 4. 99. (g) See Cumberland's Sanchoniatho, p. 59. (h) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 1. c. 6. sect 1.) (i) Apud Grotium de vera Christ. Relig. l. 1. p. 8. & Ainsworth in loc. (k) Travels, ch. 3. p. 294. Ed. 2.((l) Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 1. c. 6. sect 1.) (m) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 1.((n) Geograph. l. 4. c. 1, 3.((o) Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 17. p. 419.

And the sons of Ham; {d} Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.

(d) Of Cush and Mizraim came the Ethiopians and Egyptians.

6–20. The Sons of Ham

6. The races described as “the sons of Ham” are first traced in the most southerly regions. If the name has any connexion with Kamt, the native name of Egypt, it is noticeable that it is here applied to the parent stock of peoples, not only in Egypt, but also in South Arabia, Phoenicia, and Syria. “Ham” is used as a synonym for Egypt in Psalm 78:51; Psalm 105:23; Psalm 105:27; Psalm 106:22.

Cush] A name of frequent occurrence in the O.T. for Ethiopia and the Ethiopians, i.e. the country and the people between Egypt and Abyssinia; the “Kas,” or “Kes,” of the Egyptian inscriptions. Cf. on Genesis 2:13.

Mizraim] The regular Hebrew name for Egypt. Cf. the Assyrian Muṣur. The termination “-aim” denotes the dual number; and hence it has been supposed that “Mizraim” means the two “Mizrs,” i.e. Upper and Lower Egypt. But we cannot rely on this for certain. “Mizraim” is the Hebrew name for Egypt without necessarily containing an allusion to this geographical division. It is best not to press the grammatical meaning that may be claimed to underlie the popular pronunciation of a geographical name; cf. Ephraim, Naharaim, Jerusalaim (= Jerusalem).

Put] Mentioned also in Ezekiel 27:10; Ezekiel 38:5; Jeremiah 46:9; Nahum 3:9. In these passages “Put” is mentioned together with the composite materials of an Egyptian mercenary army. It is generally identified with the Libyans. Pliny mentions a river “Fut” in Libya. In Nahum 3:9 Put is associated with the “Lubim,” and with Ethiopia and Egypt. Punt occurs in Egyptian inscriptions for the African “littoral” of the Red Sea.

Canaan] This is the land of Phoenicia, probably in its widest sense, like Kinaḥi in the Tel-el-Amarna tablets (1400 b.c.). The Canaanites were Semites, and spoke a language which closely resembled Hebrew, and was more akin to Aramaean and Assyrian than Egyptian. Canaan was possibly associated by Israelite tradition with Egypt on account of the general similarity of its culture. Perhaps the Israelites, who regarded the Egyptians and the Canaanites as their two racial foes, and as the two corrupters of their faith, classed them together for that reason among “the sons of Ham.”

Verse 6. - And the sons of Ham. These, who occupy the second place, that the list might conclude with the Shemites as the line of promise, number thirty, of whom only four were immediate descendants. Their territory generally embraced the southern portions of the globe. Hence the name Ham has been connected with חָמַס, to be warm, though Kalisch declares it to be not of Hebrew, but Egyptian origin, appearing in the Chme of the Rosetta Stone. The most usual ancient name of the country was Kern, the black land. Scripture speaks of Egypt as the land of Ham (Psalm 78:51; Psalm 105:23; Psalm 106:22) Cush. Ethiopia, including Arabia "quae mater est," and Abyssinia "quae colonia" (Michaelis, Rosenmüller). The original settlement of Cush, however, is believed to have been on the Upper Nile, whence he afterwards spread to Arabia, Babylonia, India (Knobel, Kalisch, Lange, Rawlinson). Murphy thinks he may have started from the Caucasus, the Caspian, and. the Cossaei of Khusistan, and. migrated south (to Egypt) and east (to India). Josephus mentions that in his day Ethiopia was called Cush; the Syriac translates ἀνὴρ Ἀιθίοψ (Acts 8:27) by Cuschaeos; the ancient Egyptian name of Ethiopia was Keesh, Kish, or Kush ('Records of the Past, 4:7). The Cushites are described as of a black color (Jeremiah 13:23) and of great stature (Isaiah 45:14). And Mizraim. A dual form probably designed to represent the two Egypts, upper and lower (Gesenius, Keil, Kalisch), though it has been discovered in ancient Egyptian as the name of a Hittite chief (circa B.C. 1300, contemporary with Rameses II.), written in hieroglyphics M'azrima, Ma being the sign for the dual. The old Egyptian name is Kemi, Chemi, with obvious reference to Ham; the name Egypt being probably derived from Kaphtah, the land of Ptah. The singular form Mazor is found in later books (2 Kings 19:24; Isaiah 19:6; 35:25), and usually denotes Lower Egypt. And Phut. Phet (Old Egyptian), Phaiat (Coptic); the Libyans in the north of Africa (Josephus, LXX., Gesenins, Bochart). Kalisch suggests Buto or Butos, the capital of the delta of the Nile. And Canaan. Hebrew, Kenaan (vide on Genesis 9:25). The extent of the territory occupied by the fourth son of Ham is defined in vers. 15-19. Genesis 10:6Descendants of Ham. - Cush: the Ethiopians of the ancients, who not only dwelt in Africa, but were scattered over the whole of Southern Asia, and originally, in all probability, settled in Arabia, where the tribes that still remained, mingled with Shemites, and adopted a Shemitic language. Mizraim is Egypt: the dual form was probably transferred from the land to the people, referring, however, not to the double strip, i.e., the two strips of land into which the country is divided by the Nile, but to the two Egypts, Upper and Lower, two portions of the country which differ considerably in their climate and general condition. The name is obscure, and not traceable to any Semitic derivation; for the term מצור in Isaiah 19:6, etc., is not to be regarded as an etymological interpretation, but as a significant play upon the word. The old Egyptian name is Kemi (Copt. Chmi, Kme), which, Plutarch says, is derived from the dark ash-grey colour of the soil covered by the slime of the Nile, but which it is much more correct to trace to Ham, and to regard as indicative of the Hamitic descent of its first inhabitants. Put denotes the Libyans in the wider sense of the term (old Egypt. Phet; Copt. Phaiat), who were spread over Northern Africa as far as Mauritania, where even in the time of Jerome a river with the neighbouring district still bore the name of Phut; cf. Bochart, Phal. iv. 33. On Canaan, see Genesis 9:25.
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