(Gen 10:1 NASB) Now these are the records of the generations of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah; and sons were born to them after the flood.
Gen 10:1: The tenth chapter of Genesis is a remarkable historical document. Even some of the so-called “higher critics” of Scripture are amazed it’s historical accuracy. This chapter has been accurately labeled “The Table of Nations.” It reads like a family record and gives the family record of Noah’s grandsons and great-grandsons along with the cities or nations they established.
After the flood, the men from the Tower of Babel probably split up within a few generations after the flood, which aided in the dispersion that Elohim had commanded when He instructed them to “Be fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth.”
(Gen 10:2 NASB) The sons of Japheth were Gomer and Magog and Madai and Javan and Tubal and Meshech and Tiras.
(Gen 10:3 NASB) And the sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz and Riphath and Togarmah.
(Gen 10:4 NASB) And the sons of Javan were Elishah and Tarshish, Kittim and Dodanim.
Gen 10:4: This list may be written in order of the age of the son. It starts with what was most probably the oldest brother Japheth, then to Ham, and concludes with Shem. Only the sons are listed here, but it is likely that there were as many daughters as there were sons.
Japheth’s seven sons are listed here and their names can be traced through secular history and archeological writings as being the founders of the nations in Europe and India. The names Japheth is found in literature as Iapetos, the father of the Greeks and as Iyapeti, the reputed ancestor of the Aryans in India.
Gomer is generally identified by many ancient writers as what eventually became Germany and Wales. Gomer’s three sons were Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togormah.
The Jews identified Ashkenaz with Germany and to this day, the German Jews are sometimes referred to as Ashkenazis. Some ethnologists think Ashkenaz’s descendants also include Denmark, Armenia, and surrounding areas.
Riphath was identified by Josephus as the ancestor of much of Europe. The name Europe may have come from a corruption of the name Riphath.
Togarmah is the ancestor of the Armenians and of Turkey.
Among the other sons of Japheth listed are Magog, Tubal, and Meshach. Josephus said that Magog is the father of the Scythians, but how did he know this? Fundamental Christianity teaches that Meshach is preserved in the name Muscovi which is the former name for Russia. It is also taught that Tubal is preserved in the Russian city of Tobolsk. These three sons of Gomer are called the forerunners of the nation of Russia by some Christian theologians.
The prophet Ezekiel speaks of these people also. It is thought that Russia and other allies of the Antichrist are going to attack Israel including Gomer (Germany) and Togarmah (Turkey) (Ezek. 38:1-3).
However, a closer inspection of historical facts tells us a slightly different story. I found an excellent paper written in 1985 pertaining to the subject of these people.
The Nations of Ezekiel 38 – 39
Who Will Participate in the Battle?
Copyright 1985, Fred G. Zaspel – Word of Life Baptist Church – Pottsville, PA
Meshech (MK) is often mistaken for the Modern Russian city of Moscow, capitol and largest city of the Soviet Union. Again, this identification, as even Ryrie admits, is unfounded also. The problems are similar to those associated with the identification of Gomer with Germany. First of all, the is changed to S. This again is unwarranted linguistically. Furthermore, the similarity is based upon a comparison of MK with the English designation Moscow; the Russian word is Moskva (MSKV) and is less similar still.
However, Mushki (MK) of central and western Asia Minor, known in the classics (Homer, etc.) as Phrygia, fits very well. These people were well known to Ezekiel, and this seems clearly the easier interpretation.
Tubal (TBL) is commonly identified with the Russian city of Tobol’sk. Although this is allowable linguistically, it is not the best hermeneutically. Ezekiel knew nothing of Tobol’sk (or Moscow or Germany, for that matter); it did not exist. He was, however, well acquainted with Tabal (TBL) of Eastern Asia Minor (and Gimarrai and Mushki) of central and western Asia Minor). Granted, God could have revealed Tobol’sk (and Moscow and Germany) to the ancient prophet, but to assume so when Tabal was well known to him is unjustified apart from Biblical warrant. If a man in New York, for example, speaks of Manhattan, he would not want anyone to assume that he is speaking of a Manhattan, Kansas; much less would he want anyone to interpret his words as referring to a Manhattan somewhere else in the world of which he is unaware! Similarly, to assume a place unknown to the prophet (Tobol’sk) when clear options are available is both hermeneutically and exegetically untenable. Tabal is clearly to be preferred.
Gog is extremely difficult to identify. Some have identified him with Gyges (seventh century B.C.), king of Lydia (extreme western Asia Minor), who is called Gugu in the Ashurbanipal texts. Some have suggested the place name Gagai, referred to in the Tell el Amarna letters as a land of Barbarians. A god named Gaga found in the Ras Shamra writings; Gagu, a ruler of the land of Sakhi, North of Assyria; and Gaga, a mountainous region north of Meletene, have all been offered as alternatives. Some have understood Gog to be a historical figure such as Alexander the Great. One plausible explanation is that Gog is merely an official title or general designation for any enemy of God’s people. This interpretation is based on the Septuagint rendering of several Kingly names in the Old Testament. Perhaps Gog is only a derivative of the related word Magog. None of the above suggestions has sufficient evidence for certain identification. It is most probable that Gog is a person, but geographical identification is not given.
Magog, a descendant of Noah through Japheth (Gen. 10:1-2), presents the most difficulty. Those who see it as Russia appeal to Josephus who said “Magog founded those that from him were named Magogites, but who are by the Greeks called Scythians,” who lived north and northeast of the Black Sea. The fact of the matter, however, is that nothing is known about Magog–nothing. Josephus’ guess may be as good as any, but the place is as yet unidentified. The appeal to Gesenius is impressive, but it must be remembered that Gesenius was a great lexicographer and grammarian, not an authority on ancient history. His statement was but a guess also; in fact, it is highly probable that Josephus was Gesenius’ source for this information. Furthermore, though the Scythians are of the Japhetic line, they are believed by historians to be descendants of Gomer through Ashkenas; this is not true of Magog. To identify Magog as the Scythians is without support from historical anthropology.
Although Magog cannot be identified specifically, it seems that Scripture does give a clue at least to its general vicinity. First, “Gog” is known to be an Anatolian name. Further, if Meshech and Tubal have been identified correctly and are in Asia Minor, Magog must be a part of Asia Minor as well since “they [Meshech and Tubal] lived in the neighborhood of Magog.” Ezekiel 38:2 states that Gog, who is the “chief prince of Meshech and Tubal,” is “of the land of Magog.” If Gog is prince of Meshech and Tubal and lives in the land of Magog, it seems reasonable that Magog is in close proximity.
In summary, the Scythians were a people other than Magogites, and Magog is not able to be specifically identified, unless it is a general reference to the land of Asia Minor.
It has been shown on the basis of exegesis, hermeneutics, linguistics, and historical anthropology that, 1) Gomer cannot be Germany but rather Gimarrai, 2) Meshech cannot be Moscow but Mushki, 3) Tubal is not Tobol’sk but Tabal, 4) Gog is probably a personage, 5) Magog is unidentifiable except as a general reference (“land of Gog”) to Asia Minor, 6) rosh is not a reference to a place but is to be translated “chief” or “head,” and 7) the terms “north parts” and “north quarters” cannot mean Russia but, within Ezekiel’s frame of reference, refer to modern Turkey.
What Ezekiel prophesied, then, is an end-time battle involving the following nations coming against Israel: 1) Turkey (Meshech, Tubal, Magog[?], Gomer, Togarmah; 2) Iran (Persia), 3) Sudan (Ethiopia or Cush), and 4) Libya.
So here in Genesis we see the peoples that Ezekiel prophesied would attack Israel in the last days.
Madai is the ancestor of the Medes and the Persians.
The name Javan is the original form of Ionia which is the name Greece.
Tarshish is associated with Spain and with Carthage in North Africa.
Kittim seems to be Cypress, or Rome.
Dodanim seems to be associated with the people of the island of Rhodes, which is an island 11 miles off the coast of Turkey.
Tiras has lineage that extend to areas that I have not been able to pinpoint.
(Gen 10:5 NASB) From these the coastlands of the nations were separated into their lands, every one according to his language, according to their families, into their nations.
Gen 10:5: Not all of these identifications are definite, but they are probable and reasonable.
The reference in this verse to the coastlands of the nations were separated leads us to believe that this section was written after the dispersion of the tower of Babel.
(Gen 10:6 NASB) And the sons of Ham were Cush and Mizraim and Put and Canaan.
Gen 10:6: The descendants of Ham are given in a little more detail than those Japheth. Why are so many of the grandsons omitted in this list? We aren’t certain, but it appears that the ones given are sufficient to account for almost all of the nations and people after the Dispersion from the Tower of Babel.
Cush is the same name as Ethiopia in the Bible. It is mostly the land of Sudan today.
Mizraim is the ancestor of the Egyptians. Egypt is sometimes referred to the “the land of Ham” (Psalm 105:23). It is definitely worthy to note that Scripture relies on itself in a very literal way to interpret itself.
Phut, or Put, became Libya. This identification, as well as many others we are noting here, is verified by Josephus.
(Gen 10:7 NASB) And the sons of Cush were Seba and Havilah and Sabtah and Raamah and Sabteca; and the sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan.
Gen 10:7: These sons eventuated to Egypt and Arabia.
(Gen 10:8 NASB) Now Cush became the father of Nimrod; he became a mighty one on the earth.
(Gen 10:9 NASB) He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD.”
Gen 10:9: Nimrod is the most famous of Ham’s descendants. His name means “let us rebel.” This descendant of Ham was determined not to be a servant of servants, but to rule instead. Many types of witchcraft and satan worship trace their roots back to Nimrod. The Jerusalem Targum says: “He was powerful in hunting and in wickedness before the Lord. For he was a hunter of the sons of men, and he said to them, ‘Depart from the judgment of the Lord, and adhere to the judgment of Nimrod!’ Therefore it is said: ‘As Nimrod the strong one, strong in hunting, and in wickedness before the Lord.”
(Gen 10:10 NASB) And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.
Gen 10:10: Nimrod’s kingdom was apparently centered at Babel. It is amazing how Elohim uses the most wicked of men to achieve His purposes. Elohim used Nimrod to form the multitudes of nations and races that we have today by confusing their languages at Babel.
(Gen 10:11 NASB) From that land he went forth into Assyria, and built Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah,
(Gen 10:12 NASB) and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.
Gen 10:12: Nimrod started the empire of Assyria and the city of Nineveh. This is the evil city to which Elohim sent Jonah to preach to and Scripture tells us that the entire city turned to Elohim (Jonah 3).
(Gen 10:13 NASB) And Mizraim became the father of Ludim and Anamim and Lehabim and Naphtuhim
(Gen 10:14 NASB) and Pathrusim and Casluhim (from which came the Philistines) and Caphtorim.
Gen 10:14: The sons of Mizraim were the founders of Egypt, but these four specific sons have not yet been identifiied.
Pathrusim is the father of the Philistines which were a huge enemy of Israel (remember Goliath?).
(Gen 10:15 NASB) And Canaan became the father of Sidon, his first-born, and Heth
Gen 10:15: Heth is the father of the Hittites who ruled a great empire in Asia Minor for over eight hundred years.
(Gen 10:16 NASB) and the Jebusite and the Amorite and the Girgashite
(Gen 10:17 NASB) and the Hivite and the Arkite and the Sinite
(Gen 10:18 NASB) and the Arvadite and the Zemarite and the Hamathite; and afterward the families of the Canaanite were spread abroad.
Gen 10:18: These sons of Canaan were all inhabiting the Promised Land when the Isrealites were led there by Moses and Joshua.
Of interest here are the Sinites. A derivitive of their name is found in Scripture in the “wilderness of sin”, Mount Sinai, and other places. The Bible mentions a people of the Far East named “Sinae” (Isaiah 49:12). It is possible that the Chinese and Japanese nations are descendants of Sinite.
(Gen 10:19 NASB) And the territory of the Canaanite extended from Sidon as you go toward Gerar, as far as Gaza; as you go toward Sodom and Gomorrah and Admah and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha.
(Gen 10:20 NASB) These are the sons of Ham, according to their families, according to their languages, by their lands, by their nations.
Gen 10:20: The comments concerning the borders of the Canaanites were probably inserted by Moses. The statement that the people were grouped according to their languages, tongues, and nations, tells us that this was certainly written after the dispersion of Babel.
(Gen 10:21 NASB) And also to Shem, the father of all the children of Eber, and the older brother of Japheth, children were born.
Gen 10:21: It is from the term “Eber” that the word Hebrew was derived. Abraham was identified as a Hebrew (Gen. 14:13). We tend to give the Jewish people the sole property of the term “Hebrew,” but apparently it stood for any descendant of Eber which included others besides the Israelites.
We see here some possible verification that Japheth was the oldest of the three sons of Noah.
(Gen 10:22 NASB) The sons of Shem were Elam and Asshur and Arpachshad and Lud and Aram.
Gen 10:22: Elam is the father of the Elamites. During Abraham’s time, Chedorloamer, king of the Edomites, led the Edomites in a rebellion against the Canaanites (Gen 14: 1-5 not shown). The Elamites later merged with the Medes to form the Persian Empire which today is Iran.
Asshur was the founder of the Assyrians who were invaded by Nimrod and founded the city of Ninevah.
We don’t know much about Arphaxad except that he was in the line leading to Abraham.
Aram was the father of the Aramaeans which were the Syrians. They were a great nation and the Aramaic language was even used to write some of the Tanakh (some of Daniel and Ezra).
(Gen 10:23 NASB) And the sons of Aram were Uz and Hul and Gether and Mash.
Gen 10:23: Job came from the land of Uz (Job 1:1 not shown).
(Gen 10:24 NASB) And Arpachshad became the father of Shelah; and Shelah became the father of Eber.
Gen 10:24: The most important son of Shem was Arphaxad. Nothing is recorded about him, but he is in the line of the promised “Seed of the woman.” Only one of Arphaxad’s sons is listed, Salah, even though he may have had many others. Also, only one of Salah’s sons is listed, Eber.
(Gen 10:25 NASB) And two sons were born to Eber; the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan.
Gen 10:25: This is a very intriguing verse. Eber had two sons, Peleg and Joktan. Peleg is the one in the chosen line. The name “Peleg” means “division.” Eber apparently named his son after the event mentioned here.
The most obvious interpretation of this verse is that it is referring to the dispersion of people and languages at the Tower of Babel. Eber was Noah’s great-grandson, as was Nimrod, which makes them contemporaries and both were probably mature men when this event took place. Eber may have named his son after this event that took place.
If, however, it were ever actually proved that the earth was a single land mass that split apart, with the continents drifting, then this verse might be referring to that event, but it is highly doubtful. The oceans have a bottom. The continents are not floating around. The continents as we see them today are probably a result of the flood of Noah’s day.
(Gen 10:26 NASB) And Joktan became the father of Almodad and Sheleph and Hazarmaveth and Jerah
(Gen 10:27 NASB) and Hadoram and Uzal and Diklah
(Gen 10:28 NASB) and Obal and Abimael and Sheba
(Gen 10:29 NASB) and Ophir and Havilah and Jobab; all these were the sons of Joktan.
(Gen 10:30 NASB) Now their settlement extended from Mesha as you go toward Sephar, the hill country of the east.
Gen 10:30: These verses list the thirteen sons of Joktan. Only one of Peleg’s sons is listed which may mean that Shem lived near Joktan’s family.
(Gen 10:31 NASB) These are the sons of Shem, according to their families, according to their languages, by their lands, according to their nations.
Gen 10:31: A summary verse is included here for Shem as it was for Japheth (v.5), and Ham (v.20).
(Gen 10:32 NASB) These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, by their nations; and out of these the nations were separated on the earth after the flood.
Gen 10:32: The total number of sons listed is seventy. Scripture uses the number 70 in a way that seems to point to the nation of Israel. This is the number of the children of Israel that went into Egypt (Gen. 46:27, Deut. 10:22). Seventy “weeks” of years given for the people of Israel (Dan. 9:24). Israel was led by 70 elders (Numbers 11:16,25). There were 70 members of the Jewish Sanhedrin. Seventy scholars translated the Tanakh from Hebrew into the Greek version called the Septuagint. Moses wrote that man’s allotted lifespan was 70 years (Psalm 90:10). The Babylonian captivity lasted 70 years.
Patrick McGuireCopyright 2014 Patrick McGuire and Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly All rights reserved, no portion of this Lesson may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations in articles and reviews. Beit Yeshua Torah Assembly Fort Smith, Arkansas