(Bible Treasury Volumes N1 & 2, 1896-1898, [36 sections].)
Chapter 10:11, 12
Chapter 10:13, 14
Chapter 11:8, 9
Chapter 11:27, 28
Chapter 11:29, 30
Chapter 11:31, 32
This comprehensive, instructive, and interesting chapter, followed by Gen. 11:1-9 which has its own special importance, is devoted to a description of a new element among mankind, its various nations divided in their lands, every one after his tongue. Before the deluge no such distinctions subsisted. Immense as the population might be, they were not thus associated any more than marked off one from another. Jehovah took care that the line of Seth should be guarded for His ways then, and for His purposes in the future. There were moral differences between Cain and his descendants from early days; and an awful form of creature lawlessness arose before God executed judgment on all flesh in an earth corrupt before Him, and filled with violence. But there was no government on the one hand yet established by God, nor was there any division into nations, nor yet diversity of language.
After the flood God had introduced the principle of government, committing the charge into the hands of men. As the next fact of the widest moment for the earth, the origin of the nations which were about to play their part is made known to us; and this with a special view to His choice of a people for Himself, and separated to Himself. Even it is seen first tried and failing through sin, as Adam had been in the world before the flood. Of this the O.T. is the ample witness and the awful proof, before His grace intervenes in the Second man and the Messiah of Israel to deliver both man and Israel, as He will the church and the universe, on the ground of divine righteousness and ever enduring mercy to the praise of Himself and the Lamb.
The fact is before all eyes. Nothing exists more notorious in ordinary and universal knowledge (save perhaps for the most isolated of savages) than the many races and tongues and peoples of mankind, each having its own separate bond of union. Yet how this fact began, so pregnant in history, not one of these nations can tell; nor do the most ancient — one does not ask of formal records, but — of incidental monuments go far enough back to explain. Yet here it is written with simple and calm dignity by the instrument God chose for the purpose. It was easy for Him, Who knew all from before the beginning, to make known distinctly and accurately what it seemed good in His eyes to reveal to His people. This He has done in the short compass of a single chapter, Gen. 10, with His moral ground for so separating mankind in the first paragraph of the following chapter. We shall find there an adequate, not to say absolutely necessary reason for His intervention at once for His own glory and on behalf of guilty man; unless we assume that He Who but recently instituted responsible government in man's hand was indifferent to a rebellion as slighting to Himself as ruinous to man. This drew out from Him a dealing equally simple and effectual, which issued in the scattering of man over the earth according to God's will, but in separate nationalities to the frustration of man's will against God.
As Israel then was to be His earthly people, God made known in a brief survey the sources of all the nations here below, having provided, laid down, and committed to man government in its root principle. None of these facts applies to the antediluvian earth, where all consisted of a vast indiscriminate population of one tongue and under no restraint of government, as it ended in all but universal lawlessness and a judgment that spared a family of only eight persons, including its head. He Who alone could reveal the primeval state when the first man and woman were made, and ushered then into an unstained earth, now deigned to tell the story of how nationalities began with their miraculously started distinct languages, spreading over different lands according to their families. His pleasure was both to bring to nought man's union for a name of pride and to set Israel in the most central spot, not more for righteous government than for shedding on all the earth the knowledge of Jehovah and His glory. So says Deut. 32:8: "When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the children of Adam, He set the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the children of Israel." The people were redeemed first, then the land: all in view of Messiah and His redemption and reign in manifest glory, when they shall bow in faith who are still unbelieving, and living water issuing from the house eastward shall heal the Dead sea and gird the globe with blessing. See Ezek. 47, and Joel 3:18; and Zech. 14:8, 9 adds that half goes westward: the sign doubtless of universal blessing from the divine centre in that day.
The first chapter of Genesis presents the origin of the world, especially of the earth, sea and land, and its inhabitants, above all of man himself its head and God's representative; then in Gen. 2 the special relations of man with God, with the lower creaturehood, and with woman his counterpart, which necessitates for completeness and accuracy the special divine name of "Jehovah" Elohim. The slighting of these revelations exposes to Atheism or a powerless Theism. Science cannot penetrate the secrets of the beginnings by the confession even of one so self-confident and sceptical as J. S. Mill (in his Logic). The domain of science is either purely abstract or applied to what is already created; but how it came to be is outside its ken. Here in Gen. 10 we are given to survey a fact of immense importance to the government of the earth. The first rise of families into separate nations and tongues, history has utterly failed to indicate, as science fails, in the material realm.
Revelation, as it kept intact two chronological lines in Gen. 5, here too supplies the manifest and invaluable light of God with a special view to His earthly people, followed by the moral cause laid before us in Gen. 11 which brings in (as it ought) the name of Jehovah throughout its earlier paragraph; whereas it only appears exceptionally, though for good reason, in Gen. 10:9. All the lessons and monumental records of all the earth combined are not to be compared for certainty or comprehensiveness with this sacred ethnography, grounded on genealogy, and linked with geography. God gave it by Moses as He alone could. Facts of great weight as to the antediluvians are related in Gen. 4, and, what to some may seem strange, in the family of Cain with religion but without faith. Therein arose city life, arts, and sciences, literary verse, among men who forgot the fall, ignored sin and the Saviour, and strove to embellish the earth into a worldly paradise. As the unity of the race was absolute at the beginning, so it was virtually in Noah after the deluge. The outward progress of mankind must have been all the greater because of their longevity. Whatever it was, the sons of Noah possessed all on their new start. No theory is more fallacious than the pretended ages of stone, bronze, and iron. Men, in their wanderings into rude forest life or other forms of savagery, fell into the circumstances of such facts, which still exist under similar conditions: to generalise them, as successive periods through which all passed, is mere myth, not history.
"And these [are the] generations of Noah's sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth; and sons were born to them after the flood" (Gen. 10:1). This is the true place for such a statement given after Noah's fall and its remarkable consequences; just as the genealogy of Adam's sons followed in Gen. 5 after his sin and that of Cain led to the revealed state of the world before the flood. Noah lived on for centuries after, but is mentioned no more in the history, as Adam disappears after his sin, with Cain's crime leading to Seth given instead of Abel. One Spirit forms the narrative beyond the wisdom of Moses, and in total disproof of incoherent fragments pieced together, least of all at an epoch when all was crumbling to ruin among the chosen people. It was well ordered that none of Noah's sons had children till they emerged from the ark. So Adam became a father only after the fall and expulsion from paradise.
It will be noticed that the order of Noah's sons is now changed. Japheth has the first place, when we come to genealogic survey; and this is even explained when we arrive at the line of Shem (ver. 21), who for spiritual reasons had been uniformly set in that place of honour hitherto, even Ham being other wise put before Japheth. That many Jews, followed by others, should overlook the spirit of scripture, in their zeal for the progenitor of the chosen people, is easily understood; but some weighed the word with more care and less prejudice. So Nachmanides remarks that the enumeration begins with Yapheth, because he is the firstborn. It proceeds with Cham, although the youngest, and reserves Shem to the last, because the narrator wishes to enlarge on the history of his descendants. Rashi also, though admitting the doubtfulness of the phrase, decides similarly from comparing other scriptures:- "From the words of the text I do not clearly know whether the elder applies to Shem or Japheth. But as subsequently we are informed that Shem was one hundred years old and begat Arpachshad two years after the deluge (Gen. 11:10), it follows that Yapheth was the elder. For Noach was five hundred years old when he began to have children, and the deluge took place in the six hundredth year of his age. His eldest son must consequently have been one hundred years old at the time of the deluge; whereas we are expressly informed that Shem did not arrive at that age till two years after the deluge."
We next come to the family of the firstborn. "Sons of Japheth: Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras" (ver. 2).
Here is presented the distinct statement of what scholars have regarded as the greatest triumph of modern research in comparative philology. The Asiatic Society instituted in 1784 at Calcutta gave the great impulse, Sir W. Jones declaring that "no philologer could examine the Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which perhaps no longer exists. There is a similar reason, though not quite so forcible, for supposing that both the Gothic and Celtic had the same origin with the Sanskrit. The old Persian may be added to the same family." Long after this scholars were still incredulous, clinging to the heathen notion of aboriginal races with their respective tongues, modified by the thought of a Hebrew primaeval source. Hence, in his prejudice for the honour of Greek and Latin, so cultivated and able a person as the late Professor Dugald Stewart (Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind, iii. 100-137) denied the reality of Sanskrit as a tongue of the past! and imputed its forgery! to unprincipled Brahmans whom he supposed to have founded it on the model of the old classic languages to deceive the world. F. Schlegel however, though more a genius than a scholar, had scanned the secret early in the century when he gave the name Indo-Germanic to the Aryan tongues of ancient Persia (the Zend), Greece, Italy, and Germany. He might have included quite as surely Celtic, Scandinavian, and Sclavonian under the wider generalisation of Indo-European. They were the tongues of the Japhetic or, as moderns speak, the Aryan families. It was the task of Franz Bopp to set the matter on a sound basis of proof, not only in his essay of 1816 and others, but in his Comparative Grammar of 1833-1852. Others, as Eugène Burnouf in France and Max. Müller in this country, have contributed not a little since.
Now if the Mosaic account had been given its just place, the fact would have been known all through, which is far more simple and to the believer more authoritative than inferences ever so plain and sure drawn from the comparison of these many languages. For it became evident that Sanskrit, old as it may be, is no more the parent of these tongues than Greek, but that they were all sisters, derived from a language earlier than any of them. Thus the tongues were seen to have a family relationship no less than the races of mankind; and phonetic changes follow according to observed principle instead of the more obvious derivatory resemblance. That they had (as Sanskrit proved) in the east a common source was for the learned a recent discovery. But in our verse we are told authoritatively that Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras were sons of Japheth. Thus were they all linked together, dialectically distinct, but of common origin. Nor is it difficult to distinguish those races in general.
Thus Gomer embraces the Cimbri, or the more modern Kelts, who appear to have come first of the Aryan family to Europe from their early seat in the north of India. At one time they had a considerable hold on northern Italy, as well as Spain, Switzerland, the Tyrol, and south of the Danube; but Belgium, Britain, Gaul, were long their own; and even now the Welsh and the Breton dialects (and till recently the Cornish) attest the fact, as also the closely related Erse, Gaelic, and Manx. It was a body of marauders from Gaul, chiefly the three tribes of Tectosages, Tolistobogii, and Trocmi, who overran Asia Minor and gave their name to Galatia where they settled: a consideration not without considerable interest to those who weigh the Epistle addressed to them by the apostle Paul. They seem to have migrated to Asia Minor on their route to Europe, before this final return and settlement for some in that quarter.
Next, Magog (cf. Ezek. 38:2) quite as certainly is identified with the land we call Russia (a name derived from the river Volga, called Greek Ῥᾶ, as Ῥῶς is their Greek title). To these must add Meshech and Tubal, races long known as Moschi and Tibareni: these are the Muskai and the Tuplai of the Assyrian inscriptions, who find their representatives in Moscow and Tobolsk. This is the Sclavonian branch.
Madai again is the unchanged name for the Medes and their country, with whom was the Persian race or Parsec, though Elam was Shemitic. Even to this day, the Persian tongue, though debased by Arabic importations, is essentially Aryan, as the older language, the Zend, was exclusively, and of course closely akin to Sanskrit.
Javan also is the proper Hebrew for Greece, as in Daniel 8 where we hear of the Medes and Persians. The less may be said as here no question can be. Details will follow in due course which confirm the general fact.
There remains but Tiras, which from the likeness of the name has been generally believed to mean the representative of the Thracians. Though they lacked cohesion and persevering purpose and so made little mark politically, it is well to remember that Herodotus set them next to the Indians as the most considerable nation in his day. The absence of the vowel "i" may be accounted for by its subscription in the Greek term. Still the question cannot be said to be settled, like all the others which precede.
The learning of the Greek was at fault at least as much as the tradition of the Jew. Scripture had not been weighed or trusted by either. And when the discovery of Sanskrit came, the issue was so startling that the erudite at first recoiled from that which not only brought in larger views, but shook to its foundations much they had been building up. The method of derivation alone had been trusted; whereas the newly ascertained facts pointed to parallel descents from a common parent in at least six great lines with their modern offspring. But this so revolutionised the entire groundwork as to show that erudition had been on a false scent, especially as to the inflexions and the conjugations of tongues ever so distant locally, which indicate affinity far more surely and thoroughly than isolated words. K. O. Müller was one of the first seriously to own the old position embarrassing; and G. Hermann before him had written sarcastically of those who sought light from "a sort of aurora borealis, reflecting the gleams of eastern illumination, and who, betaking themselves to the Brahmans and Ulphilas, endeavoured to explain Greek and Latin by the help of languages which they only half understood." K. A. Lobeck carried on the war in his celebrated works, Aglaophamus (1829), Paralipomena (1837) and Pathologia (1843), as Ellendt did in the Preface to his Lex. Sophocl. (1835). Yet the truth remains that God marks certain families of language in the great dispersion, and that with their specified differences they give sure evidence of a common kindred. The same grammatical framework belongs to them; and it differs totally too from that of the Shemitic tongues; as the varied Turanian group differs in this from them both.
The Jews, as is known, assign to Cush (translated Ethiopia ordinarily) not only his African seat but the opposite coast of Arabia and the southern shore of Asia generally into India. And this is well founded. But Arabia received also a large Shemitic population which gave character to their language; and this as we shall see not only from Joktan, Eber's son, but from Jokshan, Abraham's son by Keturah, and from Ishmael's twelve sons, with some of Esau's descendants. Even Homer (Od. ii. 23, 24) speaks of Ethiopians as divided into two parts, the most distant of men, some at the setting sun, and some at the rising. It was a Turanian race, which included the Turks, but not the Armenians who were rightly given to Japheth. But the Jews seem never to have realised the fact that the ancient Persian tongue (Zend) and that of northern and central India (Sanskrit) yield the fullest indication of Japhetic origin.
Of Japheth's sons two only have their descendants specified, Gomer the head of the Kelts, and Javan, from whom came the Hellenic-Italian races.
"And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah" (ver. 3).
Jeremiah (Jer. 51:27) introduces Ashkenaz as one of three kingdoms set apart and called together with Ararat and Minni against Babylon, when the kings of the Medes also played their decisive part. There seems no sound reason to doubt that as Ararat and Minni were parts of Armenia, here as elsewhere falling under Togarmah, so Ashkenaz and Riphath occupied the peninsula of Asia Minor at that time and took their place with Cyrus the leader of these races during that notable struggle. But this in no way weakens the general fact that Gomer pushed westward and into Europe, allowing that at least Togarmah settled in Armenia.* For this is as sure as any fact of history; and scripture is decisive as to it, not only in the past, but for the future.
*It is generally accepted that Armenia is Har-minni," the mountains of Minni," though Ararat and Minni were distinct localities. Togarmah, being the name of the race, included all the land.
For instance, Ezek. 38 beyond doubt unveils the judgment of Russia at the end of this age, and lets us see its supporters compelled to follow and share the general ruin. Among those of the north are Gomer and all his hordes, and the house of Togarmah from the uttermost north and all his, as well as the southern races of Persia, Cush, and Phut under the same influence.
It is quite unfounded to pretend that this vast confederacy of the nations (or its overwhelming destruction) applies to any action under the Seleucidae, any more than the then state of the Jews in the land agrees. For it is clear that Israel previously has been brought back from the sword, gathered out of many peoples, and that they are dwelling in safety, though in a land of unwalled villages, having neither bars nor gates. Again, the position is made all the plainer by taking into account the two preceding chapters, Jer. 36 and Jer. 37. The prophet in the first declares that Jehovah will call them from among the nations, and gather them out of all the countries, and bring them into their own land. This restoration is to have a national completeness and a holy character beyond all precedent. "And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your uncleannesses and from all your idols will I cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and keep mine, ordinances, and ye shall do them. So ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God."
This new and mighty work of divine grace for Israel is clearly seen to be confirmed symbolically in the next: Jer. 37, where we see the valley of dry bones caused to live and stand up, an exceeding great army; then, under the two sticks made one in Jehovah's hand, the old rent of the divided tribes completely healed, and one nation made on the mountains of Israel with one king to them, as has never been since the days of Rehoboam. "And they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all. And they shall not any more defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; and I will save them out of all their dwelling-places wherein they have sinned; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd; and they shall walk in my ordinances, and keep my statutes and do them." It is a bright and blessed prediction awaiting its fulfilment. In these circumstances will Gog lead his vassal hordes to perish signally on the mountains of Israel, and a fire shall also be sent on Magog and those that dwell at ease in the isles; and they shall know Who it is that thus judges them in the day that all Israel shall be gathered out of the nations into their own land, none to be left any more there.
The Rabbins have it that Ashkenaz subsequently migrated into that part of Europe which was afterward called Germany. And a learned German who has devoted much research to the details of this chapter comes to the same conclusion. But the evidence is far from being clear, though all agree that the Teutons are Japhetic and of Gomer. Herodotus indeed (i. 125) tells us of the Germanioi. as with other tribes an agricultural class, not pastoral like several, and distinct from the princely and noble, into which the ancient Persians were divided. It is probable that they were at any rate connected with Carmania, the modern Kirman, as Mr. W. S. Vaux suggests; so Agatharcides (Mar. Erythr. 27, Hudson) and Strabo (xiv. 723) use the name of Germania, for what Diodorus (xviii. 6) calls Carmania. But it seems only a curious coincidence. Besides, of old, "Germans" was not the name the Teutonic family gave themselves, but from without. Far less is the ground for applying Riphath to Great Britain as some have done, or to the Rhipaean mountains (in all probability a geographical dream of the ancient Greeks), though here again the rationalist coalesces with the Jewish doctors and labours to find in the Carpathian range a temporary seat for the Kelts or Gaels. But there is no good reason for doubting that those we call Germans were of Gomer, no less than the Kelts,
We have now to offer such explanation as we can on another branch of the Japhetic race. It may be premised that they come next after Madai. Of this last we have no details; only indeed of Gomer's sons, as now of Javan's, the. Keltic and the Italo-Hellenic, families respectively.
It has been already shown briefly on ver. 2 that Javan represents Greece. Ionia however, or Ionis, answers most nearly to the Hebrew name, a narrow district in Asia Minor, of which Greek colonies are said to have possessed themselves more than a thousand years B.C., some time after the Dorian conquest of Peloponnesus, and even after their advance toward Attica (Müller's Dorians, ii. 511, Tufnell and Lewis' Tr. 1830). Not only was Ionia remarkable for its commercial prosperity, but for excellence in art and poetry, in history and philosophy, before the mother-country attained any eminence in these pursuits (Smith's Dict. of Gr. and R. Geography, ii. 61, col. 1). Ezekiel 27:13 speaks of Javan among the traffickers with Tyre: only we must distinguish from it Javan of Uzal in ver. 19, which seems to mean the capital town of Yemen or Arabia Felix. But those who migrated here and elsewhere were the race who long before were in Attica and in part of the Peloponnesus. Of course none can wonder at varied forms of mythical genealogy; but the fact is certain of the early predominance of the Ionian name, as Moses here gives it, for a general description of Greece (Thirlwall's Hist. i. 134). In fact Greece is so designated from Gen. 10 to Zech. 9. Homer in Il. xiii. 685, Aeschylus, in Pers. 176, 568, 948 and Suppl. 72, employ a word that approximates to the Hebrew term.
"And the sons of Javan, Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim" (ver. 4)*
* Dathe renders the verse, "Graecorum coloniae sunt Elis, Tartessus, Italia et Dodanaei," seen since this paper was written.
As Javan unquestionably answers to the Greeks in general and is represented in the Ionian race particularly, it is acknowledged that Elishah also belongs to that people. Ezekiel 27:7 helps us to the conclusion that the isles or maritime parts pertained to his lot. Josephus applied the name to the Aeolians, as others to Hellas (which was adopted by J. D. Michaelis, Spicil. i. 79). But Bochart preferred the Peloponnesus as an extension of Elis. The commerce with Tyre points to the islands as well as to the Morea.*
* We may compare with this what the late Bp. of St. David's gives as a note to his Hist. of Greece, i. 40. "Welcker, Ueber eine Kretische Kolonie in Theben, p. 30, observes that Πελασγοὶ or Πελάγονες (for Πέλαγοι), signifying the illustrious, is most probably only another form of Ἕλλοπες and Πέλοψ; and, having illustrated his proposition by a number of examples, concludes with the remark: 'Hence it appears that the forms, Ἕλος, Ἕλλος, Ἕλλην, Ἕλαξ, Ἕλακος or Ἕλαγος (in Πελάγων, as well as in Σέλαγος, in Crete Σάλαγος, Paus. viii. 4, 8.) and have all one origin.'" The Hebrew name corresponding is more certainly Elishah, the eldest of Javan's sons, as we may add. Indeed Αἰολις, Αἰολεύς, κ. τ. λ. would seem to be but another class or form of the same fruitful stock; which, like the foregoing, Greek imagination personified, and developed into a variety of poetic myths. In scripture we have nothing but the simple and solid truth, as far as it fell in with the divine design to give it, in carrying out His plans for the earth, of which Israel will ever be found to be the centre, save in the abnormal state when through their apostasy they became Lo-Ammi as they are still.
Tarshish follows; and here it appears that we need not doubt an original settlement on the south shore of Spain, where also the Phoenicians later had factories, and whence by their ships they brought to Tyre silver, iron, tin, and lead, as Ezek. 27:12 informs us. The ships of Tarshish were the most famous for merchandise in ancient times. Ps. 72:10 is of itself sufficient to indicate a considerable stretch of country, not merely the well-known city of Tartessus at the mouth of the Baetis (or Guadalquiver). There is no valid ground to doubt that this was the region to which Javan's second son gave the name. There may have been another place so called in the south east or Indian ocean, to which Solomon's ships sailed from Ezion-Geber (cf. 1 Kings 9:26, 2 Chron. 9:21). For we have no ground to suppose the route round Africa by the Cape of Good Hope was then known; nor, if it were, could the south of Spain supply ivory, and asses, and peacocks, which point rather to India or Ceylon. Tarsus in Cilicia, which Josephus conjectured, in no way meets what is said in the references of scripture.
There is no difficulty as to Kittim, which is a term beyond controversy applied to two of the peninsulas of Europe, first Greece [or Macedon], then Rome or Italy. So the writer of Maccabees speaks of Greece (chaps. i. 1, viii. 5); as Dan. 11:30 is decisive as to Rome. So in the prophecy of Balaam (Num. 24:24) we learn of a fleet from the west afflicting Asshur, when all man's power comes to destruction. In Jer. 3:10 and Ezek. 28:6 we hear of the "isles" or sea-coasts of Kittim; which can hardly mean Cyprus, as understood Josephus and many since his day, though Gesenius approved. He allows however that a wider signification is called for as in not a few Scriptures here cited.
Dodanim remains, which some, from the similarity of sound it seems, would connect with the famous Dodona in Epirus; but the celebrity of an ancient oracle would scarcely give warrant for a place in this chapter. There is another reading which appears in 1 Chron. 1:7, and Rhodians have been thought to correspond with it. The Sept. has the same people for Dedan in Ezek. 27:15, which is assuredly an error. The learned Bochart suggests the Rhone, at whose mouth was an ancient Greek colony and emporium. More than one Targum understood the common reading of the Dardans; and Gesenius inclines to this view in his Monumenta Phoen. 432 and Thes. LL. Heb. and Ch. 1266. It was a branch of the widely spread Pelasgic stock. Curiously enough Strabo (vii.) preserves a fragment of Hesiod, of Dodona as a seat of the Pelasgians. See also Hes. Goettl, ed, alt. 295,
The general summary of the Japhetic distribution is given in the closing verse 5: "From these were separated the isles (or, maritime districts) of the nations in their lands, each (man) after his tongue, after their families, in their nations."
Of the seven sons of Japheth, we have the descendants of but two, Gomer and Javan; from Gomer, three, and from Javan, four; seven only specified of the second generation, as of the first. That Magog and Madai had sons cannot be doubted, for we hear of their posterity to the latest times as well as of Tubal and Meshech; and as little can we doubt of Tiras. But it did not here fall within the design to give details of more. The prophets speak of others who sprung from these early forefathers to figure in the latter day. It is clear also that the order of time is not in question here; for in the following chapter difference of tongues is shown to have been imposed suddenly by a divine act of judgment, only after the project of building a city and tower, and thus making themselves a name. Our chapter therefore anticipates what is historically set out in what follows, and so speaks of the sons of Japhet distributing their seats of settlement, as it does of the Hamite race and the Shemitic in their respective places. On the other hand the "dividing" of the earth in the days of Peleg (chap. 10:25) should be distinguished. Dispersion preceded: a different term is employed in the Hebrew, as there ought to be in the translation. The isles are said here to be "separated," as the earth there is "divided." The orderly partition followed the confused dispersion.
Hence in Deut. 32:8 we read,
When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,
When He separated the sons of Adam,
He set the bounds of the peoples
According to the number of the sons of Israel.
Israel is thus declared to be His earthly centre, though as yet we see not His glorious plan, which the prophets fully disclose. Hitherto no more appears than a passing but instructive shadow under David and Solomon, even these bringing in seeds of ruin, with occasional glimpses of better things in such as Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and Josiah, but as a whole gradual yet sure downfall till "there was no remedy," and the chosen people were by reason of their apostasy branded as Lo-ammi, Not-My-people. And so they are from the Babylonish captivity to this day. A remnant of Judah was according to prophecy restored to the land by Cyrus; and a further test of the first man followed, no longer under the failing sons of David, but in the presentation to them of Messiah Himself, the Righteous Servant. But those who had wholly broken down in violating God's law and even in persistent departure after false gods to their shame by the renunciation of one Jehovah, their only true God, proved themselves yet more inexcusably His enemies and the slaves of Satan by rejecting His anointed, though according to flesh of Israel — of Judah — He was, Who is over all, God blessed for ever, Amen. But Him they crucified in blind hostile unbelief by the hand of lawless men, and therefore are they dispersed to the ends of the earth. Beauty and Bands are severally both cut asunder.
But the cross of Christ in the wondrous wisdom of God is made His basis for the counsels of His grace, and the display of His righteousness, and the bringing out of His heavenly purpose, the hidden mystery or secret concerning Christ and concerning the church. For He is now in glory made Head, not merely over Israel or even all nations too, but over the universe, expressly over all things that are in the heavens and that are on the earth; and the church is united to Him as the Head of that one body which is soon to share His heavenly and universal glory. Yet shall the Jews, purged by disciplinary judgments, be brought to His feet, and see Him as their Deliverer Whom once they pierced, and all Israel be saved in God's mercy, to make good His plans, laid down from the first, accomplished at the last, to bless all the families of the earth, and fill it with the glory of Jehovah, and with the knowledge of it and of Him, as the waters cover the sea. So little is this chapter to be counted dry or unedifying; for barren as it may seem now, what fruit of righteousness shall be in that day through Jesus Christ unto God's glory and praise!
At present God is working in the gospel, and in the church, but it is for His heavenly purpose in Christ, Whose members suffer with Him and wait for Him. The sole dispensation now as to the kingdom is of the heavens in its mysterious form, While the earth-rejected King sits at God's right hand on high. He must come and appear. in glory to bring in the manifested kingdom, which alone the prophets predicted, when the daughter of Jerusalem shall have the first dominion here below, as Micah declared. Then, when the heavenly counsels have been completed, shall Jehovah make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: not according to the former Levitical one which they broke; but He will put His law in their inwards and write it in their heart, and He be their God, and they His people. Then, and not till then, shall Jerusalem be the throne of Jehovah; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of Jehovah, to Jerusalem; and they shall no more walk after the stubbornness of their evil heart. Instead of taking out of the nations a people for His name, as God is doing now by the gospel and in the church, the day will have come to destroy in the mountain of His holiness the face of the veil which veileth all the peoples, and the covering that is spread over all the nations. For Jehovah of hosts shall reign on mount Zion and in Jerusalem and before His ancients in glory: a state in strong and manifest contrast with all that goes on now, whether we think of God or man, of heaven or earth.
The word usually rendered "isles" not only admits of an application to coast-lands also (as to the Greek, Italian, Spanish, and Scandinavian peninsulas), but to settlements or habitations wider still, as Gesenius contends with ample consent of the more learned modern Jews; and such is the version of de Sola, Lindenthal, and Raphall in this verse. Again, the division is marked by four particulars: their lands, the tongue spoken, their family descents, and the resulting nation.
We shall see from Gen. 11 how little man's will had to do with the distribution. Here we have simply but clearly the fact. It was quite a new thing on earth, not only unprecedented before the deluge, but the very opposite was man's purpose after it; so that the replenishing of the earth could not but seem distant indeed, however fruitful Noah's sons might be. But the God of creation is the God of providence, and He knows how to give effect to His word; and here we have Europe, though not Europe only, the destined scene for the Japhetic line, of all the earth the most varied in contour, the fullest of coast-line as being the most deeply indented, and so the most accessible through its inland seas, and as well the most open to foreign connection. It was exactly suitable for him who was to be enlarged in his activity beyond his brethren. What a contrast with Africa or even Asia, and their more elevated highlands and extensive plateaus!
Yet contrary to this common purpose each country was allotted to its respective race, and in all this startlingly new fact of lands partitioned by families constituting nations, and distinguished by its tongue appears, as we have seen, the line of Japhet, which mainly and in due time settled in Europe. The remembrance of the deluge would not dispose men to separate. But God meant it to be, and so it was: one race of Adam, but with all the variety into which the several stocks were to divide and replenish the earth. And the immediate occasion was the opposing determination of man, and the practical end for which they united, as the history relates afterward, along with the simple and effectual way in which God confounded their vain and selfish purpose and accomplished His own.
Nor was the earth itself externally out of harmony with God's mind about man, but adjusted in general to his use who was to eat bread in the sweat of his face, and especially to the new condition, fitted to their separate life as nations with mountain barriers and river boundaries, till man's enterprise made even the seas the ready means of intercourse, commerce, and conquest.
Thus also the principle of government, which God laid on Noah and his sons, was to prove its great practical value, as its control could now be brought to bear far more readily when men were distinguished in their nations. If it was a fresh start for the race, it was not under one man, Adam. The post-diluvian earth began with three sons of Noah, and their three wives, besides Noah and his wife, all of them inheriting whatever was known and learnt in the long era before the deluge. Agriculture and live stocking were long familiar, city as well as tent life had begun, forging of copper and iron for instruments of every sort, with musical instruments for wind and hand, and metrical composition, from very early days. Since the flood God had entrusted to man's hand the responsibility of the civil sword (Gen. 9:6), the root of government in restraint of human violence which includes the lesser rights in the greatest; and this well suited to the national bond of each independent nation which was now commencing. Families of course had been before in the midst of an undivided race. Henceforth in the new state of things they take their place in their lands by the lesser relation of their nations, each welded together by that tongue which severed him from others of different descent and locality, with their own associations and their independent interests and aims.
The importance, as well as the permanence, of this new condition of humanity will be felt all the more by comparing the prophecies of the O.T. and the Revelation of the New. In the former may be identified the descendants of the Japhetic line as well as those to follow of Ham and Shem. In the others, when the heavenly saints are transferred to their proper home on high, the question of the earth is raised and we hear of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, out of which the Lamb purchased saints to God by His blood, and the ensuing conflict for the inheritance here below. For Christ, the Son, is alone Heir of all things, and the day hastens when His rights shall be asserted with indisputable power.
The Holy Spirit now brings before us in a general way the descendants of Ham or Chain. As there seems prophetic significance in the name of Japheth ("may he spread"), and it was expressly claimed for Noah in Gen. 5:29, there appears to be also in that of his younger son, which means "warm" or hot, and so "dark" or black.
"And the sons of Ham, Cush and Mizraim and Phut and Canaan" (ver. 6).
The prominent fact that strikes one here is that this is the branch of mankind which after the deluge distinguished itself by the earliest and most vigorous civilization; and this not in an isolated instance, but alike in Asia and in Africa. Scripture attests the truth; and even rationalism, though ever hostile, cannot dispute it. But along with material progress another characteristic is no less marked: the degradation of the race, their fall into ways and habits of savagery. Phut illustrates this as distinctly as Cush and Mizraim and Canaan showed themselves in different respects pioneers of earthly progress.
However opposite, both are effects of departure from God. In an unfallen earth and the innocence of man, there was room for neither the savage nor the civilised state. No dream of unbelieving poets is more remote from the truth than the pictures they have drawn of early human beings unable as yet to converse, and subsisting on acorns, wild fruits, edible roots scooped with difficulty out of the reluctant earth; at length imitating the birds, or rising from ejaculations, to express wants and feelings. Then in the course of time, instead of wandering after precarious food, some conceive the idea of collecting seeds, and cultivating their growth in patches cleared from the forest or brushwood; others, again, betake themselves to the chace, and so provide food and clothing for themselves, and begin also to barter with those that tilled the earth, who bethought them too of rearing the animals capable of domestication in order to their supply or exchange. Later in time rude huts and ruder rafts or canoes were made for land and water and with the long awaited social life villages and towns would arise and give birth to the useful arts in their variety, and to the unlimited refinements of life.
We have already seen how the inspired history contradicts this fanciful scheme. In God's account of man sinless in the paradise of Eden we see our first parents surrounded by every good thing, endowed with mind and moral feelings as well as speech, with a given sphere for activity, and placed under a defined responsibility to the only true God Whose presence and intercourse they enjoyed, and Who thus blessed them whom He tried as bound to obedience under penalty of death. It was a state of natural blessings enjoyed with thanksgiving to Him Who gave them. Alas! they disobeyed Jehovah Elohim, and were expelled from their earthly paradise, but not without a fresh revelation suited in God's mercy to their fallen condition, and directing their hearts to a Deliverer. He from the nature of the case could not but be divine, yet One Who in some wondrous way must be human also, to suffer indeed but to triumph over the mighty and subtle foe — the bruised Seed of woman to bruise the Serpent's head. Alone, with this hope did Jehovah Elohim clothe them with coats of skin — with that which had its origin in death: a thing suggestive, especially in connection with the revelation then given, of grave but comforting assurance to guilty man, in lieu of a merely natural device in vain adopted to cover their nakedness.
But it is equally sure, according to scripture, that the arts of civilisation began and were developed in that family which rejected God's revelation for nature; which resented His disapproval and vented hatred on the believing brother, as righteous as Cain was not; and which in despair and defiance betook themselves out of a bad conscience and its fears to civic life in its cradle, and sought to make, if not a paradise, a substitute for it in the elegant arts and letters that embellish society. This is surely civilisation in the germ; and we see it in Cain's line from the earliest age ever expanding, and recounted for our serious thought in Genesis 4. To impute its rise or progress to revelation is what none could do who reads believingly.
It is no less plain that Ham and his sons are as marked after the deluge by their progress in civilisation, as by the degeneracy into barbarism. To this, war would naturally expose the sufferers from superior power, fleeing into distant lands and forgetting at length what had once been familiar in the new sphere where they sought liberty.
Of Ham's sons Cush has the first place. According to scripture that stock settled in lands the most remote. There is without doubt an Asiatic as well as an African Cush. Gen. 2:13 presents its difficulty, but it would seem to be anticipative like Havilah and Assyria; for it is certain that till the flood there was no actual settlement of lands in their nations. But we know from our chapter that a notable departure was first taken by one of the Cushite descent to possess himself of power by usurpation, and this not in Africa but in the plain of Shinar, of which there are details to follow. It was certainly not after their arrival in Africa that this ambitious movement took place, but early in that day of change; and in fact not a few traces exist, philological and historical, of early connection between Ethiopia, Southern Arabia, and the cities on the lower Euphrates, as may be seen in Rawlinson's Herod. i. 442, 443. No one doubts that in general Cush as a country lies beyond higher Egypt; but as a race they settled far more widely, as already pointed out. And this explains more than one passage, which is commonly and altogether misunderstood from not taking the facts into account no less than from holding fast the strict wording of scripture. Thus, Isaiah (Isa. 18:1) says, "Ho! land shadowing with wings, which art beyond the rivers of Cush." It is absurd to infer that this means either Egypt or Ethiopia, any more than Babylonia. The object of the phrase is on the contrary to distinguish the land in question from either those lands or from any within those limits, which had in the past interfered with Israel. It is the prediction, not yet accomplished, of a land beyond the Nile in the south and the Euphrates in the north, which are the rivers of Cush. That unnamed land, described in striking terms as distinctly outside the Gentile powers which had hitherto acted on the chosen people, is to espouse their cause at a future day; but to no good effect, for the nations will oppose, jealous and hostile as of old, just before Jehovah takes up the matter and restores Israel to the place of His name, to Mount Zion. So in Zeph. 3:10 we read, "From beyond the river of Cush my suppliants, the daughter of my dispersed, shall bring my oblation." Egypt or Ethiopia might be described as on one side of Cush, and Babylonia on the other; but Jehovah shall bring His dispersed from lands expressly beyond both.
There is no question as to the identification of Mizraim, and the great magnificence of its civilisation as of the Asiatic Cush in the remotest antiquity. The form of the word in Hebrew is the dual, which some would refer to higher and lower Egypt. However this may be, the context decides that both Cush and Mizraim mean men, and sons of Ham. Ephraim, born in Egypt, has also the dual form, but is none the less surely the name of a man.
Phut or Put exemplifies the more degraded stock of Ham's descendants in Africa, contiguous to Egypt and Ethiopia, and named with one or other at times. But Phut can hardly be the Libyan as A.V. makes out of Jer. 46:9, or Libya as from Ezek. 30:5, and Ezek. 38:5 where it should be Phut as in Ezek. 27:10. The Lubim as in Nahum 3:9 point rather to the Lybians. The very obscurity which covers this African branch of Ham's sons serves to show how low they had fallen.
But Canaan, last named, has the most unenviable place of all, as the early object of curse, and the direst adversary of Israel in the land assigned according to promise: a highly civilised race, but steeped in shameless idolatry and every moral abomination, and therefore given up according to earthly righteousness to extermination, both because they deserved it, and as a safeguard lest Israel should be drawn into like iniquities; as indeed, failing to execute His sentence, they proved to their own sin, shame, and cost. More details we hope to have in due course.
The posterity of Cush we have next, as being Ham's eldest son. "And the sons of Cush, Seba and Havilah and Sabtah and Raamah and Sabtecha. And the sons of Raamah, Sheba and Dedan" (ver. 7; see also 1 Chron. 1:9).
The man Seba gave his name to the country and people afterwards known as Meroë between Ethiopia and Egypt. The ruins of the metropolis also so called are not far from the Nubian tower of Dschendi or Shendy, as Gesenius tells us (Thes. Ll. H. and Ch. ii. 993). Bruce in his travels (See. Ed. v. 317) says, "If we are not to reject entirely the authority of ancient history, the island of Meroe, so famous in the first ages, must be found somewhere between the source of the Nile and this point where the two rivers unite; for of the Nile we are certain, and it seems very clear that the Atbara is the Asaboras of the ancients." In his vol. vi. 445, 446, he confirms the former statement, and gives its latitude as 16 deg. 26 min. for the city, adding that there are four remarkable rivers that contribute to form the island Meroe, the Astusaspes (or Mareb), the Astaboras (or Tacazzé), the Astapus (or White river), and the Nile (or Blue River). It is rather of course a Mesopotamian tract than an island proper; but no one need wonder that it was so called. Strabo (xviii. 823) corrects Diodorus Sic. (i. 23) in that 375 miles would be not the length but the circumference, and 125 miles the diameter. It was rich in mines of gold, copper, iron, and salt; possessed woods of ebony, date-palm, almond-trees, etc., and abounded in pasture-lands and millet fields of double harvest, to say nothing of forests where game and wild beasts were caught.
But its fame was long after the first ages of the Pharaohs; and the derivation (Diodorus Sic., Josephus, etc.), of Meroë from a sister of Cambyses who died during his expedition, is very doubtful. It is rather an adoption from the native designation Meru, which in ancient Egyptian means island, as shown in Smith's Dict. B. iii. 1189. Our Auth. and Rev. Vv. have "Sabeans," in Isa. 45:14, where it should surely be Sebeans (Sebaim), as the country is named with Cush or Ethiopia in Isa. 43:3. In Job 1:15 the error occurs of calling the men of Sheba "Sabeans." Both Sheba and Seba are brought together in Ps. 72:10; and we shall find a Cushite Sheba presently, as well as a Joktanite and a Jokshanite of the Shemitic line later on, both of whom found their settlements in Arabia, not in Africa.
There is far from the same clear evidence as to Havilah, the second son of Cush, and also another of similar name, the twelfth son of Joktan (ver 22). As we know there is a country so called in the account of the rivers of Eden (Gen. 2:11), some have sought it in Colchis or in modern Georgia; or again to the north of Suez (cf. Gen. 25:18; 1 Sam. 15:7). From the scanty references to the Cushite Havilah in scripture, it is not possible to speak with decision; but there is no doubt that they found their way into southern Arabia; and it would seem that the difficulty is increased by their intermingling with the Shemites of the same name, where the district of Khäwlán is supposed to have been theirs. It is well known that Niebuhr the elder says there are two districts of that name (Descr. 270, 280); whence some have inferred one for each of the two races. But the second seems a town rather than another large district. There is more ground to look for the Cushite Havilah in the Avalitae on the African coast S.W. of the straits of Bab-el-Man-deb.
The next son of Cush, Sabtah, is generally thought traceable among the Adramitae on the Red Sea coast of Aden, where we have the modern name of Hadramaut. Cl. Ptolemy and Arrian speak of them, and Pliny the elder (N. H. vi. 32) notices a city, Sabatha, which seems to recall their forefather. It is mentioned by Knobel (in his book on these peoples) that there is a dark race in that quarter though not confined to it, quite different from the ordinary Arab, and pointing to a Hamitic stock.
More distinct is the identification of Raamah, not only through his own name, but in his sons' too. Indeed Ezekiel names father and son as represented long after by the merchants from the eastern coast of Arabia. "The trafficking of Sheba and Raamah, they were thy traffickers; they traded for thy wares with chief of all spices, and with all precious stones and gold" (Ezek. 27:22). These were pre-eminently products of Arabia Felix on the Persian Gulf. It is interesting to observe, as Mr. E. S. Poole points out in Smith's Dict. B. ii. 983, that the LXX. version of our text helps to trace Raamah's name, Ῥεγμά in connection with the same in Ptol. (vi. 7) and with Ῥῆγμα in Steph. Byzant. (de Urb. ed. Berk. 653). Mr. Forster (Arabia, i, 62, 64, 75) thinks that the tribe's name, whether in Ptol. or in Pliny, is drawn from "Rhamanitae," and hence from their progenitor; and he says that Ramah is still the name of a town as well as of a tribe and a district in that region.
Sabtecha is the last-named of Cush's sons, of which scripture makes no mention beyond the genealogical list here and in 1 Chron. 1. Hence we cannot say anything sure, and need not repeat more than Bochart's conjecture that they found their way to Carmania on the Persian shore of the Gulf, and that the name seems changed to the Samydace of Steph. Byzant. In his Thes. Gesenius suggests a yet less probable idea.
Of Sheba and Dedan, sons of Raamah, we may say more when we come to compare them with the same names in the Shemitic line. This only may be noticed that in Ezek. 27 Sheba occurs twice; first, with Raamah in ver. 22, which fixes him as the Cushite in the same part of Arabia; secondly, with Asshur, etc., in ver, 23, which points to the Shemitic line, confirmed by the distinct merchandise of each. In like manner the men of Dedan in Ezek. 27:15 appear to be Cushites on the Persian gulf (where the isle of Dadan perpetuates the name) and with imports and exports accordingly; whereas we have Dedan distinguished in ver. 20, who seem to be Shemitic through Keturah. Compare Ezek. 25:13.
The Jews therefore did not err in assigning to Cush, not only Ethiopia and the contiguous parts in Africa, but the opposite coast of Arabia and the southern shore of Asia generally unto India. But Arabia received also a large Shemitic population, as we shall see, which gave character to their language; and this not only from Joktan, Eber's son early, but from Ishmael's twelve sons, and from Jokshan, Abraham's son still later, with some of Esau's descendants. Even Homer (Od. i. 23, 24) speaks of Ethiopians divided into two parts, the most distant of men, some at the setting sun, and some at the rising. We shall find a Cushite element active early in Babylonia and Africa. It was a Turanian race which included the Turks, but not the Armenians whom they rightly gave to Japhet. But they seem never to have realised that the ancient Persian (Zend) language, and that of northern and central India (Sanskrit), disclose the same Japhetic source.
From the manner in which Nimrod is introduced, it would appear that he was a descendant of Cush rather than son in the strict sense. Why else should he be named after not only the five sons of Cush, but his two grandsons through Raamah?
"And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before Jehovah: wherefore it is said, like Nimrod a mighty hunter before Jehovah. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar" (vers. 8-10).
Nimrod then was assuredly a Cushite. This only it was of moment to communicate, because of a new departure which originated in him. And as we do not hear particulars of his immediate connection beyond that fact, so neither are we told of his descendants. Personal ascendancy is ascribed to him first, which made the brief notice of himself of sufficient interest to turn aside from the hitherto simple tracing of the genealogical lines, the origin of the various races. "He began to be a mighty one in the earth." It was no question of divine appointment or providential succession. His own right hand wrought on his own behalf. The Jews have as usual much to say where scripture is silent, and strive to fill up the outline of truth into a fabulous picture. So do others follow them in this natural propensity, which they represent as hoary tradition; so in Arab astronomy Nimrod is transformed into the constellation Orion, "Giant," in Hebrew "Chesil" (Job 9:9, Job 38:31, Amos 5:8). We need not occupy our readers with the various hypotheses which have been reared on this latter word; but those curious in such speculations can find them in Michaelis' Suppl. ad Lex. Hebr. No. 1192.
But there is nothing mythical in the little that scripture says. Nimrod "began to be a mighty one in the earth." Not so had it been with Abel or Seth, with Enoch or Noah. What they enjoyed was God's gift. They looked for Him Who is coming; Nimrod sought great things for himself like Cain who was the first builder of a city in primeval days, as Nimrod was the first after the deluge, and on a large and repeated scale. Present power was his aim; and God allowed it apparent success.
We are further told that "he was a mighty hunter before Jehovah." There seems no sufficient reason to question that this is meant literally. It made a great impression on his contemporaries, so that his prowess as a hunter became proverbial. "Wherefore it is said, like Nimrod a mighty hunter before Jehovah." It evidently gave him the exercised skill and strength which passed at length into another field of far deeper interest and gravity.
Yet more important is it to note that Nimrod was the first to set at nought the patriarchal headship which hitherto prevailed, as it subsisted elsewhere for ages afterward. His ambition could not be bounded by the chase, and led him from wild beasts to mankind. "And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel." We have to wait for the chapter which follows to see the significance of this fact; and we learn from it and other remarks how little our chapter has to do with chronology. For though it does give the origin of races in their lands and tongues, it intersperses notices by the way which occurred not a little while after; and this episode of Nimrod is one of them.
It was among the Hamitic sons then that a kingdom was first set up among men. God was not in any of Nimrod's thoughts; He was not sought, nor did He give the least direction, in the case. Nimrod conceived the design through his own ambition, and executed it through the force of his will, and the address and skill he had acquired in his hunting. How different the way of Jehovah at a later day! For, when Israel would have a king in imitation of the nations and chose one who served himself, and brought no deliverance even from Philistines within their border who slew him and his sons, He took His servant David from the pasture, from following the sheep, and made him prince over His people, over Israel, to feed them, and assured him that his house and his kingdom should be made firm for ever before him — his throne established for ever.
But the present use made of this is not the perpetuity of that kingdom, secured as it did become in Christ risen, the sure mercies of David; but the beautiful preparation which pleased Jehovah Who chose him lay, as we have seen, in his lowly and tender care of the sheep, in marked contrast with the first king among men who made his mark in the snaring and slaying of wild beasts. The race of man had already proved how little it regarded aged Noah who was not only chief of all the saved from the deluge but set up by God with the sword of magistracy then first committed. And if he had through heedless self-indulgence fallen into an act whose effects put him to grievous shame, what wickedness in any near him to expose him to mockery who had covered all his own through the dangers of the flood! Of this line it was, though not of Canaan's descent, that Nimrod arrogantly set up first a kingdom. Terrible and dreadful we may say, as the prophet said of the Chaldeans, his judgment and his dignity proceeded from himself.
His kingdom Nimrod began with Babel. This is most characteristic. What recked he, if it had begun in impious self-will to centralise mankind in direct opposition to the divine design and command of replenishing the earth? or if it had been abandoned by the builders under a divine judgment which compelled them to scatter abroad upon the face of all the earth? The abandoned city and tower exactly suited his project of a kingdom for himself, not a universal commonwealth. So "the beginning of his kingdom was Babel." And success in his project encouraged him to go forward; "and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar" followed. As there is no doubt about Babylon, there need be as little that Warka (Irka, or Irak), some forty-three miles east of Babylon, answers to Erech, certainly not Gesenius' identification with Aracca on the Tigris, any more than Jerome's notion of Edessa (or Urfah). More weight is due to Jerome's report of Jewish judgment, that Accad was represented by Nisibis, the ancient name of which was Acar (Rosenmüller ii. 29). The Talmud identifies Calneh with Niffer, about sixty miles south-east of Babylon. Here Arab tradition revels abundantly; but their flights of fancy are not worth recounting.
GENESIS 10:11, 12.
The important fact imparted to us, in the verses immediately preceding, we have seen to be the first establishment of royal power in the Cushite Nimrod; and this by force and fraud, transferred from hunting wild beasts to acquiring dominion over mankind for personal aggrandizement. His city building in Babylonia we have also seen, the earliest development of the kind since the deluge. Nor is any architecture more characteristic of race, as Mr. Ferguson has shown, than the massive monumental style of the sons of Ham.
This is confirmed by the true sense of Micah 5:6, where "the land of Assyria" is expressly distinguished from "the land of Nimrod," which last was really the plain of Shinar. They were quite distinct and separated by the Hiddekel or Tigris. In "that land" i.e. Babylonia there were Shemitic and Japhetic elements no less than the Hamitic, which at first was predominant.
It is such an episodical notice as seems to account for the mention in this place of a counter movement on the part of the Shemite Asshur, of whom we read in his due place afterward. A step forward among men naturally finds imitation ere long. And the record of the new policy in the south is followed by that of a similar course in the north as far as the building of cities is concerned, though this may not have been at all contemporary but later than that. Their kindred nature sufficiently explains the mention of both at this point.
"From that land went forth Asshur, and built Nineveh, and Rehoboth-Ir, and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah: this is the great city" (vers. 11, 12). It is not intimated that Asshur was driven out by the Hamitic race, but rather is it inferred from the language that the success of Nimrod set the example, and gave the impulse to a like ambition. How completely Noah's authority (for he still lived) was forgotten by all, is evident by all that is revealed. Patriarchal place yielded to men's thoughts and will.
Of these four cities, the first is beyond any just question. Yet it is late in the history of the world when we hear of Nineveh. Then in the days of Jonah it was a "very great city," according to some of still greater extent than Babylon when the "golden city" rose to its zenith. But human accounts of cities long passed away need to be read with caution, as the chroniclers long after were apt to stray through exaggeration. Still the Biblical intimation of its later existence is of immense extent, vast population, and exceeding splendour. The remains exhumed in our day attest that the words of scripture are here as reliable as everywhere else. Yet we need not conceive anything more when Asshur wrought his work than a little beginning of that which was at length to attain such power and magnificence. This it retained to triumph over the ten tribes of Israel and to menace Judah and David's house, when it received a blow so manifestly divine that it never troubled the holy land again. Ere long it fell never to rise, when God was pleased to bring forward Babylon from a provincial position, though with a king and sometimes independent, to become the mistress of the world, and the captor of the guilty capital and king and people of the Jews.
Rehoboth-Ir appears to be so specified to distinguish it from Rehoboth the Nahar — "of the river." This latter (Gen. 36:37; 1 Chron. 1:48) was unmistakably on the river Euphrates; and in fact the name is still found given to two places on the river, one on the western bank, eight miles below the junction of the Khabûr (Rahabeth, Chesney's Euphr. i. 119, ii. 610), the other with an added name (Rahabeth-Malik), which Gen. Chesney does not notice, but it is given in Mr. Layard's Nineveh, a few miles lower on the eastern bank. Rehoboth-Ir was in Assyria proper. Kaplan, the Jewish geographer, identifies Rehoboth of the river with Rahabeth-Malik, but distinguishes it from Rehoboth-Ir, which he believes to have disappeared (see Smith's Dict. of the Bible, iii. 1026, col. 1). As no trace of this city has as yet commended itself to any explorer, it may be worth naming, that Jerome, not only in the Vulgate but in his works (Quaest. ad Genesim), gives it as his opinion that it was part of what became Nineveh, meaning "the streets of the city" (i.e. plateas civitatis), This is a mere conjecture, which may be cleared up by better knowledge.
But Calah was too important a city to be so easily hidden. This the Septuagint renders Χαλάχ, and distinguishes from Halah in 2 Kings 17:6, 18:2, and 1 Chron. 5:26, rendered Ἀλαέ Chesney (i. 22, 119) appears to accept Sir H. Rawlinson's identification of Calah with the ruins of Holwáa, situated near the river Diyálah, and about 130 miles east of Baghdad. If so, it is now Sar. púli Zohab on the slopes of the Zagros, and in the high road leading from Baghdad to Kirmán Sháh, vol. ix. 36 of Royal Geogr. Journal (Chesney ii. 25). It seems once to have been the capital of the empire, the residence of Sardanapalus and others, till Sargon built a new capital on the site of what is now called Khorsabad. But it still retained importance till the empire fell.
Resen has been by some identified with the Ῥέσινα of Steph. Byz and Ptol. (Geog. v. 18); this, however, was not in Assyria, but far west. Bochart (Geog. Sac. iv. 28) suggested the Larissa of Xenophon (Anab. iii. 4, §7) which call hardly be doubted to correspond with the remarkable ruins now called Nimrud. Mr. Rawlinson leans to the view that these ruins answer to Calah, and that Resen, therefore, lay between that city and Nineveh, and that its ruins are near the Selaimyeh of modern times, and cuneiform inscriptions at Nimrud give Culach as the Assyrian name of the place. This tends to support the claim of Calah rather than of Resen.
GENESIS 10:13, 14.
Let us now look a little into the family of Mitzraim. "And Mitzraim begot the Ludim and the Anamim and the Lehabim and the Naphtuhim and the Pathrusim and the Casluhim (out of whom came the Philistines) and the Caphtorim" (vers. 13, 14). So it is also in 1 Chron. 1:11, 12.
As there was a Shemite Lud (ver. 22), it is important to distinguish from him, the ancestor of the well-known Lydian race in the west of Asia Minor, those descended from Mitzraim, who spread themselves west of the Nile. They were archers as we learn from Isa. 66:19, and Jer. 46:9, where the African people seem enumerated and so described. It would appear to be the same in Ezek. 27:10, and in Ezek. 30:4, 5 also. In the Auth. V. of Jer. 46 is given the word "Lydians," as in Ezek. 30 "Lydia." This conveys the impression that our translators probably understood the Asiatic people. But there ought not to be a doubt that they were African.
We next hear of the Anamim, of whom nothing more is said in the Bible than in the two genealogical lists. It may perhaps be gathered, from comparison with the names which follow, that they were a race that settled in the Delta of Egypt. But it must be allowed that no reliable trace is known either in the ancient Geographers, or in the monuments hitherto deciphered. Here we have the unfailing record of God, Who alone saw the end from the beginning and has been pleased to communicate to us the truth otherwise unnoticed. The judgment of the habitable earth in a day which approaches will prove that the races are not extinct.
The Lehabim, called also Lubim in 2 Chron. 12:3, 2 Chron. 16:8, with the people called Phut, or Put, (if not Pul, as in Isa. 66:19), answer to the ancient Lybians; save indeed that the ordinary usage of Lybia in olden time is vague, and extends far and wide to almost all Africa west of the Nile. The Phut of scripture apparently corresponds with the hieroglyphic bow, or Pet. This is also applied to a people, or rather confederacy of peoples, conquered by Egypt, and called "the Bows," or "Nine Bows," Na-Petu, though Brugsch understands simply "the Nine Peoples." This would seem to connect itself with the Naphtuhim immediately following the Lehabim, who are the same as the Lebu or Rebu of the Egyptian inscriptions, as Mr. R. S. Poole has shown, the Libyans proper. The A.V. renders Phut the Libyans" in Jer. 49:2 ("handling the shield") distinguished from the Lydians, or Ludim ("handling and bending the bow"); and in Ezek. 38:5 "Libya," again marked with other powers by the "shield." In Nahum 3:9 we see Phut and the Lubim helpers of No-Amon (the god Amon of No, or Thebes of Upper Egypt), the ruins of which, in spite of Cush and Mitzraim, is set by the prophet as a warning to Nineveh. Again, and bearing on what is still future, we are told that when the last king of the north subdues and spoils Egypt, the Lubim and Cush shall be at his steps, though Edom and Moab and the chief of the children of Ammon shall be delivered out of his hands.
What plainer proof can there be to the believer that these races are yet abiding and to take their part in the great catastrophe of the latter day? The reign of Antiochus Epiphanes, directly or indirectly, did not extend beyond Dan. 11:31, 32. That which we have pointed out is after the great break of ver. 35, and expressly supposes the renewal of the two powers of the north and the south, when "the king," the lawless one, is in "the land" between them "at the time of the end." Thus that time is as clearly future as sure. Compare Isa. 11:14, which not only confirms the fact of tie old cognate but hostile races on the borders of the land, but declares their final subjection to Israel under Messiah "in that day."
Of the Naphtuhim a little has been already said when speaking of the Lubim. More is given in scripture respecting the next name of Pathrusim. From Isa. 11:11 Pathros as distinguished from Egypt would seem to be the upper part of the land. Ezek. 29:14, 30:13-18 are supposed to point at the Thebais the desolation which the prophet declared should overtake all the land. The chief difficulty is, that Jeremiah speaks of Pathros (44:1) in connection with cities in Lower Egypt, and in a yet more. general way later on (ver. 15). But there does not appear in the group anything so decided as to set aside our referring Pathros to the land farther south.
There remain the "Casluhim (out of whom or whence came the Philistines) and the Caphtorim." These races can hardly be doubted to have occupied the Delta before the Philistine migration to the Shephelah. Some suggest here a transposition; as Deut. 2:23, Jer. 47:4, Amos 9:7, expressly connect the Philistine immigrants with the Caphtorim. Pusey, commenting on the last of these scriptures, inclines to the conclusion, that there were different immigrations of the same tribe into Palestine (as of Danes and Saxons into England, where they all merged into one common name). The first day have been from the Casluhim; the second in time but chief in importance from the Caphtorim; and a third of Kerethim (probably from Crete) in the era of the Judges added but a little to their strength (1 Sam. 30:14-16). Of these last, Cherethites and Pelethites figure as lifeguards of King David, foreigners like the Gittites.
It is plain and certain that the architecture, whether of temples or of palaces, the sculpture and painting, and the various other monuments of Egypt for living or dead bear, like its original language, the marks of extreme antiquity and of, high civilisation. Idolatry flaunts us everywhere, but as Heeren remarks (African Nations, ii. 271, Oxford Talboys, 1832), "The first idea which presents itself from a view of these monuments must be that Thebes [the No, or No-Amon, of Scripture] was once the capital of a mighty empire, whose boundaries extended far beyond Egypt, which at some distant period comprised a great part of Africa, and an equally large portion of Asia. Her kings are represented as victors and conquerors; and the scene of their glory is not confined to Egypt, but often carried to remote regions. Prisoners of distant nations bow the knee before the conquerors, and count themselves happy if they can obtain their pardon . . . . This is further confirmed by the many examples which evince the refinement of domestic life, and the degree of luxury to which the people had arrived. The narrow valley of the Nile could not supply all the articles, such as costly garments, perfumes, etc., which we find here represented. An extensive commerce was requisite, not only to obtain all this, but also to produce that opulence, and that interchange of ideas, which constitute its foundation." Denon (Voy. dans la basse et haute Egypte, 1802), the great French Government work (Description de l'Egypte, 1811, 1815), Hamilton (Remarks etc. 1809), Belzoni (Narrative etc. 1822), Minutoli (Travels, 1824), and both series of Sir G. Wilkinson's Ancient Egyptians are the chief modern authorities.
The youngest branch of the Hamitic race now comes before us, already branded with curse (Gen. 9:25), and a bondman of bondmen to his brethren. Yet no doom long seemed more unlikely. They were enterprising beyond any, and no more disposed to tarry at home than the sons of Cush. Who spread themselves abroad as they? Canaan, who naturally gave the general designation, had a more special application to the "lowlanders" of the country. They are carefully pointed out as races. which possessed themselves of the land destined for Israel. As the song of Moses so forcibly expresses it (Deut. 32:8), "When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel. For Jehovah's portion is his people, Jacob is the lot of his inheritance."
This is a revelation of the highest importance for God's government of the world. Men willingly forget that the times of the Gentiles are in this quite abnormal. For He has no direct government of the earth, only providential, during their course. The only time when He governed immediately was when Israel afforded its theatre. To this end He chose the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as His people, and gave them the land of promise from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates. To Israel He made Himself known as Jehovah, the one living and true God, as He had to their pilgrim fathers as the Almighty God. But through the self-confidence of unbelief they forgot their redemption from Egypt and their preservation in the wilderness up to Sinai, all of grace; and then accepted law as their condition at Sinai, instead of pleading the promise. Hence their history became a history of sin and ruin, chequered by wondrous interventions of mercy, as well as solemn chastisements of their rebellious iniquity, till at length even the house of David led the last remaining tribe of Judah into abominable idolatry, and God delivered them as captives to Babylon, the first of the four "beasts," or Gentile imperial powers. Finally under the last of these bestial empires (the Roman), the Jewish remnant, which was permitted to return to the land for a fresh trial, rejected their own Messiah and even the gospel founded on His death, which was first sent to them, and wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.
It is in the Jewish people only that we have a kingdom of the earth set up by Jehovah Himself under the direction of His law. But even under its earliest and brightest phase, when David reigned, what failure and presage of downfall! yet not without shadows of abiding righteousness, power, and glory, as often seen in the psalms! And the man of peace, his son, outwardly more magnificent, brought in but plain evidence of ruin, even then come and far more approaching and sure till there was no remedy. Yet was the history full of instruction both of what man was as responsible under God's law, and of God's ways in blessing and punishing according to the principles of His earthly government.
All this was, however, only a witness in the hands of a people prone to evil and departure from Him. But God has in no way abandoned His purpose for the earth. He is using the interval, since His rejection of the Jews because of their rejection of Christ, to call a people out of both Jews and Gentiles, who put on Christ in Whom there is neither, to form a heavenly family in union with Christ, the body of the ascended Head, God's habitation in the Spirit. When this is complete, the Lord Jesus will come and receive us unto Himself and present us in the Father's house. He will also in due time appear executing judgment, not only on the fourth Beast revived and the Antichrist in the land, but on all hostile powers and peoples, delivering a remnant of Jews then righteous, the nucleus of the nation, believing and expectant, blessed and established for ever as a blessing to all the families of the earth. Such will Israel be under Messiah and the new covenant, and mercy endure for ever, as they will then sing in truth of heart. And the Gentiles will in that day cast away their idols of silver and gold, and everything high and lifted up, and lofty looks and haughtiness of heart, cordially bowing to the kingdom with Zion as its centre, and the mountain of Jehovah's house established in the top of the mountains and exalted above the hills. For Messiah will reign, the only perfect judge between the nations, who shall not lift sword nor learn war any more.
Now the races of Canaan occupied that land which Jehovah intended for Israel. Nor was this all. They were conspicuously vile, most of all the cities of the plain, whose wickedness was not to be named. They were therefore cut off by a sudden and manifestly divine infliction. But when the cup of the Amorites was full, and the land became so unclean that Jehovah must visit its iniquity, He was pleased to make Israel the executioner of His vengeance. What could be more righteous in itself? What wiser for His people, its destined heirs? All unnatural evils as well as idolatries (their very religion ever binding on them these abominations) had become their "customs," from which Israel must be kept. It was no question of cruelty; and it was Israel's fault not to exterminate as completely as Jehovah enjoined; so that the spared did not fail to ensnare and corrupt the chosen people into like infamy.
Of these races we need dwell on no more than the first two. These can be more easily severed, as they only are personal names, the rest Gentilic. "And Canaan begat Zidon [or Sidon] the firstborn, and Heth" (ver. 15). The name of the first means, like Saida its modern appellation, "fishing." The city was built on the northern slope of a spur projecting into the sea with its citadel behind on the south. The plain was narrower between Lebanon and the sea. But the daughter city of Tyre in time outshines it, as the later prophets indicate. In earlier days we hear of "great Zidon" (Joshua 11:8, Joshua 19:28). So even Homer, who repeatedly speaks of it and its people, never named Tyre. They were then skilled in manufactures, later celebrated for their marine and as merchants. But they corrupted even Solomon's house by their abominations.
The Hittites were of Heth or Cheth. Their daughters troubled Isaac and Rebecca, though we hear of Abraham friendly with them and others. They like the Jebusites and the Amorites betook themselves to the mountains from the south, and afterwards were outside in the valley of the Orontes. So in 1 Kings 10:29 their kings are spoken of with "the Kings of Aram" or Syria; they seem without doubt to be the Khatti of the Egyptian inscriptions, on the western side of the Euphrates. They had however shared in the efforts against Joshua (9, 11) and suffered accordingly. In Ezek. 16:3, 45, "thy mother was a Hittite" is no more meant literally than "thy father was an Amorite." They are the prophet's figures of moral reproach.
As for the races mentioned after these, little more is to be said than what lies on the surface of scripture: "And the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgashite, and the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite, and the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite" (vers. 16-18). The Jebusites held Jerusalem, though defeated by Joshua, but not dispossessed till David. The Amorite was in the mountain land of Judah, but pushed east where on their full or expulsion the two and a half tribes settled east of the Jordan. The Girgashites disappeared from view. Of the Hivites we have the remarkable tale the Book of Joshua tells, and of its consequences, at least of those in Gibeon; for there were others further north and outside, near whom settled the latter five families, or on the coast, and also in the isle of Aradus.
The notices of the Canaanite families are more minute, as God considered His people whose duty it was to execute judgment and dispossess them of the promised land. However they might be "spread abroad" or dispersed, and seen to flourish for a while, the curse was on them, from the first on moral grounds, aggravated at last by enormities against God and man which to His eyes called for extermination.
It may be remarked that we do not hear of Perizzites in this genealogical account, though the name occurs in Gen. 13:7, Gen. 15:20, Gen. 34:30; Ex. 3:8, 17, Ex. 23:23, Ex. 33:2, Ex. 34:11; Deut. 7:1, Deut. 20:17; Joshua 3:10, Joshua 9:1, Joshua 11:3, Joshua 12:8, Joshua 17:15, Joshua 24:11; Judges 1:4, 5, Judges 3:5; 1 Kings 9:20; Ezra 9:1; 2 Chron. 8:7; and Neh. 9:8. This appears to imply that they were not a distinct race, but rather such as separated from the town-life, to which the Canaanites generally were addicted, and remained villagers; as in the later history of Israel those who were religious separatists were called Pharisees.
"And afterwards the families of the Canaanites spread themselves abroad. And the border of the Canaanites was from Zidon, as thou goest toward Gerar, unto Gazah; as thou goest toward Sodom and Gomorrah and Admah and Zeboiim, unto Lasha. These [are] sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, in their nations" (vers. 18-20).
The border is thus traced from Zidon on the N.W. of Gerar and Gazah on the S.W., and from the four doomed cities of the plain in the S.E. to Lasha (probably Laish or Leshem in the N.E.), though Jerome identifies it with Callirrhoe on the east of the Dead Sea, and Bochart with a city called by the Arabs Lusa in the south of Judah. Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim are specified on which fell fire from heaven in early patriarchal days, as recorded in this book, to their utter destruction: a dealing of Jehovah in His wrath, which was recalled to the warning of Israel from Moses (Deut. 29:23) to Hosea (Hosea 11:8) and Jeremiah (Jer. 20:16).
In reviewing the posterity of Ham, this we cannot but see, that none sprang so early into prominence of earthly power and dominion, that none carried forward civilisation so rapidly and extensively in primeval times, that no other peoples were so distinguished at first with material grandeur, both in the plain of Shinar and in that remarkable country which lies along the Nile, that is, in both Asia and Africa; and that they were long the sole pioneers of commerce in west and east, north and south. But the true God was absent from their souls; nor this only: they out-ran all other races in their vain thoughts, ungratefully abandoning Him when they knew Him, and their foolish heart was soonest darkened. Professing to be wise they became fools and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds and quadrupeds and reptiles. Wherefore God gave them up to the lowest defilement and vile affections contrary to nature, and worse than brutish, reprobate. Their very mind had pleasure in evil. Such man became without God, none so audaciously, and shamefully as the Canaanites, whose judgment therefore was most righteous save to such as are more or less reprobate.
What an illustration is their history of the words of the apostle on the first man as contrasted with the last Adam! "That was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual." The book of nature man never did read aright, though he ought; and conscience, the monitor of fallen man, shows him his sins, but of itself never leads to repentance: only God's goodness does, above all revealed in Christ. But the Hamite races were the leaders of the departure from God, and none so flagitiously as the Canaanite.
The races which sprang from Shem come before us in the last place. This is quite independent of the respective ages of Noah's three sons. Ham, we know, is declared to be "the little" one (Gen. 9:24), — generally translated "youngest"; and chronology shows that not Shem but Japheth was the eldest. Accordingly Leeser joins Mendelssohn in the rendering of the A.V. and the margin (not the text) of the R.V. The first place assigned to Shem, in the usual formula of "Shem, Ham, and Japheth," is due not to the order of birth, but to the spiritual purpose which gave Shem that position (Gen. 5:32, Gen. 6:10, Gen. 7:13, Gen. 9:18, Gen. 10:1). When, however, "the generations" are given in detail, Japheth's sons are enumerated first; and a similar order prevails in 1 Chron. 1. If primogeniture here in Japheth had its honour, if precocity in his rising to political place and natural power is recognised in Ham, for Shem was reserved, though named last, the honour Godward. "And to Shem also were [sons] born: he [was] father of all the sons of Eber, brother of Japheth the elder" (ver. 21).
Undoubtedly the manner of Shem's introduction is so peculiar as to arrest attention. He had descendants like the other chiefs derived from Noah. But he is specified, on the one hand as the father of all the sons of Eber, and on the other as the brother of Japheth the elder (or, great one). Of the latter enough has been said; but we may compare Gen. 14:13, "Abram the Hebrew," in order to understand better what seems meant. And here the LXX give περάτης, "the passer," as Aquila has ὁ περαΐτης. This at least gives a distinctive stamp, where as only tradition does it to Eber personally.
The head of that people, above all distinguished among those who sprang from Shem, passed the Euphrates on his memorable way. As Joshua said to all the people at the close of his service, and a little before his death (Joshua 24:2, 3, 12, 13), "Your fathers dwelt of old on the other side of the river, Terah the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor; and they served other gods. And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the river, and led him throughout the land of Canaan," etc. "And now fear Jehovah and serve him in perfectness and in truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the river and in Egypt, and serve Jehovah. And if it seem evil unto you to serve Jehovah, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods whom your fathers that were on the other side of the river served, or the gods of the Amorite in whose land ye dwell." Scripture thus lays a stress on that fact far beyond what it does to an ancestor who does not stand out from others in the genealogical line, save as the father of Peleg and Joktan. An important event marked Peleg's days; yet it did not concern the chosen people particularly but "the earth" at large.
That Gen. 14:13 connects Abram in the passage of the eastern river, rather than his remote ancestor Eber, seems clear; for this was the regular Gentile name given to God's people by those without, not Israel but Hebrews, as we find from the earliest to later times. And it is intelligible that a tangible fact like that event would be patent and abidingly known.
It is another question whether "all the sons of Eber" can be legitimately connected with any other person than him of whom we read in vers. 24, 25, and Gen. 11:14-17, with the corresponding list in 1 Chron. 1. In Num. 24:24 we have the only other reference, I think, which can be connected with it: an early prophecy which looks on to the latter day. For there comes a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, not merely to cut in pieces the corners of Moab but to destroy all the sons of tumult. The great conflict of the future is contemplated, as nothing in the past quite meets all. "And ships shall come from the coasts of Chittim, and afflict Asshur, and afflict Eber; and he also shall come to destruction." West and East and Israel shall be in collision and suffer; but as the previous word runs, "Israel doeth valiantly, and one out of Jacob shall have dominion." That Eber is used figuratively for the Jews seems unquestionable; and that they arise to earthly supremacy, when the destroyers of the earth are destroyed and Messiah reigns, is what the prophets declare.
Herein lies the real and superior dignity of Shem. Messiah is to come of his stock; as Canaan was accursed, not Ham wholly, but Canaan; so the living oracle said, "Blessed be Jehovah the God of Shem." This was not predicted of the elder, but "God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem." And so it has been. How vast in His providence the spread of that energetic race! Have they not dwelt, too, in the tents of Shem, not as mere conquerors, but, among other ways perhaps, as sharers in that blessing which was shadowed so finely in Israel's "own olive-tree." Here in due time would be the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the law-giving, and the service, and the promises, and not the fathers merely but the Son, the Messiah with a personal dignity far beyond what Israel has owned — to their own deep loss as yet.
The immediate descendants of Shem are next enumerated, it would seem in the order of birth, as Arpachshad, the progenitor of the chosen line, stands in the third place, neither first nor last, either of which might be done as elsewhere for special reasons.
"The sons of Shem, Elam, and Asshur, and Arpachshad, and Lud, and Aram" (ver. 22).
Elam, the first apparently in natural order, gave his name to that part of Khusistan, which the Greeks and Romans called Elymais, which had of old Shushan for its capital, of which we hear so much in the book of Esther (Esther 1:2, 5; Esther 2:3, 5, 8; Esther 3:15; Esther 4:16; Esther 8:14, 15; Esther 9:11, 15, 18; as also in Neh. 1:1). There has been no little debate among men of learning on the precise locality, some contending (as Dean Vincent, Anc. Comm. i. 439) for Shuster on the Pasitigris or Kuran, others for Susan a good deal to the east of Shuster. But Mr. Loftus, following Sir W. F. Williams, appears to have set the question at rest in favour of Shush (to the north-west of Shuster), where only an immense mound of ruins remains of the once magnificent fortress and palace of the Persian monarchs, possessed before that by the king of Babylon, as Dan. 8:2 attests. There it was that the prophet saw the vision of the Persian ram, and the Greek or Macedonian he-goat, though some will have it that the prophet was only there in vision. It is known that Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar, seized the land of Elam or Susiana, which succumbed afterwards to Cyrus; and Susa or Shushan became the regular residence of the Persian monarch for a part of the year. There is no reason to doubt that the excavations made in our day lay bare the plan, with certain remains of the palaces," indicating a structure, with its dependent buildings, which occupied a square of 1,000 feet each way, in a massive style of architecture with fluted columns, and those in the outer groups with bases like an inverted lily (which Shushan means).
In the days of Abraham we bear of Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, with his three allies coming 2,000 miles to punish his vassal kings in the vale of Siddim: a plain proof of early power, though signally chastised by the father of the faithful. It seems that subsequently the Hamites, who earlier still rose to power in the east as well as south-west, gave the name of Cissim to this district, as Herodotus (v. 49) and Strabo let us know. They were Cossaei, and Cushites.
But it is of importance to mention that Elam joined the Medes to overthrow Babylon, as we see predicted in Isa. 21:2, the latter a Japhetic race, as the former was of Shem. In Jerusalem's day yet to come Elam will figure with its confederates against Jerusalem. For the mysterious succession here, as in Isa. 14, not applying to the past, looks on to the future, when the last Shebna shall give way to the anti-typical Eliakim, (Whom God hath appointed). Yet we know also from the assured word of prophecy, that however ravaged in the past (Ezek. 32:24, 25, and Jer. 49:34-38), Elam will have its captivity brought again in the latter days according to Jer. 49:39.
On Asshur there is the less motive for dilating, as every reader of scriptural history knows how splendid a part their race played in the comparatively early history of the world, when the struggle for predominance seemed to lie between Assyria and Egypt. Of this we find authentic accounts in the O.T. especially when both came into collision, the Assyrian especially, with the chosen people in its decay through idolatry, sweeping away the kingdom of Israel, and menacing that of Judah. But the awful check given to Sennacherib in the height of his scornful pride soon proved no real opportunity to Egypt; for Babylon that joined in destroying Nineveh was destined of God to be the head of power, as all know according to God's word. Here again shall mercy triumph over judgment; and Isa. 19 is express that in the day of Messianic power and glory Israel shall be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth. We need not speak of Israel, but may say that this was never the case with Egypt and with Assyria in the past. Both wrought innumerable evils for man; both sinned shamelessly against God. But what cannot, will not, mercy work on God's part, even for the enemies of His guilty and chastised people? What a monument will not the trio be "in that day"!
Of Arpachshad we may say still less; for he leads directly down to the time of promise, about which the O.T. is almost wholly occupied.
Lud is the next son of Shem; and there is the more need of care, as there was another race of similar name which had its seat in Africa, the first named of the Mizraim or Egyptian peoples, of whom we have spoken (Gen. 10:13). There was thus Ludim of Ham, as well as of Shem. Josephus (Ant. i. § 4) was justified in stating that the latter race settled in Asia Minor, the Lydians. Herodotus (i. 7) says indeed that the Maeones or early dwellers in the far from definite land called Lydia, for its extent changed greatly from time to time, afterward adopted the name of Lydians, being in fact as he thought the same people. But this was a mistake. Even Strabo (xii. xiv.) recognises on ancient testimony, that they were distinct races, as Niebuhr (Hist. of Rome, i. 32) and others in modern times are convinced. The Maeones were the early Japhetic settlers whom the Shemitic Lydians conquered. Indeed that careful historian, Dionysius (i. 30), notices that the Lydians had nothing in common with their Pelasgian predecessors. It can hardly be doubted that Jer. 46:9 and Ezekiel 27:10, Ezekiel 30:5, refer to the African race, perhaps Isa. 66:19, though this be not so certain. But they join in the great catastrophe of "that day." Of Aram we shall speak in considering ver. 23.
Aram is the last of the sons of Shem. His name was generally given to the high table-land north-east of Palestine, though applied also more widely in combination with other terms, as will presently be pointed out. In the A.V., following the Septuagint and the Vulgate, "Syria" represents that general use. In the largest sense it comprehended not only the watershed of the Jordan and the country north, west, and east, but that which stretched to the Tigris, with Armenia on the north down to Arabia on the south. In the S.E. quarter it is designated Aram-Naharaim, that is, Syria of the two rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris, translated "Mesopotamia" in Gen. 24:10, Deut. 23:4, Judges 3:8, 10. After 1 Chron. 19:6, we have no longer that name, as the country so named passed under the dominion first. of Assyria, and last of Babylon where it attained its supreme place. In early days it was the country where Nahor and his family had a city after leaving Ur (the modern Musheir) of the Chaldees or Kasdim, a Cushite race.
The classic name of Syria was probably a mere abbreviation of Assyria, or Asshur, another name really, though akin, being alike Shemitic. But even Homer (Il. ii. 783) and Hesiod (Theog. 304) know only the name Ἄριμοι, unless Ἔρεμβοὶ also refers to the same (Od. iv. 84); so does Pindar in the fragment cited by Bockh (iii. 618) who corrects ἐν to εἰν as in Homer. As Virgil (Aen. ix. 7 6) speaks of Inarime Jovis imperiis imposita Typhöeo, the scholars are anxious to relieve the learned Latin, to say nothing of Ovid, Lucan, Sil. Ital., etc., from the imputation of a blunder in the words and transferring the scene from Asia to the volcanic regions of Italy and Sicily. But it is sure enough that Ovid does err in distinguishing Inarime from Pithacusae which were the same island, of late called Ischia. Heyne has written a learned note on the matter in his second Exc. on Aen. ix. (iii. 374-6, Lond. 1793).
At least five districts of Aram are referred to in scripture. (1) Aram-Dammesek or the Syria of Damascus appears in 2 Sam. 8:5, 6; 1 Chron, 18:5, 6. (2) Aram-Zobah, or Zobah only, to the N.E. of Damascus we find in 1 Sam. 14:47; 2 Sam. 8:3; 10:6, 8; 1 Chron. 18, 19. (3) Arambeth-Rehob, or Rehob only, occurs in 2 Sam. 10:6, 8. (4) Aram-Maachah, or Maachah only is mentioned in 2 Sam. 10:6; 1 Chron. 19:6. And Geshur in Syria or Aram we hear of in 2 Sam. 15:8, bordering with Maachah on Argob (Deut. 3:14, Joshua 13:11, etc.). These small kingdoms of Aram seem. gradually to have merged in that which is first named; as Damascus grew itself in importance. But (5) Aram-Naharaim, or Padan-more correctly Paddan-Aram (called also Padan in Gen. 28:7), the ploughed land of Aram became the most celebrated by far, familiar to us from the days of Jacob. To this Hosea alludes as the field or open country of Syria (Hosea 12:12) almost wholly an immense plain, nearly 700 miles long and from 20 to 250 miles broad.
The north district is mountainous, where a chain (called Mons Masius of old) connects the ancient Amanus on the west with the Niphates in the east. Then about the middle the Sinjar hills cross, running nearly east and west from Mosul or thereabout to Rakkeh or near it. "This district," says Prof. Rawlinson, "is always charming; but the remainder of the region varies greatly according to circumstances. In early spring a tender and luxuriant herbage covers the whole plain, while flowers of the most brilliant hues spring up in rapid succession, imparting their colour to the landscape, which changes from day to day. As the summer draws on, the verdure recedes towards the streams and mountains. Vast tracts of and plain, yellow, parched, and sapless, fill the intermediate space, which ultimately becomes a bare and uninhabitable desert. In the Sinjar, and in the mountain-tract to the north, springs of water are tolerably abundant, and corn, vines, and figs, are cultivated by a stationary population; but the greater part of the region is only suited to the nomadic hordes, which in spring spread themselves far and wide over the vast flats, so utilising the early verdure, and in summer and autumn gather along the banks of the two main streams and their affluents, where a delicious shade and a rich pasture may be found during the greatest heats. Such is the present character of the region. It is thought, however, that by a careful water system, by deriving channels from the great streams or their affluents, by storing the superfluous spring-rains in tanks, by digging wells and establishing kanáts, or subterraneous aqueducts, the whole territory might be brought under cultivation, and rendered capable of sustaining a permanent population. That some such system was established in early times by the Assyrian monarchs seems to be certain from the fact that the whole level country on both sides of the Sinjar is covered with mounds marking the sites of cities, which wherever opened have presented appearances similar to those found on the site of Nineveh, If even the more northern portion of the Mesopotamian region is thus capable of being redeemed from its present character of a desert, still more easily might the southern division be reclaimed and converted into a garden. Between the 35th and 34th parallels, the character of the Mesopotamian plain suddenly alters. Above, it is a plain of a certain elevation above the courses of the Tigris and Euphrates, which are separated from it by low limestone ranges; below, it is a mere alluvium almost level with the rivers, which frequently overflow large portions of it. Consequently from the point indicated, canalisation becomes easy. A skilful management of the two rivers would readily convey abundance of the life-giving fluid to every portion of the Mesopotamian tract below the 34th parallel. And the innumerable lines of embankment, marking the course of ancient canals, sufficiently indicate that in the flourishing period of Babylonia a network of artificial channels covered the country."
It was in that region that the tower of Babel was reared (Gen. 10). It was there Nimrod made "the beginning of his kingdom" (Ibid.). Thence came the four kings to put down the rebellion of the five kings of the south Jordan (Gen. 14). Thence Chushan-Rishathaim reduced Israel to his over-lordship for eight years, soon after Joshua's death till Caleb's nephew, Othniel, broke it down; and David conquered the Syrians everywhere. Assyria then by decrees reached its highest ascendancy to the ruin of Israel, till Babylon rose in God's way on the overthrow of Nineveh, to world-power and swept away Judah, itself succumbing to Cyrus, and Medo-Persian supremacy followed.
"And the sons of Aram, Uz and Hul and Gether and Mash" (ver. 23). The first of them gave his name to the sandy soil south-east of Palestine, in the north of Arabia Deserta, and west of the Euphrates. We hear in Job 1 who lived there, of the raids of the Sabeans and the Chaldeans.
Hul seems to have gone farther north. His name we may trace in Ard-el-Huleh, and Bahr-el-Huleh, south of this district, the waters of Merom, or the lake Semechonitis as Josephus calls it, though he connects Hul with Armenia.
Gether may have lent his name to Gadara, rather than Geshur, as Kalisch thinks.
Mash would seem, as Bochart supposes (Phaleg ii, 11) to be represented geographically by the classical Mons Masius, the mountainous range which runs north of Mesopotamia between the great rivers, Euphrates and Hiddekel or Tigris. In 1 Chron. 1:17 Mesech is the name, but not the one joined with Kedar, which was Japhetic. In the same genealogy these four sons of Aram are classed directly with the sons of Shem, including Aram, a compendious style not uncommon in such lists, for which verse 4 prepares the reader. The discrepancy is merely apparent.
The most important line of all Shem's stock, in its remote and even in its approaching consequences, through moral and divine associations, is the briefest in this genealogy; and this must now be noticed.
"And Arphaxad (Arpachshad) begot Shelah (Shelach) and Shelah begot Eber" (ver 24). Arphaxad was Shem's eldest son, born two years after the deluge.
It is to be observed that the inspiring Spirit led Moses to change his manner at this point, introducing Arphaxad and his family as a sort of fresh start. The same style is adopted also in 1 Chron. 1: It is no longer as before, "And the sons of -." As in evil a new departure was made for Cush and his descendants, so here for good where Arphaxad comes before us. Yet for the present little is said of the latter, unlike Nimrod who shot into immediate prominence, not content to be a mighty hunter before Jehovah, but thereon and after began to be mighty on the earth. Good is of rare occurrence here below and of slow growth, always excepting the One Who manifested its perfection, and all the more because He would not be designated by that which He claimed for God alone, unless indeed there was faith to see and own God in Him.
Josephus states in his Antiq. i. 6, 4 (ed. Hudson i. 19, 20) that Arphaxad gave his name to the Chaldeans. But this is erroneous. For the Chaldim, as they are called in scripture, or Kaldi as they called themselves, were a Cushite race, not Shemitic, and their tongue is said to have closely resembled the Galla or ancient language of the Aethiopians. This appears to have been retained as a learned tongue for erudite and religious purposes, at least; and we may see reference to it in Dan. 1:4, even when the Shemitic type of language had superseded it for ordinary or evil usage as shown in the inscriptions of that region both Assyrian and Babylonian. The predominance of Nabopolassar and of Nebuchadnezzar his son gave the Chaldeans their established supremacy over the various races in Babylon; so that what was an old and special tribe at first got to be the more extensive designation of that conquering people, as well as to mark a peculiar class of learned and scientific religionists, etc., astrologers as we see in Dan. 2 of whom the prophet was constituted chief or master" (Dan. 4:9; 5:11).
Nevertheless it is very possible that Arphaxad may be traced in the name of the region called Ἀῤῥαπαχῖτις mentioned twice by Cl. Ptolemy (Geog. ed. Wilberg, 387) in his account of Assyria, and in the City Ἄῤῥαπα in the list with which that first chapter of book vi. closes. So Bochart concludes in his Geog. Sacr. ii. 4. This region, south of Armenia, was the early home of the Shemites, as afterwards Asshur prevailed there. But there also the Cushites were strong in early days, and a Japhetic element was not wanting in self-assertion. But the Shemites unlike the others were ever disposed to stay at home, which made the subsequent crossing the more remarkable in the progenitor of the Hebrews at the call of God.
Of Salah or Salach little can be said with certainty, because the Bible is silent. He was the father of Eber in the direct line of the chosen patriarch Abram, the depositary of promise. The name signifies shoot or extension, but to regard it therefore as fictitious ought to be too absurd for the credulity of rationalism. It is known that a place with a similar name in the north of Mesopotamia occurs in Syrian writings; to which Knobel refers in his well-known book.
Of Eber a little more may be said when verse 25 is examined. It is the more necessary to distinguish the true form, because in Luke 3:35 it is confounded with the different name of "Heber," which is shared by no less than half-a-dozen persons wholly distinct. The latter reappears in the name of Hebron, the well-known city of Judah, as ancient as Damascus and rather older than Zoan, or Tanis as the Greeks called it, in Egypt. Scripture expressly intimates this (Num. 13:22).
The verse which here claims our attention brings before us incidentally another of the great facts in those early days of man's renewed history, as we have had the characteristic account of monarchy begun in the Cushite Nimrod.
"And to Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name was Joktan" (ver. 25).
In verse 21 a notable mark was set upon Eber, when his forefather was introduced in the unusual terms of "father of all the children, or sons, of Eber," though several generations after, not Arphaxad's, nor Salah's, but Eber's. So contrariwise, though not so strikingly perhaps, Ham had to bear the shame of being designated "father of Canaan" (Gen. 9:18). Thus does God call us on the one hand to heed him who inherited the curse and was the instrument of the enemy in striving to hinder Israel in due time taking possession of the promised land; and on the other to learn the interest He took in giving us to look onward to those who stood in the first line of the heirs of Shem's blessing; for "blessed be Jehovah the God of Shem." One cannot safely run on so fast as the excellent Matthew Henry, in saying "Eber himself, we may suppose, was a man eminent for religion in a time of general apostasy, and a great example of piety to his family; and the holy tongue being commonly called from him the Hebrew, it is probable that he retained it in his family, in the confusion of Babel, as a special token of God's favour to him; and from him the professors of religion were called the children of Eber. Now, when the inspired penman would give them an honourable title, he calls him (Shem) the father of the Hebrews; though, when Moses wrote this, they were a poor despised people, bond-slaves in Egypt, yet being God's people it was an honour to a man to be akin to them." It is wise to say less, and surer to believe what is written than to suppose with ancients or moderns. Goodness, he adds, is true greatness; but in the case before us we may be content with ascribing both in the highest degree to the Blesser without being too confident sponsors for the blessed. The Lord teaches us to be jealous on that head for God, rather than for man as weak and poor as he is aspiring.
Of Eber we have two sons: Peleg, which means division, the first named, and Joktan his brother. In connection with the former a new and important fact is noted as to the earth and its future history. In the days of Peleg the earth was divided. Such is the meaning of Peleg's name; for as the rule the names then given to men were significant. The scattering of which we have the divine account, its moral reason and its chastening, in the next chapter (11) was historically previous; but our chapter 10 pursues its aim and gives the origin of the nations, everyone after his tongue, apart from time. But as we had (vers. 8-11) in Nimrod the assumption of power and the spread of dominion from Babel the beginning of his kingdom, so here we have in Peleg's days the earth divided. Here we are not told of human pride and power, nor yet of Jehovah's scattering men abroad through confounding their language, and their consequent inability to understand one another's speech. The division of the earth after that in the days of Peleg appears to have been done peaceably. But it is a fact which has subsisted ever, whatever the emigration of peoples through stress of circumstances or desire of bettering their lot
Of Joktan we leave the details till we consider the verses that follow.
The name of Eber's second son was, as we have seen, Joktan, "small," as distinguished from Peleg whose name, "division," marked as an epoch the more peaceful dividing of the earth, after the judgment of God necessitated the dispersion of mankind. There is no substantial reason to limit the "division" to the family of Eber himself, when the younger branch migrated into southern Arabia, the elder remaining in Mesopotamia. Had this mere family split been referred to, the younger son would more naturally have borne its name, not the elder who abode where he was. Besides, how can an event so ordinary meet the large terms employed — "in his days was the earth divided?" The Chaldee paraphrase on 1 Chron. 1:19 suggests that Joktan derived his name from the diminution of human life at that time. Certain it is that then longevity sunk one half, judging by the recorded years of Peleg (Gen. 11:18, 19) and of those that succeeded, diminishing by degrees to its ordinary range.
Joktan appears on abundant evidence of varied kinds to answer to the Arabic Kachtán. "Of them [the Beni Sad], and of the Kahtan Arabs, . . . . , Masoudy says in his work entitled 'The Golden Meadows,' that they are the only remnants of the primitive tribes of Arabia. Most of the other tribes, etc. But the two tribes above mentioned, the Beni Sad and Kahtan, are famed in the most remote antiquity, when Arabian history, for the greater part, is covered with complete darkness" (Burckhardt's Notes on the Bedouins and Wahabys,. ii. 47, 48, London, 1831). We shall see that the traces of his thirteen sons are almost all plain enough also. This had been doubted by some who conceived it to be a Jewish tradition adopted later by Mohammedan writers. Why should any one doubt that the Κατανῖται of Cl. Ptolemy (Geog. vi. 7) are the Beni Kachtán, or Kahtanys? In Pliny (vi. 28) and Strabo (xvi.) they seem spoken of as Catabani, and Καταβανεῖς, by an inversion not uncommon among Greeks and Latins. Dionysius Perieg. speaks of the same tribe under a name very slightly changed, of which no account appears in Smith's Dict. of G. and R. Geography. Modern research however has not only vindicated the fact, but explained probably why the change of the name was effected. Of his numerous sons we glance at the four named in the verse before us.
"And Joktan begat Almodad and Sheleph and Hazarmaveth and Jerah" (ver. 26).
The first enumerated corresponds with Mudad, or, as the word admits the article, El-Mudad. Bochart in his Phaleg (ii. 16) long ago connected the name with the Ἀλλουμαιῶται of Cl. Ptolemy (vi. 7, § 24) who held a central position in Yemen or Arabia Felix. There seems no sufficient ground to heed Gesenius' idea that the name is a variant from Almoram, so as to trace it in the tribe called Morad living in a mountainous region of the same country near Zabid.
Next comes Sheleph or Shaleph. This name has been without reasonable doubt identified with the district of Sulaf or Salif in southern Arabia. The elder Niebuhr gives it as Salfie (in his map Selfia) (Descr. 215). More recently Dr. Osiander gives an account of the tribe Shelif or Shulaf, as Yakoot in the Moajam and other Arabic authorities which complete the geographical traces. Indeed Ptolemy (vi. 7) had of old told us of the Σαλαπηνοὶ or Ἀλαπηνοί as the Greeks called the people. Here is therefore proof in this case still clearer than in some. Mr. G. Forster (Geog. of Arabia) in both his vols. labours to identify the modern Meteyr tribe with the Salapeni or sons of Σαλέθ as their chief is called by the LXX. They were close allies of the Beni Kachtan against the Kedarite Beni-Charb or Carbani
Hazarmaveth plainly answers to the district east of the modern Yemen, called by the Arabs Hádramäwt (court of death), also in the south of Arabia, situated on the Indian Sea, and, if unhealthy, no less famous for its rich spices. One of its ports was Zafári, the Sephar of which we read later in this chapter. Here again there is satisfactory evidence that the third in the list of Joktan's sons furnished the name, rendered Σαρμώθ by the LXX. and Asarmoeh in the Vulgate.
Jerah or Yerach "the moon" is the fourth, which Michaelis in his Spicileg. ii. 60 in the "low land of the moon," or in the "mount of the moon," both of which were near Hádramäwt. It is needless and against all probability to follow Bochart's notion of the Alilaei dwelling near the Red Sea. Mr. E. S. Poole (Smith's Dict. of the Bible, i, 264) traces the name in a fortress (and probably an old town) mentioned as belonging to the district of the Nijjad, which is in Mareb at the extremity of the Yemen. Indeed Arab tradition, as we may see in Golius (sub voce) is in nothing ancient more unanimous than in styling this son of Joktan "Father of Yemen" (Abu Yemen). His name appears in the LXX. as Ἰαράχ, and as Jare in the Vulgate. The Arab name may be represented by Jeshä or Serhä, giving the "h" its guttural pronunciation of "ch." G. Ptol. speaks of the Νῆσος Ἱεράχων on the Arabian gulf, and of the Ἱεράχων κώμη on a river near the Persian gulf, which appear to point to the same family, wide as they might be apart. Mr. Forster brings many other names under the same reference modified by slight changes of name and sound; just as Ptolemy's river Lar on the east coast seems no other than the Zar of present day, which the Latin geographers confirm who translate it Flumen Canis — Dog, which the Arabic means. The great region of Karjé, he argues, derives its name from Jerah according to an anagram quite common in their proper names.
After the four sons of Joktan already noticed, we have now before us three: "and Hadoram, and Uzal, and Diklah" (ver. 27).
The fifth son appears to have settled farther east in that part of the peninsula which has long been designated 'Omán, and gives its name to the lower waters of the Persian gulf, opening into the Indian ocean. The south-eastern headland of that deep bay is called Ras-el-Had, which must be carefully distinguished from Ras-Fartask or Fartaques, "the wild boar's snout," answering to its Greek designation of Σύαγρος ἄκρα (Ptol. vi. 7, §11). It is the more necessary to be on one's guard, as of old we learn from the Alexandrian geographer that the position of the latter was misconceived by his predecessor, Marinus; and in this Marcianus (Hudson's Geog. Gr. Min. i. 24) agrees with the correction. In modern times D'Anville, followed by many (as e.g. Long's Classical Atlas) confounded Syagros with Ras-el-Had. Dean Vincent in his earlier writings had been thus misled; but he corrected himself in his elaborate work on the so called Periplus of Arrian (ii. 331-351). The classical title of the headland we are occupied with is really Κορόδαμον ἄκρον, as the learned Bochart long ago conjectured from the name of the forefather therein disguised, i.e. from Hadoramum. So convinced is Mr. Forster of its soundness that he does not hesitate to say, the fact, unnoticed by Bochart, "is simply this, that the promontory now actually bears the name of Hadoram, under an ordinary abbreviation of the Arabic, in its modern appellation of Ras-el-HAD" (i. 140, 141).
It is indeed a confirmation not to be despised also that Commodore Owen's Survey "first gave the correct form of this bay, accompanied by what is more important for our present object, its Arabic name, Bundes Djuram or Doram, the Bay of Doram." Abbreviations of this kind are notorious in that tongue as in others, as Dûra or Dora for Adoraim, and Jok for Joktan. It appears too from the M.S. Journal of Captain Sadleir that there is still existing in the desert of Ul Ahsu on the northern confines of 'Omán the tribe Dreeman, which corresponds with the Drimati of whom Pliny speaks as being in this quarter. So he does of the Fons Dora and of the Darrae which last word has its analogue in a town and tribe at this day. Hadoram (in the LXX. Ὀδοῤῥᾶ) seems not obscurely traceable in a race singularly unyielding.
It, may also be observed that, if we heed the statement of Dionysius, there was a district on the east of Arabia called Chatramis south of Chaldamis (Bahrein) opposite to Persia, which agrees with the north of 'Omán. This race must be distinguished from the Adamitae, or Chatametitae, that sprang from Hazarmaveth and lived in Hadramaut on the south. The town of Hadrama corresponds apparently.
Uzal (in the Vat. text of the LXX. Αἰβήλ, prob. err. for Αἰζήλ in others) is named in the sixth place, and gave his name in ancient times to the capital city of Yemen, afterwards and still Sanà. Mr. E. S. Poole cites the printed edition of the Marásid, which says "that its name was Oozál, and when the Abyssinians arrived at it, and saw it to be beautiful, they said, Sanà, which means beautiful, and therefore it was called Sanà." Arabic authors have compared this with Damascus for its waters and its fruits; as Niebuhr says its houses and palaces are finer than those of any other town in Arabia. The Jews, it seems, who are immemorially settled there, only know it by the name of Uzal. That there should be other traces of the name is natural; but we need not dwell on what is disputable, having a record so direct and clear. The Auth. V. of Ezek. 27:19 has darkened an important reference, which stands no better in the Revised. Dr. Henderson and Mr. Darby present it thus: "Vedan and Javan of Uzal traded in thy [Tyre's] markets: wrought iron, cassia, and calamus were in thy truffle [or barter]." The LXX. render it "from Asel," the Syriac and Aquila "from Uzal." As ver. 17 gave Judah and Israel, it is possible that Dan or Vedan and Javan were of the Arab race, and Uzal their emporium. So Dathe renders the clause; and de Wette adds to them Mehusal (as the Vulgate Mosel) for a third trafficker. Diodati in his French as well as Italian Version preferred "Dan also, and the vagabond Javan" in its Greek application. Dr. Benisch has for Uzal "spun yarn," and Dr. Leeser "silken goods" according to other points.
Of Diklah, the eighth name, there is little to say. From signifying "palm-trees" some have looked to the city Φοινίκων in the north-west of Arabia Felix; but Gesenius after Bochart for a similar reason inclined to find his descendants in the widely spread people classically called Minaei. But Mr. Forster strenuously contends that they were of the stock of Jerah, and that the great region of Kerjé or Karjé is none other than an anagrammatic inversion (so common in Arab names) of the patriarch Jerah himself. Into this discussion we do not enter; but any one can discern in the Dulkelaitae, of whom Golius speaks in his Lexicon, a name that answers to the son of Joktan we are now tracing, from whom descended a people of Yemen between Sanà and Mareb. Pococke also refers to them as Dhu l'Chalaah. Yet Mr. Poole is unaware of any trace of Diklah in Arabic works, except the mention of a place called Dakalah in El-Yemameh, mentioned by Kamoos, where grew many palm-trees. Enough then appears to this day, even as to the least conspicuous of these early tribes of Arabia, not only to testify to the Mosaic account, but to demonstrate the gracious interest of God in the otherwise obscure and undistinguished races of mankind. We shall have occasion to speak of some not of the Shemitic stock who seem to have been the first that entered the peninsula as they also penetrated elsewhere the earliest after the dispersion. Also we have to take note of the repeated influx of the Abrahamic seed, outside those chosen and called, who settled in its wide domain and gave special form to a characteristic portion of its denizens. But this must suffice for the earlier names of Joktan's sons.
We have now to trace, as far as evidence reaches, the seats of Joktan's sons brought together in the verse before us, the eighth, ninth, and tenth names: "and Obal and Abimael and Sheba" (ver. 28). As before, some have left marks much more distinct than others; so it is in the present three.
Obal ("bare, or stript of leaves") is represented as "Ebal" (in the LXX. Εὐὰλ, in 1 Chron. 1:22 Γεμιάν). Arabic pronunciation still more closely approximates the name to the Abalites of Pliny, who are evidently the same as C. Ptolemy's Avalites with a bay and emporium of the same name. Indeed Bochart pronounces them to be no other than the name of the eighth son of Joktan. It is true that the settlement which thus recalls the founder was on the African side of the Red sea, not in Arabia; but this is no insuperable difficulty. We way not be able to trace such as abode with the great mass in Arabia; while it is of interest to identify such as crossed the strait to Africa. Nothing binds us to confine all the progeny of Joktan, save as a general rule, to Arabia. And the coast which affords the apparent traces of Obal was severed only by the narrow strait, called by the Greeks Παλίνδρομος, as was the promontory adjacent, and by the Arabs Bab-el-Mandeb. It is a strait made still easier, if not for commerce or passengers, for immigrants into Africa by intervening islands, Cytis, etc. In fact, though on the western side of the Strait, they were but a few miles distant from the coast of Yemen where their kindred abounded pre-eminently. The Gebanites with whom Knobel would identify them were no doubt in a general way their kinsmen; but where is any real evidence to show that they were the offspring of Obal? What has been above given suffices to prove that their mark was left south of Berenice Epidires, a town built by the Ptolemies at a much later day, north of the indentation which was called Avalites Sinus, on the south of which bay dwelt the Avalitae.
Abimael ("father of Mael," taken as an appellative, "fatness ") is to be found, it would seem, on the east of Yembo (Jambia) and even of the town Ausura (C. Ptolemy) or El-Szafra of Burckhardt. Their town is called both Malai and Kheyf, and appears in Theophrastus (Hist. Plant. ix. 4), along with three others celebrated of old for its spices, under the form Μάλι. The Alexandrian geographer speaks of Malichae in the neighbourhood of Yathreb or Iathrippph, in after history famous as El-Medineh, "the city" in the eyes of Mussulmans, about ten days' journey north of Mekka. The people of Mali or Malai seem no other than the Malichae. To this day the district has a high reputation for its balsam; the sale of which is even now an active trade, and highly remunerative. But of old it was very much more so, when Egypt and the West, Rome especially, used aromatics largely and luxuriously; whereas at present Persia appears to be the chief consumer. But Bochart's identification of Abimael with this people on the edge of the great Arabian desert appears to be well founded.
Sheba needs the greater care because in the inspired history we hear of no less than three heads of tribes who bore the name, the tenth of Joktan's sons now in question, preceded by the Cushite Raamah's son (ver. 7), and followed by the Abrahamic son of Keturah, Jokshan, who begat another Sheba (Gen. 25:2, 3).
But we may also distinguish Seba's posterity, Cush's eldest son, the Sebaim of eastern Arabia, to which they seem to have migrated from Chuzestan on the eastern side of the Persian gulf. They were dark-coloured, and very tall (Isa. 45:14), the Dowaser or Danasir Arabs of modern times. C. Ptolemy draws the line between these, the oldest, or amongst the oldest, settlers, and Sabeans in the province of Sabié (who appear to be descended of Sheba, Raamah's son), and calls them Sabai as distinct from those in the east coast of Oman, whom he names Sabi (or Asobi, the common Arabic prefix). Of the Jokshanite Sheba the less need be said, as they had their seat far north and were more obviously distinct.
The race from Joktan's son Sheba had their kingdom in the S.W. of Yemen; and these were the Sabeans, familiar to the Greeks and Romans, who had high notions of their wealth attributed to their own products without adequate account of their Indian trade. Their capital was called by Eratosthenes Mariaba, and by C. Ptolemy Sabatha Metropolis. The Arabs used both Mâreb and Saba. It is Abulfeda, as Mr. Forster shows (i. 155, 156), who in his geography expressly states that Mâreb was the central seat of the Beni Kahtan, i.e. the sons of Joktan. This can only be Sheba's posterity when we come to specify to which of Joktan's numerous sons in particular it belonged.
Nor is there any reasonable doubt that the Queen of Sheba, or as our Lord said "of the south," whose visit to King Solomon holds so interesting a place in scripture, ruled the, Sabean kingdom of which we have last spoken. Indeed "Yemen" means the south generally, and that quarter of Arabia, Felix in particular. But scripture carefully distinguishes the Shemitic lines of Sheba, Joktanite or Jokshanite (distinct as they are in themselves), from the Rahmanite Sheba in Yemen and the kindred Seba on or near the Persian gulf. It was the last race which gave its name to the kingdom of Meroe, far as its seats might be apart. Pliny confounded these races, as if one and the same ruled the entire south of the peninsula from west. to east; but C. Ptolemy as usual shows more exactness and discrimination. The "Sheba and Raamah" of Ezekiel 27:27 would seem to be the Cushite race in the west, as being spice merchants; whereas Sheba, Asshur, and Chilmad in ver. 23 point to the Keturah family as dealers in choice clothes or wares and bales of broidered work. This too was the Sheba that first plundered Job's possessions.
In addition to the sons already passed in review there remain three; "and Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab: all these were sons of Joktan" (ver. 29).
The local habitation of "Ophir" has been contested most notably; but no sufficient ground appears to look for it outside the peninsula. Josephus (Ant. viii. 6-4) referred it to India, as did Vitringa (Geog. Sac. 114), and Reland in his dissertation on the question, and of late Lassen, Ritter, Bertheau; again, Sir W. Raleigh to the Molucca Islands; and Pererius, Sir J. E. Tennent, Thenius, Ewald and Gen. Chesney (Euphrates ii. 126) to Malacca and the adjoining tracts. On the other hand, Huet, Bruce, Robertson the historian, Heeren, and Quatremère placed Ophir in Africa; and Plessis and A. Montanus contended for Peru, arguing from the word "Parvaim!" But Michaelis (Spicil. ii, 184), Karsten Niebuhr (Descr. de l'Arabie), Gosselin (Rech. sur la Geog. des Anciens, ii. 99), Vincent (Comm. and Nav. ii. 265-270), Crawford (Desc. Dict.), Forster (Geog. of Arabia i. 161-175), Fürst, Kalisch, Knobel (Völk. 190), and Winer (Realw.), assign it to Arabia. The learned Bochart (Phaleg ii. 27) was inclined to two Ophirs, one in Arabia, the other in Ceylon; as D'Anville admitted two, one in Arabia, the other in Africa. Gesenius, both in his Thes. and elsewhere, thought that the balance of evidence between Arabia and India was so even that he declined giving a decisive judgment.
The fact is, however, that ever since the maps of Sale and of D'Anville, as Mr. Forster observes (i. 167), Ofor or Ofir appears as the name of a city and district in the mountains of Omàn, seated on their eastern side, near the source of the Omàn river, and within about a degree, or a little more, of the coast; and the adjoining coast, lying due east under Ofir, was still celebrated in the elder Pliny's time (Nat. H. vi. 32) for its traffic in gold, "littus Hammaeum ubi auri metalla." This answers to the town and coast of Maham, as laid down in modern maps for that precise locality.
One of the chief arguments against Arabia by those who looked elsewhere is the absence of gold as a known product of the country for many years. But Dean Vincent had anticipated the objection by his remark that silver is not now found at Carthagena in Spain, where the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Romans, obtained it in great abundance. Niebuhr (iii. 256) says of this very province Omàn, "there is no want there of lead and copper mines"; and Mr. Wellsted (Travels in Arabia, i. 315) states that the notion is untrue that Arabia is wholly destitute of the precious metals. "In this province we meet with silver, associated as usual with lead. Copper is also found: at a small hamlet, on the road from Semed to Neswah, there is a mine which the Arabs at present work; but the others are wholly neglected. Even in the vicinity of Maskat the hills are very metalliferous," In ancient times the testimony is distinct that Arabia was a gold-producing land. Thus Agatharchides the geographer who lived in the second century before Christ testifies to it (Hudson's Geog. Min. i. 60); a little later wrote Artemidorus, whose account Strabo reproduces (xiv. 18); Diodorus Sic. is no less plain in his Bibliotheca (ii. 50, iii. 44); and Pliny the elder as we have seen; to whom from Eusebius' Praep. Evang. ix. 30 we may add the testimony of Eupolemus before the Christian era: only that he affirms Ophir to be an island with old mines in the Erythrean sea, i.e., the sea that compassed Arabia, west, south, and east. At the least Ophir was the emporium whence not gold only but algum trees, red sandalwood or whatever else is meant, and precious stones, were brought.
No one denies that peacocks, apes, and ivory point further east than Arabia; but Ophir was their meeting place and mart. It is to be noticed that Uphaz, as equivalent to Ophir, means "isle of fine gold," if there was another such place besides the inland one still bearing the name.
The family of "Havilah" have left their mark in the country in a distinct manner, though the name is as usual somewhat disguised by the difference of pronunciation which prevailed when there was little of known pervading literature to fix it. Only we have to take into account that there was a Cushite Havilah which extended itself in its branches over the peninsula from the N.E. to the S.W. These we have to discriminate from the Joktanite tribe which found their place, it would seem, chiefly among their kindred. But as the names of their respective patriarchs were identical, so the same changes of form prevailed over tie descendants of each, and the places which derived their designation from them. Thus Khaulan or Haulan evidently sprang from Havilah, harder or softer, as also Hévila and Hali, and Strabo's Chaalla, as we may see in Niebuhr, So Dr. Wells long ago from Bochart noticed the Chaulothaei of Eratosthenes, the Chaulosii of Festus Avienus, the Chablasii of Dionysius Periegetes, and the Chavilei of Pliny. Mr. Forster puts the case yet more strongly that, when in Ptolemy we read Huaela or Huaila, and in Niebuhr Huala, or more correctly Hauilah, we have before us literally the Havilah of the Hebrew Scripture, Aval or Aual being a dialectic softening which prevails on the Persian Gulf. In Yemen, and north of it, it eau hardly be doubted that the Joktanite section of Havilah prevailed.
Nor is there any serious question as to the descendants of "Jobab" in the clan of Jobaritae. They are mentioned by G. Ptolemy as dwelling in the south and near the Sachalitae, who gave their name to the well known bay. Besides, we hear of the Beni Jobub or Jubbar of Niebuhr, as the existing name of a tribe S.E. of Beishe or Baisath Joktan, halfway between Uzal (Sanà) and Sabata (the modern Zebid). Thus there seems no sufficient reason to doubt the identification. The variations of form at most found in this casein no way hinder the recognition of the ancient designation; while the measure of change is no more than time brings about in the immovable east, even in a land so shut out from intercourse with mankind in general. It is truly remarkable that, for every member of Joktan's numerous sons, living representatives should be traceable, attesting in a simple but striking way the inestimable value of God's word, long before human records, even then few and failing till long after.
The verse we are now to consider demands close investigation, as it is not without importance and difficulty also. "And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest to Sephar, a mountain of the east" (ver. 30). It is beyond question a general description of the limits within which dwelt the many sons of Joktan. We have already identified in detail their local habitation throughout Arabia, with the slight exception of those who crossed to the western shore of the narrow strait that severs their father's land from Africa. There is therefore, the best reason to reject the idea that they left, their original seats for dwellings between "Mount Masius in the south part of Mesopotamia and an imaginary" mount adjoining Siphare, a city in Asia, as Dr. E. Wells conjectured in his Help to the Holy Scriptures i. 77 (Oxford, 1728). In fact Mount Masius forms the northern boundary of Mesopotamia; but, this is a slight misapprehension to which the Μασσῆ of the LXX. may have led, in comparison with the chief error, as the Persian Siphare (city or mount) is still more untenable. And so must one think of Dr. C. Wordsworth's idea of Mesha as an island of the Tigris and of a Sephar on the Persian Gulf. Such limits do not include the dwellings of Joktan's sons.
Very different is the hypothesis of Bochart (Phaleg iii. 29) who identifies Mesha with Meza, which seems to be the same as Ptolemy's Μασσῆ (or Μοῦζα in the Periplûs), a little north of the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb. But as he considers Sephar to be the mountain near Saphar in the hill-country between Yemen and Hadrámaut, it seems clear that such limits (little above 200 miles) are incompatible with the widespread dispersion of the sons of Joktan throughout the southern half of the peninsula. For "the east" seems no difficulty when we bear in mind its usage as in Gen. 25:6.
Gesenius (Thes. i. 823) inclined therefore to the suggestion of J. D. Michaelis (Spicil. ii. 214, Suppl. 1561) of a Mesene (or Middle-land) between the mouths of the Pastigris. Hence he understood the last part of our verse to mean "from Mesha unto Sephar and (or as far as) the mountain land of Arabia." He lays it down as certain that "mountain in the east" is not to be joined in apposition with Sephar, but is some other third place to which the boundary extended. It is difficult to understand on what ground this consummate Hebraist so decidedly maintained a construction which seems extremely harsh; for his rationalism did not here intrude to bias him. Like many, he and of late M. Frèsnel (Lettres sur l'Hist. des Arabes) regarded Sephar as the metropolis of the region of Shehr, between Hadrámaut and Omàn; as the highland of the east he held to be the chain of mountains near the middle of Arabia from the Hedjaz on the Persian Gulf. It is called today Dhafàri or Dhafàr. But as of the ancient name, so of the modern, there are various places so called.
It becomes therefore a nice point to decide which is here intended. For there are, as C. Niebuhr and E. S. Poole say, no less than four places bearing the same name, besides several others bearing names that are merely variations from the same root. Now Niebuhr (Descr. iii. 206, 207) speaks both of the ruins of Dhafàr near Yemen, and of Sumara or Nak'l Sumara as the greatest and the highest mountain he had ascended in Yemen, and very probably the same that the Greek geographers called Climax (Κλίμαξ ὄρος of C. Ptol. vi. 7). This is near the Dhafàr which Bochart identifies with the Σαπφάρα μητρόπολις of Ptolemy, capital of the Σαπφαρῖται (vi. 6, § 25), and with the Sephar in our text. Dhafàr seems the same city a little disguised, which the author of the Periplus and Diodorus Sic. called Aphar, as others call it Tafar?
If then Sephar be traced to the Dhafàr on the border of Yemen and Hadrámaut in the S.W. of Arabia, this goes far to determine the site of Mesha as in the N. E. of the peninsula. This satisfies best the compendious summary of the Joktanite settlements, answering to the similar allusion to the Canaanite border, N. and S. in ver. 19, which follows the details of their several families. Now there is a mountain chain in the Nedjd, which was the boundary of the sons of Joktan in that very region, on the north of which wandered their adversaries, the sure indication of a distinct race.* The Beni Shaman or Samman, the sons of Mishma or Masma, son of Ishmael, being no other than the Μαισαιμανεῖς of Ptol. (vi. 7, § 21), jealously guarded mount Zames or Zametas (as the Alexandrian Geographer calls the mountain) against intrusion from the south, where lay the Κατανῖται or Joktanite races. Equally hostile were the Aenezes, or gang of Kenaz. Hence Chesney's suggestion of Mekkah for Mesha is untenable; for the tribe of Harb, the Cerbae, Darrae, etc., descendants of Kedar and enemies of the Joktanites, was paramount in the Hedjaz. The Kenezites, or sons of Kenaz, were of Edomite extraction and dwelt north of the Salapeni, or sons of Sheleph, a Joktanite,
* "These [the Metyr Arabs] strengthened their party by an alliance with the Kahtan Arabs; while the Aenezes were assisted by the Beni Shaman. Between these tribes an inveterate hatred subsisted; which every spring was the cause of much bloodshed and checked the commercial intercourse with the Hedjaz." (Burckhardt's Travels in Arabia, ii. 401).
It may be added that it was to Yemen the Greek and Latin geographers applied the epithet Εὐδαίμων, or Felix (Happy), which was at a later time extended more widely, as when one of our own poets speaks of "Araby the Blest." There was no little exaggeration in allowing the justice of such a claim, even allowing for the mystery in which the Arabian traders indulged with their western and even eastern customers, in attributing to their own country some precious imports from lands more distant still. For mendacity has long infected the Arab people like others of the east. Yet it is not improbable, as Oriental scholars suggest, that the designation may have been an accidental misnomer. Thus Felix was a mistranslation of El-Yemen, or the right hand, the fortunate side in usage of the Greeks, whom the Roman poets mostly followed, Notoriously, as the face was directed to the east, so the peninsula lay as compared with Syria, Esh-Sham, the left hand. Hence was Arabia said to be "fortunate" or "blessed" through a word of good omen, which was afterwards by a mistake construed of extraordinary wealth and fertility.
If Mohammedan fanaticism has for long centuries shut out Arabia and its numerous races from the free or friendly intercourse of the rest of mankind, it is interesting to note the striking help given by the Greek and Latin geographers before and since the Christian era to identify places and races with those which then existed. Of comparatively late years the travels of G. Niebuhr, Burckhardt, and Wellsted have contributed to prove that they still exist, though it also appears that the religious imposture has not failed to cover the land and the people with malignant and withering influence. For there are but traces and ruins where considerable tribes and cities once flourished. Happily for the object here in view in no part of the world do names abide more signally resisting change or surviving it, than among the sons of the east.
Subsequent statements in the Book of Genesis give particulars of other families of the Shemitic stock who entered the Arabian Peninsula. All that is intended here is to fill up the general view of its denizens, in order to complete the picture, in this measure anticipating what follows our chapter. As sons of Cush were the first to settle within it, chiefly on the Persian Gulf and the S.W. coast skirted by the Red Sea, before Joktan and his sons possessed themselves so largely of its borders and interior, we may notice first Ishmael and his sons as a most characteristic class of the dwellers in Arabia. No prediction of the kind has been more signally fulfilled than Gen. 16:12: "He will be a wild ass of a man, his hand against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell before the face of all his brethren."
In vain has the sceptical Gibbon (Decline and Fall, chaps. 46 and 50) strained his ingenuity to get rid of their standing independence, felt alike by strangers and by natives. There it is to this day, as it has been through all history. Of whom else can it be pretended similarly? The overruling power of God, as always, has guarded His word. Ishmael, though in no way the line of covenant any more than Esau, has lived before Him. Other peoples, and conspicuously in their neighbourhood, have dwindled and disappeared, I do not say they are extinguished. Ishmael He made fruitful and a great nation. In this world as it is, no sane person denies checks or exceptions during the course of ages, when God was ignored or misrepresented. But even the infidel historian had to acknowledge that these exceptions were "temporary or local." "The body of the nation has escaped the yoke of the most powerful monarchies: the arms of Sesostris and Cyrus, of Pompey and Trajan, could never achieve the conquest of Arabia. The present sovereign of the Turks may exercise a shadow of jurisdiction, but his pride is reduced to solicit the friendship of a people, whom it is dangerous to provoke and fruitless to attack."
The wilderness of Paran was the earliest seat of Ishmael; but his posterity extended completely across the northern parts of Arabia, including the district of Sinai on the west to the Euphrates. In this district the sons of Keturah also dwelt, and thus Ishmaelites or Hagarites got mixed up with Midianites, as we may see in Gen. 37:25-28, 36, Judges 8:22-26, 1 Chron. 5:20. Nebaioth, Ishmael's firstborn, gave his name to the large region of Arabia Petraea; where Josephus places all the other sons. But this is too limited; for they settled also south of what the ancients called Nabathea or Nabateus. They bred camels, and kept sheep, as they were also merchants in aromatics and other commodities. Like other rationalists, Gibbon imputes their love of independence to their accidental locality. It was rather their wild character which availed itself of rocks and deserts; and God so acted as to suit both to His word and will. Here too the Edomites, or sons of Esau, found their place in mount Seir.
The second of Ishmael's sons was Kedar (from whom Mohammed proclaimed his descent through the tribe of Koreish), the Cedrei of Pliny, Cadraitae or Kadranitae from time immemorial living in the Hedjaz; as the B'nei Kenaz dwelt and still dwell in the interior N.E. who are called in modern times the Aenezes, descendants of Esau, the largest (as Burckhardt says) of all the Bedouin tribes of Arabia, at constant feud with the Joktanites south of them, as their progeny are to this day. Some of the other sons of Ishmael may be more or less obscure; but this cannot be said of Dumah (who had also the characteristic title of B'nei Kalb, as the Kedarites were correspondingly styled B'nei Karb), and Tema, written large and deep in the northern part of the Negd, as the interior highlands of Arabia are called among themselves.
There is no intention at this point to give more than a general notion of the relation of the Ishmaelites and other Abrahamidae to the previous settlers in Arabia. But it is well to bear all in mind, as each race had its influence on the circumstances and history of a land remarkably divided.
"These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations" (ver. 31).
Blessing in the prophecy of Noah was assigned to Shem, or more strictly the word was "Blessed [be] Jehovah, the God of Shem." So it has been; so faith knows now; so it will be completely fulfilled, when Christ makes the truth indisputable in glorious results to every eye. This is not the design of God either by the gospel or in the church; it is reserved for the age to come.
The notion of such as Renan (Hist. Générale des Langues Sémit.), that the Shemitic races were to be in purpose or in fact monotheistic is a delusion. As the Adamic condition of innocence yielded to sin, so did the post-diluvian government of the world break down, and God's judgment of the earth with which it was preceded was soon darkened and perverted to serving other gods. Ham may lead the way, as beyond doubt the beginning of Nimrod's kingdom was Babel; but Asshur soon followed in the same path, not of ambition only but of idolatry; and the very family of him that was chosen to be the father of the faithful were thus corrupted when the call of God called him out to bless him and make him a blessing to all families of the earth (Joshua 24:2). Thus no flesh can glory in itself or its ways. Let him that glorieth glory in Jehovah.
Even Max Müller, though far from believing reverence, is compelled by overwhelming facts to abandon the Rationalistic dream and to pay in a measure at least to the truth, as another has culled out of his "Chips out of a German Workshop," i. 345. "Can it be said that a monotheistic instinct could have been implanted in all those nations which adored Elohim, Jehovah, Sabaoth, Moloch, Nisroch, Rimmon, Nebo, Dagon, Ashtaroth, Baal or Bel, Baal-peor, Baalzebub, Chemosh, Milcom, Adrammelech, Anammelech, Nibhaz and Tartak, Ashima, Nergal, Succoth-benoth, the sun, the moon, the planets, and all the host of heaven." Shemitic races worshipped these and more.
In the same work M. M. goes farther still in his disproof. "Nor is it possible to explain on merely historical grounds how the Hebrews first obtained and so persistently clung to this grand first truth. Their chronicles show continual lapses into idolatry, and yet they always recovered themselves; till at last, after a bitter discipline of national calamities, they finally turned with enthusiastic devotion to the worship of Jehovah.
"Reference to a primitive religious instinct in mankind is as little satisfactory; for though there must have been such an intuitive sentiment in the earliest men as the basis of their future idolatries, it could only have impressed on them the existence of some Divine Being, but in no degree involved the conception of that Being, as one and one only, but as all history proves, tended to the very opposite. Nor can it be said that the Hebrew worked out the great truth by a profound philosophy; for no contrast could be greater between the Jewish mind and that of other nations of antiquity sprung from a different stock, than the utter absence from it of the metaphysical speculations in which other races delighted.
"Yet, while all nations over the earth have developed a religious tendency which acknowledged a higher than human power in the universe, Israel is the only one which has risen to the grandeur of conceiving this power as the One, Only, Living God." Better still is his closing confession: "If we are asked how it was that Abraham possessed not only the primitive conception of the divinity as He has revealed Himself to all mankind [a very questionable proposition, corrected anticipatively in Rom. 1:19, 20], but passed, through the denial of other gods, to the knowledge of the one God, we are content to answer that it was by a special divine revelation" (ib. i. 372).
When the Anointed came, He tested this "enthusiastic devotion to the worship of Jehovah," and proved as Isaiah had testified long before, that in vain the people worshipped Him, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men. For had they learned of the Father they would have come to Christ, but they knew neither the Son nor the Father Who sent Him. "Who is the liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is the Antichrist that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son hath not the Father either, he that confesseth the Son hath the Father also" (1 John 2:22, 23).
The day is at hand when the worthlessness of Jewish devotion even to monotheism or rather to their Elohim, or Jehovah, will be manifest. For, as the rejected Messiah warned, the unclean spirit of idolatry which they then thought and still think exorcised for ever, will return to his house empty, swept, and garnished; and just because it is empty, instead of filled with His presence Who is Jehovah as well as Messiah. Yea more, he will take to himself in that day (for it is not yet fulfilled) seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man becometh worse than the first. Even thus shall it be also to this wicked generation (Matt. 12). To banish idols and judge idolatry for ever is reserved for the Lord in the day of His appearing.
In the concluding verse we have the still larger summary of the post-diluvian earth, which furnishes occasion for a general survey.
"These [are the] families of Noah's sons, after their generations, in their nations; and by these were separated the nations in the earth after the flood" (verse 32).
It is not only that mankind sprang from a single pair created innocent as Adam and Eve were. A fresh start for the race began after the deluge which judged the guilty mass. From Noah and his three sons preserved from destruction, conditions began which subsist today and will for their descendants till, with the clouds of heaven, the Son of man come to Whom shall be given dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all peoples, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. So recent comparatively is the history of man, and his tripartite separation of land and tongue, family and nation. For instead of beginning with a single line, we have three heads with their wives, three great families to renew the history of man on earth with the experience derived from the antediluvian earth.
What can be vainer than the dreams of men? From the only evidence we have, happily the highest, surest, and most authoritative of testimony we know that primeval man was as far as possible from savagery. He was set in a garden or park of delights, where grew every tree pleasant to the sight, and good for food. Even when transgression entailed man's expulsion from Paradise, and sons were in due time born, the elder was a husbandman, the younger a shepherd. Town life began for some, nomad habits for others, the forging of tools, bronze and iron, and the making instruments of music, wind and stringed all this before our first parents died.
It would seem in fact that it was after not only the deluge but the dispersion of the various families, that the more distant and isolated tribes degenerated into a savage condition. To this deserts and forests, marshes and mountains, would expose men, when they found themselves severed from others by distinct tongues, and the national barriers drew in their train opposing interests, and the difficulties of subsistence increasing with population. Hunting soon led to encroachment on human liberty, as our chapter has shown. There was corruption and violence before the flood, a great reason for it though by no means the only one; but there is no evidence of idolatry till after. We know it had set in even through Abraham's progenitors before his call. But idolatry, once introduced, spread like fire, and added enormously to the debasement of its victims.
The Japhetic race is first traced in the early verses (2-5), and with marked brevity. Japheth's sons present the great outline of those that possessed themselves of the north from east to west in Asia and Europe. From two only do we hear of descendants, though doubtless all had; but here we have only the sons of Gomer and of Javan. These were respectively the families which peopled Asia Minor, and Armenia on the east, and the sons of Javan whom we cannot fail to identify with the Greek or Hellenic families, extending to Spain, France, Italy and Sicily, the isles or maritime coasts of the nations.
Much more detail is assigned to Ham, who occupies verses 6 to 20. And with that holy boldness and candour which characterises the truth, this chapter hides not but sets before us plainly the early rise of kingly power in that race. The beginning of Nimrod's kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar; Nimrod was of Cush, Ham's eldest son. He and he alone is here described in terms so strong, even if we conceive that Asshur went out from that land, though of Shem's stock, and emulated Nimrod's ambitious example by building Nineveh and three cities more in Assyria. The sons of Cush include much beyond Ethiopia, but are distinct from Mizraim and Phut as well as Canaan, minutely enumerated, though none so much as that race accursed of God which Israel was responsible to blot out.
Last of all we come to Shem's descendants in vers. 21-31, singularly described as father of all the sons of Eber, brother of Japheth the elder. Eber led the way through Peleg in due time to the father of the faithful. If Shem had not the natural priority over Japheth, he pre-eminently had the blessing, as Canaan the curse. Elam is the first named son, progenitor of those east of Persia proper, occupying the province of which Shushan or Susa was capital. It early rose to power, but faded before the energy of Assyria and Babylon, till with Persia and Media it shared the power of the second world-kingdom. Arphaxad will find his developed place in Gen. 11. The Lydians answer to Lud, and Syrians to Aram. Attention is drawn under Peleg to the significant fact of the earth divided in his day. And the list closes with Joktan and his sons who fill Arabia from S.W. to N.E. as the Ishmaelites, Keturahites, and Edomites distinguish the north and west. But of these we have no particulars till later in the book of Genesis, so that we speak here only of the fact in general.
The last chapter gave us with minute detail the new fact on the earth of the sons of Noah after their generations, in their nations, after their tongues, and in their lands. Here were traits and arrangements, unknown to the world before the deluge, and in no degree seen for some time after. Gen. 10 casts invaluable light, found nowhere else, on the rise of those families distributed on the earth, every one after his tongue. It is only in Gen. 11 that we find the originating cause and occasion. The previous chapter comes in, not flowing according to historic time, but as a descriptive parenthesis between Gen. 9 and 11. It was of very great importance to give us inspired certainty where men had no adequate record, and no reliable tradition; where pride hastened to disguise or forget a divine judgment which effectually rebuked it. East or west, men set up claims to be indigenous from the first, sprung from their own soil; and if they believed that man was an outcast from Paradise, though in forms disguised by pride, setting up to speak the original language of our primeval parents.
The A.V. fails to express the two thoughts. The speech and the words were alike one. "And the whole earth was of one language (lip) and the words one" (or the same) (11:1). The Latin Vulgate gives the literal reflection of the Hebrew text. Moses beyond doubt here goes back to the universal state of mankind for a certain period after the great catastrophe of the flood. Till then and after it, man had but one "lip" and the same words.
There had been ample space before the deluge for the development of many languages. Soon after the murder of Abel had furious Cain gone forth, an unrepentant despairing man, who failed to profit by Jehovah's patience, and dwelt in the land of Nod, away from the scene which even he could not face at ease or unabashed. There is no real ground to accept either von Bohlen's identification with India, or Knobel's with China. Enough for us to know that the land of his "Wandering," as it means, was toward or in front of the east of Eden. Still less can we identify the city Cain built and called "Enoch" after the name of his son. But the Holy Spirit plainly intimates the rise in his line (not of a rudiment of a different tongue nor of a distinct nationality which we in our ignorance might have thought only natural, but) of science and art, and even the fine arts. The holy wisdom of God took care to apprise His people of the true origin of civic life as well as of nomad, the latter not previous but posterior, of music and its practice in stringed and wind instruments, of the working in copper and iron, of polygamy, and self-occupied verse, the first recorded song of man. It is a picture of man's skill and energy, civilisation, letters, and luxury. The Pagans long after attributed these to their spurious gods but real demons. Here we have them shown to be the inventions of men far from God, vainly striving to make the earth of their exile a paradise of their own.
But here first do we learn how, when, where, and why it was that diversity of tongues superseded the "one lip" which had characterised the whole earth hitherto. The original unity of language prevailed for some time after the deluge, as uninterruptedly before it. This is an immense difficulty to such as reason from the existing multiplicity of tongues; for there are confessedly at least 900 in possession of the earth. Of late the researches of the learned have reduced them to families or groups, and have named these Aryan, Shemitic, and Turanian. But a deeper affinity has disclosed itself to patient, comprehensive, and minute study. For these family groups, whatever their strongly marked distinctions from each other, have been proved to yield decided proofs of common relationship, which cannot be thought accidental but indicative of one source. Thus were scholars forced to the conclusion, neither expected nor desired by most, but opposed strongly to the scepticism of many, that these languages point to a time when was spoken but one and the same tongue, whence all drew those common evidences of flowing from the same fountain-head.
Such was the judgment of A, von Humboldt. in treating of the prolific varieties of aboriginal American speech in his contribution to the "Asia Polyglotta," p. vi. (Paris, 1823). Such too was the conviction of Julius Klaproth in that erudite survey itself of the Asiatic tongues. It is the more striking because the latter's incredulity is daring and undisguised. Nor was any wish more from his heart than testifying in result to the truth of inspired history. Yet he declared that, in his comparative tables etc., "the universal affinity of languages is placed in so strong a light that it must be considered by all as completely demonstrated. This does not appear explicable on any other hypothesis than that of admitting fragments of a primary language yet to exist through all the languages of the old and new worlds" (Vorr. § ix.).
But the believer stands on an impregnable and unchanging vantage ground. He receives the fact on the word of God, and therefore in simple faith common to all who are led of the Holy Spirit, apart from all linguistic lore, apart from all historic investigation where so much is difficult and obscure, apart from philosophical discussion where vanity revels in opposing old hypotheses and inventing new ones of the day and the man. He knows the only true God, the Father, and Jesus Christ, His sent One; living of that life eternal he delights to honour that word which is open to Jew or Greek, bond or free. But he is not displeased to note how the adversaries of revelation are compelled to bow to the force of proofs which divine mercy leaves to convince inquirers, even though pursuing their own paths without a care for His truth or glory, perhaps not afraid to gainsay Him now and then, as they are estranged from the life of God by reason of the hardness of their hearts.
Is it objected that these were investigators early in the century? Though one distrusts the childish assumption that recent men have better knowledge or judgment, for such experts are rare, let them learn that in this field no living man has greater claim to be heard than Max Müller; that he is morbidly afraid of mixing up theological arguments with his "Science of Language;" and that his real object was not at all to assert revealed truth, but to show how rash it was to speak of different independent beginnings in the history of human speech, before a single argument had been brought forward to establish the necessity of such an admission. On the contrary he endeavoured to show how even the most distant members of the Turanian family (the one spoken in the north, the other in the south of Asia) have preserved in their grammatical organisation traces of a former unity. So later he says, in the enthusiasm of his theme, though in terms which a, believer could not endorse, "the Science of Language thus leads us up to that summit from whence we see into the very dawn of man's life on earth; and where the words which we have heard so often since the days of our childhood — 'and the whole earth was of one language and of one speech' — assume a meaning more natural, more intelligible, more convincing than they had before." This is so doubtless to himself and others like him on natural ground; but to him who sets to his seal that God is true, no evidences or reasonings of man can compare with the certainty, simplicity, or sweetness of God's testimony. If the child accepts it without question, the mature Christian finds in it truth which lifts him far above the summits of philology, and jarring or jealous disputes of philosophers, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth: possibility, probability, necessity are their respective idols, one as vain and unreliable as another.
How many dialects, how many languages, have on the one hand perished practically, or have on the other sprung really into being and the most extensive use, long since the Christian era! Yet here, on the shortest reckoning for nearly as many centuries since our first parents were created, we have the fact calmly and clearly revealed, which was nowhere else made known and wholly inconsistent with human experience as well as all scientific theory of languages, that there was but one "lip" or (as we and others say) one tongue, the "words" also one and the same. This we believe, without reasoning which is here out of court, from one qualified divinely to give us certainty. For Moses was distinguished above even all other prophets, who had a vision or a dream adequate in the power of the Spirit. But to him mouth to mouth did Jehovah speak openly.
So too did the Son of God, both in the days of His flesh and after He rose from the dead, attest Moses, not only as the channel but as the writer of the Law or Five Books (John 5, Luke 20 and 24). But if in presence of supernatural power sons of Israel "were not afraid to speak against" him living, we need not wonder that, in fallen yet haughty and unbelieving Christendom, professing Christians take their place with infidel Jews, in denying that he wrote aught but the merest shreds. These shreds some of these men do rather pretend (for there is no ground, but their self-sufficiency) to identify among the legends of an Elohist, and a Jehovist, with as many more imaginary hands in the patch-work as the pseudocriticism may invent to hide its empty and naked impotence. Not that any prophet failed to give the word of God; but Moses, besides the divine authority which attached to what he wrote as well as spoke from Jehovah, had a divine intimacy peculiar to himself, the fruit of which is in no part of the Law more conspicuous or of richer consequence than in the book of Genesis.
"And it came to pass as they journeyed [lit. pulled up their tent-stakes] east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Come, let us make bricks and burn (them) thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and asphalt had they for mortar. And they said, Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower, whose top [head] (may be) to the heavens; and let us make ourselves a name, lest we be scattered over the face of the whole earth." (vers. 2-4)
Things were no longer as before God's judgment in the deluge, when men were left, outside paradise, to their own ways without covenant or government. The law which tested innocent Adam in the garden did not apply to himself when an outcast or to his sons who were never there. As fallen men, however, they had conscience, that invaluable monitor universally possessed, which does not fail inwardly. to pronounce on right and wrong, or, as scripture says, "to know good and evil." Nor were they without revelation to and through their first father, brief indeed but of unspeakable moment to fallen man. Other divine intimations also followed, even to Cain, as well as Enoch, Lamech, and Noah: each of deep importance; all together not beyond what the fear of God in every one was bound to weigh, and fairly remember, and might fully profit by.
Only after the flood came in the great principle of divine government laid on man responsibly, never to be revoked to the eternal day. It was not creation left to itself in departure from God, but creation set under government in human hands. Noah walked with God. But Noah, preserved with his family from the destruction which befell the world of ungodly men, failed in an unwatchful hour to govern himself; as his sin and shame gave occasion to the heartless rebellious wickedness of a son, who brought on a curse narrowed to one line instead of overspreading all his seed. But the government, which from God through man abode unreversed, spite of personal flaws does still to this day. For there is no authority except what is from God; and those authorities that exist are established by God.
We have now a new development, in which not one or a few but the race displayed its state. God originally had in blessing men said, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it. After the deluge, His word to Noah and his sons still was, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. But mankind, though awed by that judgment, had no care to do His will. Their mind was to keep together. And assuredly they pitched on a region, by its great rivers on either side and its exceeding fertility, eminently suited for their purpose; which was to constitute themselves a universal republic without God. Was it then for man to live by bread alone? So at least they spoke and acted: God was in none of their thoughts. It was the first joint, and public, step of the post-diluvian race, They were without excuse, not only because of the witness to God's eternal power and divinity manifested to them, but from such knowledge of God as Noah, "preacher of righteousness," professed and testified, backed by such an intervention as the deluge itself fresh in their memory. They glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful. Into what folly in their inward reasonings this led them ere long need not be stated here. For we do not as yet hear of that new plague of Satan, idolatry; but it soon followed, as we way assuredly gather from Joshua 24:2, Romans 1:20-23.
But we do learn their united purpose, independent of God, yea, in defiance of His will that they should fill the earth. As stone and lime were not furnished by the plain of Shinar, they none the less resolved to build a city and a tower; and they had brick thoroughly burnt for stone, and asphalt, of which abundance was there, for mortar. But their aim (for this it is that mainly determines man's acts and life) — what was their object? "Come (said they) let us build ourselves a city and a tower, whose top (may reach) to the heavens; and let us make ourselves a name, lest we be scattered over the face of the whole earth." There is no need to conceive that more was meant in their aspiration, than in the depressing tone of the spies in Deut. 1:28: "the cities are great and walled up to heaven."
Nothing was farther from their thoughts or from common sense than to rear a pile to save them from another deluge, as some have fancied for them. God had solemnly assured Noah that this was never to be again. If they had nevertheless dreaded it, the highest of lands might have been chosen with that foolish design; certainly not the low-lying plain they settled on. It was a deep-laid human scheme, ignoring God altogether, and in rebellious self-will; it was for "ourselves" throughout. It was not merely a city to live in (which had been from early days), but to "build ourselves a city and a tower," and with high-flown pretensions. But worse still, "let us make ourselves a name." What! poor sinners, saved by divine mercy, from the flood that swept all else away! Noah, they well knew, built an altar and offered Burnt offerings. The earth as a whole now changes all that. They sought to themselves a conspicuous centre for every eye; they would make themselves a name, though this belongs only to God, or to a head with all authority delegated of Him. What is man to be accounted, whose breath is in his nostrils?
Yet clearly had they, notwithstanding their self-sufficiency, the fear that accompanies a bad conscience; for what they sought was "lest they should be scattered upon the face of the whole earth." But therefore it was that Jehovah scattered them. Their forebodings were more than realised in a scattering, by Him Whom they willingly forgot, which immediately and completely dispersed them and their descendants till this day.
These verses are a striking example of the childlike simplicity which, as it characterised the ways of God with man in these early days, is reflected in the divine record, and nowhere more so than in the book of Genesis. There it was in the account of creation in itself (Gen. 1), and in its varied relations (Gen. 2). Nor was it only with Adam and Eve, innocent or fallen (Gen. 3), but with wicked Cain (Gen. 4) and with righteous Noah (Gen. 6-9). A similar feature prevails throughout the book, as the expression on the one hand of tender interest and on the other hand of His heart grieved by perverseness and rebellion in those that were the object of His great and countless favours. We see it even with such as Pharaoh (Gen. 12) and Abimelech (Gen. 21), not only with Abraham (Gen. 12-22), Isaac (Gen. 26) and Jacob (Gen. 28), but with Sarah. (Gen. 18:15) and Laban too (Gen. 31), Hagar also (Gen. 16:7-13), and Rebekah (Gen. 25:23). The same simplicity characterises the ways as the words of God, and produced like effects on the faithful.
"And Jehovah came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of Man builded. And Jehovah said, Behold, the people [are] one, and have all one language (lip); and this have they begun to do; and now they will not be hindered in all that they meditate to do. Come, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech (lip)" (vers 5-7).
He Who is not the Creator only but the moral governor, Jehovah, came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of Man builded. No designation suited the occasion but this. For He it is Who concerned Himself with all who stood in moral relation with Him, as He had breathed into the nostrils of their first father the breath of life In the style of the account He would also impress His people with, His calm and full judicial survey of men's ways, though all was known to Him from the beginning (ver. 5). God was in none of their thoughts. They never thought of a temple to His honour being a centre for themselves. They built no altar to Jehovah, as Noah did on emerging from the ark. They called not on His name, neither sought they His will. On the contrary, "let us make us a name" was their purpose; "let us build us a city and a tower, whose top [is] unto heaven," their plan, "lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth."
It was Jehovah thrown off in open independency; and as He saw and said and wrought before the deluge, so did He now deliberately and righteously deal with this new and daring impiety. We may be assured that those who walked with God had no fellowship with a project of practical atheism. If they forgot Him, it is no wonder that Noah or Shem did not enter their minds. To the exclusion of God, the root of all infidelity, they would make themselves a public centre and a striking rallying-place. What did it matter to them that God called man to replenish the earth? Here on this fertile plain, watered by two noble rivers, would they dwell, and construct such a visible symbol of that union which is strength as would keep them together and guard against all danger of scattering. But Jehovah had His plan wholly differing; and at they abandoned both Him and His expressed will, so He made manifest their folly, and perforce scattered them by a simple, peaceful, and effectual means which subsists to this day. How vain is human wisdom in collision with God! How ineffectual is the prudence that trusts self and does without Him! What sin too!
"And Jehovah said, Behold, the people are one, and have all one language, and this have they begun to do; and now they will not be hindered in all that they meditate to do. Come, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech."
The race had dared to set themselves in direct opposition to Jehovah, Who, in answer to Noah's offering of sweet savour, had guaranteed the continuance of the earth with its seasons, the ground to be cursed no more for man's sake, nor any more every living thing to be smitten as by the deluge. It was not the day for the powers of heaven to be shaken, nor for the kingdom of God to come in power and glory for the earth. But as the principle of government had been set up in Noah, so Jehovah was content to confound man's scheme of union without God, themselves the makers of a centre the work of their own device and of their own hands! It was a universal socialism they sought, which Jehovah brought to nought by the confusion of tongues. This compelled them, not only to give up their godless project, but to disperse according to His will and replenish the earth.
What a contrast with God's work in the church! Therein grace gathered from every nation under heaven. There in honour of Him, the righteous Servant of Jehovah (Who suffered for our sins to the uttermost, died, rose, and ascended). His name was the God-given centre; and in virtue of one Spirit were we all baptised into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free, and were all given to drink of one Spirit. Thus was He Whom all in heaven adore made the object of worship and service for all that believe on earth: a worthy and divine centre; else it would have been an idolatrous rival and a derogation from the true God. But on the contrary it is His revealed word that we honour Christ as we honour the Father, Who is' only known and possessed by such as thus confess the Son. And in witness of the gracious power of God in Christ, while the government of men was left as it had been, and the effect of divine judgment in divers tongues still subsists, His love wrought in unlettered Jews, become Christians, to proclaim the wonderful works of God in all the tongues of Gentiles.
Still greater or at least wider and more conspicuous will the contrast be when the Son of man appears in the clouds of heaven, dominion and glory given Him, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages shall serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. Even then manifestly all the peoples, languages, and nations remain, but in blessed harmony around the true centre to the glory of God the Father. Only in the eternal state will such distinctions vanish, when God shall be all in all, and His tabernacle be with men.
As the case of the Babel-builders is quite misconceived latterly by some of influence, it seems well to review the observations made by the late Abp. Whately in the third Preliminary Dissertation of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (ed. eighth). Here they are in extenso.
"There is reason to believe that the confusion which is recorded as having occurred at Babel* afterwards called Babylon,* and which caused the dispersion of mankind into various countries, was in reality a dispute among them as to their worship of some god or gods. This at least is certain, that the scheme mentioned in Gen. 11 was something displeasing to God, and therefore could not have been merely the building of a tower. And it is plain also from the Bible history, that some ages after the flood mankind had very generally fallen into gross idolatry, though we are not told expressly when and how it was introduced. As for the Tower of Babel, it is said indeed in our version that a number of persons joined together to build 'a tower whose top should reach to heaven' (our translators meant an exceeding high tower), in order that they might 'not be scattered over the face of the whole earth'; and that God sent on them a confusion of language, which 'caused them to cease building the tower, and scattered them.' But it is to be observed that the word 'reach' is supplied by our translators, there being nothing answering to it in the original, which merely says, 'whose top to the heavens.' And the meaning doubtless is, that the top of the tower should be dedicated to the heavens — that is, that a temple should be built on it to Bel, Belus, Zeus, or Jupiter; under which title the ancient Pagans worshipped the heavens, For we find the historian Herodotus (I. cxxxi.) who many ages later visited Babylon, expressly declaring that there was there in his time a very high tower, on the top of which was a temple to Belus; who, he says, was the same with the Zeus of the Greeks. The ancient Pagans, it is well known, were accustomed to erect altars to the Heavens, or to the Sun, on 'high places' (Numbers 33:52), on the loftiest mountains. And as the land of Shinar is a very fertile plain of vast extent and quite level, it seems to have been designed to make a sort of artificial mountain on it — that is, a very high tower — and to build a temple on the top of this, to their god Belus, and so establish a great empire of people worshipping at this temple. The 'confusion' which God sent among them, and which caused the tower to be less lofty than originally designed, and dispersed many of the people into other lands, was most likely not a confusion of languages, but a dissension about religious worship. The word in the original literally signifies lip. And it is more likely that it was used to signify worship than language. A dissension as to that which was the very object of the building would much more effectually defeat the scheme than a confusion of languages. For labourers engaged in any work, and speaking different languages, would in a few days learn by the help of signs to understand one another sufficiently to enable them to go on with their work. But if they disagreed as to the very object proposed, this would effectually break up the community. As for the different languages now spoken in the world, there is no need of explaining that by any miraculous interference. For tribes who have not the use of letters, and have but little mutual intercourse, vary so much from each other in the language after even a few generations, as not to be able at all to understand each other" (465, 466).
*This is a mistake, the first being the Hebrew word, the second its Greek form. Hence the LXX give Βαβυλὼν in Gen. 10:10 and translate Σύγχυσις. Confusion, in Gen. 11:9.
Those who accept what has been said already on these verses will have no hesitation in pronouncing the whole statement a string of strange fancies, which supplant the truth, concluding with undisguised disbelief of scripture. Not a trace does the inspired narrative give of a dispute about worship. Not a word breathes a question about the true God, still less does it "about some god or gods." We hear of a city and a tower. A temple was as wholly absent from their minds as God Himself. This could not but be displeasing to God.
But there was far more here. They sought only their own glory. They wilfully hid from themselves His judgment of the antediluvian world, and His merciful preservation of a few, their own progenitors still living. They set their heart unitedly on a city, and a lofty tower which built on the plain should call attention all the more as a centralising object in the land of their settlement. The name of God was nothing in their eyes. "Let us make ourselves a name." Was this a peccadillo in the eyes of the archbishop? Their aim was the unity of man without God, and this avowedly in self-exaltation. What a tale it tells that a prelate should fail to understand how displeasing this must be to God! It was setting up a unity of man independently of God; it was claiming for themselves what alone can in truth belong to God, alone is due to His power and glory, to His righteousness and mercy. It was rebellion and usurpation. He alone is the rightful centre.
They did not yet set up "some god or gods." They left the true God out. They would make a name for themselves. It was not merely the building of a tower, but man's first collective effort after unity without God; to make himself a name round a self-made centre, instead of multiplying and replenishing the earth. The time would soon come when they would set up other gods beside and before God. The time will at last come when a man, energised by Satan, shall sit down in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. But to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven; and neither of these had yet come.
It was however sad and evil enough, that, while the witnesses of a divine and universal judgment still lived to glorify God for his saving themselves through the deluge, the progeny could forsake the fountain of living water, and set themselves up, cisterns, broken cisterns, that could hold no water. The language of Jehovah confirms all this as the truth; not a word here points to strange gods or idols. "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do; and now nothing Will be restrained from them — all which they purpose doing." It was irreligious combination, not false worship. "Once hath God spoken, twice have I heard this, that strength [belongeth] unto God." They had heeded not but forgotten Him. Their own union would be their strength, and a name of renown on earth. At the end punitive judgment must fall on the full results. But meanwhile Jehovah would bring their pride to nought, and would disperse them by a means as simple as effectual. He would there confound their language, that they should not understand one another's speech; and they would be compelled to scatter as they feared. But what mercy in their dispersion! Not a hair of their heads was lost.
It is utterly unfounded that ver. 4 can mean "a top dedicated to the heavens." This is perversion, and one so gross that no version however faulty known to me follows it, no scholar as far as I know has ever attempted to justify it. Nor can the testimony so late in the day prove any thing of the original tower, even if the site were the same. Not till afterwards was the worship of the heavens, as of the sun, or of Bel. Nor had dissension about worship the least to do with the bold builders of Babel, any more than the word translated "language" and "speech" (lit. "lip") means worship. Indeed it is a notion destructive of the plain sense of the history. If we assume it, what folly! Does Jehovah create ever so many forms of false worship? He certainly made the "one lip" to be many even if the wonder seemed too great for Dr. W. to believe,
The tower then was not designed for religion, but as a rallying centre for man in that great plain; which was thoroughly frustrated by the confusion of tongues. The Abp. talks of labourers learning signs of communication; but the sudden completeness of the divine measure overawed men too much, lest a worse thing might befall them. They had not yet learnt the rationalists' lesson. The fact that all as yet spoke one language, though men had lived some seventeen or eighteen centuries, not crowded together, nor boasting the use of letters any more than much mutual intercourse, makes only the more impressive Jehovah's dealing in the immediate introduction of different tongues. Yet was it a dealing tempered with wisdom and mercy; for each tongue was spoken by the same clan. They did not part (as might easily have been if God had so willed) from their families, but spread abroad after their generations; and national history thus began in their various lands. How paltry is the misreading, how worthy is the truth!
GENESIS 11:8, 9.
Thus was the scheme of human self-will brought to nought. They had left out God and at best forgotten His word. They had dared to oppose His will Who commanded that they should fill the earth. They sought on the contrary to hold together in a region well suited for union, being alike fertile in itself and peculiarly adapted to receive supplies from all sides. There they proposed not only to build a city and a tower of imposing pretension, but to make themselves a name, that they should not be scattered over the face of the whole earth. Therefore Jehovah interfered, not yet in punishment of their rebellious audacity, but by a dealing which left no doubt of His hand and compelled their dispersion according to His declared mind.
"And Jehovah scattered them thence over the face of the whole earth. And they left off building the city. Therefore was its name called Babel (confusion); because Jehovah there confounded the language of the whole earth. And Jehovah scattered them thence over the face of the whole earth" (vers. 8, 9).
Thus it was that mankind spread everywhere after the flood. It came to pass after a certain lapse of time, not willingly but under the constraint of divine power. This so thoroughly and at once confounded them, that they might well dread the issue of any further effort to disobey. Thus nationalities began, each with its peculiar tongue, in their lands, but as mercy ruled according to their families. There was no confusion in Jehovah's ordering. Gen. 11:1-9 is the key to the previous Gen. 10, the moral account thus graphically of what was there given as a fact.
It is sorrowful to find the lack of simple faith even in minds not at all unfriendly to revelation. But men suffer, partly through undue heed to tradition, partly through indulging in dreams of their own. Thus Jacob Bryant, in his New System, or Analysis of Ancient Mythology (vol. iv. 31-15, 3rd edition, 1807), strives to give a very different turn to the confusion of tongues. As his learned work may weigh with some, it seems well to notice briefly what he alleges for denying the general bearing of the event, which he would limit to the Cushite, and pare down in itself to a labial failure, so that the people affected could not articulate and thus failed to understand each other.
"This I take to be the true purport of the history: from whence we may infer that the confusion of language was a partial event; and that the whole of mankind is by no means to be included in the dispersion from Babel. It related chiefly to the sons of Cush, whose intention was to have founded a great, if not an universal, empire; but by this judgment their purpose was defeated" (37). Hence he distinguishes the scattering here as partial, from the earth divided to the nations in the days of Peleg as a general event in which all were concerned. "We must therefore, instead of the language of all the earth, substitute the language of the whole country"; also "a failure and incapacity in labial utterance. By this their speech was confounded, but not altered; for as soon as they separated, they recovered their true tenor of pronunciation; and the language of the earth continued for some ages nearly the same." For evidence Mr. Bryant sends us to M. A. Court de Gebelin's Monde Primitif Analysé et comparé avec le Monde Moderne, in nine vols. 4to (1774-1784): an ambitious effort of no solid value, any more than this speculation of our own countryman before us.
Now not a word in scripture belittles the fact or God's dealing as is here done. In Gen. 10:8-10 we have the pride of power which a son of Cush betrayed early; but a wholly different phase is here, not individual usurpation, nor a kingdom or empire, but a sort of universal republic, as we have already remarked. In that chapter which is not chronological but descriptive we have simply the families of Noah's sons after their families and tongues, in their lands and nations. Here in Gen. 11 we have the moral cause, why Jehovah scattered them contrary to their perverse resolve to hold together in the land of Shinar. We have not a word about Nimrod or any other individual here. The force lies in its universality. Attention is expressly called to the whole earth being of one lip and of words alike also. Not a hint is dropped of one land in particular. There would be nothing to surprise in one country pervaded by one tongue; but we are reminded of the state that thus characterised all the earth, in order the better to appreciate the judgment which compelled men suddenly to speak diversely, and so not to understand one another's speech.
It is then an unsubstantial dream to fancy that it was only the Cushites, however numerously followed by others. — Not only is there no evidence of any specific family, but the inspired record excludes any such construction. Nimrod was subsequent to the scattering; for "the beginning of his kingdom was Babel," other cities following. He was not afraid to start his ambitious enterprise from a city branded by divine displeasure. The scattering had already taken place. It was a new form of man's will; for there was no thought or pretence of its being ordained of God. Nor was there any such mark of God's intervention as that which dealt with their purpose to unite unholily and to make themselves a name.
But it was no mere temporary fit of labial failure as Bryant imagined, again without a scrap of divine evidence. It was Jehovah confounding their language, so that men should be no longer one, but be divided into nations henceforth, though mercy took care that the tongues should not dislocate their families. It was Jehovah's doing, not nature nor circumstances, nor development, but a manifestly judicial and a lasting dealing of divine power. And the account is exactly suited to the inspired and only reliable Book of Origins; where man's history fails, and tradition is as puerile and misleading as pretentious philosophy, spinning cobwebs from within.
We are now presented with a genealogy which ends with Abram, and is followed in the next chapter with the mighty principle of grace, God's call. That prepares the way outwardly. But Jehovah shines through this dealing and revelation. Here we have the special line. It is no more an "endless genealogy" than that of Adam to Noah in Gen. 5. We may notice ten links in the chain of both chapters.
But there are notable differences to be noticed also. The sorrowful chime is heard throughout the earlier one, "and he died." — Not once does this sound in the later one, though as a fact all spoken of in chap. 11 did die; whereas there was in chap. 5 the conspicuous exception of Enoch, "who walked with God and was not, for God took him." Human life was so prolonged in those days, that it was all the more affecting to say of each with that exception, "and he died." In the latter half of chap. 11 we read of the line of blessing, and we are told of each succession down to Abram, the time when the promise was made, and the years were lived; but nothing is said of death. Let who will count either accidental, the believer can hardly avoid seeing a distinct purpose in each, which may well awaken serious but happy reflections.
Again, neither is drawn in the style of formal, legal, or historical documents. Each is suited to its own place where it is placed by inspiration, and either would be strange in any book but God's. Yet are they invested with such precise information over the earliest ages, before the Deluge and after it, without a gap, that no genealogical line for that period outside of scripture can be compared with it. But over and above reliable information as to every link in the chain, a special design on God's part governs in each case. This even now earthly learning fails to see, and it has no interest for those intent on literary questions. Yet how great a thing for those whose ears are opened to the voice and teaching of God! But a divine purpose is as far as possible from casual documents or floating traditions from ancient sources, nobody knows whence, pieced together at a later date. The fact of a deep and distinct moral design pervading these lists respectively refutes the notion of any such trivial accident.
"These are the generations of Shem. Shem was a hundred years old, and begot Arphaxad two years after the flood; and Shem lived after he had begotten Arphaxad five hundred years, and begot soils and daughters. And Arphaxad lived thirty-five years, and begot Shelah; and Arphaxad lived after he had begotten Shelah four hundred and three years, and begot sons and daughters. And Shelah lived thirty years, and begot Eber; and Shelah lived after he had begotten Eber four hundred and three years, and begot sons and daughters. And Eber lived thirty-four years, and begot Peleg; and Eber lived after he had begotten Peleg four hundred and thirty years, and begot sons and daughters. And Peleg lived thirty years and begot Reu; and Peleg lived after he had begotten Reu two hundred and nine years, and begot sons and daughters. And Reu lived thirty-two years, and begot Serug; and Reu lived after he had begotten Serug two hundred and seven years, and begot sons and daughters. And Serug lived thirty years and begot Nahor; and Serug lived after he had begotten Nahor two hundred years, and begot sons and daughters. And Nahor lived twenty-nine years, and begot Terah; and Nahor lived after he had begotten Terah a hundred and nineteen years, and begot sons and daughters. And Terah lived seventy years, and begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran" (vers. 10-26).
We may readily discern the speciality of this account by comparing it with what is said of the same progenitor in Gen. 10:21. "And to Shem, to him also were [sons] born; he is the father of all the sons of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder. The sons of Shem: Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud and Aram." Here the aim is quite of another kind in a genealogy of Noah's sons parting into their several lands, every one after his tongue, family, and nation. Even so, it wears little or no resemblance to a document such as any human object might demand. For Elam and Asshur, though of celebrity among mankind (prominent also in the Bible and connected with Jewish story), are but named, though before Arphaxad, like Lud after him; and the apparently youngest, Aram, is introduced before Arphaxad. "And the sons of Aram: Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Mash."
Certainly the divine wisdom of the record is not at all questioned; but it is not man's fashion. Divine design is stamped on this case, as in the other lists, There is neither repetition nor oversight, still less the clashing of differing documents or writers. Not the slightest evidence of solid worth has ever been alleged to shake the fact that Moses wrote every one of them; but the truth still more precious to the believer, and most solemn for every other, is that God is the author of all, And we can perceive that the design in chap. 10 was not to pursue Arphaxad's line there beyond his grandson, Eber's son Peleg, to state the deeply interesting fact of his name's reference to the division of the earth in his days. Thence it branches off to his brother Joktan, and his sons who settled in the south of Arabia west and east.
Compared with his father Noah and those before him, Shem's years mark the growing diminution of human age after the flood. Yet it was given to him before he came near the end of his six hundred years to live into the days not of Abram only but of Isaac. Peleg, the fifth in this series, did not reach half the limit of Shem's term; and Nahor, the father of Terah, dwindled to a hundred and forty-five years. So that in God's providential arrangements man was coming by rapid steps to the span of years ordinary since the prayer of Moses (Ps. 90), himself an exception as there have been a few even in modern times.
At this point it seems well to look a little more closely into "the generations" which so frequently come before us in this book. Some remarks on them were made in looking at the verses preceding; but the matter well deserves further consideration.
No believer in God's plenary inspiration of the scriptures is under the least necessity of denying the incorporation of human documents, any more than of speeches or conversations of men who may have been godless or hostile. Thus in Acts 23 we have the letter from the chiliarch Claudius Lysias to Felix the governor; and in Acts 24 follows the speech of the rhetorician Tertullus accusing Paul. The speech was public, the letter private; but there this is, evidently just as it was written, as the Holy Spirit designed that we should know it. Yet there is no reason to imagine that the contents transpired through officers at Jerusalem or at Caesarea friendly to Paul. He who inspired Luke to give the private document as unerringly as the open speech is in no way limited to any such means; and it is unwarrantable, when we read of such things in scripture, to cast about for some conceivable way of a natural kind to account for them. The great fact is that in a world of evil, falsehood, and vanity, scripture gives us the truth, and this in relation to God as well as to man. Thus only can we have the certainty of His mind revealed to us, though we still need the guidance of His Spirit in its apprehension and application.
If then God led Moses, in writing the book of Genesis, to make use of documents written (say) by Noah, Shem, the Patriarchs, Joseph and any others, there could be no valid objection on that score. But the unity of style and plan, which pervades each part in the face of all that petty criticism has ever alleged to the contrary, does stand adverse to any such theory. The essential condition is that God should inspire His chosen vehicle to convey to us the truth as He intended it for His own. It cannot be denied on solid ground that the alphabet even of Greece and Rome points to a Shemitic source, though it may have reached them according to the common tradition through a Phoenician or an Egyptian channel. In the days of Moses, at least in the wilderness, the Bible bears testimony that reading and writing prevailed among the Israelites, not merely in a sacred or learned class, but even largely among the rest (Deut. 6:9; Deut. 11:20; Deut. 24:1, 3). Thus from the earliest date of inspiration there was no difficulty of finding writers or readers.
Is it true then that the book of "Genesis is a compilation, and is stated so to be?" Is it the fact that these "generations" prove it to consist of so many separate documents, each beginning with this title? Let us see.
The first occurs in Gen. 2:4: "These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that Jehovah Elohim made earth and heavens." Now it is plain that this opening verse of a new section of the book, characterised by a very special employment of the divine names* in the rest of Gen. 2 and in Gen. 3, also sums up the salient facts of Gen. 1. What went before gave creation completely. The new section does not speak of the creation of the heavens and earth. It is not a second, still less a different or discordant account, but the added revelation of man set in moral responsibility, tried by Jehovah Elohim; as he, and he only, is said here to become a living soul by His immediate communication of the breath of life. Hence here we have the park or garden planted by Jehovah Elohim; here the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; here a simple test of obedience suited to innocence. Here too the relation of the man and the woman is given, and Adam's exercised authority over the lower creation, in contrast with his associate taken out of himself, his one meet companion, whose name he gave to mark the difference. Then in Gen. 3 under the same name of the Creator in moral relationship, the Temptation and the Fall, the present result in death and ruin, but with the revelation of the Deliverer in the woman's Seed: a wholly new presentation of the truth on the moral side, and grace too rising above sin, not the platform of creation as in what preceded (Gen. 1- 2:3).
* Gen. 4 drops the combined form of the divine name, marking perhaps the henceforth ordinary ways of man under his moral government; save that Eve, having found out her haste and error in connecting Cain's birth with Jehovah, speaks only of Elohim on that of Seth (ver. 25).
Who but the Supreme could have made known the majestic course of creation, and in terms as simple for the hearer as dignified for the Speaker? Was Adam, or any of his sons, the man to announce the solemn yet profound message of his trial and fall, and of the yet future triumph of the bruised Seed of the woman? These assuredly are not casual fragments or "separate documents," but the words of the One Infinite conveying His mind on the immense foundations of divine truth, creation every whit good, and creation with its head ruined through sin and Satan till the Second man by redemption and in power vanquish the enemy, deliver those that believe, and reconcile all things to God's glory. The title is in the precisely right place. Had it been put as a heading to Gen. 1, it would have utterly marred the calm sublimity of the description. Where it stands, it is a suited introduction to the moral government that follows, while it seals the already accomplished grand material work, of the one true God; it shows us all coming to ruin that hung on the first man, and points to the Second and Last as the object of faith and destroyer of Satan.
Next in Gen. 5 we have and here only, and most appropriately, "the book"* of Adam's generations. It says Elohim throughout, save in Lamech's prophecy where His government comes in, and therefore we hear of Jehovah. It is a summary of the antediluvian world. Who could have drawn it up but Himself?
* The remark that "book" was unknown in those, days, if true, is nothing to the purpose. Books abounded in the days of Moses, as is, now certain to unbelievers from evidence no longer contested. The believer needs no other proof than Ex. 17:14, which assumes the fact.
Then in Gen. 6:9 we read, "These are the generations of Noah:" where the fitting ground is given for his exemption from the flood, with his "three sons and their wives; and "the book" of chap 5 would be out of place.
In Gen. 10 we have the generations of the sons of Noah," but there collaterally rather than successively unless in measure and for special reason, in order to set out an entirely new thing, the separation of the nations, after their families and tongues, and in their lands. The moral cause is explained in Gen. 11:1-9; after which we find "the generations of Shem" in vers. 10-26, and those "of Terah" to complete the picture, and make way for Abram, the man of God's choice, call, and promise. Here we have, unlike any of those before, at least two genealogies side by side: the nations separate one from another, and the man separated to God with blessing and promise in him, and his seed natural or spiritual.
After Abraham's death in Gen. 25, we have also two genealogies — vers. 12-18 Ishmael's, and vers. 19-26 Isaac's — of the flesh, and of promise.
In Gen. 36 we have the generations "of Esau" still more pretentiously, ending in kings before there was such a ruler over the sons of Israel. Only it is untrue that the times of the Jewish monarchy, long after Moses' day, are spoken of. The kings of Israel are not alluded to historically; but not one had reigned in Israel when Edom had been thus ruled. To say the least, the eight named may all have reigned when Moses wrote. Did he not know from God (Deut. 17) that Israel would set up a king? if so, he had to charge Israel that he should not be a foreigner but a brother.
Genesis 37:2 gives "the generations of Jacob," with Joseph the special object of interest and a plain figure of Him Who was rejected by His brethren and separated thence, but exalted of God and wielding the power of the throne over the Gentiles. In due time His brethren are brought to repentance and humiliation before His glory, and Himself made known to them. Even a mere man, to say nothing of a believer, must be a thoughtless reader of the O.T. in the light of the New, who fails to perceive the type of Christ rejected by His natural brethren, and condemned unjustly by the Gentile, yet the Interpreter of God's mind in humiliation, then raised to be the Saviour of both Jews and Gentiles outside the land, and at last owned by His own people. So in earlier days was Isaac, the beloved son, after the figure of Christ's death and resurrection (Gen. 22), shown us in Canaan only, and the bride brought across the wilderness for union with the heir of promise, to whom the father gave all that he had. Yet the others had gifts; none was forgotten. Ishmael lived before God, and had his twelve sons princes, as Esau had his kings, while the chosen family passed through the furnace and were oppressed in bondage for hundreds of years, Jacob himself typifying their wanderings and sorrows before their restoration and glory.
It is freely granted then that these genealogies are wholly different from those of human pride, and their style in harmony with God's book of beginnings, which adumbrate His ways even to the end of the age and of that to come. The misconception is that God deigns to write history any more than to teach science. But He has written the scriptures to make known Himself and His ways, as well as to let man learn himself as can be nowhere else save in His Son, the centre, substance, and display of all truth. To Him all scripture testifies from Genesis to Revelation. Even these genealogies, which seem strange to literary men and furnish materials for all sorts of speculation to such as lack the key of Christ for all the word, in the midst of much variety of form, testify to one and the same writer, even Moses, and bear the stamp of future purpose as on God's part. Surely it is most important, that we should not fail to recognise His wise and holy mind, but grow in grace and faith and the knowledge of Him Who is our all, but the Judge of all that believe not to their utter and everlasting condemnation. "For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me: for he wrote of Me" (John 5:46).
From the detailed comparison of the genealogies in this book, let us turn to the humbling crisis at this stage of man's sad story. Very interesting it is to note that we are indebted for it to the book of Joshua. In its last chapter we have him making a covenant with the people after his farewell charge at Shechem to the assembled tribes. Thus carefully but in our eyes peculiarly does God order His word. Is it not that we may search and cherish every part of it? Who beforehand could have looked for such important information about the father of Abraham in the book of the conquest of Canaan? Who yet more surprisingly could have anticipated in the Epistle of Jude the account of Michael's contention with Satan? The effort to reduce scripture to the merely human or historical method is vain, Its divinely inspired character is wholly inconsistent with such an aim. Man may not believe God; but he gives Him the lie at his own peril, and must justly suffer if he does not repent.
It is then in Joshua 24 we read that Joshua said to all the people, "Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt of old on the other side of the river [the Euphrates], Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor; and they served other gods." It is the first notice the Bible affords of idolatry; and this not when it began, but when it corrupted the immediate progenitor of Abraham. There was abundant and flagrant evil in the antediluvian world; but of serving other gods we never hear. Nor is there any hint of its existence after the deluge till scripture thus speaks of the fathers in Terah's day, though self-will wrought strangely in the race generally and in Nimrod particularly. God was in none of their thoughts. Human association only drew out dispersion; and individual energy subjugated mankind, as it had the beasts previously.
The judgment of God abides in the confusion of tongues; and man's age dwindles with comparative rapidity down to the common standard that subsists. The obedience or gathering of the peoples is reserved for Shiloh. In Him indeed it is God's purpose to head up all thinks, the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth. The entire universe shall find in Him the true centre; and we who are His shall share His exaltation Who is the Heir, as He was the Creator, of all things.
But the enemy at this point is shown to have taken a new step of daring moment. He establishes himself as God in the worship of mankind; and so successful were his wiles that, when first told of the fact, we hear of its prevalence in the fathers of Israel. Blessed, said Noah, be Jehovah the God of Shem; but now we find the sons of Shem, and in the most favoured stem, serving other gods. Had Ham been thus apostate, or Canaan, Shem's bondman, it were not so astounding. But no; it was not even haughty Japheth enlarging his border and in his earthly energy forgetting the only true God. It was Shem's descendant Torah, father of Abraham and father of Nahor; it was they that "served other gods." This too was the fitting moment to show how grace had shone on Abraham, when he and his brother and his father were walking thus evilly, separating him to be a witness of the true God. So the sons of Israel knew that they themselves were called to be His people and witnesses since Moses led them out of Egypt. But it is precisely therein lay their danger of returning to what they were called out of. This Satan ever seeks as the enemy of God and man: how successfully when God is forgotten! And Joshua appreciated the danger.
Genesis simply states the fact on God's part and on Abram's, and even in this delays stating it till Terah was dead, when Abraham acted on it freely and faithfully, for he had been hindered as long as Terah lived. It is only when Joshua was near his departure that we learn the deplorable evil, to which Jehovah applied in sovereign grace the separative principle of His call, choosing Abraham to enjoy His promise, blessed and a blessing to all the families of the earth, as will yet be proved in the fullest way when Christ comes.
Let us consider the unclean thing as scripture treats it. The deluge left mankind with the strongest impression of the living God's hand. But they soon ceased to glorify Him as God and were unthankful. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and, changing the truth of God into falsehood, they worshipped the creature more than the Creator Who is blessed for ever. Amen. When idolatry began, or by whom is not said, but that Terah and his sons were involved in it. Now in 1 Cor. 10:20 the apostle, citing Deut. 32:17, pronounces on what it really is, though the form may differ. The worship of the heavens and all its host, of the earth and the sea and their denizens, the serpent especially, or again of heroes and departed ancestors, or of fabulous beings and their images, soon laid hold of men's imagination, not only to shut out God but to debase their votaries to the uttermost. And no wonder. For both O.T. and New, as we have seen, declare that what they sacrificed they sacrificed to demons, not to God. Demons ware in effect behind the idols. If the idols were nothing in themselves, the demons were an awful reality of subtle and malignant evil to the ruin of such as paid the idols reverence.
Man was corrupt and violent, as before the deluge. But it was an awful advance in rebellion against God, when men not only did without Him absolutely, but chose as their gods many and lords many those who were only mightier rebels than themselves. What a deadly insult to the true God!
How humbling that the lesson is lost on philosophising linguists like Max Müller! In the second series of Lectures on the Science of Language (419-425) he mildly deprecates the strong language of the Bible just cited, and misconstrues God's word in Acts 14:16 and especially in Acts 17:22-31. He admits a great amount of incontestable truth in "hard words such as idolatry and devil worship," yet he "cannot help thinking that full justice has never been done to the ancient religions of the world (!) not even to those of the Greeks and Romans(!!) who in so many other respects are acknowledged by us as our teachers and models." It is to be feared that a classical taste has not been acquired without the moral degradation which accompanies idolatry, and not least that of Greeks and Romans. Alas! it has ever been apt to dispose the youth of Christendom toward the not less real but more guilty idolatries of Popery and her Greek and Oriental rivals. Augustine was right in believing the inspired warning that demons exercise real mischief in connection with idol worship; he was deplorably wrong in thinking that it was better for professing Christians, as they would get drunk on feast days, thus to indulge in honour of martyrs rather than at the altars of Jove or Bacchus.
So Prof. M. contrasts the language in Acts with that in 1 Cor. 10:20, saying that the former "are truly Christian words" and that "this is the truly Christian spirit in which we ought to study the ancient religions of the world: not as independent of God, not as the work of an evil spirit, as mere idolatry and devil-worship, not even as mere human fancy, but as a preparation, as a necessary part in the education of the human race — as a race 'seeking the Lord if haply they might feel after him.'" Can infatuation or perversion be more complete? Fallen man has a conscience, which refers even in a pagan to God, and vainly sought satisfaction by sacrifices to the gods of its own imagining. Of this the apostle at Athens availed himself, by an altar 'to God unknown," to proclaim the true and only God. It is too plain that this learned man failed to see the perfect consistency of seeking to win the heathen by preaching the grace and truth of Him Whom they knew not, while sternly reproving the profane levity of the Corinthians in partaking of the table and of the cup at a Gentile temple, on the plea that the idol was nothing. The same apostle declares that to do so is communion with demons, and that he did not wish them to be in communion with demons. Think of Paul wishing them or any other Christians "to study the ancient religions of the world!" and to study them "as a preparation, as a necessary part of the education of the human race!" Such is the wisdom of this age, totally insensible to what God revealed to us through the Spirit, as it is to what the cross of Christ means.
The verse before us is a remarkable example of the manner of scripture which men are apt to mistake. Terah, it is written, lived seventy years, and begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran. So it was said, Noah was five hundred years old, and Noah begot Shem, Bare, and Japheth, The father's age was stated before naming any that were begotten. In neither case also was the elder named first but last, as the examination of other scriptures proves beyond just doubt. The first place in both cases was given to mark the special and spiritual honour God put on each respectively. We have already spoken of the relative seniority of Noah's sons. Here it remains to determine from scriptural facts that of Terah's family.
Now we are told in ver. 32 that Terah lived two hundred and five years. As the birth of his eldest occurred when he was seventy, it could not have been Abram; for he was but seventy five years of age as we are told in Gen. 12:4, when he left Charan, after Terah's death. He was not begotten therefore till sixty years after the firstborn. It would seem from the history that Haran was the eldest son, born when his father was seventy. Thereby we can understand how Nahor married Haran's daughter Milcah, his niece, and (if the Jewish tradition were reliable that Iscah and Sarah are the same) Abram did also. We also apprehend more clearly how the granddaughter of Nahor became the wife of Isaac, Abraham's son. Nor is it hard to explain why Sarah should be spoken of as his sister, seeing that Lot is spoken of as his brother, though strictly his brother's son.
Nevertheless I cannot but believe that the words of Abram to Abimelech (Gen. 20:12) point more naturally to Terah as Sarah's father by a second and later wife, as she was ten years younger than her husband. Scripture does not hide the facts which were at issue with the law given at a later day; but it is easy to see that the Jews might endeavour to soften or get rid of what was discreditable by a so called tradition, and might seek to confirm their wish by any phrase of scripture which could lend it colour.
Abram then, though the youngest son, took precedence in God's mind and word through the grace that was shown him. "The last was made first": a principle applied frequently in Scripture, and in the N.T. even more distinctly than in the Old, though there we see it every now and then from the earliest book to the latest. Nor need any wonder that Abram should be thus honoured. We have seen ample grounds for it already, and may observe more, In him God began a new headship, not like fallen Adam of mankind universally as they are, but of the faithful. He is the one of whom it is written, that "he believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness" (Gen. 15). It is not insinuated that Abel, Enoch, Noah, or others did not believe God before; but in him the privilege of faith was first publicly established, being brought out in a striking manner, as exercised on a. definite promise.
Abram had already been called out into separation by the appearing of the God of glory to him in Ur of the Chaldees; and it was to a very thorough separation from country and kindred and father's house. These associations might be and were the. providential arrangements subsisting still, as the general rule for all mankind since the confusion of tongues, families, countries, and nations; yet Jehovah called Abram to come out of them all. And more was added, not only in Gen. 15 but in Gen. 17, which gave him, to say this only, a unique place, as the starting-point of that line of promise and testimony, which the apostle compares to the olive tree in Rom. 11, reasoning on it at great length not in this Epistle only but in that to the churches of Galatia. For it came to light first in his seed after the flesh, who, accepting law as their tenure, and consequently their own righteousness, lost everything in the face of the patient and persevering dealings of Jehovah and all possible healing measures till there was no remedy. Even the advent of the Messiah served but to aggravate and seal their ruin on the ground of their responsibility; for they utterly rejected Him, as they do still, till in the latter day they repent and say, Blessed He that cometh in the name of Jehovah. Self will be renounced and judged; divine mercy in Messiah, all their confidence, rest, and boast. Meanwhile during the gap made by their rejection there is secondly not only the remnant according to the election of grace, but the call of Gentiles who believe and (being Christ's) become the seed of Abraham and heirs according to promise. He who was raised up to bring out that which rises far above all such hopes, the mystery concerning Christ and concerning the church, the apostle of the Gentiles, is also the most careful to clear the promise assured to all the seed, not only to that which is of the law, but also to that which is of the faith of Abraham who is father of us all.
Who can be surprised then that God's word should place Terah's youngest son before his older brothers? The reader is left to search out the facts there revealed for his soul's profit, where those we find honoured, who honour God, their haste confounded who doubt, and their faith confirmed who believe. How many and great are the errors of such as try to persuade themselves and others, that the Bible is to be treated like any other book! How could this if it be, as it claims to be, the word of God?
GENESIS 11:27, 28.
We have seen then the immense importance of what God was pleased to accomplish in the call of Abram. But that which accompanies it is not without its interesting instruction, as a brief notice may help to show.
"And these [are] the generations of Terah: Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begot Lot. And Haran died before the face of Terah his father in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldeans" (vers. 27, 28).
The order of the three sons of Terah reverses that of nature. Abram was in no sense the head of the family after the flesh, not even when his brother Haran died. The comparison of dates and facts makes it evident that Abram was the youngest of all, and as Haran was born when his father was seventy, so Abram only when he was one hundred and thirty years of age. His foremost place therefore was due to the choice of God.
We may dismiss the traditional dream (Ant. i. 7 § 2) which Josephus was too prone to interweave with inspiration, in order to aggrandise the head of the Jewish people and to commend him in the eyes of Greeks and Romans for wisdom and knowledge, as the teacher of monotheism to the Chaldeans, as well as of astronomy and mathematics to the Egyptians. He even quotes Nicolaus of Damascus, a contemporary of Augustus and therefore not long before his own day, for Abram's reign over Damascus, whither "he came with an army out of the land above Babylon, called the land of the Chaldeans. But after a long time he got him up and removed from that country with his people also, and came into the land then called the land of Canaan, and this when his posterity were become a multitude." Yet all this is not only without but opposed to scripture, which, brief as it may be, gives us to gather with certainty that the delay was in Charran or Harran, not in Damascus, and that Abram had no "posterity" till a much later day. The fact that he had a confidential and chief servant, Eliezer of Damascus, is a slender guarantee of any conquest there, whatever trophy of victory Dean Stanley may have fancied with others (Jewish Church i. 9).
Nor can we entertain for a moment the Jewish tradition which tells of Abram faithful to the true God from his boyhood. That Terah and his family served other gods, we know on divine authority. That Abram, when at fifty years and trusted to sell the idols which his father manufactured, took in hand the practical measure of demonstrating to Terah the sinful folly of idolatry, is a story suited for the credulity of the Jew Apella, even without the legend of Nimrod's punishing Abram in the flames, and the fountain springing up to extinguish them, with a delightful garden, wherein were Been angels sitting and Abram in their midst. Truth needs neither fables nor more miracles to exalt man. It humbles even those whom it blesses to God's glory. "The God of glory (says Stephen, Acts 7:2) appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia before he dwelt in Charran." Here is the truth of God in its simple and sure and satisfactory light. It was he that believed and acted accordingly. Of Terah we are told nothing which gives happy confidence. Of Haran, father of Lot and of Milcah, we only learn that he "died before the face of his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldeans"; he did not reach Charran, the halfway sojourn in the migration; he died before any left their common Chaldean abode. Nahor, it is evident, did not relinquish Ur for Charran till a later day; but there he stayed, so that he made it "his city" in Aram-naharaim or Paddan-Aram.
Wholly distinct was Abram, but it was the sovereign call of God that made him so. "Look unto Abraham your father (says the prophet), and unto Sarah that bare you; God called him alone, and blessed him and increased him." Terah was of no account in this, nor even Lot though designated a "righteous man" in his day. But Abram was called "alone," whoever might accompany him, or share less or more the blessing which was his rich portion.
Still we do not well to confound his singularly honoured place, chosen and called out by promise to be father of the faithful, with that which is now distinctively given to the Christian as in Eph. 1 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ, according as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him in love." The difference in character is immense. It is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ Who blessed, not the God of any earthly father. Next, it is universal blessing and above all things of a natural sort on earth. Further, it has no connection with a land to be shown, or Canaan; it is a choice of us in Him Who is above every name. Then again it was not to meet the frightful departure of man when they gave up the true God for other gods who were nothing but puppets with demons behind them. There it was before the world's foundation, a choice not due to creature apostacy or any other evil in time, but flowing from God's own heart when no creature existed to affect it in any way. Nor was it simply to receive blessing or to be the channel for it to all families of the earth, but that we should be holy and blameless in His sight in love. He would surround Himself with partakers of His own nature and character, and this in love. Such was His choice in our case; and this "through Jesus Christ to Himself." What a pattern before Him "according to the good pleasure of his will unto the praise of the glory of his grace!" Could the true God rise higher than this ground and purpose?
GENESIS 11:29, 30.
Not only is Haran's death "before the face of his father Terah" recorded, but the relationships the other sons contracted. We need not speculate on Haran's death. Enough for us to learn from this note of scripture how unusual it was for a son to die before his father's face in the land of his nativity. Had there been any divine lesson in the undisclosed details and facts, the goodness of our God would have given this also. It is as truly unbelief to imagine or to accept the imaginations of others, as it is to hesitate about the communications of the inspired word. Where scripture ceases to speak, let us learn to be silent. The attempt to conjecture is presumption, the refusal of it honours God and His word.
"And Abram and Nahor took wives: the name of Abram's wife [was] Sarah; and the name of Nahor's wife Milcah, a daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah and the father of Iscah. And Sarah was barren; she [had] no child" (vers. 29, 30).
God takes a beneficent interest not only in the persons who have to do with Him but in their relations, especially in that which, of all natural ties, is the most important for a human being. It may have been that those here in question on either side did not yet know Him; but He at least knew the end from the beginning and guided in His providence those who were to play an influential part in the future dealings of His grace. He registers it in that word of His which endures for ever. He would thus impress its gravity on all that fear Him for their own steps here below. He would have them above all to seek His guidance, now in particular since the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. For there His word assures a character of deeper intimacy than with a people chosen to be the theatre of His direct government, or even with the fathers resting on His promises. Nor is it only that His word is thus adapted to our calling; for He has now also given us the Holy Spirit in the power of personal indwelling, to speak of nothing else, which could not be till sin was judged in the cross, and the Saviour took His new place in heaven before God. Therefore if any one be in Christ, it is a new creation: the old things are past; behold, all things are made new. And all things are of God Who reconciled us to Himself by Christ.
Nor is this all. For the true and sound knowledge which grace gives us of God enables the Christian to vindicate Him as to the things of the old creation, instead of yielding to the teachings of demons which would put a slight on marriage or meats, as we read in 1 Tim. 4. Thus Satan way, to dishonour the Creator, affect a spurious holiness. But the truth delivers us from such reveries and insists that every creature of God is good, and that nothing is to be refused if received with thanksgiving, for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. Now we know every barrier gone in Christ's death: not divine compassion only come down where and as we were, but ourselves free to draw near to God in His victorious love, proved to the full, efficacious and everlasting. Unbelief may mock Christ and His work; it must another day take the bitter consequence in the face of the amplest possible evidence to convince and satisfy. But faith is entitled even now to enjoy divine goodness, both in the heavenly sphere where Christ sits, and in the scene where He was rejected, and we still are in our weakness, waiting for the appearing of His glory.
The name of Abram's wife was Sarai, of whom in due time we are told so much comparatively; and this not only in the O.T. history, but in the profoundly instructive comment of the great apostle in N.T. doctrine. Of Milcah we hear but little. She was Haran's daughter and Nahor's wife, and as Gen. 22 and 24 inform us, mother of Bethuel and seven other sons. Bethuel was father of Laban and Rebekah, of whom so much is said there or afterwards. No more of Iscah is known than that she too was Haran's daughter. But it is said here that Sarai was barren; she had no child. And this remained a painful fact for many years. Yet was she destined, after long patience of faith, chequered by some impatience of unbelief to bear Abram's heir, the child of promise. In Isaac should his seed be called, type of the "Child born" and — of the "Son given" in Whose name every knee shall bow and every tongue confess, yea, a type of Him even received from the dead in figure. Another woman in after years was to be His immediate mother (Luke 1) and she not barren, though a virgin of David's house when David's tabernacle was fallen down. Of her it was promised centuries before that Emmanuel should be born as He was, Who will assuredly raise up that ruin with every other that is for Jehovah's glory. Highly favoured was that maiden, blessed among women in good sooth. But, as He said (and His words are spirit and life) to a woman who lifted up her voice in blessing the mother, "yea rather, blessed [are] they that hear the word of God and keep it" (Luke 11:27, 28),
GENESIS 11:31, 32.
The chapter concludes with the interesting though brief notice here given of Terah and his household. It would be an unbelieving error to overlook the spiritual instruction that every Christian ought to derive from these words of the Holy Spirit. How indeed can men be blessed from above by that which they doom not only human, but even and often unreliable, haphazard and inconsistent, nothing more than tesselated and ill-assorted fragments of men's traditions? If we receive them is God's word, according to the Lord's teaching and example, we are entitled to look for divine light and certain truth as from no other book.
"And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot son of Haran, son of his son, and Sarai, his daughter-in-law, wife of Abram his son; and they set out together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came as far as Charan, and dwelt there, And the days of Terah were two hundred [and] five years; and Terah died in Charan" (vers, 31, 32).
In order to the sure understanding of the case, we do well to avail ourselves of the light afforded in Acts 7:2-4, where Stephen interprets that which otherwise might easily be misunderstood. "The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia before he dwelt in Charan, and said to him, Go out of thy land and kindred, and come into the land which I will show thee. Then he came out of the Chaldeans' land, and dwelt in Charan. And thence, after his father died, he removed him into this land in which ye now dwell." The verses with which Gen. 11 close give simply the historical fact. Gen. 12:1-4 give the clue to the failure in carrying out Jehovah's mind. So we saw in Gen. 11:1-9 the hidden reason why the nations were formed and distributed after their families and tongues over the earth, of which we find only the fact in Gen. 10.
The call of Jehovah was not to Terah but to Abraham, who was called to go out from his kindred as well as his country. Here we learn that he failed. For "Terah took Abraham his son," etc. This was no right answer to the call of God. The consequence was that for the time it came to nothing. "They set out together," kindred and all, "from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan." But into the land of Canaan they came not. "And they came as far as Charan, and dwelt there." But Charan was no more Canaan than Ur of the Chaldeans. It was an intermediate spot, and in no way the land which Jehovah was to show, and did in due time show Abram when faithful to His word.
But as yet a serious obstacle stood in the way. Abram obeyed only in part. Far from going from his father's house, his father who was not within the terms of the call took the lead, as indeed was but natural if he came with Abram. So we read not even that Abram took Terah, but that "Terah took Abram," thus making the word of God of none effect. Faith is no compromise; it receives and obeys the divine word. Abram was called to break from all that seemed naturally, yea from all that was naturally, dear to him. His first duty was subjection to Jehovah's call, Who would assuredly show him the land according to His promise. And so it ever must be for faith. The call of grace is paramount; and faith confides in God. It is no calculation of interest or ambition, but as Heb. 11 puts it, at length "he went out, not knowing whither he went," assured of God's love, wisdom, and power.
Whether Terah took up the call to Abram in his own strength, or Abram yielded to natural feeling and reason, we know not. But we do know that the attempt to unite the father's house with following the call was fatal to its effect. They might leave Ur, and reach Charan; but they got no farther. Terah died in Charan, aged two hundred and five years, Abram being now seventy-five years old. In the same year that Terah died, Abram departed out of Charan, 'as Jehovah had spoken to him,' though Lot went with him.
Faith was now cleared of its drawback. "And Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother's son, and all the substance they had gathered and the souls they had gotten in Charan; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came" (Gen. 12:5). The word of Jehovah was thus fully honoured, and the result was simple, pure, and bright accordingly. For it was no longer man essaying only to hinder: God was obeyed. It is not now "Terah took Abram," etc. but "Abram took Sarai," etc. "They went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came." It was the walk of faith, separate to Jehovah, Abram blessed and a blessing. Providence does not fail to watch over the country and the father's house left behind. But this is God's matter, not Abram's. The believer is to go out to Him that called him.