The Table of Nations, Genesis 10

These are the clans of Noah’s sons, according to their lines of descent, within their nations. From these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.” – Genesis 10:32

You may read Genesis 10 here: Gateway Bible

The title “table of nations” is given because it tracks the connected beginnings of several people groups, all descendants of Noah’s three sons.

Chapters 10 and 11 record the division of nations that develop into individual cultures. The Tower of Babel described in chapter 11 is first referenced in chapter 10 with Noah’s descendants separating into nations.

Noah’s Descendants


Japheth (10:1-5)

This is the shortest section and lists fourteen of Japheth’s descendants that split into two groups. The group that settled in Europe became the coastline people that the apostle Paul later shared the Gospel with. The other group landed in India (Asia Minor). Bible nations that formed from Japheth are the Greeks, Thracians, and Scythians.

Ham (10:6-20)

Ham’s descendants settled in Canaan, Egypt, and the rest of Africa. Other Bible nations carved from Ham include the Philistines, Hittites, and Amorites.

The Canaanites played a significant role in Israel’s future history. Because Ham’s descendants were still in conflict with the original readers of this letter, they (readers) found this history important.

Shem (10:21-32)

The Bible nations that emerged from Shem (Semites) are the Hebrews, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Persians, and Syrians. Although Shem was older, his offspring is mentioned last because his offspring dominates the remaining recorded history in Genesis.

Shem’s genealogy splits with Eber’s sons (10:25). The word Hebrew originates from Eber. The Hebrews are later called the Israelites (beginning with Abraham’s grandson, Jacob) and Jews (descendants of Jacob’s son, Judah). David and Jesus both descended from Shem.