The Origin of Nations (Sons of Shem)

Hello everyone. You are watching the 2nd part
in the 11th video of Genesis in a Bible study video series. In this video we will go through
Genesis chapter 10, verses 21-32. Even if it doesn’t mention a nation (for example,
China) in this chapter, it doesn’t mean this chapter doesn’t say anything important related
to that nation. You have to realize that as humans spread out, new nations were eventually
formed. So, (for example) the original inhabitants of Italy might have come from somewhere in
Greece or Turkey in ancient times. Because nations were formed as man spread out over
the earth, Genesis chapter 10 is very relevant for all the nations that have ever existed.
They all originally came from one place: Babel, in the plain of Shinar (as we’ll read in the
3rd part of this video). Beginning in verse 21 it says: “And unto Shem,
the father of all the children of Eber, the elder brother of Japheth, to him also were
children born. The sons of Shem: Elam, and Asshur, and Arpachshad, and Lud, and Aram.
And the sons of Aram: Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Mash. And Arpachshad begat Shelah; and
Shelah begat Eber. And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg; for
in his days was the earth divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan.” “And Joktan begat
Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah, and Hadoram, and Uzal, and Diklah,
and Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba, and Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab: all these were the
sons of Joktan. And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest toward Sephar, the mountain
of the east. These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their
lands, after their nations.” The King James Version says in verse 21, “… the
brother of Japheth the elder …”. The ASV offers this as a possibility in it’s footnotes,
but I think the ASV correctly translated this verse in saying that Shem was “… the elder
brother of Japheth …”. My reason for believing this is that it goes along with the rest of
the information in Genesis concerning the birth-order of Shem, Ham, and Japheth (including
the order their names can always be found in when mentioned together). I go over this
more in the 10th video of Genesis. There seems to be a problem here in verse
22. According to the order of the names, Arpachshad was Shem’s third son, however, Genesis chapter
11, verse 10 states that Arpachshad was born two years after the flood. You may say, “Well,
maybe Shem had children before the flood happened, or before he got off the ark?” I should point
out that from Genesis chapter 6 to Genesis chapter 9, verse 17, the sons of Noah are
never said to have their own children. In fact, there is more than one instance where
it mentions Noah, his wife, his sons, and his sons’ wives. The text’s silence concerning
Noah’s sons bringing any children on or off the ark implies to me that they had none to
bring on or off the ark. You may then think about it more, and figure that maybe references
to Noah’s “sons” might include Shem, Ham, and Japheth’s children also. This isn’t the
case in this instance. In Genesis chapter 10, verse 1 it says: “Now these are the generations
of the sons of Noah, namely, of Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born
after the flood.” In Genesis chapter 7, verse 13 it says: “In the selfsame day entered Noah,
and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives
of his sons with them, into the ark;”. Just to clarify: the word “namely” is in italics
in chapter 10, verse 1 because it’s not in the Hebrew text, it’s the author’s translation.
This means (though this is not always the case with words in italics) that it can’t
be used to show that Shem, Ham, and Japheth might have had children before the flood,
or that Noah had more children than the three mentioned. Shem, Ham, and Japheth’s children
weren’t born until after the flood, as it’s stated in chapter 10, verse 1.
As I’ve already said, this seems to be a problem. How could Shem have three sons (Elam, Asshur,
and then Arpachshad) after the flood, within two years? How is this possible? First of
all, let’s see how much time there was for Shem’s three sons to be born. In Genesis chapter
8, verse 14 it says: “And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month,
was the earth dry.”
Strong says this about the Hebrew word translated as month in this verse: “… the new moon;
by implication, a month …”. Dr. Smith said this (among other things) concerning a month:
“The commencement of the month was generally decided by observation of the new moon. The
usual number of months in a year was twelve, as implied in (1 Kings 4:7; 1 Chronicles 27:1-15)
but since twelve lunar months would make but 354 1/2 days, the years would be short twelve
days … of the true year, and therefore it follows as a matter of course that an additional
month must have been inserted about every third year, which would bring the number up
to thirteen.” Another thing I should mention is that ancient Hebrews (and many other people
in ancient history) began to count at the current location. In other words (where we
would begin counting years with the next year) the Hebrews would begin counting with this
year. Now lets figure out how many days there were
between the end of the flood (as mentioned in Genesis chapter 8, verse 14), and the 2nd
year “after the flood”. In order to calculate this, I’m going to begin with three assumptions:
1) that the calendar God set for the Israelites to follow in Exodus chapter 12 was the same
calendar used in Genesis chapters 7 and 8, 2) that 2 years “after the flood” is actually
the year after the year in which the flood ended (in other words, the year that the flood
ended was the 1st year “after the flood”, and the next year was the 2nd year), and 3)
that both years only had 12 months (which means the year Noah got on the ark would have
had 13 months). With these three assumptions (and using the calendar Smith said the Hebrews
used), the time between the flood ending and two years “after the flood” would have been
about 653 days. A normal pregnancy usually lasts about 270 days. This means that two
pregnancies could have been possible in this amount of time, with about 3 Hebrew months
and 25 days in between. Strong says this about the word translated
in Genesis chapter 10, verse 21 as “born” and in verse 24 (and many other places throughout
the Old Testament) as “begat”: “… a primitive root; to bear young; causatively, to beget;
medically, to act as midwife; specifically, to show lineage …”. This word can be used
of the father, or the mother. It seems like it always refers to the time of birth when
used of the mother (see Genesis chapter 3, verse 16, chapter 4, verses 19 and 20, and
chapter 25, verse 24). It may be more general for the father, referring to an unspecified
time after conception (while the mother is still pregnant). I should probably also mention
that there’s a Hebrew word that specifically means for the mother to conceive (see Genesis
chapter 16, verses 4 and 11 and chapter 21, verse 2). Notice that this word has a different
meaning than the word that means to “bear” or “beget”.
Now I’ll go over how it was possible for Shem’s wife to have three sons in this amount of
time. If either Elam and Asshur were twins, or Asshur and Arpachshad were twins, then
there could have been (as I’ve already said) about 3 months and 25 days between the first
birth and the second pregnancy (this is assuming Shem’s wife became pregnant right after the
flood ended). Noah’s family was on the ark for about 426 days. If the first conception
happened while they were still on the ark, and Shem’s wife gave birth for the first time
soon after they left the ark and God made His covenant (within 2 months), there could
have been about 10 months and 29 days between both pregnancies (Shem’s wife having twins
one of those times). On the other hand, if she didn’t have twins (and so became pregnant
three different times before the end of the 2nd year {the first time while on the ark})
there could have been about 27 days between each birth and conception. Just in case anyone
still isn’t sure if the text allows for Shem’s wife (and possibly Ham’s wife, and Japheth’s
wife) to have become pregnant while on the ark, I want to remind you that chapter 10,
verse 1 does seem to allow for the possibilities I mentioned, and they were probably on the
ark for about 396 or 426 days (depending on if the extra month was in that year or not).
Also, don’t think that the conclusion I came to is set in stone. It’s really just an estimate.
Whether any of her first three sons were twins or not, it seems unlikely that Shem’s wife
gave birth to any daughters until after her first three sons were born. If you want to
see the calculation I used for this video, you can find it in an article on my website
called something like: “Explaining Arpachshad’s Age”.
Smith said this about Elam: “The Elam of Scripture appears to be the province lying south of
Assyria and east of Persia proper, to which Herodotus gives the name of Cissia …, and
which is termed Susis or Susiana by the geographers. Its capital was Susa.”
Speaking of Arpachshad, Easton said: “He dwelt in Mesopotamia, and became, according to the
Jewish historian Josephus, the progenitor of the Chaldeans.”
Smith said this of Lud: “… (strife) the fourth name in the list of the children of
Shem, (Genesis 10:22) comp. 1Chr 1:17 Supposed to have been the ancestor of the Lydians.”
Easton says this about Aram: “The word means high, or highlands, and as the name of a country
denotes that elevated region extending from the northeast of Palestine to the Euphrates.
It corresponded generally with the Syria and Mesopotamia of the Greeks and Romans.”
Josephus agrees with Easton, saying: “Aram
had the Aramites, which the Greeks called Syrians; …”.
Josephus said of Eber: “… from whom they originally called the Jews Hebrews.”
Apparently some have thought the name “Hebrew”
came from Abram (later known as Abraham) crossing over the Euphrates. William Whiston said this
in his notes on Josephus’ work: “That the Jews were called Hebrews from this their progenitor
Heber, our author Josephus here rightly affirms; and not from Abram the Hebrew, or passenger
over Euphrates, as many of the moderns suppose.” Reading further, Whiston says: “… though
it must be confessed that, Genesis 14:13, where the original says they told Abram the
Hebrew, the Septuagint renders it the passenger, …”. When I looked at Genesis chapter 14,
verse 13, the Hebrew word used (according to the KJV2003 Project and Strong) came from
the name transliterated here in verse 24 as “Eber”. Strong says the name Eber (or more
specifically, the word that the name comes from) means “… properly, a region across;
but used only adverbially (with or without a preposition) on the opposite side (especially
of the Jordan; [usually] meaning the east) …”. This may be a simple explanation for
why the LXX says (as Mr. Whiston pointed out) Abram was a “passenger” instead of an Eberite
(or Hebrew). The translators of the LXX must have chosen to translate the meaning of the
word “Eber” instead of transliterating the word “Hebrew”, to preserve the meaning of
the word instead of the way it sounded. Verse 21 in this chapter makes it pretty clear that
the Hebrews were named after Eber. Strong says that Peleg’s name means “earthquake”,
but the ASV footnotes say his name means “Division”. Josephus said this: “Heber begat Joetan and
Phaleg: he was called Phaleg, because he was born at the dispersion of the nations to their
several countries; for Phaleg among the Hebrews signifies division.”
Some people believe that Peleg’s name has
to do with a literal division of the earth into continents. However, the Hebrew word
translated literally in verse 25 as “earth” can also be used for land. The same word is
translated as “lands” in Genesis chapter 10, verses 5 and 20. Maybe Peleg got his name
because the land (or earth) was divided among the different people when they all separated?
Shem had Arpachshad, who had Shelah, who had Eber, who had Peleg. That’s five generations,
and (according to Genesis chapter 11, verses 12-16) from Arpachshad’s birth to Peleg’s
birth was about 99 years. This seems to be a decent amount of time before the events
mentioned in Genesis chapter 11 occurred. Josephus may have been right when he said
that Peleg was named because of the dispersion of the nations to their separate lands. If
this is true (and the information mentioned in Genesis chapter 11 is accurate), Genesis
tells us the year (or close to the year) that the dispersion happened.
Easton says this concerning Joktan: “… little, the second of the two sons of Eber (Gen. 10:25;
1 Chr. 1:19). There is an Arab tradition that Joktan (Arab. Kahtan) was the progenitor of
all the purest tribes of Central and Southern Arabia.”
Strong says Hazarmaveth’s name means, “village of death”. Smith says this: “HAZARMAVETH (court
of death), the third in order of the sons of Joktan (Genesis 10:26)…. The capital
is Satham, a very ancient city, and its chief ports are Mirbat, Zafari and Kisheem, from
whence a great trade was carried on in ancient times with India and Africa.”
Smith says this of Jerah: “… (the moon), the fourth in order of the sons of Joktan,
… and the progenitor of a tribe of southern Arabia.”
The Sheba mentioned in verse 28 may actually be where the queen that visited Solomon came
from, instead of from Sheba in Ethiopia (like I said in part 1 of this video). Arabia is
mostly south of Israel, and it says in I Kings chapter 10 and I Chronicles chapter 9 that
she came with a long train of camels that carried spices, gold, and precious stones.
Strong says this about the name Havilah: “… circular; Chavilah, the name of two or three eastern
regions; also perhaps of two men ….”. The land of Havilah is mentioned in Genesis chapter
2, verse 11, and in Genesis chapter 25, verse 18. Easton seems to have believed that the
land of Havilah may have generally been in Arabia (possibly taking up most or all of
the eastern half, and reaching as far north as the Euphrates river). Because Joktan is
considered the progenitor of the Arabians, it might make more sense to believe that Arabia
became known as Havilah because of Joktan’s son Havilah, instead of Havilah the son of
Cush (mentioned in verse 7 of this chapter). Of course, both might still be possible. On
the other hand, it seems that some believe that both Havilahs were the same land separated
into two different parts (as Easton quotes Kalisch as saying). This view requires the
belief that the two Havilahs mentioned in Genesis chapter 10 weren’t actual individuals,
only nations. I tried my best to address this issue in the first part of this video. Because
of the text, I think Havilah was probably the name of a land in Ethiopia, and also the
name of a land in Arabia (though they may be long forgotten).
In general, Shem’s sons spread out towards the east.
Verse 32 continues: “These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations,
in their nations: and of these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.”
Unlike the word “Peleg”, the word translated in verse 32 as “divided” means to disperse.
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