Genesis 10: Lessons about God from His Creation of the First 70 Nations

Introduction: After the Flood, God populated the world through the families of Noah’s sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth. He created the 70 nations that existed when Abraham lived through just three families. The number of nations expanded over time. The list did not yet include Israel. The future nation of Israel would be promised to Abraham’s descendants. Yet, even though incomplete, the 70 nations symbolically represent all the nations of the world.

From the “Table of Nations” in chapter 10, God reveals seven lessons about Himself. First, the Table of Nations confirms the accuracy of the Bible as His inspired Word. Almost every descendant can be traced to a now-extinct nation, tribe, or ethnic group. No other ancient document contains this level of accuracy. Second, the Table of Nations confirms God’s faithfulness to fulfill His promises to bless humanity and allow it to populate the Earth. This is just one of the many stories included in the Bible that verify that you can trust God’s promises. Third, the Table of Nations reveals the sovereignty of God. He controls the destiny of every nation. Fourth, God reveals the nations in reverse of their natural birth order. This is just one of many examples in the Bible where God reveals that what mankind considers to be important is not the same as what God considers to be important. Fifth, the Table of Nations shows that God is just. Noah’s curse upon Ham was limited to the Ham’s descendants through Canaan. The Canaanites received this curse because of their wicked practices. By contrast, the other descendants of Ham went on to build some of the great civilizations of the ancient world. Sixth, the Table of Nations reveals that He will judge the evil nations. The story of Nimrod reveals that Satan corrupted the nations and later caused them to rebel against God. Finally, the Table of Nations foreshadows His plan for evangelism. The seventy nations correspond to the 70 descendants of Jacob who went to Egypt, the 70 members who governed with Moses and 70 believers that Jesus commissioned. Through these repeating numerical patterns of 70, He reveals that believers are to fill the existing nations with believers. Jesus made this point explicit that He gave the disciples the Great Commission to make disciples amongst the nations.

1. The Table of Nations Confirm the Bible’s Accuracy as God’s Inspired Word.

  • The three fathers of the world’s nations. The origin of the modern world came through three families. Although the story would be told out of birth order, by birth order they included Shem, Ham, and Japheth: “1 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). During the 1st-century, a Jewish-Roman historian named Flavius Josephus published the oldest known listing of connections between each descendant and the various known ethnic groups, nations, or tribes who lived in Abraham’s estimated time. Josephus is more widely known today for having recorded Christ’s existence as an actual historical figure from a Jewish perspective. Yet, amongst historians and archeologists, his assignments for the Table of Nations also became the starting point of study for modern Middle East archaeology.1 In most cases, Josephus’ listings have been confirmed. Modern archeologists have only made minor adjustments to Josephus’ listings based upon records that were unknown to him. In reference to the Table of Nations, archaeologist William Albright famously concluded, “The tenth chapter of Genesis ... stands absolutely alone in ancient literature, without a remote parallel, even among the Greeks, where we find the closest approach to a distribution of peoples in a genealogical framework ... The Table of Nations remains an astonishingly accurate document.”2

(Geographic depiction of Josephus’ 100 A.D. correlation of the Table of Nations)3

  • Interpreting the map through the world known to the author. Before verifying the accuracy of the Table of Nations, it is important to note what it did not do. It did not attempt to lay out which peoples migrated into India, China, the South Pacific, Australia, North or South America, or even central or southern Africa. The Bible is God’s inspired Word. Yet, it is told through the frame of reference of the authors. For example, the Flood is told from Noah’s frame of reference. In this case, the Table of Nations is told through the frame of reference of the world known to Abraham. Beginning in the early 19th century, Bible enthusiasts began to trace the rest of the world through these descendants. Yet, these efforts were all based upon unsupported assumptions. In some cases, these assumptions later proved to be wildly inaccurate. For example, in 1823, Robert Wilkinson created a map which evenly divided Africa and Europe (with all of Russia) and Asia between the three descendants.4 After the mid-19th century, scholars challenged many of these assertions. Among other things, linguists discovered that the languages of Europe, Persia / Iran, and India are related. Yet, where Wilkinson was incorrect, he failed to follow what the Bible actually said. The descendants of Japheth settled into Europe. One descendant, however, named Madai (shown above) gave up his promised land north of the Black Sea and instead settled in modern Persia. Although unknown at the time, linguists have now shown that Farsi (the language of Persia / Iran) is related to the European languages. Madai’s descendants most likely migrated from Persia / Iran into India. This is just one of the many hidden proofs in the Table of Nations, which confirm the Bible’s accuracy as God’s inspired Word.

  • The sons of Japheth. Of the seventy nations of Abraham’s world, 14 came through Noah’s third son Japheth. This included 14 ancient nations or peoples of Asia Minor (Turkey) and Europe: “The sons of Japheth were Gomer and Magog and Madai and Javan and Tubal and Meshech and Tiras. The sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz and Riphath and Togarmah. The sons of Javan were Elishah and Tarshish, Kittim and Dodanim. 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. 10:2-5). With the following chart, each descendant beginning with Noah is sequentially numbered below to reveal the first 70 nations of Abraham’s day. The chart also lists the ancient nation, tribe, or people that each descendant founded. In some cases where the children of each descendant intermarried, the nations are tied to two descendants. The chart also includes the translation for each name. Unlike the table for Adam’s descendants, the chart does not reveal hidden theological messages from the names of each descendant. Thus, the chart was meant to provide a historical listing.

Japheth – from Promptuarium Iconum Insigniorum book, 15535

(1) Noah

(2) The Descendants of Japheth (translated as opened, enlarged, fair or light)

No. Son Descendant Translation Countries
3. Gomer (Gen. 10:2) - - - Complete Ancestor of the Cimmerii peoples of Crimea. They later became the Cimbri in Roman times in northern and western Europe. They later became the Celtic race of the British Isles.6
4. Ashkenaz (Gen. 10:3; 1 Chr. 16; Jer. 51:27) spreading fire Scythians / Armenia (north and east of Black Sea7 (later assumed to be the Germans, Saxons and Scandinavians)
5. Riphath (Gen. 10:3; 1 Chr. 1:6) Spoken or crusher most likely the Carpathians8
6. Togarmah (Gen. 10:3; 1 Chr. 1:6) “tribe,” and “arma” for Armenia. Armenians (Caucus mountains / eastern Turkey)9
7. Magog (Gen. 10:2; 1Chr. 1:5; Ez. 38:2; 39:6; Rev. 20:8) - - - land of Gog or overtopping covering According to Josephus and Jerome, their descendants were also the Scythians. Others believe that they became the Tartars of Russia. They may have also mixed with others to become the Galatians and the Celts.10
8. Madai (Gen. 10:2) - - - middle land Medes (northwestern Iran), Aryans, most likely they later migrated to India11
9. Javan (Gen. 10:2; 1Chr. 1:5, 7) - - - Miry Ionians, Greeks (southern Greece & western Asia Minor)12
10. Elishah (Gen. 10:4) Hellas, Greece and Cyprus13
11. Tarshish (Gen. 10:4) To heat, smelt Initially, his descendants went to Tarsus in Cilicia. Later, they spread to Tartessus in Spain14
12. Kittim (Gen. 10:4; Jer. 2:10; Ez. 27:6 Possibly Akkadian word for "invaders". Initially, his descendants went to an island off Cyprus. Later, they spread to Macedonia and Rome15
13. Dodanim (Gen. 10:4; 1 Chr. 1:7) Rhodes Island (between Cyprus and the mainland of Greece)16
14. Tubal (Gen. 10:2;1 Ch. 1:5) - - - Brought Country of Georgia (east coast of Black Sea)17
15. Meshech (Gen. 10:2; 1 Ch. 1:5) - - - drawing out Central & western Asia Minor, Georgia and Armenia, later Moscow18
16. Tiras (Gen. 10:2; 1 Ch. 1:5) - - - Desire Thrace or the “Tursenioi”, Later, the Etruscans of Italy19
  • The accuracy of the list of Japheth’s descendants. As God’s inspired Word, one would expect to find confirmation of these claims outside of the Bible. And that is exactly what archeologists have found in non-Biblical literary sources. The Greeks, for example, also claim to have descended from someone with a name closely associated with the name “Japheth.” In Greek mythology, the god Iapetus “aɪˈæpɪtəs” is also called in ancient Greek Japetus “Ἰαπετός”. He was an alleged titan, the son of the Greek gods Uranus and Gaia. The Greeks considered the sons of Iapetus / Japetus to be mankind’s ancestors.20 While Japheth was just a man, the fact that the Greeks used a similar sounding name for their forefather shows the accuracy of the Bible. Likewise, the Persians / Iranians believe that Madai (who gave up his land allotment in Europe) was the forefather of the Mede nation of Persia. Their descendants merged with the descendants of Shem to create the Medo-Persian empire.  The linguistic connections between the Europeans, the Persians, and the Hindus in India suggest that their descendants migrated into India. This can also be verified through Hindu mythology. The Hindus have a similar flood account. The hero of their flood account (Satyaurata) also had three sons. The oldest son “Iyapeti” is closely related to Noah’s oldest son Japheth. The second son “Sharma” is closely related to Shem. The third son “C'harma” is also closely related to Ham. The fact that modern scholars have connected each of these descendants to the great nations or peoples of the ancient world demonstrates that God fulfilled His promise to “enlarge” the territory of Japheth beyond his older brothers: “26 He also said, ‘Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. 27 ‘May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant.’” (Gen. 9:26-27). The accuracy of His promise and the Table of Nations also shows that the Bible is God’s inspired Word. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;” (2 Tim. 3:16). Thus, you also can trust in His Word.

  • The sons of Ham. Of the seventy nations of Abraham’s world, 30 nations came through Ham: “The sons of Ham were Cush and Mizraim and Put and Canaan. The sons of Cush were Seba and Havilah and Sabtah and Raamah and Sabteca; and the sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan. Now Cush became the father of Nimrod; he became a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore it is said, ‘Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.’ 10 The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. 11 From that land he went forth into Assyria, and built Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah, 12 and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city. 13 Mizraim became the father of Ludim and Anamim and Lehabim and Naphtuhim 14 and Pathrusim and Casluhim (from which came the Philistines) and Caphtorim. 15 Canaan became the father of Sidon, his firstborn, and Heth 16 and the Jebusite and the Amorite and the Girgashite 17 and the Hivite and the Arkite and the Sinite 18 and the Arvadite and the Zemarite and the Hamathite; and afterward the families of the Canaanite were spread abroad. 19 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. 20 These are the sons of Ham, according to their families, according to their languages, by their lands, by their nations.” (Gen. 10:6-20). Each of these descendants is listed below and correlated to a prior nation or group of peoples. This chart again shows the accuracy of His Word.

(17) The Descendants of Ham (passionate, hot, burnt or dark)

No. Son Descendant Translation Countries
18. Cush (Gen. 10:6; 1 Chr. 1:8) - - - Black Ancient Ethiopia / Nubia (modern Sudan) and along both sides of the Red Sea21
19. Seba (Gen. 10:7; 1 Chr. 1:9) Drunkard The “Sabeans” off the southwest Arabia (Yemen), Meroe island off Ethiopia, Ethiopia and Sudan22
20. Havilah (Gen. 10:7; 1 Ch. 1:9) Circle Western border of Babylonia to central Saudi Arabia23
21. Sabtah (Gen. 10:7; 1 Ch. 1:9) Striking Ancient Shabwat, capital of Hadramaut in south Arabia; also northern Sudan, parts of Ethiopia and Somalia.24
22. Raamah (Gen. 10:7; 1 Ch. 1:9) Thunder Southwest Saudi Arabia and parts of Country of Yemen25
23. Sabteca (Gen. 10:7; 1 Ch. 1:9) also striking Country of Yemen26
24. Nimrod (Gen. 10:7; 1 Ch. 1:9) Rebellion Babylon, Nineveh27
25. Mizraim (Gen 10:13; 1 Chr. 1:8) - - - double straits or two straits Egypt28
26. Ludim (Gen. 10:13; 1 Chr. 1:11) Strife North Africa, Libya and possibly the Halizones of Egypt29
27. Lehabim (Gen. 10:13) flame or blade Libya30
28. Anamim (Gen. 10:13; 1 Chr. 1:11) affliction of the waters A tribe in western Egypt31
29. Casluhim (Gen. 10:13; 1 Chr. 1:11) Fortified North Egypt Delta (called “Lower Egypt”) (“from which came the Philistines”)32
30. Naphtuhim (Gen. 10:13; 1 Chr. 1:11) openings Initially Middle Egypt and later South Egypt (called at that time “Upper Egypt”)33
31. Caphtorim (Gen. 10:14; 1 Chr. 1:12) a crown Initially northern Egypt. Later Aehea island of Crete (where the Philistines first moved to)
32. Pathrusim (Gen. 10:14; 1 Chr. 1:12) region of the south South Egypt (“Upper Egypt”) (between Cairo and the Aswan in central Egypt)34
33. Phut (Gen. 10:6; 1 Chr. 1:8) - - - a bow Libya and the North African Berber peoples.35
34. Canaan (Gen. 10:6; 1 Chr. 1:8) - - - down low or humiliated Phoenicians (modern Israel west of the Jordan River)
35. Sidon (Gen. 10:15) Fishery Phoenicia (Lebanon)
36. Heth (Gen. 10:15) Warrior Initially Israel and later the Hittites in modern Turkey36
37. Jebusite (Gen. 10:16; 1 Chr. 1:14) Jerusalem Ancient Jerusalem37
38. Amorite (Gen. 10:16) bitter a rebel Israel (ancient Canaan) / northern Jordan38
39. Girgashite (Gen. 10:16) who arrives from pilgrimage Israel (ancient Canaan) 39
40. Hivite (Gen. 10:17) Villagers Southern Lebanon and mountain areas40
41. Arkite (Gen. 10:17; 1Chr. 1:15) Same Phoenicians (Irqata, Lebanon)
42. Sinite (Gen. 10:17; 1 Chr. 1:15) Same most likely Northern Lebanon
43. Arvadite (Gen. 10:18; 1 Chr. 1:16) wandering Ruad island off north Phoenician coast41
44. Zemarite (Gen. 10:18; 1 Chr. 1:16) Same Syrian coast (town of Sumra, at the western base of the Lebanon range)42
45. Hamathite (Gen. 10:18; 1 Chr. 1:16) Same Hama, Syrian
  • The accuracy of the list of Ham’s descendants. The descendants of Ham included some of the great nations of the ancient world including the Egyptians, the Ethiopians, the Canaanites, the Phoenicians, and the Hittites. The names of these descendants are confirmed in the writings of the Egyptians. The Bible’s accuracy in listing the origins of these nations again demonstrates that it is God’s inspired Word (2 Tim. 3:16).

  • The sons of Shem. Of the seventy nations that existed in Abraham day, 26 came through Noah’s firstborn son Shem: “21 Also to Shem, the father of all the children of Eber, and the older brother of Japheth, children were born. 22 The sons of Shem were Elam and Asshur and Arpachshad and Lud and Aram. 23 The sons of Aram were Uz and Hul and Gether and Mash. 24 Arpachshad became the father of Shelah; and Shelah became the father of Eber. 25 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. 26 Joktan became the father of Almodad and Sheleph and Hazarmaveth and Jerah 27 and Hadoram and Uzal and Diklah 28 and Obal and Abimael and Sheba 29 and Ophir and Havilah and Jobab; all these were the sons of Joktan. 30 Now their settlement extended from Mesha as you go toward Sephar, the hill country of the east. 31 These are the sons of Shem, according to their families, according to their languages, by their lands, according to their nations. 32 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. 10:21-32). The chart below lists each descendant with various ancient nations. These descendants included the Semitic peoples, which later included the Jews and the Arabs. This chart partially repeats in chapter 11. Here, God tells of the descendants leading to the Arab peoples. In chapter 11, He reveals the promised line leading to the Hebrews.

(46) The Descendants of Shem (Translated as named or renown or fame)

No. Son Descendant Translation Countries
47. Elam (Gen. 10:22; 1 Chr. 1:17) . . . eternity or hidden Elamites (southwest Persia / Iran)43
48. Asshur (Gen. 10:22; 1 Chr. 1:17) . . . "a step" or "strong" Northern Iraq (northern Mesopotamia)
49. Lud (Gen. 10:22; 1 Chr. 1:17) . . . "strife" The Lydians in Asia Minor (Turkey) and south-eastern Europe (Albania)44
50. Aram (Gen. 10:22; 1 Chr. 1:17) . . . "exalted" Syria / western Iraq
51. Uz (Gen. 10:23; Job 1:1) Wooded Aramaeans (southwestern Syria)45
52. Hul (Gen. 10:23) Circle (disputed) Armenia46
53. Gether (Gen. 10:23) Fear possibly Afghanistan and part of Mesopotamia47
54. Mash (Gen. 10:23) drawing out Central Asia Minor and possibly Pakistan48
55. Arpachshad (Gen. 10:22; 1 Chr. 1:17) . . . healer or releaser Chaldeans49 and also possibly Kirkuk, Iraq
56. Shelah (Gen. 10:24) mission or sending Mesopotamia (ancestor of Hebrews)
57. Eber (Gen. 10:24) (Shelah’s descendant) from the other side Mesopotamia (also ancestor of Hebrews)50
58. Peleg (Gen. 10:24) (Eber’s descendant) divided or division (Also ancestors of Hebrews, descendants lived in Paliga, on the Euphrates, just above the mouth of the Khabur River.) (Tower of Babel believed to happen during his life, the geographic division of land bridges also possible during this time)51
59. Joktan (Gen. 10:25) (Eber’s descendant) Little Arabian Peninsula52
60. Almodad (Gen. 10:26; 1 Chr. 1:20) (Joktan’s descendant) Not measured Almorad tribe which settled in Felix, Yemen53
61. Sheleph (Gen. 10:26; 1 Chr. 1:20) (Joktan’s descendant) drawing out Yemen54
62. Hazarmaveth (Gen. 10:26; 1 Chr. 1:20) (Joktan’s descendant) court of death Modern Hadramaut in southwest Saudi Arabia, east of Yemen
63. Hadoram (Gen. 10:27) (Joktan’s descendant) exalted, noble or honor Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia55
64. Uzal (Gen. 10:27) (Joktan’s descendant) I shall be flooded Sana, Yemen56
65. Diklah (Gen. 10:27) (Joktan’s descendant) palm grove Dikla tribe of Yemen57
66. Obal (Gen. 10:28) (Joktan’s descendant) stripped bare Abil tribe in south Arabia and possibly the Wibal tribe in Arabia58
67. Abimael (Gen. 10:28) (Joktan’s descendant) my father is God Southern Arabia and Yemen59
68. Sheba (Gen. 10:28) (Joktan’s descendant) Oath blended in with the Sabaeans in south-west Arabia.60
69. Ophir (Gen. 10:29) (Joktan’s descendant) reducing to ashes South Arabia61
70. Havilah (Gen. 10:29) (Joktan’s descendant) Circle Southern tip of Arabia and next to Djibouti, Africa62
  • The accuracy of the list of Shem’s descendants. Archeologists agree that most of the descendants of Shem stayed within the Middle East. Shem’s descendants, however, included many mighty groups including the Arabs, the Hebrews, the Assyrians, and the Babylonians. The accuracy of this is confirmed through Arab historians who trace their descent through Shem as well.  In many cases listed above, specific cities or tribes within the Arabian Peninsula can be directly tied to these descendants. These multiple independent sources of historical proof again verify that the Bible is God’s inspired Word (2 Tim. 3:16). God included all of this detail so that you could trust in the rest of His Word. Do you trust in the accuracy of the Bible as God’s Word?

  • Sin has obscured our knowledge of our past. Martin Luther famously observed that sin has clouded mankind’s knowledge of its past. Without these writings that Moses preserved, we would know almost nothing of the origin of the ancient nations and peoples of the Middle East. “Whenever I read these names, I think of the wretched state of the human race ... If it were not for Moses alone, what would you know about the origin of man? ... Hence one must consider this chapter of Genesis a mirror in which to discern what we human beings are, namely, creatures so marred by sin that we have no knowledge of our own origin, not even of God Himself, our Creator, unless the Word of God reveals these sparks of divine light to us from afar. Then what is more futile than boasting of one’s wisdom, riches, power, and other things that pass away completely?”63

2. God is Faithful to Keep His Promises.

  • The Table of Nations confirms His faithfulness. The Table of Nations also confirms God’s faithfulness to fulfill His promises to bless humanity and allow it to populate the Earth. His first command in the Bible was for Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply: “God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, . . .”’ (Gen. 1:28 (a)) After the Flood, God again commanded mankind (along with the animals) to be fruitful and multiply and fill the Earth: “15 Then God spoke to Noah, saying, 16 ‘Go out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. 17 Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you . . . that they may breed abundantly on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.’” (Gen. 8:15-17) Abraham and his descendants inherited this blessing: “And He took him outside and said, ‘Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ (Gen. 15:5; 12:2; 17:2; 22:17; 24:60). God later repeated this blessing through Moses to His people if they were faithful and obeyed (Dt. 1:11; Lev. 26:3, 9). This fulfillment of His promise is just one of the many accounts in the Bible that verify that God is faithful to keep His promises.

  • You also can trust in His promises to you. The accuracy of the Table of Nations also shows that you can also trust His promises for you as well. “Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass” (1 Thess. 5:24). “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments;” (Dt. 7:9). “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:9). He is faithful even when you are not: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Tim. 2:13). Have you given thanks that you can trust in His faithfulness even when your faith fails Him?

3. God is Sovereign Over the Nations.

  • God is sovereign over everything. The Table of Nations also reveals the sovereignty of God. He controls the destiny of every nation. He also appointed for each person a nation to live in: “and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation,” (Acts 17:26). “When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the people according to the number of the sons of Israel.” (Dt. 32:8). Thus, He controls the destiny of every nation.

  • God lifts up holy nations and humbles the proud evil ones. God uses His sovereignty over the nations to fulfill His greater plans. As part of His plan, He lifts up the holy nations and bring down the evil ones: “He makes the nations great, then destroys them; He enlarges the nations, then leads them away.” (Job 12:23). “You shall multiply the nation, You shall increase their gladness; . . .” (Is. 9:3(a)). “Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales; behold, He lifts up the islands like fine dust.” (Is. 40:15). “All the nations are as nothing before Him, they are regarded by Him as less than nothing and meaningless.” (Is. 40:17). “But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure His indignation.” (Jer. 10:10). “The LORD is King forever and ever; nations have perished from His land.” (Ps. 10:16). “All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’” (Dan. 4:35). The Bible records that God blessed Israel when it remained faithful. He also showed that He humbled His people when they disobeyed. Likewise, when Europe embraced Christ and sent missionaries around the world, God blessed those nations. Yet, when Europe began to turn from God, He removed His blessings and it began it decline in its power and influence. America was also once a vibrant, religious country. As it sent missionaries around the world, it also prospered through His blessings. Now, however, it has followed in Europe’s path of secularization. At the same time, America’s relative power has slowly declined. Unless the western world repents and returns to Judeo-Christian morality, its decline will continue. Are you praying and fasting for your leaders and your nation to return to God?

4. God Is Not Bound By and Does Not Follow Human Traditions.

  • The reverse birth order in the Table of Nations. The Table of Nations also reveals that God does not follow human customs and traditions. He shows this in listing the nations in reverse of the natural birth order of Noah’s children. Japheth, the father of the European nations, was the oldest son of Noah. Usually, the oldest child received the largest blessing or inheritance in Middle Eastern culture.  This is just one of many examples in the Bible where God reveals that what mankind considers to be important is not the same as what God considers to be important. Other examples include: (1) Ishmael, who lost his firstborn blessing to Isaac (Gen. 17); (2) Esau, who gave up his birthright to Jacob (Gen. 25:33-34); (3) Reuben, Simon, and Levi, all of whom lost their firstborn or inherited firstborn blessing due to sin to Judah; and (4) Manasseh, who lost his firstborn blessing to Ephraim when Israel switch their birth order blessing (Gen. 48:14). God also switched the birth order of the tribes during the census counts in the wilderness. While the world can offer you an inheritance based upon your status or wealth, God offers you a permanent inheritance in Him that is based upon faith alone: “to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,” (1 Pet. 1:4).

  • Trust in God and not the ways of the world. God does not want you to trust in powerful people, powerful nations, or human institutions: “Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.” (Ps. 146:3). “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man.” (Ps. 118:8). “Thus says the LORD, ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the LORD.”’ (Jer. 17:5). “Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils; for why should he be esteemed?” (Is. 2:22). Instead, He wants you to trust in Him alone. “Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” (Ps. 55:22). “[C]asting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Pet. 5:7). When times are difficult, do you place your trust in strong people or in God?

5. God is Just and Proportional in His Judgments.

  • God’s proportional and limited judgment upon Ham’s descendants. The Table of Nations also reveals that God is just and proportional in His judgments by limiting Noah’s curse upon Ham’s descendants to only the Canaanites. The Canaanites further received this curse not because of Ham’s actions. Instead, they received this curse because of their wicked practices. By contrast, the other descendants of Ham went on to build some of the great civilizations of the ancient world. Ham’s other descendants included many of the mighty nations of Abraham’s time. These included the nation of Cush (Egypt - Sudan) and Canaan (Palestine). His grandson Nimrod also founded Nineveh in Northern Iraq and Babylon in central Iraq (Gen. 10:11).  Pastor Ray Stedman once observed that each of the three children received different gifts of the Spirit. This included Ham: “To Ham was given the art of technical proficiency. The Hamitic people are the technicians of mankind, showing an amazing adaptability to the world in which they live.” Although there are many exceptions to his claims, he also asserts that “To Japheth was given intellectual enlargement, and the widest geographical distribution of the three families.” Finally, he claims that “to Shem was given the religious primacy of mankind. The Semitic peoples are responsible, under God, to develop the spiritual life of mankind. It is not surprising, therefore, that from the Semitic peoples have come the three major religions of earth: Judaism, Mohammedanism, and Christianity.” Thus, Ham’s descendants played an important role in God’s plan. His curse was limited and proportional. His punishments are limited to wrongdoers and motivated to correct the wayward. If God has disciplined you, are you allowing Him to correct your path?

  • A just God must punish wrongs. Some may find it troubling that any people would receive a curse, even if limited as the one Canaanites received. Yet, the Bible is clear that God judges sin because He is just (Jer. 9:24; Is. 30:18). The Canaanites later engaged in child sacrifices, temple prostitution, and other unclean acts. Unless there is atonement for sin, God requires punishment for sin. This includes, but is not limited to; murderers (Ex. 21:12-14), kidnappers (Ex. 21:16), batterers (Ex. 21:18), thieves (Ex. 22:1-4; 22:7-15), those who commit property crimes (21:28-36; 22:), rapists (Ex. 22:16-17), sorcerers (Ex. 22:18), those who practice bestiality (Ex. 22:19), idolaters (Ex. 22:20), perjurers and slanderers (Ex. 23:1-3; 7), oppressors of foreigners (Ex. 22:21; 23:9), oppressors of borrowers (Ex. 22:25-27), oppressors of widows and orphans (Ex. 22:22-24), the disobedient and disrespectful (Ex. 21:15, 17; 22:28-31), the unkind (Ex. 23:4-5), the corrupt (Ex. 23:8), and those who rebel against God. The Canaanites were cursed because they embraced sin. God further gave the Canaanites 400 years to repent before He used the Jews to judge them (Gen. 15:16). He judged the Canaanites only after they refused to repent. He would not be just if He did not judge wrongs. If you have trouble accepting this, imagine living in a society where wrongdoers were not judged.

6. God Will Judge the Wicked Nations.

  • The first antiChrist. The Table of Nations and the story of Nimrod reveal that sin has also infected the nations. Nimrod was the first of many antiChrists: “was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore it is said, ‘Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.” (Gen. 10:9). Being a “hunter before the LORD'' means that he persecuted God’s people (cf., Ps. 66:7). The Jewish Talmud also confirms that he was “a hunter of the souls of men.” By referencing him as “the first mighty man on earth,” after the Flood, the Bible compares him to the evil Nephilim who lived before the Flood (Gen. 6:4). Thus, he was the first of many anti-Christs to come. Satan first corrupted him and then through him the nation of Babylon. Like Cain, Nimrod built mighty cities of the world (Gen. 4:17). Nineveh, which he built, was a real city located next to modern day Mosul in northern Iraq. At a presently unknown place in a land called “Shinar”, he led the people to build the Tower of Babel to unite against God (Gen. 11:1-4). Many believe that he was referred to by different names in Babylonian culture. Proposed names include: “(1) Sargon of Akkad, (2) Naram-Sin, king of Akkad and grandson of the great Sargon, (3) the Egyptian ruler Amenhotep III, and (4) the Assyrian king Tukulti-Ninura I (1243-1207).”64 Whatever the Babylonians may have called him, he was evil. He corrupted all who followed him to rebel against God. Nations that follow in his path of rebellion will ultimately face God’s punishment. All of the great civilizations of the past which have sought to glorify themselves have disappeared. Only through God’s faithfulness have the Jews remained. Every other nation listed on the Table of Nations has disappeared. Thus, the Western world should not feel exempt from His punishment.

  • The future Babylon in the book of Revelation. Nimrod was the first of many appearances of the anti-Christ. Nebuchadnezzar was another one: “Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, the height of which was sixty cubits and its width six cubits; he set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon.” (Dan. 3:1). Babylon also was a place of captivity for the Jews when they turned away from God. Babylon will also be a place or system of captivity for the world when the peoples unite under the antiChrist against God. In the book of Revelation, the apostle John reveals that Babylon refers to both a false religious system and a political and commercial system controlled by the ruler of this world (Rev. 17-18). Like Nimrod, the future antiChrist will unite the world against God and hunt the souls of mankind by turning them against God: “And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 The woman was clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a gold cup full of abominations and of the unclean things of her immorality, 5 and on her forehead a name was written, a mystery, ‘Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the Earth.’ And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. When I saw her, I wondered greatly.” (Rev. 17:3-6). Just like God did with Nimrod at the Tower of Babel, God will also judge the future anti-Christ and the future Babylon: “And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, ‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.”’ (Rev. 14:8). “The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.” (Rev. 16:19). If you have put your hope and trust in the false gods of this world, including money, power, vanity, pride, and the lusts of the flesh, you must repent. God desires that you store your treasures in heaven, not in the world (Matt. 6:20). Have you put your trust in any false idols of this world?

  • God will judge the proud and evil nations. There have been many evil nations throughout history. Examples from the 20th Century include the Third Reich and the Soviet Union. While these evil nations may, at times, seem unstoppable, they will all eventually face God’s judgment. If the western world continues on its path or rebellion, it will continue in its relative decline as God removes His blessings and brings His judgment. Have you placed your hope in the power of this world or in the world to come?

7. God Has Called Upon His People to Make Disciples Amongst the Nations.

  • God’s plan for evangelism. God set the number of nations according to the number of Jews who came from Jacob / Israel: “When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man, He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel.” (Dt. 32:8). The seventy nations therefore correspond to the 70 descendants of Jacob who left Israel for Egypt (Gen. 46:27; Ex. 1:5; Dt. 10:22). The seventy nations also correspond to the 70 elders who governed with Moses (Ex. 24:9; Nu. 11:24; Ez. 8:11). The seventy members of Jacob’s household and the seventy leaders of Israel were meant to be a light to the nations: “I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you, and I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations,” (Is. 42:6). The Jews, however, failed to fulfill this calling. Jesus came as the light of the world (Jo. 8:12). His believers are His light to the lost (Matt. 5:14). When He sent out the 70 disciples in pairs, they symbolically represented the need of all believers to bring His light to every nation on Earth: “Now after this the Lord appointed seventy others, and sent them in pairs ahead of Him to every city and place where He Himself was going to come.” (Lk. 10:1). Through these exact numbers and connections, God reveals that believers are to fill the existing nations with believers. “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). Jesus again made this point explicit that He gave the disciples the Great Commission to make disciples amongst the nations. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,” (Matt. 28:19).

  • God desires every sinner to repent. God sent Jonah to have the wicked people of Nineveh repent.  When they turned from their ways, God spared them  (Jonah 3:10). This reveals God’s grace and His desire for all sinners to repent. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9). His master plan of evangelism requires your help as well. If you are called to evangelize, are you ignoring that calling? Or, if you are not called to evangelize, are you supporting missionaries?

  1. Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews Book 1, chapter 6;↩︎

  2. Kenneth Mathews, “The New American Commentary: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture” Genesis 1-11:26, Vol. 1A, (B&H Publishing Group Nashville Tenn. 1996) p. 441; see also Jer. 51:27.↩︎

  3. According to the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, Riphath was the ancestor of the “Paphlagonians.” Their prior country on the Black Sea ran the river “Rhebas”. (Ant., I, vi, 1.)↩︎

  4. Togarmah’s descendants were later skilled in warfare and sold horses and mules to the army in Tyre, Lebanon. (Ez. 27:14.) They also would supply soldiers to the army of Gog (Gyges of Lydia). (Ez. 38:6.)↩︎

  5. According to Josephus, Magag was the ancestor of the Scythians. (Ant., I, vi, 1). In the book of Revelation, Gog and Magog waged war against God’s people in Israel. (Rev. 20:8.)↩︎

  6. According to the apocrypha Book of Jubilees (10:35-36), Madai had married one of Shem’s daughters and preferred to live among Shem's descendants. He gave up his land beyond the Black Sea and received from Shem’s descendants land in Northern Iran. Many Kurds also tied their descent to him.; Mahir A. Aziz, 2011, The Kurds of Iraq: Ethnonationalism and National Identity in Iraqi Kurdistan, p. 47; Mathews, p. 440.↩︎

  7. In the Book of Daniel (8:21-22 and 11:2), Javan referenced in connection with the King of Greece. Many believe this referred Alexander the Great;↩︎

  8. Mathews p. 441-2; see also 1 Kgs. 10:22; Ez. 27:12, 35; 2 Chr. 20:36-37.↩︎

  9. In the Greek Septuagint, the word “Kittim” ῥωμαῖοι in Daniel 11:30 is as the Romans. 1 Maccabees 1:1 also states that “Alexander the Great the Macedonian” came from the “land of Kittim”. Mathews p. 442.↩︎

  10. Josephus called his descendants the “Iberians.” This mostly corresponded to modern Georgia. The peoples of Georgia also claim him as their ancestor.↩︎

  11. Josephus called him the Thracians (Thrakes). (Ant, I, vi, 1) “Tuch was the first to suggest the Tursenioi, a race of Pelasgian pirates, who left many traces of their ancient power in the islands and coasts of the Aegean, and who were doubtless identical with the Etruscans of Italy. This brilliant suggestion has since been confirmed by the discovery of the name Turusa among the seafaring peoples who invaded Egypt in the reign of Merenptah (W.M. Muller, AE, 356).” Horace J. Wolf (↩︎

  12. “Cush” is also identified with the kingdom of Meroë, ancient Aethiopia and/or the Arabian peninsula. Josephus called his descendants the Ethiopians. Hebrew scholar David M. Goldenberg believes that the Hebrew name is derived from Kash, the Egyptian name of Lower Nubia. Moses's wife Zipporah was from Cush. (Nu. 12:1.) Jeremiah 13:23 implies that they were darker skinned individuals. “Can the Ethiopian [Cusite] change his skin or the leopard his spots?” (NASB) The name is also connected to Kassites who lived in northeastern Babylonia. (Mathews p. 445.) They may have started in Babylonia where one of the lands of the four rivers of Eden were named after them. They then most likely migrated to Arabia and then Ethiopia and finally into Sudan.↩︎

  13. Josephus also believed that his descendants settled in Ethiopia. In other verses, Seba is mentioned in connection with Ethiopia or Egypt. (Ps. 72:10; Is. 43:3; Is. 45:14.). The island or Meroe near Ethiopia was once called “Suba.” There is also a tribe in Sudan called the Suab.; Mathews p. 447.↩︎

  14. This land is also mentioned in Genesis 2:11. It was rich in gold and bdellium and onyx stone. A district of Saudi Arabia bears this name. This may include a sandy tract which skirts Babylonia along the whole of its western border, stretching from the lower Euphrates to the mountains of Edom.↩︎

  15. According to Josephus, Sabtah founded the said, “Sabathens” In his day, the Greeks called them the “Astaborans.” In ancient times, the Blue Nile between Ethiopia and Sudan was called the Astasobas. Likewise, in Somalia, the two largest Somali clan groups are the Somaal and the “Sab”.; Mathews p. 447.↩︎

  16. According to The New Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, the country Raamah is in the Arabian Peninsula.↩︎

  17. Josephus believed that the Sabacten tribe in Yemen were his descendants. (Josephus, Antiquities 1:6:2)↩︎

  18. Mizraim is a transliteration of the Hebrew word for Egypt. Some believe that the name “two straits” or “double straights” refers to the later separation of upper and lower Egypt. To the ancient Jews, these were "the two Mazors".↩︎

  19. Lud is also the fourth son of Shem. (Gen. 10:22.) The plural for Lud is Ludim. It is believed that they settled along the north coast of Africa. It is also believed that their name gave rise to the modern name Libya.;↩︎

  20. Josephus believes that their descendants settled in Libya. Other place their descendants in Western Egypt. They appear to be the Reby or Lebu of Egyptian writings.↩︎

  21. From writings in the Temple of Kom Ombo, their Egyptian region was called Kasluḥet. Archibald Henry Sayce, The "Higher Criticism" and the Verdict of the Monuments, 2009, General Books LLC, isbn=9781150178856, page=91↩︎

  22. They are believed to be the Memphites in central Egypt. They later moved south to Napata in southern Egypt.↩︎

  23. ; They were the people of Pathros. Mathews p. 453.↩︎

  24. Josephus believes that "Phut also was the founder of Libya.” (Josephus, Antiquities 1:6:2). Others place Phut between Egypt and Canaan.↩︎

  25. They became the Hittite. Initially, they lived in Israel. (E.g., Gen. 15:19-21; Nu. 13:29; Dt. 7:1-5; Josh. 3:10.). Egyptian records confirm battles between them and chariot Egyptian warriors sent by Rameses II in the Battle of Kadesh. Their later migration to Turkey is recorded in the Hittite capital Hattusa, near Boğazkale in Turkey.↩︎

  26. Jebus is the ancient name for Jerusalem. (Jdgs. 19:10; 1 Ch. 4:5.)↩︎

  27. They existed in Hebron (Gen. 14:13); Shechem (Gen. 48:22) the west side of the Dead Sea (Gen. 14:7); and in other locations. They also referred collectively to all the Canaanites under God’s judgment. (Gen. 15:16.).↩︎

  28. They were related to the Hivites and lived in central and western Israel.↩︎

  29. They lived “in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon unto the entrance of Hamath,” (Jdgs. 3:3) and "under Hermon in the land of Mizpeh,” (Josh. 11:3.)↩︎

  30. Flavius Josephus. Antiquities 1:6;↩︎

  31. Home of Job. (Job 1:1) According to Josephus, Uz founded Trachonitis and Damascus in Syria. (Antiquities 1:6:4)↩︎

  32. Josephus believes that the sons of Hul founded Armenia near Kir or Kur.↩︎

  33. According to Josephus, Gether founded the Bactrians. This is in the area of Afghanistan. Near the year 2,000 BC, their descendants also settled in Mesopotamia as the Guti peoples.↩︎

  34. According to Josephus, “Mesa (Mash) founded the Mesaneans” (Antiquities 1:6:1). One branch of Mash, Mesa or Mœsa settled in Asia Minor. Evidence of Mash in Pakistan can be seen in names like "Mashkel Desert" or “Meshed.”↩︎

  35. Chaldeans, as well as an ancestor of Abraham (Genesis 11:12-26.)↩︎

  36. The Hebrews have a similar translation to their name as “ones from beyond”.↩︎

  37. His descendants are believed to have settled at Es Sulaf in Yemen, 60 miles north of present-day Sana'a.↩︎

  38. According to the Arabs, he founded Hejaz, which included both Mecca and Medina. Also according to Arab tradition, “the daughter of Muḍaḍ ibn 'Amr, a descendant of his, became one of the wives of Ishmael”.↩︎

  39. According to Arab historians, the Uzal could also be Azal. This was the ancient pre-Islamic name of the city of Sana'a, the capital of Yemen.; Mathews p. 464.↩︎

  40. They also crossed the Bab-al-Mandeb strait to the African coast. They inhabited the city of Aualis on the Red Sea coast of Africa, next to the modern state of Djibouti. This city is today called Zeila.↩︎

  41. Martin Luther, Luther's Works, Vol. 2, pp. 207-209. (Quoted by James Montgomery Boice in his commentary on Genesis, Volume 1.)↩︎

  42. Mathews p. 449-50.↩︎