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Genesis 10-12

Supplemental notes for the Daily Bible Study Bible Reading Plan

by Wayne Blank

Genesis Chapter 10

After The Flood, the nations (see Family, Clan, Tribe, Nation) began again from Mount Ararat in the Middle East. All of humanity today are descended from Noah and his wife through their sons Shem, Ham and Japheth, and their wives.

The Middle East Japheth, pronounced in Hebrew as yeh-feth, means opened or expanded. The descendants of Japheth settled, at first, primarily to the north, in Asia beyond the Black and Caspian Seas.

"The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras.
The sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah.
The sons of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim.

From these the coastland peoples spread. These are the sons of Japheth in their lands, each with his own language, by their families, in their nations." (Genesis 10-2-5 RSV)

Ham, pronounced in Hebrew as khawm, means hot. The descendants of Ham settled toward the southwest and Africa e.g. Egypt is called "the land of Ham" (Psalm 105:23), although many of the most well-known Middle East people of Bible History are descended from Ham.

"The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan.

The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca.
The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan.

Cush became the father of Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. He was a mighty hunter before The Lord; therefore it is said, "Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before The Lord." The beginning of his kingdom was Babel [see also Why "Babel"?], Erech, and Accad, all of them in the land of Shinar [see The Plain of Shinar]. From that land he went into Assyria [see also Asshur On The Tigris], and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.

Egypt became the father of Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, Pathrusim, Casluhim (whence came the Philistines), and Caphtorim.

Canaan became the father of Sidon [see Sidon the Canaanite] his first-born, and Heth [see Sons And Daughters Of Heth], and the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites.

Afterward the families of the Canaanites spread abroad. And the territory of the Canaanites extended from Sidon, in the direction of Gerar, as far as Gaza, and in the direction of Sodom [see also Where Is "Sodom" Today?], Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. These are the sons of Ham, by their families, their languages, their lands, and their nations." (Genesis 10:6-20 RSV)

Shem, pronounced in Hebrew as shay-em, means name or character. Shem's descendants settled through the central area of the Middle East.

"To Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the elder brother of Japheth, children were born. The sons of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram.

The sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash. Arpachshad became the father of Shelah; and Shelah became the father of Eber. To Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided, and his brother's name was Joktan. Joktan became the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Obal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab; all these were the sons of Joktan.

The territory in which they lived extended from Mesha in the direction of Sephar to the hill country of the east. These are the sons of Shem, by their families, their languages, their lands, and their nations." (Genesis 10:21-31 RSV)

Genesis Chapter 11

It did not take humanity long after the flood before they were again defiant toward The Lord (see YHVH, Adonai, Jehovah, LORD). When the infamous tower of Babel was constructed, The Lord stopped them, not because they were a threat to Him, but because a united humanity was a threat to itself i.e. "this is only the beginning of what they will do." The Lord then scattered humans over the entire earth.


"And The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. And The Lord said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech."

So The Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there The Lord confused the language of all the earth [see Speaking In Tongues]; and from there The Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth." (Genesis 11:5-9 RSV)

The line of Shem remained however, for the most part, in the area in and around Babylon. Genesis 11:10-32 provides the genealogical record from Shem to Abraham who was born in what is today southern Iraq.

Genesis Chapter 12

Genesis 12 introduces Abram and Sarai who were called to journey to a new land (see Settlers and Invaders From Iraq).


"Now The Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you [see On His Own Two Feet]. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves."

So Abram went, as The Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their possessions which they had gathered, and the persons that they had gotten in Haran; and they set forth to go to The Land Of Canaan. When they had come to the land of Canaan" (Genesis 12:1-5 RSV)

Abraham's settlement in what would become known as the land of Israel (see Was Abraham A Jew?) was a gradual journey from the central area to the south (see The Negev and Hebron).

"Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then The Lord appeared to Abram, and said, "To your descendants I will give this land." So he built there an altar to The Lord, who had appeared to him.

Thence he removed to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to The Lord and called on the name of The Lord. And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb." (Genesis 12:6-9 RSV)

As would happen to the Israelites in later years, a drought and famine forced Abraham to go to Egypt (see The Delta Of The Nile).

"Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land." (Genesis 12:10 RSV)

Fact Finder: (a) While in Egypt, why did Abram and Sarai claim that they were brother and sister? (b) Did Abraham's son Isaac later do the same with his wife Rebekah?
(a) Genesis 12:11-20
(b) Genesis 26:1-11

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