Saturday, May 11, 2013

Thoughts on Genesis 10

Genesis 10 is sometimes called the table of the nations. This is because many of the sons of Noah bear the name of entire nations. Because of this nineteenth century linguists named certain languages after certain of the sons of Noah. Thus we have Semitic and Hamitic language groups. A close look at the nations shows some strange connections (a table would be better):

Japheth's sons:
Madai (Medes, lived in modern Iran, spoke an Indo-European language)
Javan (Greeks, lived in Greece and Asia Minor, spoke an Indo-European language)
sons of Javan: Elishah (Cyprus), Tarshish, Kittim (Crete), and Dodanim

Ham's sons:
Cush (Ethiopia, spoke and African language)
One of Cush's sons is Nimrod who is over the Sumerian cities of Erech (Uruk),Babel, Accad and Calneh, the last three of which are Semitic speaking

Mizraim (Egypt, spoke a Hamito-Semitic language)
Phut (Punt or Somalia, presumably and African language)
Canaan (the Levant, spoke various Semitic languages related to Hebrew like Phonecian, Moabite, Ammonite)

Shem's sons:
Elam (in modern Iran, their language is unrelated to any other)
Asshur (Assyria, they spoke Assyrian, a Semitic language)
Arphaxad (perhaps the Kassites whose language is unrelated to anything else)
Lud (the Luwians, who spoke an Indo-European language)
Aram (they spoke a Semitic language)
As can be seen from the list, there is no connection between the languages spoken and which son of Noah they are listed under. As for race, that is even further from consistent. Genetics may be yet another matter.

It is possible to read too much into the lists in Genesis 10 and I think that has often been the case in the past.