Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and to them were sons born after the flood.…
Many readers might be disposed to undervalue a chapter like this, since it is but a collection of names — some of which are quite unknown — and is made up of barren details promising little material for profitable reflection. Yet a thoughtful reader will be interested here, and discover the germs and suggestions of great truths; for the subject is man, and man, too, considered in reference to God's great purpose in the government of the world. This chapter "is as essential to an understanding of the Bible, and of history in general, as is Homer's catalogue, in the second book of the Iliad, to a true knowledge of the Homeric poems and the Homeric times." The Biblical student can no more undervalue the one than the classical student the other.
I. IT IS MARKED BY THE FEATURES OF A TRUTHFUL RECORD.
1. It is not vague and general, but descends to particulars. The forgers of fictitious documents seldom run the risk of scattering the names of persons and places freely over their page. Hence those who write with fraudulent design deal in what is vague and general.
2. Heathen literature when dealing with the origin of nations employs extravagant language. The early annals of all nations, except the Jews, run at length into fable, or else pretend to a most incredible antiquity. National vanity would account for such devices and for the willingness to receive them. The Jews had the same temptations to indulge in this kind of vanity as the other nations around them. It is therefore a remarkable circumstance that they pretend to no fabulous antiquity. We are shut up to the conclusion that their sacred records grew up under the special care of Providence, and were preserved from the common infirmities of merely human authorship.
3. Here we have the ground plan of all history.
II. THAT HISTORY HAS ITS BASIS IN THAT OF INDIVIDUAL MEN. The general lesson of this chapter is plain, namely, that no man can go to the bottom of history who does not study the lives of those men who have made that history what it is.
III. THAT MAN IS THE CENTRAL FIGURE OF SCRIPTURE. Infidels have made this characteristic of revelation a matter of reproach; but all who know how rich God's purpose towards mankind is, glory in it, and believe that great things must be in store for a race which bus occupied so much of the Divine regard.
IV. THE PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENT OF HISTORY TOWARDS AN END. All the interest centres successively in one people, tribe, and family; then in One who was to come out of that family, bringing redemption for mankind. "Salvation is of the Jews." The noblest idea of history is only realized in the Bible. Those of the world had no living Word of God to inspire that idea. That book can scarcely be regarded as of human origin which passes by the great things of the world, and lingers with the man who "believed in God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness."
(T. H. Leale.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood.