Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
The generations of the sons of Noah, Gen 10:1. Japheth and his descendants, Gen 10:2-4. The isles of the Gentiles, or Europe, peopled by the Japhethites, Gen 10:5. Ham and his posterity, Gen 10:6-20. Nimrod, one of his descendants, a mighty hunter, Gen 10:8, Gen 10:9, founds the first kingdom, Gen 10:10. Nineveh and other cities founded, Gen 10:11, Gen 10:12. The Canaanites in their nine grand branches or families, Gen 10:15-18. Their territories, Gen 10:19. Shem and his posterity, Gen 10:21-31. The earth divided in the days of Peleg, Gen 10:25. The territories of the Shemites, Gen 10:30. The whole earth peopled by the descendants of Noah's three sons, Gen 10:32.
Now these are the generations - It is extremely difficult to say what particular nations and people sprang from the three grand divisions of the family of Noah, because the names of many of those ancient people have become changed in the vast lapse of time from the deluge to the Christian era; yet some are so very distinctly marked that they can be easily ascertained, while a few still retain their original names.
Moses does not always give the name of the first settler in a country, but rather that of the people from whom the country afterwards derived its name. Thus Mizraim is the dual of Mezer, and could never be the name of an individual. The like may be said of Kittim, Dodanim, Ludim, Ananim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, Pathrusim, Casluhim, Philistim, and Caphtorim, which are all plurals, and evidently not the names of individuals, but of families or tribes. See Gen 10:4, Gen 10:6, Gen 10:13, Gen 10:14.
In the posterity of Canaan we find whole nations reckoned in the genealogy, instead of the individuals from whom they sprang; thus the Jebusite, Amorite, Girgasite, Hivite, Arkite, Sinite, Arvadite, Zemarite, and Hamathite, Gen 10:16-18, were evidently whole nations or tribes which inhabited the promised land, and were called Canaanites from Canaan, the son of Ham, who settled there. Moses also, in this genealogy, seems to have introduced even the name of some places that were remarkable in the sacred history, instead of the original settlers. Such as Hazarmaveth, Gen 10:26; and probably Ophir and Havilah, Gen 10:29. But this is not infrequent in the sacred writings, as may be seen Ch1 2:51, where Salma is called the father of Bethlehem, which certainly never was the name of a man, but of a place sufficiently celebrated in the sacred history; and in Ch1 4:14, where Joab is called the father of the valley of Charashim, which no person could ever suppose was intended to designate an individual, but the society of craftsmen or artificers who lived there.
Eusebius and others state (from what authority we know not) that Noah was commanded of God to make a will and bequeath the whole of the earth to his three sons and their descendants in the following manner: - To Shem, all the East; to Ham, all Africa; to Japheth, the Continent of Europe with its isles, and the northern parts of Asia. See the notes at the end of the preceding chapter, Gen 9:29 (note).
The sons of Japheth - Japheth is supposed to be the same with the Japetus of the Greeks, from whom, in an extremely remote antiquity, that people were supposed to have derived their origin.
Gomer - Supposed by some to have peopled Galatia; so Josephus, who says that the Galatians were anciently named Gomerites. From him the Cimmerians or Cimbrians are supposed to have derived their origin.
Bochart has no doubt that the Phrygians sprang from this person, and some of our principal commentators are of the same opinion.
Magog - Supposed by many to be the father of the Scythians and Tartars, or Tatars, as the word should be written; and in great Tartary many names are still found which bear such a striking resemblance to the Gog and Magog of the Scriptures, as to leave little doubt of their identity.
Madai - Generally supposed to be the progenitor of the Medes; but Joseph Mede makes it probable that he was rather the founder of a people in Macedonia called Maedi, and that Macedonia was formerly called Emathia, a name formed from Ei, an island, and Madai, because he and his descendants inhabited the maritime coast on the borders of the Ionian Sea. On this subject nothing certain can be advanced.
Javan - It is almost universally agreed that from him sprang the Ionians, of Asia Minor; but this name seems to have been anciently given to the Macedonians, Achaians, and Baeotians.
Tubal - Some think be was the father of the Iberians, and that a part at least of Spain was peopled by him and his descendants; and that Meshech, who is generally in Scripture joined with him, was the founder of the Cappadocians, from whom proceeded the Muscovites.
Tiras - From this person, according to general consent, the Thracians derived their origin.
Ashkenaz - Probably gave his name to Sacagena, a very excellent province of Armenia. Pliny mentions a people called Ascanitici, who dwelt about the Tanais and the Palus Maeotis; and some suppose that from Ashkenaz the Euxine Sea derived its name, but others suppose that from him the Germans derived their origin.
Riphath - Or Diphath, the founder of the Paphlagonians, which were anciently called Riphataei.
Togarmah - The Sauromates, or inhabitants of Turcomania. See the reasons in Calmet.
Elishah - As Javan peopled a considerable part of Greece, it is in that region that we must seek for the settlements of his descendants; Elishah probably was the first who settled at Elis, in Peloponnesus.
Tarshish - He first inhabited Cilicia, whose capital anciently was the city of Tarsus, where the Apostle Paul was born.
Kittim - We have already seen that this name was rather the name of a people than of an individual: some think by Kittim Cyprus is meant: others, the isle of Chios; and others, the Romans; and others, the Macedonians.
Dodanim - Or Rodanim, for the ד and ר may be easily mistaken for each other, because of their great similarity. Some suppose that this family settled at Dodona in Epirus; others at the isle of Rhodes; others, at the Rhone, in France, the ancient name of which was Rhodanus, from the Scripture Rodanim.
Isles of the Gentiles - Europe, of which this is allowed to be a general epithet. Calmet supposes that it comprehends all those countries to which the Hebrews were obliged to go by sea, such as Spain, Gaul, Italy, Greece, and Asia Minor.
Every one after his tongue - This refers to the time posterior to the confusion of tongues and dispersion from Babel.
Cush - Who peopled the Arabic nome near the Red Sea in Lower Egypt. Some think the Ethiopians descended from him.
Mizraim - This family certainly peopled Egypt; and both in the East and in the West, Egypt is called Mezr and Mezraim.
Phut - Who first peopled an Egyptian nome or district, bordering on Libya.
Canaan - He who first peopled the land so called, known also by the name of the Promised Land.
Seba - The founder of the Sabaeans. There seem to be three different people of this name mentioned in this chapter, and a fourth in Gen 25:3.
Havilah - Supposed by some to mean the inhabitants of the country included within that branch of the river Pison which ran out of the Euphrates into the bay of Persia, and bounded Arabia Felix on the east.
Sabtah - Supposed by some to have first peopled an isle or peninsula called Saphta, in the Persian Gulf.
Raamah - Or Ragmah, for the word is pronounced both ways, because of the ע ain, which some make a vowel, and some a consonant. Ptolemy mentions a city called Regma near the Persian Gulf; it probably received its name from the person in the text.
Sabtechah - From the river called Samidochus, in Caramanla; Bochart conjectures that the person in the text fixed his residence in that part.
Sheba - Supposed to have had his residence beyond the Euphrates, in the environs of Charran, Eden, etc.
Dedan - Supposed to have peopled a part of Arabia, on the confines of Idumea.
Nimrod - Of this person little is known, as he is not mentioned except here and in Ch1 1:10, which is evidently a copy of the text in Genesis. He is called a mighty hunter before the Lord; and from Gen 10:10, we learn that he founded a kingdom which included the cities Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Though the words are not definite, it is very likely he was a very bad man. His name Nimrod comes from מרד, marad, he rebelled; and the Targum, on Ch1 1:10, says: Nimrod began to be a mighty man in sin, a murderer of innocent men, and a rebel before the Lord. The Jerusalem Targum says: "He was mighty in hunting (or in prey) and in sin before God, for he was a hunter of the children of men in their languages; and he said unto them, Depart from the religion of Shem, and cleave to the institutes of Nimrod." The Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel says: "From the foundation of the world none was ever found like Nimrod, powerful in hunting, and in rebellions against the Lord." The Syriac calls him a warlike giant. The word ציד tsayid, which we render hunter, signifies prey; and is applied in the Scriptures to the hunting of men by persecution, oppression, and tyranny. Hence it is likely that Nimrod, having acquired power, used it in tyranny and oppression; and by rapine and violence founded that domination which was the first distinguished by the name of a kingdom on the face of the earth. How many kingdoms have been founded in the same way, in various ages and nations from that time to the present! From the Nimrods of the earth, God deliver the world!
Mr. Bryant, in his Mythology, considers Nimrod as the principal instrument of the idolatry that afterwards prevailed in the family of Cush, and treats him as an arch rebel and apostate. Mr. Richardson, who was the determined foe of Mr. Bryant's whole system, asks, Dissertation, p. 405, "Where is the authority for these aspersions? They are nowhere to be discovered in the originals, in the versions, nor in the paraphrases of the sacred writings." If they are not to be found either in versions or paraphrases of the sacred writings, the above quotations are all false.
The beginning of his kingdom was Babel - בבל babel signifies confusion; and it seems to have been a very proper name for the commencement of a kingdom that appears to have been founded in apostasy from God, and to have been supported by tyranny, rapine, and oppression.
In the land of Shinar - The same as mentioned Gen 11:2. It appears that, as Babylon was built on the river Euphrates, and the tower of Babel was in the land of Shinar, consequently Shinar itself must have been in the southern part of Mesopotamia.
Out of that land went forth Asshur - The marginal reading is to be preferred here. He - Nimrod, went out into Assyria and built Nineveh; and hence Assyria is called the land of Nimrod, Mic 5:6. Thus did this mighty hunter extend his dominions in every possible way. The city of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, is supposed to have had its name from Ninus, the son of Nimrod; but probably Ninus and Nimrod are the same person. This city, which made so conspicuous a figure in the history of the world, is now called Mossul; it is an inconsiderable place, built out of the ruins of the ancient Nineveh.
Rehoboth, and Calah, etc. - Nothing certain is known concerning the situation of these places; conjecture is endless, and it has been amply indulged by learned men in seeking for Rehoboth in the Birtha of Ptolemy, Calah in Calachine, Resen in Larissa, etc., etc.
Mizraim begat Ludim - Supposed to mean the inhabitants of the Mareotis, a canton in Egypt, for the name Ludim is evidently the name of a people.
Anamim - According to Bochart, the people who inhabited the district about the temple of Jupiter Ammon.
Lehabim - The Libyans, or a people who dwelt on the west of the Thebaid, and were called Libyo-Egyptians.
Naphtuhim - Even the conjectures can scarcely fix a place for these people. Bochart seems inclined to place them in Marmarica, or among the Troglodytae.
Pathrusim - The inhabitants of the Delta, in Egypt, according to the Chaldee paraphrase; but, according to Bochart, the people who inhabited the Thebaid, called Pathros in Scripture.
Casluhim - The inhabitants of Colchis; for almost all authors allow that Colchis was peopled from Egypt.
Philistim - The people called Philistines, the constant plagues and frequent oppressors of the Israelites, whose history may be seen at large in the books of Samuel, Kings, etc.
Caphtorim - Inhabitants of Cyprus according to Calmet.
Sidon - Who probably built the city of this name, and was the father of the Sidonians.
Heth - From whom came the Hittites, so remarkable among the Canaanitish nations.
The Jebusite-Amorite, etc. - Are well known as being the ancient inhabitants of Canaan, expelled by the children of Israel.
These are the sons of Ham after their families - No doubt all these were well known in the days of Moses, and for a long time after; but at this distance, when it is considered that the political state of the world has been undergoing almost incessant revolutions through all the intermediate portions of time, the impossibility of fixing their residences or marking their descendants must be evident, as both the names of the people and the places of their residences have been changed beyond the possibility of being recognized.
Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber - It is generally supposed that the Hebrews derived their name from Eber or Heber, son of Shem; but it appears much more likely that they had it from the circumstance of Abraham passing over (for so the word עבר abar signifies) the river Euphrates to come into the land of Canaan. See the history of Abraham, Gen 14:13 (note).
Elam - From whom came the Elamites, near to the Medes, and whose chief city was Elymais.
Asshur - Who gave his name to a vast province (afterwards a mighty empire) called Assyria.
Arphaxad - From whom Arrapachitis in Assyria was named, according to some; or Artaxata in Armenia, on the frontiers of Media, according to others.
Lud - The founder of the Lydians. In Asia Minor; or of the Ludim, who dwelt at the confluence of the Euphrates and Tigris, according to Arias Montanus.
Aram - The father of the Arameans, afterwards called Syrians.
Uz - Who peopled Caelosyria, and is supposed to have been the founder of Damascus.
Hul - Who peopled a part of Armenia.
Gether - Supposed by Calmet to have been the founder of the Itureans, who dwelt beyond the Jordan, having Arabia Desert on the east, and the Jordan on the west.
Mash - Who inhabited mount Masius in Mesopotamia, and from whom the river Mazeca, which has its source in that mountain, takes its name.
Salah - The founder of the people of Susiana.
Eber - See Gen 10:21. The Septuagint add Cainan here, with one hundred and thirty to the chronology.
Peleg - From פלג palag, to divide, because in his days, which is supposed to be about one hundred years after the flood, the earth was divided among the sons of Noah. Though some are of opinion that a physical division, and not a political one, is what is intended here, viz., a separation of continents and islands from the main land; the earthy parts having been united into one great continent previously to the days of Peleg. This opinion appears to me the most likely, for what is said, Gen 10:5, is spoken by way of anticipation.
Joktan - He had thirteen sons who had their dwelling from Mesha unto Sephar, a mount of the east, which places Calmet supposes to be mount Masius, on the west in Mesopotamia, and the mountains of the Saphirs on the east in Armenia, or of the Tapyrs farther on in Media. In confirmation that all men have been derived from one family, let it be observed that there are many customs and usages, both sacred and civil, which have prevailed in all parts of the world; and that these could owe their origin to nothing but a general institution, which could never have existed, had not mankind been originally of the same blood, and instructed in the same common notions before they were dispersed. Among these usages may be reckoned,
1. The numbering by tens.
2. Their computing time by a cycle of seven days.
3. Their setting apart the seventh day for religious purposes.
4. Their use of sacrifices, propitiatory and eucharistical.
5. The consecration of temples and altars.
6. The institution of sanctuaries or places of refuge, and their privileges.
7. Their giving a tenth part of the produce of their fields, etc., for the use of the altar.
8. The custom of worshipping the Deity bare-footed.
9. Abstinence of the men from all sensual gratifications previously to their offering sacrifice.
10. The order of priesthood and its support.
11. The notion of legal pollutions, defilements, etc.
12. The universal tradition of a general deluge.
13. The universal opinion that the rainbow was a Divine sign, or portent, etc., etc.
The wisdom and goodness of God are particularly manifested in repeopling the earth by means of three persons, all of the same family, and who had witnessed that awful display of Divine justice in the destruction of the world by the flood, while themselves were preserved in the ark. By this very means the true religion was propagated over the earth; for the sons of Noah would certainly teach their children, not only the precepts delivered to their father by God himself, but also how in his justice he had brought the flood on the world of the ungodly, and by his merciful providence preserved them from the general ruin. It is on this ground alone that we can account for the uniformity and universality of the above traditions, and for the grand outlines of religious truth which are found in every quarter of the world. God has so done his marvellous works that they may be had in everlasting remembrance.