Genesis 10:1-5 (NIV) 1 This is the account of Shem, Ham and Japheth, Noah’s sons, who themselves had sons after the flood. 2 The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech and Tiras. 3 The sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah. 4 The sons of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, the Kittim and the Rodanim. 5 (From these the maritime peoples spread out into their territories by their clans within their nations, each with its own language.)
On verses 1-5: Here the author of Genesis lists the descendants of Noah, starting with the descendants of Noah’s second son Japheth (v2-5). There is a reason why the author of Genesis starts with the second son. It’s because the descendants of Noah’s oldest son Shem would be highlighted last to lead into the story of Shem’s most famous descendants: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and of course Jesus Christ. The fact that the various peoples that emerged from Japheth’s line each had their own language (v5) suggests that God loves a variety of languages and cultures. God is a God who enjoys ethnic and cultural diversity. We will see this all the more in chapter 11. That is why in Revelation heaven is described as a kingdom of people from every nation. This also sets us up for a tragedy we will read about in Genesis 11.
Genesis 10:6-7 (NIV) 6 The sons of Ham: Cush, Mizraim, Put and Canaan. 7 The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah and Sabteca. The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan.
On verses 6-7: Here the author of Genesis focuses on a selective list of Ham’s descendants. In the verses that follow the author of Genesis pays special attention to one famous descendant of Ham called Nimrod.
Genesis 10:8-12 (NIV) 8 Cush was the father of Nimrod, who grew to be a mighty warrior on the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; that is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the LORD.” 10 The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Erech, Akkad and Calneh, in Shinar. 11 From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah 12 and Resen, which is between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.
On verses 8-12: Not much is known about Nimrod. Here we see that Nimrod was a descendant of Noah’s disgraced son Ham. The fact that a number of cities Nimrod built became famous enemies of Israel, such as Babylon (v10) and Assyria (v11), has led some scholars to believe that Nimrod, whose name means “rebel”, opposed God and was a powerful, charismatic leader who led people to turn away from God, almost like an Old Testament anti-Christ. It is interesting that “Nimrod” is now more commonly used as an insult, referring to a stupid person.
Genesis 10:13-20 (NIV) 13 Mizraim was the father of the Ludites, Anamites, Lehabites, Naphtuhites, 14 Pathrusites, Casluhites (from whom the Philistines came) and Caphtorites. 15 Canaan was the father of Sidon his firstborn, and of the Hittites, 16 Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, 17 Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, 18 Arvadites, Zemarites and Hamathites. Later the Canaanite clans scattered 19 and the borders of Canaan reached from Sidon toward Gerar as far as Gaza, and then toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. 20 These are the sons of Ham by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations.
On verses 13-20: These verses conclude the list of Ham’s descendants and especially highlights Canaan, from whom many different peoples and nations would be born. It is interesting that Ham, who is best known for his disrespectful act toward his father, would become the father of famous places like Sidon (v15), Sodom (v19), and Gomorrah (v19) which would become the enemies of Israel and would later be destroyed because of God’s wrath against sin.
Genesis 10:21-31 (NIV) 21 Sons were also born to Shem, whose older brother was Japheth; Shem was the ancestor of all the sons of Eber. 22 The sons of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud and Aram. 23 The sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether and Meshech. 24 Arphaxad was the father of Shelah, and Shelah the father of Eber. 25 Two sons were born to Eber: One was named Peleg, because in his time the earth was divided; his brother was named Joktan. 26 Joktan was the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba, 29 Ophir, Havilah and Jobab. All these were sons of Joktan. 30 The region where they lived stretched from Mesha toward Sephar, in the eastern hill country. 31 These are the sons of Shem by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations.
On verses 21-31: Here we read a summary of the first descendants of Shem. Shem’s family line is especially significant in Genesis, for it is from Shem that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the nation of Israel would be born, as we will see in the coming chapters. Since all of who have trusted in Jesus Christ are at least spiritually related to the likes of Abraham and Jesus, you could almost say that Seth’s line is our family tree as well.
Genesis 10:32 (NIV) 32 These are the clans of Noah’s sons, according to their lines of descent, within their nations. From these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.
On verse 32: Seeing how Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Israel, even Jesus Himself would descend from Shem and how some of Israel’s greatest enemies would descend from Ham, it becomes quite clear that how we live our lives and how much we respond to or rebel against God is hugely important not just for us, but even more it has ramifications for all the people who come after us.
Heavenly Father, today I realize that the way I live my life and the way I respond to You has ramifications for the generations that come after me. I pray for those who come after me, that they would know You, love You and serve You with their lives. May they be alive, expectant, involved, out loud and united. I pray that the generations that come after me would be generations that love You so much and love people so well also. Thank You for my future generations. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!