Chapter 10

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After the deluge, Noah’s sons fathered their own sons. The sons of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. (10:1, 2) Gomer’s sons were Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah. Javan became father to Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. The descendants of Japheth settled in the coastlands. In their territories, they became families and nations and came to speak their own distinctive languages. (10:3-5)

Josephus indicated that the area where the descendants of the sons of Noah settled became known by the name of their forebears. By the time he wrote in the first century CE, some of the original names of the regions had been lost, but others could still be recognized. He attributed to the Greeks changes in names that sounded better to them than the original designations. (Antiquities, I, v) Gomer has been linked to the Cimmerians who settled in the vicinity of the Black Sea. The descendants of Magog may have inhabited the region to the south of Gomer. Madai has been identified with the Medes, Javan with the Greeks, and Tubal with the Tabalu mentioned in Assyrian inscriptions. The descendants of Tubal are thought to have inhabited a region in eastern Asia Minor. Meshech’s descendants may also have resided in Asia Minor and may be identified with the Mushku to which people references are found in Assyrian inscriptions. A possible identification for Tiras may be the seafaring people known to the ancient Greeks as Tyrsenoi. Ashkenaz has been identified with the Scythians who settled north of the Black Sea. The descendants of Riphath may have lived in the northwestern part of Asia Minor. Togarmah has been linked to the Armenians. Elishah has been associated with various locations — Crete, Italy, and Cyprus. Tarshish has been linked to the Iberian Peninsula, Kittim to Cyprus, and Dodanim (or Rodanim) to the island of Rhodes.

The comments of Josephus probably reflect views that were current among Jews in the first century CE. He indicated that the descendants of the seven sons of Iaphtha (Japheth; Iapheth [LXX]) “occupied first the mountains of Tauros [Taurus, a mountain range in southern Asia Minor] and Amanos [Amanus, a mountain range in Asia Minor] and proceeded through Asia as far as the river Tanais [the Don River in European Russia) and across Europe as far as Gadeira [Cadiz, a city in southern Spain], settling the lands they encountered where none had lived before, and calling the nations by their own names. Gomaros [Gomer; Gamer (LXX)] founded those whom the Greeks now call Galatians, but were then called Gomarites. Magoges [Magog (Hebrew and LXX)] founded the Magogites after himself, whom they call Scythians. The sons of Iaphtha [Japheth; Iapheth (LXX)], Iauanos [Javan; Ioyan (LXX)] and Mados [Madai], were also founders of nations: from Mados [Madai] came the Madaians, whom the Greeks call Medes, and from Iauanos [Javan; Ioyan (LXX)] are descended Ionia and all the Greeks. Theobelos [Tubal; Thobel (LXX)] founded the Theobelians, who are now called Iberes [Iberians]. The Meschenians were founded by Meschos [Meshech; Mosoch (LXX)] and are now called Cappadocians, though a trace of their ancient name is still visible, for there is still among them a city called Mazaca, an indication to those who understand such things that this was once the name of the whole nation. Theires [Tiras; Thiras (LXX)] called his subjects Theirians, but the Greeks changed the name into Thracians. … Of the three sons of Gomaros [Gomer; Gamer (LXX)], Aschanaxes [Ashkenaz; Aschanaz (LXX)] founded the Aschanaxians, who are now called by the Greeks Reginians; and Riphath founded the Riphathaians, now called Paphlagonians, and Thugrames [Togarmah; Thorgama (LXX)] the Thugramaians, whom the Greeks called Phrygians. Of the three sons of Iauanos [Javan; Ioyan (LXX)], son of Iaphtha [Japheth; Iapheth (LXX)], Halisas [Elishah; Elisa (LXX)] named the Halisaians whom he ruled, who are now the Aiolians [Aelonians]; and Tharsos [Tarshish; Tharsis (LXX)] (the former designation of Cilicia) named the Tharsians, an indication [for the name Tharsos being] the name of their noblest city and metropolis Tarsus, the tau having replaced the theta. Chethimos [Kittim; Kitioi (Kitians), LXX] occupied the island of Chethimaand, now called Cyprus, from which all islands and most of the seacoasts are called by the Hebrews Chethim [Kittim], an indication of which is that one city in Cyprus has kept that name. It is called Kition by those who use the Greek language, not far removed from the name Chethim [Kittim]. … To please my readers, the names are here rendered in the Greek style, as our native language does not pronounce them like that.” (Antiquities, I, vi, 1)

The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. Descendants of Cush are thought to have settled in ancient Ethiopia, those of Mizraim in Egypt, and the offspring of Put in Libya. Descendants of Canaan occupied the Levant, the region that borders the easternmost part of the Mediterranean Sea and includes the land that the people of Israel occupied in later centuries. (10:6) Josephus made the same identification. “Of the four sons of Ham, time has in no way changed the name of Chousaios [Cush; Chous (LXX)], for his Ethiopian descendants … are even to this day called Chousaioi [Cushites], both by themselves and by everyone in Asia. … All of us living [in Judea] call Egypt Merse and the Egyptians Mersaians. Phoutes [Put; Phoud (LXX)] was the founder of Libya and called the inhabitants Phoutians, after himself. … Chananaios [Canaan], the fourth son of Chamas [Ham; Cham (LXX)], lived in the country now called Judea and called it by his own name Chananaia [Canaan; Chanaan (LXX)].” (Antiquities, I, vi, 2) The sons of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca; and Sheba and Dedan were the sons of Raamah. Their descendants may have lived in Arabia, probably in the southwestern part of the peninsula. (10:7)

The son of Cush who made a name for himself among his contemporaries was Nimrod. He was the first one to distinguish himself as a “mighty man” (a hero or a warrior) and a “mighty hunter before the face of YHWH.” (10:8, 9) From ancient times the expression “before the face of YHWH” has been understood to mean that Nimrod acted defiantly toward God. Targum Jonathan (thought to date probably from the second century CE) says about Nimrod that “he began to be mighty in sin, and to rebel before YY [Yeya (YHWH)] in the earth. He was a mighty rebel before YY [Yeya (YHWH); therefore, it is said, From the day that the world was created there has not been [one like] Nimrod, mighty in hunting, and a rebel before YY [Yeya (YHWH)].” In the first century CE, Josephus also expressed himself to this effect. Nimrod was a bold man of great strength who incited his contemporaries to have contempt for God and persuaded them not to attribute their prosperity to God, but to ascribe it to their own courage. “He also gradually changed the government into tyranny, seeing no other way to turn men away from the fear of God and to bring them into a constant dependence upon his power.” (Antiquities, I, iv, 2)

Nimrod began to exercise dominion over his contemporaries in the “land of Shinar,” the region between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. His kingdom had its beginning over the cities of Babel (Babylon [LXX]), Erech, Accad, and Calneh. From Shinar he headed northward, probably in command of a military force intent on seizing territory in Asshur (Assyria). There he later directed the building of the cities of Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and Resen situated between Nineveh and Calah. The “great city” apparently was Nineveh, with Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and Resen being suburbs. (10:10-12)

Mizraim, the son of Cush, became father to Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, Pathrusim, Casluhim, and Caphtorim. All seven names are plural and, therefore, may be understood to represent distinct peoples or tribes, the majority of whom settled in northern Africa. Casluhim is identified as the one from whom the Philistines came. The Philistines took up residence on the southeastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Josephus (Antiquities, I, vi, 2) wrote that the descendants of Mersaios (Mizraim; Mesraim [LXX]) possessed the region “from Gaza to Egypt.” Lehabim (Labimos [Josephus]; Loudiim [LXX]) “settled alone in Libya and called the country after himself.” With reference to his own time, Josephus said, “Of Nedemos [Naphtuhim; Nephthaliim (LXX)] and Pethrosimos [Pathrusim; Patrosoniim (LXX)] and Chesloimos [Casluhim; Chasloniim (LXX)] and Cephthomos [Caphtorim; Caphthoriim (LXX)] we know nothing except their names, for the Ethiopian war … destroyed those cities.” (10:13, 14)

The firstborn son of Canaan was Sidon (Sidonios, Josephus). According to Josephus (Antiquities, I, vi, 2), Sidonios “built a city of the same name,” and the Greeks called it Sidon. This city has been identified with modern Saida, a coastal city of southwestern Lebanon. Other offspring of Canaan included Heth, Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, Arvadites, Zemarites, Hamathites. It appears that Josephus referred to the Hamathites as “Amathous who lived in Amathine, which the locals even now call Amathe, although the Macedonians gave it the name Epiphania.” Josephus continued, “Aroudaios (Arvadites; Aradios [LXX]) occupied the island of Aradus [an island off the northern coast of Syria], and Aroukaios (Arkites; Aroukaios [LXX]) occupied Arke in Libanus [Lebanon]. Of the seven others, Euaios [Hivites; Euaios (LXX)] , Chettaios [Heth (Hittites); Chettaios (LXX)], Iebousaios [Jebusites; Iebousaios (LXX), Amorraios [Amorites; Amorraios (LXX)], Gergesaios [Gergashites; Gergesaios (LXX)], Seinaios (Sinites, Asennaios [LXX]), and Samaraios [Zemarites; Samaraios (LXX), we have nothing from the sacred books except their names, for the Hebrews destroyed their cities.” (10:15-18)

The territory that the Canaanites occupied extended from coastal city of Sidon in the north to Gerar and nearby Gaza in the south. From Gaza, Canaanite territory extended eastward to the cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim in the Dead Sea area and then either near or as far as Lasha. (10:19)

The concluding words about the “sons” or descendants of Ham relate to the respective regions of their residence after all of them began to speak their own distinctive languages. “These [were] the sons of Ham by their families, by their languages, in their lands, according to their nations.” (10:20)

Noah’s son Shem also fathered sons. All the “sons” or descendants of Eber came through the line of Shem. The apparent reason for the focus on Eber is that the people of Israel descended from him through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In his Antiquities (I, vi, 4), Josephus wrote that it was from Heber that the Jews were originally called Hebrews. The Hebrew text could be understood to indicate that Shem was either the older brother of Japheth or that Japheth was Shem’s older brother. According to the rendering of the Septuagint, Japheth is definitely identified as the “greater” or the “older” (“brother of Iapheth [Japheth] the greater [or the older]).” (10:21)

Shem’s sons were Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram. In the Septuagint, “Kainan” (Cainan) is mentioned after Aram, and Arpachshad (Arphaxad) is referred to as the father of Kainan. The name Kainan is missing in the Hebrew text, but it is included in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. (Luke 3:36) Josephus (Antiquities, I, vi, 4) also omitted Kainan and referred to Shem as having five, not six, sons. The sons of Aram were Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash. Arpachshad became father to Shelah (or, according to the Septuagint, to Kainan [Cainan] and Kainan to Sala [Shelah]), and Shelah to Eber. Eber had two sons, Peleg and Joktan. The reason for the name Peleg was that in this son’s “days” the earth was “divided.” Josephus (Antiquities, I, vi, 4) wrote that Phalegos (Peleg; Phalek [LXX]) “was born at the dispersion of the nations to their several countries; for phalek, among the Hebrews, signifies division.” This dispersion occurred after the confusion of the language while the tower at Babel was in the process of being built. (10:22-25; 11:7, 8)

According to Josephus (Antiquities, I, vi, 4), the descendants of Shem’s sons resided in the region that extended from the Euphrates River to the Indian Ocean. “Elymos [Elam; Ailam (LXX)] left behind him the Elymaians [Elamites], the ancestors of the Persians. Assouras [Asshur; Assour (LXX)] lived at the city of Ninon [Nineveh] and named his subjects Assourians [Assyrians], who prospered greatly. Arphaxades [Arpachshad; Arphaxad (LXX]) named the Arphaxadaians, now called the Chaldaians [Chaldeans]. Aramos [Aram (LXX)] had the Aramaians, whom the Greeks call Syrians. … Loudas [Lud; Loud (LXX)] founded the Loudians, now called Lydians. Of the four sons of Aramos [Aram (LXX)], Ouses [Uz; Os (LXX)] founded Trachonitis and Damaskus [Damascus]. This country is between Palestine and Coele-Syria. Otros [Ouros; Ul; Oul (LXX)] founded Armenia, and Getheres [Gether; Gather (LXX)] the Bactrians, and Mesas [Mash; Mosoch (LXX)] the Mesanaians in the region now called Charax Spasini [a place between the mouths of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers].”

Peleg’s brother Joktan became father to Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Obal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab. (10:26-29) The region in which they settled is described as extending from Mesha (Masse [LXX] as far as Sephar (Sophera [LXX]), “to the mountainous area of the east.” It is likely that the settlements were in the Arabian Peninsula, possibly as far south as Yemen. Josephus (Antiquities, I, vi, 4) indicates that they resided in the region around Kophenos (Cophen), a river of India, and the adjoining part of Asia. (10:26-30)

The concluding statements regarding the “sons” or descendants of Shem and the families of the descendants of Noah pertain to the situation that existed after the dispersion on account of the confusion of the language. “These [were] the sons [or descendants] of Shem by their families, by their languages, in their lands, according to their nations. These [were] the families of Noah’s sons [or descendants] according to their genealogies, by their nations, and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the deluge.” (10:31, 32)


To indicate the differences in the spelling of the names found both in the Greek text of Josephus and in the Septuagint, these names have been transliterated to correspond more closely to the Greek. Therefore, the transliterated names in the text of Josephus differ from those in English translations of the works of Josephus. Other minor changes have also been made in the wording of the translated text.