Table of Contents
Part II: A Study of the Names in Genesis
THE TABLE OF NATIONS: A UNIQUE
FOR SOME people
genealogies are fascinating things. For anyone who has roamed
widely and deeply in history, they serve somewhat the same purpose
as maps do for those who have roamed widely and deeply over a
country. The historian pores over the genealogy as the traveller
pores over his map. Both provide insights into relationships
and a kind of skeletal framework about which to hang much else
that has stirred the imagination. As Kalisch observed, (3) "The earliest historiography
consists almost entirely of genealogies: they are most frequently
the medium of explaining the connection and descent of tribes
and nations," and inserting where appropriate brief historical
notes such as those relating to Nimrod and Peleg in Genesis 10.
Maps, too, have such little "notes."
Although the genealogies of the
Bible are apt to be treated with less respect than the more strictly
narrative portions, they are nevertheless worthy of careful study
and will be found to provide unexpected "clues to Holy Writ."
Genesis 10, "The Table of Nations," is certainly no
But opinions have differed very
widely as to its value as a historical document. Its value in
other respects, for example, as an indication of how strongly
its author was aware of the true brotherhood of man -- a most
exceptional circumstance in his own day ‹ is admitted universally.
By contrast, disagreement about its historical worth is not lirnited
to liberal versus evangelical writers but exists equally sharply
between writers within these opposing camps. To take two representative
3 Kalisch, M. M., A Historical and Critical
Commentary on the Old Testament, Longmans, Brown, Green,
London, 1858, p.235.
1 of 23
the ranks of very liberal
scholars of half a century ago, we may quote Driver who wrote:
It is thus evident that the
Table of Nations contains no scientific classification of the
races of mankind. Not only this, however, it also offers no historically
true account of the origin of the races of mankind.
And over against this,
we have the opinion of the very famous Professor Kautzsch of
Halle who wrote: (5)
The so-called Table of Nations
remains, according to all results of monumental explorations,
an ethnographic original document of the first rank which nothing
however, the divergence of opinion tends to be not over the historicity
of this ancient Table, but rather over its comprehensiveness.
The question raised is whether we are really to understand that
Scripture intends to signify that this genealogy supplies us
with the names of the progenitors of the whole of the
world's present population, including the Negroid and Mongoloid
racial groups: or whether it provides only a summary statement
of the relationships of those people who were known to the writer
personally or by hearsay. At the same time, there is little disagreement
among Evangelicals as to the basic fact that all men, none excepted,
are to be traced back ultimately to Adam.
In this chapter, it is proposed
to consider the Table as a whole with respect to its value, importance,
and uniqueness among similar ancient records; and to examine
its structure and its date.
This will be followed in the second
chapter by a careful survey of one branch of the race, the Japhethites,
the object being to show how reasonable the record is where we
have sufficient information to assess it in detail. The assumption
one might properly make on the basis of this study is that the
rest of the Table would prove equally authentic and illuminating
of ethnological history, if we had available the same amount
of detailed information regarding the identity of the names recorded
as we have of the family of Japheth.
In the third chapter, we shall
explore the evidence from contemporary literature that unintentionally
supports the implication
4 Driver, S. R., The Book of Genesis,
Westminister Commentaries, 3rd. edition, Methuen, London, 1904,
5 Kautzsch, Prof., quoted hy James Orr, "The Early Narratives
of Genesis," in The Eundamentals, vol.1, Biola Press,
of Scripture: that, all
peoples of the world having been derived from the fami]y of Noah,
wherever people are found in the world they must ultimately have
migrated from the place where the Ark is said to have ,grounded;
and that this assumption must apply equally to historic as well
as to prehistoric man. In other words, here is the Cradle of
Mankind, and here is the focal point of all subsequent dispersion
of all who belong within the species Homo sapiens.
Intrinsic Value and Underlying
Concept of the Table
Our conclusion is that this Table
of Nations is a unique and priceless document which makes a justifiable
claim of comprehensiveness for the whole human race, and supplies
us with insights into the relationships of the earliest people
known to us, which would be quite lost to us but for Genesis
the value of this Table vary enormously. In 1906, James Thomas,
(6) in what he
is pleased to call a critical inquiry, says simply, "It
is certain that the entire list is valueless"! The famous
S. R. Driver is not quite so devastating in his pronouncements,
yet the final effect of his words is much the same. In his commentary
on Genesis, he says, (7)
of this Table is partly to show how the Hebrews supposed the
principle nations known to them to be related to each other,
partly to assign Israel, in particular, its place among them.
. . .
The names are in no case to be
taken as those of real individuals. . . .
The real origin of the nations
enumerated here, belonging in many cases to entirely different
racial types -- Semites, Aryans Hittites, Egyptians ‹ must
have reached back into remote prehistoric ages from which we
may be sure not even the dimmest recollections could have beeh
preserved at the time when the chapter was written. The nations
and tribes existed: and imaginary ancestors were afterwardls
postulated for the purpose of exhibiting pictorially the relationship
in which they were supposed to stand towards one another.
An exactly parallel instance, though
not so fully worked out, is afforded by the ancient Greeks. The
general name of the Greeks was Hellenes, the principle sub-divisions
were the Dorians, the Aeolians, the Ionians, and the Achaeans;
and accordingly the Greeks traced their descent from a supposed
eponymous ancester Helen, who had three sons, Dorus and
6 Thomas, James, Genesis and Exodus as
History, Swan Sonnenschein 1906, p.144.
7 Driver, S. R., The Book of Genesis, Westminister Commentaries,
3rd. edition, Methuen, London, 1904, p.112.
Aeolus, the supposed ancestors of the
Dorians and Aeolians, and Xuthus, from whose two sons, Ion and
Achaeus, the Ionians and Achaeans were respectively supposed
to be descended.
from the work of Driver opens up a number of questions. To begin
with, in view of the steadily increasing respect which is being
accorded to ancient traditions, it may very well be that the
parallel which this learned author has rather cynically proposed,
far from being a testimony against the Table, may in fact be
a witness in its favour. The Greek counterpart may not be an
invention of some early historian at all, but may be a statement
of fact. After all, people do not ordinarily invent ancestors
for themselves. Names of progenitors are of very great importance
to any people who have little or no written history, for such
names are the pegs upon which they hang the great events of their
A further assumption is made by
Driver which is equally unjustified: this is to the effect that
the compiler of this Table was writing a kind of fictional history
with the deliberate intent of giving his own people, the Israelites,
an antiquity equal to that of the great nations around them.
Since, as we shall see, the Table certainly does not on its face
bear any evidence of being written for propaganda purposes, Driver
appears to be reading more into the record than is justified.
It is rather like setting up a straw man in order to be able
to demolish him with scholarly verbosity.
A third point is ‹ and this
is a very important issue ‹ that Driver supposes the only
source of information which the writer had was his own fertile
imagination and the traditions current in his time ‹ ignoring
entirely the possibility that God had providentially taken care
to ensure that all the information necessary for compiling this
Table should be preserved by one means or another. One only has
to make what is, after all, a reasonable assumption for a Christian,
namely, that God had a specific purpose for the inclusion of
such a Table of Nations at this point in the writing of Holy
Scripture. Part, at least, of this purpose is clear enough and
will be examined subsequently.
But Driver's opinion about the
value and importance of the document has not been shared by later
writers who lived long enough to witness the enormous expansion
of our knowledge of early Middle East history resulting partly
from linguistic studies, partly from archaeology, and more recently
still from the findings
of physical anthropologists,
who are recovering some important lines of migration in "prehistoric"
Before giving consideration to
these findings, it may be worthwhile pointing out that the value
of a document may change with time, so that it does not become
more valuable or less valuable, but rather valuable in an entirely
new way. There is a sense in which Genesis 10 retains its unique
worth as the first document to proclaim the unity of Man, just
as the Magna Charta was the first document to proclaim the equality
of Man. To say, as Thomas did, that the document is valueless,
is to betray an extraordinary narrowness of vision, by making
the assumption that the only value a document can have is its
use as a source of information for the historian. Historical
veracity is one kind of value, but there are other values.
It should not for one moment,
however, be supposed by this statement that we are relinquishing
the historicity of this chapter in order to establish its value
on another footing. The fact is, as we shall try to show, that
wherever its statements can be sufficiently tested, Genesis 10
has been found completely accurate -- often where, at one time,
it seemed most certainly to be in error. This process of steady
vindication has served to establish for it a second kind of value,
namely, that like every other part of Scripture which has similarly
been challenged and vindicated by research, it now contributes
its testimony to the dependability of these earlier portions
of Genesis, upon the truth of which hangs so much else of our
Moreover, it is very difficult
to conceive of the record of Genesis, which carries the thread
of history from Adam until well into those ages supplied with
monumental documents, without some kind of Table to set forth
what happened to Noah's family and how the rest of the world,
apart from the Middle East, came to be peopled after the Flood.
The Table thus becomes an essential part of Scripture in its
earliest portions, not merely lor the satisfying of our natural
curiosity, but to establish the fact that all men are of one
blood, the offspring of the first Adam, and redeemable by the
blood of one Man, the Second Adam.
The Table thus serves three purposes.
It supplies an essential chapter in the early record of Genesis,
rounding out what happened as the world's population expanded.
It joined the whole human race in a single family without giving
the least suggestion that any one particular branch of this family
pre-eminence over another
‹ a notable achievement. Finally, as a purely historical
document, it has provided insights into the relationships between
peoples that are only now becoming obtainable by other means,
thereby adding its testimony to the dependability of the Genesis
Of the first of these achievements,
Dillmann had this to say: (8)
and Phoenecians, Assyrians and Babylonians, even Indians and
Persians, had a certain rmeasure of geographical and ethnological
knowledge, before more strictly scientific investigation had
been begun among the classical peoples. From several of these,
such as the Egyptians, Assyrians, Babylonians, and Persians,
surveys or enumerations of the peoples known to them and attempts
at maps have come down to us in the written memorials they have
left behind. But not much attention was paid, as a rule, to foreigners
unless national and trade interests were at stake. Often enough
they were despised as mere barbarians, and in no case were they
included with the more cultured nations in a higher unity.
It is otherwise in our text. Here
many with whom the Israelites had no sort of actual relationship
are taken into consideration. . . .
We are apt to
be so familiar with the idea of the brotherhood of man, that
we assume it to be a concept accepted by all races at all times
throughout history. Occasionally we observe in our own selves
a certain hesitancy in according other nations who do not share
our cultural values the full measure of humanness which we accord
to members of our own society. Such feelings, however, are apt
to be as much concealed as possible, since the proper thing nowadays
is to support the heroic assumption that "all men are equal."
But there are times when we can give vent to our true feelings
in the rnatter, as for example when we are at war. If the writer
of the tenth chapter of Genesis was a Hebrew, it is likely that,
for him, the Canaanites were a particularly despised and degraded
subsection of the human race, whose status would tend to be put
very low in the scale. We have an analogy in the status accorded
to the Jewish people by the Nazis. To many Germans at that time,
the Jews were not really human beings at all. It is all the more
remarkable, therefore, that in this Table of Nations the Canaanites
are given equal standing in the pedigree of man with the descendants
of Eber, among whom the Jewish people are numbered.
8 Dillmann, A., Genesis: Critically and Exegetically
Expounded, vol.1, T. and T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1897, p.314.
his commentary, Kalisch (9) points out that even the curse of Canaan seerns to
have been forgotten, and no slightest hint of it appears in the
record to remind the reader. On the contrary, no other tribe
is enumerated with such complete detail as that of Canaan (verses
15-19). As this learned writer says, "Nothing disturbs the
harmony of this grand genealogy."
In the face of this, it is really
rather extraordinary that Driver slrould consider the document
as, in one way, a piece of Jewish propaganda.
One further point is worth mentioning.
When a civilization reaches a very high level of development,
there may come a clearer recognition that all men are blood brothers.
However, in a very small, closely knit community struggling to
establish itself, there may tend to be a very different attitude.
Among most primitive people the habit is to refer to themselves
(in their own language, of course) as "true rnen,"
referring to all others by some term which clearly denies to
them the right to manhood at all. Thus the Naskapi call themselves
"Neneot," which means "real people." The
Chukchee say that their name rneans "real men." The
Hottentots refer to themselves as "Khoi-Khoi" which
means "rnen of men." The Yahgan of Tierra del Fuego
(of all places) say that their name means "men par excellence."
The Andamanese, a people who appear to lack even the rudiments
of law, refer to themlselves as "Ong," meaning "Men."
All these people reserve these terms only for themselves. It
is a sign of a low cultural state when this attitude is taken,
but then, when a people hold the opposite attitude, it is likely
a sign of a high cultural state. Thus when any people achieve
a stage of intellectual development at which they clearly conceive
that all men are related in a way which assures them equality
as human beings, they are then highly cultured, even though the
mechanics of their civilization may appear at a low stage of
development. From this we ought logically to gather that the
writer of Genesis was a highly cultured individual. Indeed, it
seerns to me that only with a high conception of God would such
a conception of man be possible, and therefore Genesis 10 would
seem to bear testirnony to a very high order of religious faith.
In the final analysis, one might ask whether it is possible at
all to sustain a true conception of the equality of man without
also a true conception of the nature of God. The former stems
directly frorn the latter. The only ground for attaching to all
rnen an equal
9 Kalisch, M. M. A Historical and Critical
Commentary on the Old Testament, Longmans, Brown, Green,
London, 1858, p.234.
level of worth is the
tremendous fact that all souls have equal value to God. Assuredly
they do not have equal value to society.
Unless the ultimate standard of
reference is the value which God attaches to persons, it is quite
unrealistic to talk about all men being equal. Consider the drunken
sot, wallowing in the gutter, poisoning the air with his foul
language, utterly confusing his children, destroying his family
life, disgusting his friends, disturbing his whole society --
how can such a man possibly be of equal value with, for example,
a pillar of the community who is full of neighbourly goodness?
Clearly, there is no equality here if the basis of evaluation
is man with man, or man with his society.
Any society which evaluates its
members by their worth to itself is not attaching value to the
individual person at all, but only to his functions. When these
functions no longer serve a useful purpose, the man ceases to
have any value. This was Nietzsche's philosophy ‹ and Hitler's.
It is the logical philosophy of anyone who views man apart from
God. It is our modern philosophy of education, emphasizing skill
and technology, encouraging men to do rather than be
well. Against this tendency of natural man to "de-valuate"
himself while supposing he is exalting himself, the Bible could
not do anything else than set forth in clear terms these two
complementary facts: that God is concerned equally with all men
and that all men belong to one family, uniquely related through
Adam to God Himself. The argument, so stated, is an argument
also for the comprehensiveness of the Table of Genesis 10. Unless
it is comprehensive, unless ultimately all mankind is in view
here, and not just those nations which Israel happened to have
cognizance of, it is a chapter out of keeping with its context.
Unless the whole race is intended, the chapter's purpose is in
doubt and the message of the Bible is incomplete. We are left
only with Acts 17:26 which, at this point while assuring our
hearts, does not enlighten our minds as to the fact that it gives.
There is a negative side
also to the matter of the authenticity of this historical document.
Had this Table been designed for propaganda purposes (to establish
Israel's position as of equal dignity though not sharing some
of the glories of the surrounding peoples) or had it been merely
the work of some early historian creating his own data with a
comparatively free hand, then almost certainly some device would
have been adopted for deliberately setting forth not only the
high status of his own
ancestors, but the very
low status of that of his enemies. With respect to the first
tendency, one has only to read modern history books to discern
how very easily individuals of little real significance can be
presented to us in such a way as to make us take enormous pride
in our heritage. There is, in fact, very little written history
which is not in part propaganda, although the author himself
is often unaware of it. The number of "firsts" claimed
by some national historians for their countrymen is quite amazing,
and it is usually clear what the nationality of the author himself
is. In complete contrast, it would be difficult to prove with
certainty of what nationality the author of Genesis 10 was. We
assume he was a Hebrew. bult if the amount of attention given
to any particular line that is traced were used as a clue to
his identity, he might have been a Japhethite, a Cannanite, or
even an Arab. This is remarkable and shows enormous restraint
on tlre author's part, the kind of restraint which suggests the
hand of God upon hirn.
With respect to the second tendency,
the belittling of one's enernies, this chapter most assuredly
would hlave been a wonderful one in which to put the hated Amalekites
in their proper place. But the Arnalekites are not even mentioned.
Of course, it might be argued that the Arnalekites did not even
exist at the tirne he wrote, a supposition which I consider highly
probable. If this is the case, this is a very early document,
not a later one as Driver wouldl have had us believe. In any
case, the author could have treated the Canaanites similarly.
One further aspect of the tone
of the Table is the modesty of its chronological claims. Whereas
the Babylonians ancl Egyptians in the "parallels" ?vEicll
they have preserved for tlS extend tileir genealogies to absolutely
incredible lengths ‹ in some instances occupying hundreds
of thousands of years ‹ there are no such claims rnade or
implied in Genesis 10. T'he feeling which one has in reading
this chapter is that the expansion of population was quite rapid.
Certainly, all is rnost reasonable. This feature of the Table
is ably summed up by Taylor Lewis who remarked: (10)
How came this Hebrew chronology to
present such an example of modesty as compared with the extravagant
claims to antiquity made by all other nations? The Jews, doubtless,
had, as men, similar national pride, leading tliem to magnify
10 Lewis, Taylor, in J. P. Lange, Commentary
on Genesis, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, no date, p.357.
their age upon the earth, and run it
up to thousands and myriads of years. How is it, that the people
whose actual records go back the farthest have the briefest reckoning
The only answer to this is, that
while others were left to their unrestrained fancies, this strange
nation of Israel was under a providential guide in the matter.
A divine check held them back from this folly. A holy reserve,
coming from a constant sense of the divine pupilage, made them
feel that "we are but of yesterday," while the inspiration
that controlled their historians directly taught them that man
had but a short time upon the earth.
They had the same motive as others
to swell out their national years; that they have not done so,
is one of the strongest evidences of the divine authority of
As a matter
of fact, those "parallels" that do exist elsewhere
in the literature of antiquity not only completely lack the sobriety
of Genesis 10, but owe their existence rather more to the desire
to record notable conquests than to any philanthropic philosophy.
As Leupold has aptly said, (11)
of antiquity has anything to offer that presents an actual parallel
to this Table of Nations. Babylonian and Egyptian 1ists that
seem to parallel this are merely a record of nations conquered
in war. Consequently, the spirit that prompted the making of
such lists is the very opposite of the spirit that the Biblical
cannot in fact properly be classed as "parallels" at
all. As Marcus Dods observed,(12) "This ethnographic Table is not only the most
ancient and reliable description of the various nations and peoples,
but it has no parallel in its attempt to exhibit all the races
of the earth as related to one another."
The Structure and Purpose of the
of things is normally related to the purpose they are intended
to serve. This applies in engineering design, and it applies
in physiology. It also applies in literature, whether as novel,
poetry, legal document, or history. It applies also to Genesis
10. This document has more than one purpose but is so constructed
that all its purposes are served equally well because of the
simplicity of its conception.
The method of course,
is to present a series of names, whether of individuals, whole
tribes, or even places, as though
11. Leupold, H. C., Exposition of Genesis,
Wartburg Press, Columbus, Ohio, 1942, p.358.
12. Dods, Marcus, Genesis, Clark, Edinburgh, no date, p.45.
they were "persons"
related by birth. This is done in a simple straightforward manner,
several lines being traced for several generations, here and
there a comrnent supplying additional information. As a consequence
of the particular form in which our sense of "precision"
has developed in Western Culture, we find it difficult to accept
the idea that if a man founded a city or a tribe, such an aggregate
of people could still be summed up in the person of the founder,
so that they could with equal propriety be referred to as his
offspring. Thus, in verse 19, Sidon is spoken of initially as
the firstborn of Canaan: whereas by verse 19, Sidon is now clearly
the city of that name. Similarly, Canaan is mentioned in verse
6 as a son of Ham and subsequently in verse 16 as father of several
tribes who indeed, in verse 18, are referred to as his families.
In the following verses the name refers to the territory he occupied,
which is geographically defined. We think of this as a rather
loose employment of the term "son," but it is simplicity
itself when it cornes to establishing origins. As Dillmann put
In the representation given of this
fundamental idea of the relationship of all peoples and men,
each particular people is conceived of as a unity summed up in
and permeated by the influence of its ancestor.
does not elaborate the implication of his observation regarding
the persistence of the character of an individual in his descendants,
so that the observation appears almost as a chance remark, it
will be well in discussing the purpose of the genealogy (in its
bearing on its structure) to pursue this implication a little
further, before returrling to a more detailed examination of
the structure per se.
The point of interest here is that
there is a sense in which the character of an ancestor may for
a short while, and occasionally for a very long time, perrneate
the characters of his descendants. Sir Francis Galton, (14) and others, first applied
statistical analysis for sociological data in an attempt to demonstrate
that there is such a thing as hereditary genius. It is not clear
today whether such traits are genetically linked or are the result
of circumstances: for example, a famous lawyer rnay bias his
children to follow in his footsteps and give them a headstart
by his association with them, by his influence in the world,
and by his accumulated means and technical aids. The same may
13. Dillmann, A., Genesis: Critically and
Exegetically Expounded, vol.1, T. and T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1897,
14. Galton, Sir Francis, Hereditary Genius, Watts, London,
1950, 379 pages.
in the practice of medicine.
Similarly, circumstances may sometimes result in a long line
of great actors. Possibly in the realm of artistic ability we
have a larger measure of genetic influence.
The idea that a "father"
determines to a significant extent the character of his descendants
for several generations underlies a certain class of statements
that appear both in the Old and the New Testaments. Jesus spoke
of his bitterest critics as "Children of Satan," or
"Sons of Belial," denying emphatically their claim
to be "Children of Abraham." The very term "the
Children of Israel," came to mean something more than the
mere descendants of Jacob. The Lord spoke of Nathaniel as "an
Israelite indeed," having reference to his character, not
his lineage. It is important in this context to guard against
the assumption that the "children" of an ancestor will
only perpetuate the undesirable elements in his character. I
believe history shows that there is such a thing as "national
which appears distinctly at first in a single individual and
reappears in his children and grandchildren with sufficient force
to result in the formation of a widespread behaviour pattern
that thereafter tends to reinforce and perpetuate itself as the
family grows from a tribe into a nation. Where differences in
national character do seem to exist, no implication is intended
that there is any intrinsic superiority of one kind over another.
We are arguing for the existence of differences, not superiorities.
In the sum, we are all much alike. This is of fundamental importance.
The possibility that this idea is not
foreign to Scripture was noted by Dr. R. F. Grau, who, over 80
years ago, commented: (16)
The object of the document which
we are considering is not so much to call attention by these
names to three individuals (Shem, Ham, Japheth) andl to distinguish
them from one another, as to point out the characteristics of
the three races and their respective natural tenclencies.
It is customary
now to divide the world's present population into three racial
stocks, Caucasians (essentially, the White Man), Negroids, and
Mongoloids. It is exceedingly difficult to define successfully
the distinguishing characteristics of any one of these
15. National Character: compare, for example, Hamilton Fyfe,
The Illusion of National Character (Watts, London, 1946,
157 pages) with many anthropological studies of native peoples
(by Margaret Mead, for example) and modern nations (e.g., Ruth
Benedict on the Japanese).
19. Grau, R. F., The Goal of the Human Race, Simpkin,
Marshall, etc., London, 1892, p.115..
three, although it might
seem quite otherwise. Negroids are presumably black but the Australian
aborigines are not Negroid, though quite as black. The straight
black hair, the brown "slant" eyes, the epicanthic
fold, and other features commonly accepted as characteristically
Mongoloid, can be observed frequently among people who are classed
as Caucasians. To repeat, although everyone thinks it is a simple
matter to distinguish the three groups -- and in most cases they
can -- it is virtually impossible to write down a foolproof description
which will clearly mark out what tribe or nation belongs within
which group. There is, however, one way in which it could be
done -- especially if we limit our view to a much earlier period
in history when racial mixture had not proceeded very far --
and this is to trace the earliest true representives of each
tribe to their known ancestors and set forth in some kind of
genealogical tree the relationships of these ancestors. Viewed
in this light, the method of Genesis 10 is probably the only
valid way to go about it.
In this Table, we again meet with
three groups of people, the descendants of Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
But these three groups do not correspond with the current classification
of races, for in this Table it is apparent that Negroid and Mongoloid
are classed as one family, and the trilogy is reconstituted by
setting the Semitic peoples in a distinct class by themselves.
So then, we have the Japhethites who can be conveniently equated
for our purposes with the Caucasians, Indo-Europeans, or White
Man; the Hamites who are held to encompass the Negroid and Mongoloid
branches, i.e., the so-called colored races; and the Shemites
who comprise both the Hebrew people (ancient and modern), the
Arabs, and a few once powerful nations, such as the Assyrians
and Babylonians. This is a very sketchy outline, but it will
serve for the moment until the details of the Table can be examined
Now, it is my firm belief that
God has endowed these three groups -- which we shal1 henceforth
refer to normally as Japhetites, Hamites, and Shemites ‹
with certain capacities and aptitudes which, when properly exercised,
have made a uniqtle contribution in the total historical developrnent
of mankind and which, when allowed to find full cooperative expression
during a single epoch, have invariably led to the emergence of
a high civilization.
This subject has been explored
at some length by the author
and was the basis of
an accepted Ph.D. thesis. (17) It is presented in simple outline
in Part 1, "Shem, Ham, and Japheth in Subsequent World History,"
and one critical aspect of it is examined in some detail in Part
IV, "The Technology of Hamitic People."
In a nutshell my thesis is this: that
mankind, considered both as individuals and as a species Homo
sapiens, has a constitution which seeks satisfaction in three
physically, intellectually, and spiritually. There are people
who live almost entirely for the physical; we often speak of
them as "living to eat." There are people who live
almost entirely in the intellectual, who gladly surrender a meal
to buy a book. There are people to whom the things of the spirit
are completely paramount. Such people often go into permanent
"retreat," and for a large part of Christian history
they formed a class. Most of us probably live in these three
realms with approximate]y equal emphasis, depending upon circumstances
at the time.
A survey of history with this thought
in mind, applied to nations or races rather than to individuals,
reveals that Japhethites have originated the great philosophical
systems; the Shemitic peoples, the great religious systems whether
true or false; and, surprising as it may seem to one not familiar
with the evidence, the Hamitic people have supplied the world
with the basis of almost every technological advance. This is
not the time or place to attempt a demonstration of this thesis,
since it has been undertaken in the two Papers mentioned above.
The extent of the evidence is remarkable indeed, although all
the more so in that only in recent years has the debt of the
white man to the coloured man been recognized to any extent.
New discoveries are constantly being made as the result of a
continuing research into the origin of inventions, and these
bear out the above observation in quite unexpected ways.
When the philosophical bent, which
originated with the Greeks and the Aryans and was successively
elaborated by Western Man, was finally wedded to the technical
genius of Hamitic
17. Custance, A. C., "Does Science Transcend
Culture?" Ph.D. thesis, presented to Ottawa University,
1958, 253 pp., illustrated.
18. Hugh Dryden wrote, "Man's life at its fullest is a trinity
of activity ‹ physical, mental and spiritual. Man must cultivate
all three if he is not to be imperfectly developed" ("The
Scientist in Contemporary Life," Science, vol.120,
1954, p.1054). Similarly, Viktor E. Frankl of Vienna wrote, "Man
lives in three dimensions: the somatic (physical or bodily),
the mental, and the spiritual," (Digest of Neurology
and Psychiatry, Institute of Living, Hartford, Connecticut,
vol.1, 1940, p.22).
peoples in Africa, Asia,
and the New World, there arose the modern phenomenon of Science,
enormously enlarging the fruits of this marriage. But the tendency
when the union of these two is most fruitful, has always been
for a kind of dehumanized civilization to appear. The true and
necessary spiritual component was supplied initially through
the Shemites and later by their direct spiritual descendant,
the Christian Church. Without this spiritual component, civilization
is in danger of annihilating man as an individual of worth. Without
the Hamitic contribution, the contribution of Japheth led nowhere
‹ as in Greece. Without the contribution of Japheth, the
contribution of Ham stagnated as soon as the immediate practical
problems of survival had been sufficiently solved. This kind
of stagnation can be illustrated by the history of some of the
great nations of antiquity, the Egyptians, for example. These
interactions are examined elsewhere, but the important point
to underscore at this juncture is that the various contributions
of the various nations and peoples do not appear as contributions
made by any one "family" unless one has the clue of
these family relationships, which Genesis 10 supplies. Given
this clue, and allowing that it is a true historical record,
these three components for a high civilization -- the technological,
intellectual, and spiritual ‹ suddenly appear in a new light
when it is realized which particular group of people made the
most fundamental contribution in each area. The dwelling of Japheth
in the tents of Shem, that is, the occupation by Japheth of a
position originally possessed by Shem; the taking away of a kingdom
from the latter to give it to the former, all these biblical
phrases assume a new significance. In short, Genesis 10, by dividing
the whole race into three families in a way which does not concord
with modern concepts of racial groupings, is not thereby discredited
but shown to be based upon a much clearer insight into the framework
of history. To my mind, there is no question that when we see
history as God sees it in its totality and at the end of time,
we shall discover that this Table was a fundamental clue to the
meaning of it: and, we would repeat, it serves this purpose because
it has a structure which does not agree with modern attempts
to re-define the interrelationships of the world's peoples.
Now a few thoughts may be in order
with respect to the more mechanical aspects of its structure.
First of all, it may be noted that the division of mankind into
three basic families was not derived from traditions maintained
by nations living
around Israel or within
their ken, because these nations did not have any such traditions.
The Egyptians distinguished themselves from other peoples on
the basis of colour, classing the Asiatics as yellow, the Libyians
as white, and the Negroes as black. (19) But in this Table of Nations the so-called coloured
peoples are not distinguished from one another (for instance,
the blacks from tle yellows) but are classed, it my understanding
of the text is correct, within a single family group. And although
it is true that the name "Ham," meaning "dark,"
may have reference to the skin colour ‹ as the word "Japheth"
may have reference to fair-skinned people ‹ the principle
does not hold entirely, for some, at least, of Ham's descendants
were fair. Indeed, according to Dillmanln, there were in ancient
times fair-skinned as well as the more familiar black-skinned
There is no indication that the Hittites vere black-skinned,
and the same is probably true of the descendants of Sidon, etc.
On the other hand, the Canaanites and the Sumerians (both descendants
of Ham) refer to themselves as ''blackheaded'' people (21) ‹ a designation which
seems more likely to have reference to skin colour rather than
colour of hair, since almost all people in this area have black
hair anyway; a hair-colour distinction would be meaningless.
I'm quite aware, however, that
it is customary in reconstructions based upon skeletal remains
to picture the Sumerians as anything but negroid. But this is
not fatal to our theory for, as we have already noted with respect
to the Australian Aborigines, not all black-skinned people are
negroids, and were we dependent only upon skeletal remains of
these Aborigines vith no living representatives to guide us,
we should have no way of knowing, that they were black-skinned
at all. The same may apply to tle Sumerians and Canaanites. There
is little doubt that the people of Sumer and of the Indus Valley
culture were akin. (22)
The descriptions of the Indus Valley people in early Aryan literature
indicate that they were negroid in type. (23) The
19. Dillmann, Genesis: Critically and Exegetically
Expounded, T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1897, vol.1,
20. Dillmann, ibid., p.319.
21. The Canaanites: in thle Prism of Sennacherib the Sumerians,
according to Samuel Kramer, (From the Tablets of Sumer,
Falcon's Wing Press, 1956, p. 60). Hammurabi's Code (Deimel transcript,
R. 24, line 11) also refers to them as ''Blackheaded ones."
22. See, for exarmple, V. G. Childe, "India and the West
Before Darius," Antiquity, vol.13, 1939, p.5ff.
23. Piggott, S., Prehistoric India, Pelican Books, 1950,
Fig. 1. The probable routes of migration
as the world was first peopled.
famous little "Dancing
Girl" from the Indus Valley is certainly negroid, and it
is equally evident that genes for black skin still form a large
component in the gene pool of the present Indian population.
In his Races of Europe, (24) Coon has a section with descriptive materials devoted
entirely to the many racial types which have contributed to the
present population of Europe. In speaking of gypsies and dark-skinned
Mediterraneans, he includes two photographs of one young man
of clearly "negroid" appearance, and comments as follows:
Of much greater antiquity outside
of India is a dark-skinned [in the photo, almost black], black-eyed,
and straight-haired Mediterranean type which appears with some
frequency in southern Iran and along the coasts of the Persian
Gulf. This young sailor from Kuwait will serve as an example.
The origin and affiliations of this type have not as yet been
enough, a further illustration from southern Arabia shows a young
man who, as Coon puts it, "except for his light unexposed
skin colour . . . could pass for an Australian aborigine."
The use of the word "unexposed" inevitably made me
think of Ham's reaction to his exposed father. For if Ham was
dark all over, he may have expected his father was also, and
his surprise at discovering otherwise might have so disturbed
him as to cause him to be forgetful of his filial duty. At any
rate, it is clear that in this area of the world, once occupied
by the Sumerians, there still remain "unaccountable"
evidences of a very dark-skinned component in the population.
All these lines of evidence lend support to the contention that
the Sumerians may have themselves been a black-skinned people.
The three families are not predicated
on the basis of language, either. Again it is perfectly true
that the children of Japheth, in so far as they have given rise
to the Indo-Europeans, would seem to be a single linguistic family.
The same may be said of the Shemites. But when we come to the
descendants of Ham we run into difficulties for it appears that
in historic times the Canaanites, Philistines, and many Cushites
spoke Semitic languages, while the Hittites (also Hamites, from
Heth) may have spoken an Indo-European language. The trouble
with linguistic evidence in this instance is that it really appears
too late in history to be decisive.
It has been suggested that the
arrangement of the Table was dictated upon geographical grounds:
for example, that the children
24. Coon, C. S., Races of Europe, Macmillan,
1939, 739 pp., illustrated.
of Japheth spread in
one direction -- more or less to the north and west, whereas
the children of Ham tended towards the south and east, while
the children of Shem stayed more nearly at the centre. This,
however, would make the document something of a prophetic statement
for such a dispersion did not occur until sometime later ‹
unless, of course, one gives the document a late date, a point
to be considered later. There is evidence that the writer knew
only that some of Ham's descendants had entered Africa, that
a large part of Shem's descendants had settled in Arabia, and
that Japheth was still not very far to the north, though spreading
along the shorelines of the Black Sea and the Mediterranean.
In fact, the picture presented indicates a Cush quite close at
hand which was not the same as the Cush later to be found in
Ethiopia. Thus, although the Table recognizes, as indeed it had
to do, that some dispersion had already taken place in which
the members of each family had migrated in more or less the same
general direction, this knowledge was not the basis of the threefold
division, but rather stemmed from it.
The Date of the Table
While the writer admits that
his genealogy employs not merely the names of persons but also
of places and families, even making use at times of language
as a guide, it seems pretty clear that the structure of his Table
is dependent ultimately upon a true understanding of the original
relationships of the founding fathers of each line to their more
notable descendants and to one another. To my mind, the very
structure of the Table predicates this kind of knowledge of the
facts. On no other basis can one account for the circumstance
that for centuries certain statements have seemed to be clearly
contrary to the evidence, and that only as more light has appeared
has the Table proved itself to be perfectly correct where properly
The use of a genealogical
tree which does not slavishly demand that individuals only are
to be listed, but which allows the inclusion of cities they founded,
tribes which they grew into, and districts which they occupied,
provides a simple, straightforward, and concise method of setting
forth the Origin of Nations.
We come, finally,
to the question of the date of this document. It will already
be clear that, in our view, it is by no means "late"
in the sense in which Higher Critics have understood the term.
If it was composed many centuries after the events described,
it has avoided anachronisms and certain errors, which
would make it a masterpiece
of forgery. So carefully has the supposed forger avoided these
kinds of errors that it would seem far simpler and more reasonable
to assume he was a contemporary of the terminal events which
he describes in the chapter.
Among the lines of evidence which
strongly support an early date for this document, the following
carry great weight: (1) the small development of Japhetic peoples,
(2) the position of Cush at the head of the Hanitic family, (3)
the mention of Sidon but not of Tyre, (4) the reference to Sodom
and Gomorrah as still existing, (5) the great amount of space
given to Joktanites, (6) the discontinuance of the Hebrew line
at Peleg, and (7) the absence of any reference to Jerusalem by
Let us consider these seriatim.
(1) The small development
of Japhetic peoples. The descendants of Japheth were great
colonizers and explorers spreading around the Mediterranean and
ulp into Europe, and toward the east into Persia and the Indus
Valley at a quite early date. Yet this Table views them as settling
only in Asia Minor and along the imrnediate Mediterranean coast
Furthermore, Javan receives notice,
from whom undoubtedly the Ionians are to be traced, but we find
no mention of Achaeans or Dorians associated with him, nor of
Phrygians with Ashkenaz. Yet one would only have to shift the
time setting by a few centuries to make such omissions inconceivable.
Indeed, according to Sir William Ramsay, (25) Homer, who wrote somewhere about 820 B.C. or even
earlier (Sayce says 1000 B.C.), evolved a jumble of old and new
when he produced Askanios as an ally of Priam and Troy, and an
enemy of the Achaeans. Either the writer was quite ignorant of
subsequent events because he lived before them, or he was extraordinarily
careful to avoid the slightest taint of anachronism. For example,
he implies that Javan, a son of Japheth, inhabited Asia Minor
and the neighbouring Greek coastlands in very early times. Yet
there is, I believe, no trace of these old Ionians during the
"historical" times of Greece and Israel, but only the
survival of the name in one of the Greek states.
(2) The position
of Cush at the head of the Hamitic farnily. It has been customary
to date this Table as late as the sixth century B.C. But no writer
at such a time would have referred to any part of Babylonia as
the land of Cush, since by then Cush
25. Ramsay, Sir William, Asianic Elements
in Greek Civilization, Murray, London, 1927.
was used exclusively
for a quite different region, i.e., Ethiopia. If the writer had
been attempting a piece of historic fiction, he would surely
have added parenthetically that he was not referring to Ethiopia
in the present context. As it was, he evidently foresaw not the
slightest confusion in the reader's mind since the Ethiopian
Cush did not exist.
(3) The mention of Sidon
but not of Tyre. The onission of Tyre among the states of
Palestine is very significant, for similar communities such as
Gerar and Gaza, among others, are carefully noted.
Tyre had a quite dramatic history.
Founded somewhere about the 13th century B.C., by the 10th century
she was mistress of commerce under Hiram. In the 8th century
she fell under Assyrian domination, was beseiged by the Babylonians
early in the 6th century, and finally came under the Persians
in 588 B.C. In 332 B.C. she was once more utterly subdued by
Alexander in a classic campaign which forrns part of the subject
of a separate Doorway Paper. (26)
In other words, from the 13th century
on, this city-state made a considerable noise in the world, whereas
Sidon made comparatively little. Indeed, those who were anywhere
near contemporary with her, among the prophets, spent much time
denouncing her (cf. Ezekiel 27, for example). The two cities,
Tyre and Sidon, were constantly referred to together, and in
that order ‹ and Arvad (also rnentioned in the Table) faded
into insignificance before the splendour of Tyre.
The omission of Tyre in this early
Hebrew etlnography clearly implies that she had not yet risen
to a position of importance ‹ if she existed at all. This
surely indicates that at least this section of the Table was
written prior to the exploits of Hiram in the 10th century B.C.
(4) The reference
to Sodom and Gomorrah as still existing. In view of the dramatic
destruction of these two cities of the plain of Jordan, it is
inconceivable that a late writer would mention them as in existence
at that time and not make some attempt to inform the reader of
what happened to them subsequently. It is surely simpler to believe
that he was writing prior to their complete disappearance, an
event which long antedates Hiram of Tyrian fame and must be set
probably somewhere around the 17th century B.C.
26. Custance, Arthur, "Archaeological Confirmations
of Genesis", Part
IV in Hidden Things of God's Revelation, vol.7 of The Doorway
(5) The great amount of space given to the Joktanites.
If one were to pick up earlier history books dealing with the
settlement of North America by the White Man and his constant
exchanges in trade and in war with American Indian tribes, one
would continually meet with such tribal names as Ojibway, Huron,
Seneca, Cree, Mohawk, and Cherokee. But to readers of the present
day only a few of these would strike a chord of recognition.
One suspects that the Joktanites were analogously both numerous
and important in early Middle East history, particularly the
history of Arabia. But within a few centuries, at the most, some
circumstance had either reduced many of them to insignificant
status as tribes, or so united them as to wash out their individual
tribal existences. If a Jewish writer of the 6th century had
strung off a list of names like this (even if he could have recovered
them with any certainty), it is likely his words would have had
very little impact or meaning for his readers. On the other hand,
at a much earlier time, it might have been analogous to the earliest
writings in America, of the Jesuits, for example, or of Catlin.
That they have a genuine base in history is borne out by the
names of districts or cities in Arabia which seem clearly to
be recollections of much earlier settlements. When one contrasts
the detail in this portion (verses 6‹20) with the sparse
information given about the line of Shem througll Peleg, it is
difficult to argue with any force that the Table was a piece
of Jewish propaganda favouring their own antecedents.
(6) The discontinuance
of the Hebrew line at Peleg. In view of the great importance
attached to the person of Abraham as the father of the Jewish
people, it is certainly extraordinary that a writer purporting
to present an account of the origin of nations, a writer remember,
who is assumed to be himself a Jew, should have neglected entirely
to indicate where Abraham originated. Considering that Abraham
by almost any reckoning must have been a figure of some importance
and well known before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah,
the only conclusion one can draw from this is that the writer
did not know of his existence because he was not yet alive or
had as yet achieved no prominence.
The impression is reinforced further
by consideration of the fact that although Palestine is treated
in some detail, cities and territories being clearly delineated,
there is a total absence of any mention of the Hebrews. If the
object of the Table was to supply the Jewish people with proof
of an equally impressive
antiquity with the more
prominent nations around them like the Egyptians (Mizriam, verse
6) and Assyria (Asshur, verse 22), would there not have been
some mention of the glories of their own nation under Solomon?
Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights
(7) And this brings
us to one final observation, namely, the reference to the Jebusites
without any mention to the city under the more familiar name
Jerusalem. This Table occupies itself with the names of individuals,
the cities they founded, the tribes they gave rise to, and the
territories they settled in. Of these categories the names of
cities form a very prominent part. Yet, while the Jebusites are
mentioned, their capital city is not singled out specifically,
and the circumstance surrounding its change of name to become
Jerusalem receives no mention whatever. This would be analogous
to a history of early England in which the author, while listing
many settlements of importance, makes no mention of London or
Winchester. A Canadian historian living before the formation
of Upper Canada, if he should refer to a settlement at the mouth
of the Humber River in Ontario but make no mention to "Muddy
York," would be dated very early by Canadian standards.
If he had casually mentioned that the people of this settlement
were called "Muddy Yorkers," one would be more tempted
to place him somewhere around A.D. 1800. However, if he made
no mention by way of parenthesis that the town of York later
became tbe city of Toronto, one would still assume that he was
ignorant of the fact and died before the change was made. This
would be particularly the case if he had in the meantime made
careful reference to other towns and cities of prominence in
early Canadian history.
It seems to me that the total
absence of any direct reference here to a city specifically known
as Jebus, and even more importantly to the same city as Jerusalem,
is a clear indication that the writer lived only long enough
to complete a record of events exactly as we have them in this
ancient Table. At the very latest, if the above arguments carry
weight, he cannot have survived very much beyond the 20th or
l9th century B.C.
We turn in the next chapter to
a study of certain representative portions of this ethnographic
Table in order to show how far it can serve as a guide to ancient
history, since it supplies information and vital links that are
not otherwise available in our present state of knowledge.