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Genesis 10:1-5

The Table of Nations

10:1 This is the account 1  of Noah’s sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Sons 2  were born 3  to them after the flood.

10:2 The sons of Japheth 4  were Gomer, 5  Magog, 6  Madai, 7  Javan, 8  Tubal, 9  Meshech, 10  and Tiras. 11  10:3 The sons of Gomer were 12  Askenaz, 13  Riphath, 14  and Togarmah. 15  10:4 The sons of Javan were Elishah, 16  Tarshish, 17  the Kittim, 18  and the Dodanim. 19  10:5 From these the coastlands of the nations were separated into their lands, every one according to its language, according to their families, by their nations.

1 tn The title אֵלֶּה תּוֹלְדֹת (’elle tolÿdot, here translated as “This is the account”) here covers 10:111:9, which contains the so-called Table of Nations and the account of how the nations came to be dispersed.

2 sn Sons were born to them. A vertical genealogy such as this encompasses more than the names of sons. The list includes cities, tribes, and even nations. In a loose way, the names in the list have some derivation or connection to the three ancestors.

3 tn It appears that the Table of Nations is a composite of at least two ancient sources: Some sections begin with the phrase “the sons of” (בְּנֵי, bÿne) while other sections use “begot” (יָלָד, yalad). It may very well be that the “sons of” list was an old, “bare bones” list that was retained in the family records, while the “begot” sections were editorial inserts by the writer of Genesis, reflecting his special interests. See A. P. Ross, “The Table of Nations in Genesis 10 – Its Structure,” BSac 137 (1980): 340-53; idem, “The Table of Nations in Genesis 10 – Its Content,” BSac 138 (1981): 22-34.

4 sn The Greek form of the name Japheth, Iapetos, is used in Greek tradition for the ancestor of the Greeks.

5 sn Gomer was the ancestor of the Cimmerians. For a discussion of the Cimmerians see E. M. Yamauchi, Foes from the Northern Frontier (SBA), 49-61.

6 sn For a discussion of various proposals concerning the descendants of Magog see E. M. Yamauchi, Foes from the Northern Frontier (SBA), 22-24.

7 sn Madai was the ancestor of the Medes, who lived east of Assyria.

8 sn Javan was the father of the Hellenic race, the Ionians who lived in western Asia Minor.

9 sn Tubal was the ancestor of militaristic tribes that lived north of the Black Sea. For a discussion of ancient references to Tubal see E. M. Yamauchi, Foes from the Northern Frontier (SBA), 24-26.

10 sn Meshech was the ancestor of the people known in Assyrian records as the Musku. For a discussion of ancient references to them see E. M. Yamauchi, Foes from the Northern Frontier (SBA), 24-26.

11 sn Tiras was the ancestor of the Thracians, some of whom possibly became the Pelasgian pirates of the Aegean.

12 sn The descendants of Gomer were all northern tribes of the Upper Euphrates.

13 sn Askenaz was the ancestor of a northern branch of Indo-Germanic tribes, possibly Scythians. For discussion see E. M. Yamauchi, Foes from the Northern Frontier (SBA), 63.

14 sn The descendants of Riphath lived in a district north of the road from Haran to Carchemish.

15 sn Togarmah is also mentioned in Ezek 38:6, where it refers to Til-garimmu, the capital of Kammanu, which bordered Tabal in eastern Turkey. See E. M. Yamauchi, Foes from the Northern Frontier (SBA), 26, n. 28.

16 sn The descendants of Elishah populated Cyprus.

17 sn The descendants of Tarshish settled along the southern coast of what is modern Turkey. However, some identify the site Tarshish (see Jonah 1:3) with Sardinia or Spain.

18 sn The name Kittim is associated with Cyprus, as well as coastlands east of Rhodes. It is used in later texts to refer to the Romans.

19 tc Most of the MT mss read “Dodanim” here, but 1 Chr 1:7 has “Rodanim,” perhaps referring to the island of Rhodes. But the Qere reading in 1 Chr 1:7 suggests “Dodanim.” Dodona is one of the most ancient and revered spots in ancient Greece.

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