Genesis 10: The Table of Nations
A 30,000 ft. look at God's government of the world before we trace His redemptive plan through Abraham and his posterity.
Reader Thoughts and Questions
Have any questions? Do you see Christ is another way, or do you have any additional points of application from the chapter? Please share.
This chapter details the first branching out of Noah’s posterity, which filled the earth. Often referred to as the Table of Nations, the root of all nations can be found here. Josephus, the first century Jewish historian, has some fascinating insight that provides a stepping stone between what we have in the Bible and the nations we have today.
However, the main issue to see here is the miraculous preservation of the line to the promised seed. That is of primary importance. God zooms out so we see the nations develop, before focusing upon Abraham and his posterity.
The chapter also introduces us to Nimrod, perhaps one of the early monarch-type characters of the ancient world.
I find it interesting that the order of Noah’s sons listed in v. 1, is not the order given in what follows. Different reasons have been suggested, and it is something you can think about.
We can’t explore every nation, but let us consider a number of observations…
v. 2 ff. - Japheth gives us the Indo-European peoples. Most of these people will not feature much in the Old Testament. See v. 5 - many of us are from these “isles of the gentiles,” and the prophecy of Isaiah 42:4 has been fulfilled in part in us, “the isles shall wait for his law.” What grace there is in Christ to us who were so far from the truth. Through Christ we are now fellow-heirs and of the same body as believing Jews.
v. 8–10 introduces us to Nimrod and Babylon. “Mighty” can be positive or negative, but in this case it is negative. Nimrod is a rebel. Many believe his hunting skills were renown because he killed men. He was also an empire builder or ruler, with Babylon being most notable.
The language “before the Lord” reminds us of how Satan is recorded as being “before the Lord” in Job. Calvin suggests that the language intimates, “that Nimrod attempted to raise himself above the order of men; just as proud men become transported by a vain self-confidence, that they may look down as from the clouds upon others.” Nimrod may have been what is referred to as a Nam Lugal, endeavoring through tyranny to enforce centrality of government and uniformity of culture.
v. 25 - this is not referring to a separation of continents, but points to the next chapter and God bringing confusion through languages. Thus, Peleg actually typifies Christ, “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division (Luke 12:51).
A repeated phrase in vv. 5, 20, 31 “after his/their tongues establishes the fact that this chapter sets the stage for God’s judgment of confusion through languages.”
Though God has a particular story to tell through Christ and His Church, His eye is upon the entire world, governing all affairs. Genesis 10 shows that God has His hand on a particular line, while the nations rage in enmity against Christ and His people.
There is no room for racism. We all descend from a common ancestor. We are all cousins. Here we get an insight into what Paul said in Acts 17:26, that God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.” The most meaningful division of men is between the saved and unsaved.
Children, Babylon is representative of the world. In Revelation we see the final destruction of Babylon. We are to come out of her. But to go where? Christ! Christ is the only way out of Babylon.
Be careful not to follow the charisma and celebrity of Nimrod-style characters that promise the world in business, church, or politics. Only Jesus Christ is to have our absolute loyalty. Others will disappoint. He will not.
Finally, we see our mission. All these nations and their descendants need Christ. 70 nations are mentioned here, and it is no accident that along with the 12, Christ had 70 disciples. They were to reach the world. Maybe God is calling you to preach His Word?