Summary: The Genealogy and the City of Pride
October 31, 2010
Genesis is a story of pride and failure.
It’s a story of “has God really said?”
Adam and Eve in the Garden, Cain and Abel, Cain’s Lamech, and even the whole world before the flood. It’s a story of how men have known the word of God yet rejected it in pride and arrogance, but it’s also a story of God’s redemptive work to save men from sin.
Chapters 10-11 fast-forward us through several hundred more years of Jewish history to show us, once again, man’s pride but also to introduce us to chapter 12 where we’ll find more of God’s redemptive plan.
Noah, his wife, and his three sons with their wives are the only eight survivors of the flood:
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.
Before we get into it, I want you to notice that this “genealogy” doesn’t say, “So-and-so begat so-and-so” like most of the other genealogies. It says, “The sons of so-and-so were him and him and him and him…” The verses we’re about to read aren’t really a genealogy so much as what’s been called a table of nations. The point is to show us how the whole world and all its nations came from Noah and his three sons.
The first is Japheth:
2The sons of Japheth were Gomer and Magog and Madai and Javan and Tubal and Meshech and Tiras. 3The sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz and Riphath and Togarmah. 4The sons of Javan were Elishah and Tarshish, Kittim and Dodanim. 5From these the coastlands of the nations were separated into their lands, every one according to his language, according to their families, into their nations.
If you’re interested you could do a study on each of these children and find how entire nations were born through them. For instance, it’s generally accepted that the sons of Japheth settled in India and Europe. More specifically, it’s thought that the Goths (who gave the Roman Empire so much trouble) and the Swedes both came from Magog (:2).
We’re not given a lot of other details, but Japheth isn’t really that important to the rest of the story of the Jews, at least for what Moses intends.
Verse five is an important verse because it tells us that the offspring were separated into their lands according to language. Chapter 11 begins by telling us that the entire world had a common language, so we have to understand that some of chapter 10 actually happens after chapter 11. In fact, I think we’ll see that the confusion of language can be pinpointed at about the fourth generation after Shem (:25), but we’ll talk about that when we get there.
For now just understand that chapter 11 shows us how and why men were broken up into people groups and chapter 10 shows us where they went.
Now, if you’ll remember from last time, Ham looked on Noah’s nakedness while Noah was passed out from wine. When Noah awoke, he cursed Ham by cursing Canaan (Gen. 9:25). If you listen to the names of the descendants of Ham, you’ll find that (along with Canaan) many of the most wicked people in Scripture came through him:
6The sons of Ham were Cush and Mizraim and Put and Canaan.
7The sons of Cush were Seba and Havilah and Sabtah and Raamah and Sabteca; and the sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan. 8Now Cush became the father of Nimrod; he became a mighty one on the earth. 9He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, "Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD." 10The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. 11From that land he went forth into Assyria, and built Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah, 12and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.
Babel is the city we’ll read about in the next chapter; it’s the city with the tower, the monument to man’s pride and ability. It’s also the city which is also known as Babylon (a city which is never shown in a positive light in relation to believers).
Assyria also came from Ham. This is the nation which God promised to destroy because of their wickedness unless they repented through Jonah’s preaching. They were so wicked and cruel that Jonah would have rather let them perish. They later conquered Northern Israel (721 BC), and were extremely cruel to the people there. When King Zedekiah (who was actually a vassal to the king of Babylon), when he rebelled against the king of Babylon, they captured him and took him before the king. His sentence was to have his two sons executed before him and then have his eyes gouged out; his sons’ deaths was the last sight he would see (II Kings 24:6-7).