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Genesis Chapter Ten


I. Content of the Chapter


The Descendants of Noah and Origin of the Nations

A.  The sons of Noah (v.1);

B.  The descendants of Japheth (v.2-5);

C.  The descendants of Ham;

1.  The descendants of Ham (v.6);

2.  The descendants of Cush (v.7-12);

3.  The descendants of Mizraim (v.13-14);

4.  The descendants of Canaan (v.15-19);

5.  The closing words of Ham’s descendants (v.20);

D.  The descendants of Shem (v.21-31);

E.  The closing words of Noah’s descendants (v.32);


II. Verse by Verse Commentary


Gen. 10:1 “Now this is the genealogy of the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And sons were born to them after the flood.”

YLT: “And these births of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth; and born to them are sons after the deluge.”

Meaning of Words: “Noah”: rest comfort; “Shem”: name, reputation; “Ham”: darkness, hot; “Japheth”: enlargement, sound;

Literal Meaning: this chapter is written to prove that all human beings are of the same ancestor, the descendants of the three sons of Noah. Most of the names in this chapter are names of individuals. And there are also names of nations and families and cities. Probably, they were named after the names of the initiators.

    Moreover, some Bible scholars think when the Bible records “the sons of someone are…”, it emphasizes “the man himself”, and that when the Bible records “someone begot another one”, it emphasizes “the son”. E.g., “the sons of Ham were Cush”, it emphasizes “Ham” (v.6); and “Cush begot Nimrod”, it emphasizes “Nimrod”.


Gen. 10:2 “The sons of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras.”

YLT: “`Sons of Japheth Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras.”

Meaning of Words: Gomer”: perfect, hot; Magog”: a barbarous northern region, place of Gog; Madai”: central, my garment; Javan”: dust, effervesce, young; “Tubal”: posterity, propagation, preach; Meshech”: be plucked, sowing, high; Tiras”: desire, longing;

Literal Meaning: Gomer”: the ancestor of the Northern Europeans;

Magog”: the ancestor of Tatars in the northern part of the Black Sea;

“ Madai”: the ancestor of the Persians;

“ Javan”: the ancestor of the Southern Europeans;

Tubal, Meshech”: the ancestor of the Russians in the southern part of the Black Sea;

Tiras”: the ancestor of the Turks;


Gen. 10:3 “The sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah.”

YLT: “And sons of Gomer Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah.”

Meaning of Words: Ashkenaz”: Germans; “Riphath”: what is said; “Togarmah”: fortress;


Gen. 10:4 “The sons of Javan were Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim.”

YLT: “And sons of Javan Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim.”

Meaning of Words: Elishah”: a firm covenant; “Tarshish”: strong, hard, stony; “ Kittim”: execration, mashed, he who boxes; “Dodanim”: leader;

Literal Meaning: Elishah”: the ancestor of the Italians;

Tarshish”: the ancestor of the Spaniards;

Kittim”: the ancestor of the Cypriots;

Dodanim”: the ancestor of the Greeks;


Gen. 10:5 “From these the coastland peoples of the Gentiles were separated into their lands, everyone according to his language, according to their families, into their nations.”

YLT: “By these have the isles of the nations been parted in their lands, each by his tongue, by their families, in their nations.”

Literal Meaning: it is the will of God that men shall be scattered in the lands (see Gen. 9:1, 7). And the principles of the dispersion involve three aspects of regions and races and languages. However, after the dispersion, regionalism and racism and divergence of languages were brought forth among all the people. And such discrimination turns out to be the main reason for men’s failure of living in concord with others.

  “Coastland”, the word is not seen among the descendants of Ham (v.20) and Shem (v.31), which shows that the descendants of Japheth at that time were scattered in the coastal land along the Mediterranean Sea and all the islands. Moreover, the Bible often uses the word “coastland” to describe the place far away from Palestine (e.g. Jer. 25:22) or the whole land of the Gentiles in the general (e.g. Is. 42:4). 


Gen. 10:6 “The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan.”

YLT: “And sons of Ham Cush, and Mitzraim, and Phut, and Canaan.”

Meaning of Words: Cush”: black, terror; Mizraim”: two Egypts; Put”: sorrowful; Canaan”: the low land, the purple land, base, and businessman;

Literal Meaning: Cush”: the ancestor of the Ethiopians;

Mizraim”: the ancestor of Egyptians;

Put”: the ancestor of the Libyans;

Canaan”: the ancestor of the Canaanites;


Gen. 10:7 “The sons of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabtechah; and the sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan.”

YLT: “And sons of Cush Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtechah; and sons of Raamah Sheba and Dedan.”

Meaning of Words: Seba”: drunkard; “Havilah”: circular, twist, bring forth, sorrow; “Sabtah”: attack; “Raamah”: trembling; “Sabtechah”: assault; “Sheba”: drunkard; “Dedan”: the low land, shallow;


Gen. 10:8Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth.”

YLT: “And Cush hath begotten Nimrod; he hath begun to be a hero in the land;”

Meaning of Words: Nimrod”: rebellious, strong, powerful;

Literal Meaning: he began to be a mighty one on the earth”, it indicated that he had a strong stature and was mightier than others. Nimrod was the descendant the Ham (v.6), the father of Canaan who was cursed (see Gen. 9:25-27). Some descendants of Ham later became the enemies of the elect of God, the Israelites.

Spiritual Meaning:Nimrod” means rebellion, standing for the leaders that rebel against God.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Satan often uses those who are forsaken by God to be leaders of rebellion against God.

  2) The world adores heroes since the ancient time. And even many Christians like to hold high the talented leaders.

  3) Indeed believers have to respect the spiritual leaders, but shall not be above what is written in the Scriptures, lest we should lose the balance (1Cor. 4:6) and cause difficulties in the oneness of the church.

  4) Let us not know one according to flesh, but pay attention to his character and spiritual life.


Gen. 10:9 “He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, "Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD."”

YLT: “he hath been a hero in hunting before Jehovah; therefore it is said, `As Nimrod the hero hunting before Jehovah.'”

Meaning of Words: “mighty”: powerful, strong;

Literal Meaning: “a might hunter”: it showed that his character was strong and aggressive.

  He was a mighty hunter before the LORD”, he was addicted to killing life (including people) in a supercilious manner before God.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) God does not look for “a mighty hunter”, but man who fears God and seeks God and walks with God.

  2) All who take the sword will perish by the sword (Matt. 26:52). He who overcomes by violence will finally be subdued by violence.


Gen. 10:10 “And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.”

YLT: “And the first part of his kingdom is Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar;”

Meaning of Words: Babel”: confusion, the big door of, the big door of gods; “Erech”: health, length; “Accad”: stronghold, fortress; “Calneh”: dwelling place with guard; “Shinar”: land of the roaring loin, two rivers;

Literal Meaning: the beginning of his kingdom”, according to chapter eleven of Genesis, all the people lived in the land of Shinar to build the city of Babel and the towel of Babel (see Gen. 11:1-4) before the dispersion of all the people all over the world. It could be inferred that Nimrod ought to be the man that made himself a king and established a kingdom.

  Babel”: the original name of Babylon;

  “The land of Shinar”: the plain of Babylon;

Spiritual Meaning: the people of God had ever been captivated to Babylon (see Matt. 1:22), so it stands for the comprehensive expression of the evil building of Satan ---- the world of religion (see Rev. chap 17, 18), which is an evil system resisting against the plan of God forced by Satan behind.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) When God has His plan on the earth to testify Himself by His people, Satan also gets ready to rebel against the works of God by manipulating someone or something.

  2) Let believers seek the “kingdom” of God and the righteousness of God (Matt. 6:10, 33) instead of building our own sphere of influence.


Gen. 10:11 “From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah,”

YLT: “from that land he hath gone out to Asshur, and buildeth Nineveh, even the broad places of the city, and Calah,”

Meaning of Words: Assyria”: plain, successful, procedure; “Nineveh”: residence of goddess, offspring of coziness; “Rehoboth Ir”: wide land, enlargement; “Calah”: maturity, old age;

Literal Meaning: ‘from that land he went to Assyria”, he extended his land to Assyria;

Nineveh”: a big city in ancient times (Jonah 3:3);

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) There is no limit to man’s ambition ---- even though he has got some land, he covets for more. Even though he has some wealth, he seeks more.

  2) Let believers be satisfied with present circumstances (Heb. 13:5). Piety with contentment is great gain (1Tim. 6:6).


Gen. 10:12 “and Resen between Nineveh and Calah (that is the principal city).”

YLT: “and Resen, between Nineveh and Calah; it the great city.”

Meaning of Words: “Resen”: curb, halter, jaw;

Literal Meaning: someone believed the great city of Nineveh afterwards was the combination of the previous four cities of Nineveh and Rehoboth Ir and Calah and Resen.

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) Man’s building always takes the view to “scale”. For instance: the more number of believers a church has got, the greater and more prosperous she will be. The more magnificent the building of the church is, the more successful she will be.

  2) Let us take heed of the building of the church, for all human buildings will be burnt up by fire one day (1Cor. 3:10-15). May the Lord make our buildings abide.


Gen. 10:13 “Mizraim begot Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim,”

YLT: “And Mitzraim hath begotten the Ludim, and the Anamim, and the Lehabim, and the Naphtuhim,”

Meaning of Words: Ludim”: fight, struggle, grief, he who incites others; Anamim”: stoneman, the disaster of the flood; Lehabim”: fire; Naphtuhim”: open;


Gen. 10:14 “Pathrusim, and Casluhim (from whom came the Philistines and Caphtorim).”

YLT: “and the Pathrusim, and the Casluhim, (whence have come out Philistim,) and the Caphtorim.”

Meaning of Words: Pathrusim”: the southern part, wet food; Casluhim”: guard, he who is forgiven; Caphtorim”: strings of beads; Philistines”: rolling, migratory, alien land;

Literal Meaning: Philistines”, this verse mentions the Philistines purposefully for they became the opponents of Abraham and his descendants (Gen. chap. 20; 26:8, 18).


Gen. 10:15 “Canaan begot Sidon his firstborn, and Heth;”

YLT: “And Canaan hath begotten Sidon his first-born, and Heth,”

Meaning of Words: Sidon”: catch fish; “Heth”: terror;


Gen. 10:16 “the Jebusite, the Amorite, and the Girgashite;”

YLT: “and the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgashite,”

Meaning of Words: Jebusite”: be trembled; Amorite”: mountaineer, he who is fond of speaking, publicity; Girgashite”: a stranger draws near;

Literal Meaning: “the Jebusite, when the Israelites subdued the land of Canaan, the original inhabitants of Jerusalem were the Jebusites (Judge 19:10-11; Chr. 11:4).

  “The Amorite”, they dwelt in the mountain land and became the enemies of the Israelites afterwards (Jos. 10:6-11; Judges 1:34-36).


Gen. 10:17 “the Hivite, the Arkite, and the Sinite;”

YLT: “and the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite,”

Meaning of Words: Hivite”: declare, breathe; Arkite”: vagabond; Sinite”: thorny;


Gen. 10:18 “the Arvadite, the Zemarite, and the Hamathite. Afterward the families of the Canaanites were dispersed.”

YLT: “and the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite; and afterwards have the families of the Canaanite been scattered.”

Meaning of Words: Arvadite”: the land of vagabond; Zemarite”: be circumcised by fury, fortress; Hamathite”: stronghold;


Gen. 10:19 “And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon as you go toward Gerar, as far as Gaza; then as you go toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha.”

YLT: “And the border of the Canaanite is from Sidon, thy coming towards Gerar, unto Gaza; thy coming towards Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, unto Lasha.”

Meaning of Words: Gerar”: a rolling country, drag off, stopping place; “Gaza”: strong; Sodom”: burn, bind in fetters; Gomorrah”: enslaved, bind, cover, a heap of ruins; Admah”: fortress, earthly; Zeboiim”: gazelle; Lasha, hyena”: crack, till blindness;

Literal Meaning: this verse describes the boundary of the land of Canaan, north to Sidon of Lebanon and south to the southern part of Gaze Strip and west to the Mediterranean coast and east to the region of the Dead Sea.


Gen. 10:20 “These were the sons of Ham, according to their families, according to their languages, in their lands and in their nations.”

YLT: “These sons of Ham, by their families, by their tongues, in their lands, in their nations.”

Literal Meaning: this chapter uses nearly a half chapter, from verse six to twenty, to introduce the offspring of Ham, for most of them had serious enmity against the Israelites.

    “Families” emphasize the relationship of blood; “languages” emphasize the relationship of language; “lands” emphasize the relationship of territory; “nations” emphasize the relationship of politics.


Gen. 10:21 “And children were born also to Shem, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder.”

YLT: “As to Shem, father of all sons of Eber, brother of Japheth the elder, he hath also begotten:”

Meaning of Words: “Eber”: quarter, opposite side, ferry crossing;

Literal Meaning: the father of all the children of Eber”, the emphasis of this verse is to introduce “Eber”. Probably he himself had great fear of God and was a prominent character among the direct fathers of the Israelites. And it was also possible that “Eber” was the origin of “the Hebrews”, and the Israelites were also called the Hebrews (Ex. 1:19-20). Therefore, Moses particularly mentioned his name when writing this book.


Gen. 10:22 “The sons of Shem were Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram.”

YLT: “Sons of Shem Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram.”

Meaning of Words: Elam”: age, hidden; Asshur”: plain, plain land, successful, procedure; Arphaxad”: strong fortress of Chaldean; Lud”: surrender; Aram”: high land;


Gen. 10:23 “The sons of Aram were Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash.”

YLT: “And sons of Aram Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Mash.”

Meaning of Words: Uz”: stable, fat, consider; Hul”: sorrow; Gether”: fear; Mash”: try, pull out of;


Gen. 10:24 “Arphaxad begot Salah, and Salah begot Eber.”

YLT: “And Arphaxad hath begotten Salah, and Salah hath begotten Eber.”

Meaning of Words: Salah”: weapon, sprout;


Gen. 10:25 “To Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided; and his brother's name was Joktan.”

YLT: “And to Eber have two sons been born; the name of the one Peleg (for in his days hath the earth been divided,) and his brother's name Joktan.”

Meaning of Words: Peleg”: division, river, earthshaking; “Joktan”: tiny;

Literal Meaning: the name of one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided”, the manner of its record is rather particular. Probably it suggests that when Jehovah scattered all the people over the face of the whole earth (see Gen. 11:8-9), it was exactly the time when “Peleg” the direct father of the Israelites was on the earth. And the original meaning of “Peleg” is “division and dispersion”. Eber named his son “Peleg”, which indicated that he feared God and obeyed the will of God that all people had to be scattered all over the earth and kept it in mind.


Gen. 10:26 “Joktan begot Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah,”

YLT: “And Joktan hath begotten Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah,”

Meaning of Words: Almodad”: he who stirs up, measure; Sheleph”: pulled out of; Hazarmaveth”: dead yard; Jerah”: the new moon;


Gen. 10:27 “Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah,”

YLT: “and Hadoram, and Uzal, and Diklah,”

Meaning of Words: Hadoram”: decoration, might, Hado is lofty; Uzal”: vagabond; Diklah”: palm tree, the forest of palm trees;


Gen. 10:28 “Obal, Abimael, Sheba,”

YLT: “and Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba,”

Meaning of Words: Obal”: naked; Abimael”: fat, my father is God, the father of Mary; Sheba”: drunkenness;


Gen. 10:29 “Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab. All these were the sons of Joktan.”

YLT: “and Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab; all these sons of Joktan;”

Meaning of Words: Ophir”: abundant, fruitful, fat, rich; Havilah”: circle, produce, make a circuit of, sorrow; Jobab”: call, caller;


Gen. 10:30 “And their dwelling place was from Mesha as you go toward Sephar, the mountain of the east.”

YLT: “and their dwelling is from Mesha, thy coming towards Sephar, a mount of the east.”

Meaning of Words: Mesha”: release, refuge, middle ground; “Sephar”: number, household register;

Literal Meaning: it cannot be sure where “Mesha” and “Sephar” are at present. Probably, after the dispersion, they moved eastwards from Babylon and Assyria (the southern part of Iran today) and extended southwards (the Arabian Peninsula at present).


Gen. 10:31 “These were the sons of Shem, according to their families, according to their languages, in their lands, according to their nations.”

YLT: “These sons of Shem, by their families, by their tongues, in their lands, by their nations.”

Gen. 10:32 “These were the families of the sons of Noah, according to their generations, in their nations; and from these the nations were divided on the earth after the flood.”

YLT: “These families of the sons of Noah, by their births, in their nations, and by these have the nations been parted in the earth after the deluge.”

Literal Meaning: this chapter has altogether listed seventy families. The number “seventy” symbolizes “perfect” (see Ex. 1:5; 24:1; Judges 1:7). Therefore, this chapter illustrates us how all nations of men are made of one blood and obtain the boundaries of their dwelling (see Acts 17:26).

Enlightenment in the Word:

  1) All the people all over the world are of the same origin, so let us abolish any attitude of “being not of my family” but take all as brothers.

  2) What is most important is to make all nations be the Lord’s disciple (Matt. 28:19). In Christ there is no difference in families or cultures or languages, etc. (Col. 3:11; 1Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:28).


III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons


Nimrod ---- the Type of the Man of Sin

A.  His name: “Nimrod” (v.8) means “rebellion”, which showed he was a lawless (2Thess. 2:8);

B.  His might: “be a mighty one on the earth” (v.8), which showed that he was much mighty (2Thess. 2:9);

C.  His disposition: “hunter” (v.9), which showed that he was cruel and violent (Rev. 13:15);

D.  His attitude: “He was a mighty hunter before Jehovah” (v.9), which showed that he was arrogant and had no God in his sight (2Thess. 2:4);

E.  His work: “the beginning of his kingdom is Babel” (v.10), which showed that he built the kingdom of himself to resisted the kingdom and put it into disorder (Rev. chap. 17, 18);

F.   His ways:

1.  “He came from that land” (v.11), which showed that he “conquered” others everywhere;

2.  “Built” (v.11), which showed that he managed to “build” the power of darkness wherever he went;

3.  “This was the great city” (v.11-12), which showed that he had built a colossal realm of power by the artifices of “union”;


Eber ---- the Type of the Overcomer

A.  His name: “Eber” (v.21), which meant “getting across”, indicating that he had been separated from the world;

B.  His origin: “Salah begot Eber” (v.24), which indicated that he was “sprouted” (the meaning of Salah) in life;

C.  His work: “children were born also to Shem” (v.21), which indicated that he was engaged in the multiplication and building of life;

D.  His ways:

1.  “To Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg” (v. 25), which indicated that he named his son “Peleg” (which means dispersion) to show his wholehearted obedience to the will of God after he had sought and understood the will of God (the will of God was scattered all the people all over the world);

2.  And his brother’s name was Joktan”, (v. 25), which indicated that he had no great ambition on the earth and was willing to be humble (the meaning of Joktan was humbleness) to serve the Lord.


The Disintegration of the Earthly Nation (Organization)

A.  Divide because of “the lands in which they were inhabited” (v.5, 20, 31): regionalism was thus generated, and people in different regions occupied their lands respectively without any identification with others;

B.  Divide because of “languages” (v.5, 20, 31): barriers caused by the different feelings and thoughts and mind;

C.  Divide because of “families” (v.5, 20, 31-32): racial discrimination was then formed;

D.  Focus on talented and mighty people (v.8-10): God’s authority was replaced by human authority;

E.  Be engaged in the building nothing to do with the will of God (v.10-13): finally men became “confused” (the meaning of Babel) about the will of God and took falsehood as truth;


── Caleb HuangChristian Digest Bible Commentary Series

Translated by Mary Zhou