Genesis 10:21-32

21 To Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the elder brother of Japheth, children were born.

22 The sons of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram.

23 The sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash.

24 Arpachshad fathered Shelah; and Shelah fathered Eber.

25 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.

26 Joktan fathered Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah,

27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah,

28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba,

29 Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab; all these were the sons of Joktan.

30 The territory in which they lived extended from Mesha in the direction of Sephar to the hill country of the east.

31 These are the sons of Shem, by their clans, their languages, their lands, and their nations.

32 These are the clans of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations, and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood.

It is from “Eber” that the term “Hebrew” has apparently been derived. Abraham, for example, was called a Hebrew (Genesis 14:13), indicating that he was of the children of Eber. This term, obviously, therefor, is applied in these early Scriptures to a much larger group of people than to only the descendants of Abraham. — Morris, page 258.

Elam is the ancestor of the Elamites, well known in both Scripture and the monuments. Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, was the apparent leader of the confederacy which invaded Canaan during the days of Abram (Genesis 14:4-5). … The Elamites apparently later merged with others, especially the Medes (descendants of Madai and thus of Japeth), to form the Persian empire.

Asher was evidently the founder of the Assyrians. However, as noted in Genesis 10:11, Nimrod and his followers later invaded the land of Asshur and there founded Ninevah and a number of other cities. Consequently, the Assyrian people and culture were a mixture of both Semitic racial stock and Hamitic (Babylonian) culture, language, and religion.

Little is known of Arphaxad except that he was in the direct line leaving to Abraham. Lud was probably the ancestor of the Lydians, in Asia Minor. The fifth son was Aram, father of the Aramacans, the same as the Syrians. These people also became a great nation, even finally seeing their Aramaic language adopted as almost the lingua franca for the leading nations of the ancient world. Some of the Old Testament (portions of Daniel and Ezra) was apparently originally written in Aramaic, and it was a common spoken language among the Jews at the time of Christ. — Morris, pages 258-259.

Uz evidently gave his name to a region in Arabia which later was Job’s homeland (Job 1:1; Jeremiah 25:20). … The most important son of Shem (even though nothing is known of him personally) was Arphaxad, since he was in the line of the promised Seed. Presumably, he may have had more than one son, but only Salah is listed, apparently for the same reason. — Morris, page 259.

Nimrod, as Noah’s great-grandson through Ham, was in the same generation as Eber, Noah’s great-grandson through Shem. Thus, it is reasonable to infer that the division at Babel too place when both Nimrod and Eber were mature men. If Peleg was born soon after the Dispersion, it is not surprising that Eber would commemorate such a momentous even in the name of his son.

Although the question is still unsettled, it seems most likely that the division referred to in this passage [v. 25] was simply the geographic division resulting directly from the confusion of tongues at Babel. If something more was involved, especially such a catastrophic event as a tectonic splitting-up of the land mass, it does seem strange that the account of the judgment at Babel in Genesis 11 does not mention it. — Morris, pages 260-261.

These verses [vs. 26-30] list the thirteen sons of Joktan, Peleg’s brother. The names are mostly known from this passage alone, but indications are that all settled in Arabia. Two of the names—Ophir, associated with a region famous for its gold, and Sheba, possibly associated with the Sabaeans (although another Sheba is listed as a grandson of Cush, and another as a son of Abraham)—were definitely located in Arabia. — Morris, page 262.

A summary verse  (v. 31) is included here for Shem, as it had been for Japeth (v.5) and Ham (v.20). Once again it is mentioned that they involved distinct family units, distinct languages (therefore, subsequent to Babel), distinct regions, and finally, actual nations. A total of 26 such “nations” is listed as coming from Shem, as compared with 30 listed from Ham, and only 14 from Japheth. Thus a total of 70 such primeval nations is listed here. — Morris, page 262.

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