A Study of the Names in Genesis 10
1968 Doorway paper No. 45, published privately by Arthur C. Custance
1975 Part I in Genesis and Early Man, vol.2 in The Doorway Papers Series, published by Zondervan Publishing Company
1997 Arthur Custance Online Library (html)
2001 2nd Online Edition (corrections, design revisions)
God who made the World
And all things therein . . .
Hath made of one blood all nations of men
For to dwell on all the face of the earth.
And He hath determined the appropriate times
And the bounds
Of their settlement,
That they should seek the Lord
If haply they might feel after Him
And find Him.
He be not far from any one of us:
For in Him we live,
And move, And have our being. . . .
THE DIFFICULTIES of elucidating, at this late date in human history, the origins and relationships of the various races of mankind, are so great that many would doubt if it is even worthwhile to attempt it at all. Even a cursory examination of such a volume as Coon’s Races of Europe (1) will quickly reveal that racial mixture has already proceeded so far that in almost any part of the world one may find individuals or groups of people representative of all the currently recognized racial stocks or sub-races indiscriminately intermingled. To propose in the face of such evidence that from the Table of Nations in Genesis one can show the origins, relationships, and patterns of dispersion of these racial stocks would seem at first rather absurd.
Undoubtedly we shall be accused of over-simplification. Yet there is a sense in which this may be an advantage here, since it allows one to ignore certain complicating factors and to avoid being completely overwhelmed by detail, thus permitting the setting forth of an intelligible alternative to current ethnological theories which I believe better explains the distinction both of fossil remains of prehistoric man as well as of present racial groups. There is, therefore, some justification for presenting the grossly simplified picture which appears in this Paper.
A second point which I should like to underscore is that what constitutes evidence in favoUr of, or virtual proof of a thesis, depends, in this kind of research, very much upon the bias of the reader. To demonstrate that the earth is flat would require an enormous amount of evidence! Indeed, most people would feel that no amount of evidence was sufficient. But to confirm that the earth is round would require very little. Thus, whether a piece of evidence is considered as strong or weak often hinges
Coon, C. S., Races of Europe, Macmillan, New York, 1939, 739 pages., index.
not so much upon its intrinsic weight as it does upon whether it supports accepted opinion.
I believe that for anyone who accepts Scripture as a touchstone of Truth, even when its plain statements appear to be contradicted by the reasonably assured findings of secular research, it will not require the same kind of evidence to carry weight. If the children of Japheth are, as we shall propose, the people of Europe (and part of Northern India, etc.) as Genesis 10 implies, then slight evidence in confirmation will tend to clinch the matter for those who already believe it, whereas no amount of evidence will clinch the matter for those who simply don’t. Similarly, for those who are persuaded that this Table of Nations is truly comprehensive, the coloured races must, logically, be included, and somewhere here we shall find the ancestors of the so-called black, brown, and yellow peoples. The question is whether this kind of comprehensiveness is implied in the words (verse 32) “by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.” In the interpretation of passages such as this, there tends to be a parting of the ways between those who attach great importance to the actual words of Scripture and their implications, and those who attach much less importance to the words themselves and do not therefore examine the implications very seriously. The latter tend to be suspicious whenever the former allow implications to play a large part in their interpretation. The question is, more broadly, Does God intend us to look for implications and logically work them out when the kind of concrete statements which are much to be preferred and which would then clinch the matter are actually lacking?
On this issue some words of Dr. Blunt in his quite famous book, Undesigned Coincidences in the Old and New Testament, are very much to the point. After observing, rightly, with what alacrity imagination enters where implications are in view and how readily it breaks all bounds and becomes highly visionary, he nevertheless argues strongly in favour of the wide and active investigation of implications in Scripture. He says:(2)
The principle is good, for it is sanctioned by our Lord Himself, Who reproaches the Sadducees with not knowing [his emphasis] those Scriptures which they received, because they had not deduced [his emphasis] the doctrine of the future state from the words of Moses, “I am the God of Abraham, the God
2 Blunt, J. J., Undesigned Coincidences in the Old and New Testament, Murray, London, 1869, p.6.
The point is wel1 taken and, as he adds in the next paragraph, “the proofs of this are numberless.” He then proceeds to illustrate his point in some detail. But his opening illustration is particularly apt because while it is perfectly true that the implication of Moses’ words was in this instance clearly of profound importance, the learned men of our Lord’s time — who incidently were not lacking in devoutness — very probably took tlle same rather sceptical attitude that is current today in such matters and would have flouted the idea as quite absurd if anyone else than the Lord Himself had proposed it. They did not believe in the resurrection and would not, therefore, have accepted such an inference from Moses’ words. And I suspect that in our determination to discourage the over-use of imagination in interpreting Scripture (a determination which is quite proper, I believe), we have nevertheless robbed ourselves of many insights.
This Paper is, therefore, an attempt to show:
(1) that the geographical distribution of fossil remains is such that they are most logically explained by treating them as marginal representatives of a widespread, and in part forced, dispersion of peoples from a single multiplying population established at one point rnore or less central to them all, sending forth successive waves of migrants, each wave driving the previous one further towards the periphery;
(2) that the most degraded specimens are those representatives of this general movement who were driven into the least hospitable areas, where they suffered physical degeneration as a consequence of the circurnstances in which they were forced to live;
(3) that the extraordinary physical variability of their remains results from the fact that they were members of small isolated strongly inbred bands: whereas the cultural similarities which link together even the most widely dispersed of them indicate a common origin for them all;
(4) that what is true of fossil man is equally true of extinct and living primitive societies;
(5) that all these initially dispersed populations are of one basic stock — the Hamitic family of Genesis 10;
(6) that they were subsequently displaced or overwhelmed by Indo-Europeans (i.e., Japhethites), who nevertheless inherited
or adopted and extensively built upon their technology and so gained an advantage in each geographical area where they spread;
(7) that throughout this movement, in both prehistoric and historic times, there were never any human beings who did not belong within the family of Noah and its descendants;
(8) and finally, that this thesis is strengthened by the evidence of history, which shows that migration has always tended to follow this pattern, has frequently been accompanied by instances of degeneration both of individuals or whole tribes, and usually results in the establishment of a general pattern of culture relationships which are parallel to those archaeology has since revealed from antiquity.
With respect to Genesis 10, modern ethnlology has to my mind tended rather steadily towards its confirmation. Nevertheless, I see no reason at all to hope that ethnology will ever seek to advance itself by building it upon this Table as a working basis. But I see every reason to believe that once we know enough, we shall find there was never any need to be ashamed of our confidence in it as a guide of the past. We have only to bide our time.