Monthly Archives: January 2023

The Table Of Nations

The tenth chapter of the Book of Genesis gives us an overview of how all the nations of the world began. It is often referred to as the Table of Nations for that reason. Noah was told by God to go forth from the ark with all the animals and “breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful and multiply upon the earth” (Genesis. 8:18). It was just Noah and his three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth, and their wives, who produced the whole human race that exists today.

Japheth is always mentioned last in the list of Noah’s sons, but it seems that he is the eldest of the children of Noah (Gen. 10:21). Japheth was two years older than his brother Shem (see Appendix 1 below). The meaning of the name of Japheth is subject to some controversy. Some see the name defined in Genesis 9:27 as wide, or enlarged. Other, however see the play off the names of Shem (possibly meaning dark) and Ham (meaning black) and see the name of Japheth to mean “fair” or “white.” Some believe that Japheth was later worshiped as Jupiter of the Romans.

Japheth had seven sons: Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras. Traditionally, Gomer is associated with Cymri or the Celts or Gauls, Magog with the Scythians, Madai with the Medes or Aryans, Javan with the Ionians or Greeks, Tubal with Tibareni or Turkey, Meshech with the Moschi or later Russia, and Tiras with Thrace. Basically, Japheth’s descendants seemed to have moved westward and northward and occupied the “isles of the Gentiles” (Gen. 10:5). He was the father of Europe and some nations, like the Scots, count their beginnings from him.

Shem always heads the list of the sons of Noah. Many therefore identify Shem as the eldest. But as mentioned above, this assumption must be erroneous. But Shem may be listed first because his lineage is the focus of scripture, therefore he is given pre-eminence. Shem is given pre-eminence because his lineage produces the people from whom Messiah came, the Semites (Shemites). However, in the Table of Nations, Shem’s lineage is listed last and Japheth’s first, perhaps because in the following pages of scripture, Shem’s descendants will be the focus, and Moses wanted to end upon Shem to continue the thought.

Unto Shem were born five listed sons: Aram, Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad and Lud. Aram produced the Arameans who today are represented by Syria. The Elamites produced the Persians. Asshur gave us the Assyrians who occupied the area in modern northern Iraq. Arphaxad produced the Chaldeans in southern Iraq. To Arphaxad was born Salah who is listed as the father of Eber. Eber became the father of the Hebrews, from whom we have Abraham (Gen. 11:10-26). Abraham is central figure in both Jewish and Christian history. Finally Lud gives us the Lydians who came from the area in modern Turkey.

Finally, Ham is listed as producing four sons, Cush, Mizraim, Phut and Canaan. Cush is identified with Ethiopia. Mizraim is identified with Egypt. It is the Semitic name for Egypt. Phut is Libya and Canaan “was the ancestor of the Phœnicians and other tribes inhabiting Palestine” (People’s Dictionary of the Bible). Interestingly though, is the fact that Nimrod was the grandson of Ham, making the Babylonian empire a product of Ham’s descendants.

The name Ham means “hot” or “black.” Some take this as a reference to the black, fertile soil along the Nile and in the delta. In the Bible, Egypt is called the land of Ham (Psalm 105:23; 106:22). Apparently, Ham was the younger of the sons of Noah (Gen. 9:24). A curse was placed upon Canaan, the son of Ham, because Ham had seen the nakedness of his father (Gen. 9:20-27). The exact details of this event are somewhat obscure. The curse involved Canaan in becoming a slave of his brethren. This was all spoken prophetically of the descendants of Ham.

“The curse simply means that the descendants of Canaan were doomed to enslavement to the other two branches of the family. This destiny seemingly was reversed when Nimrod and Mizraim founded Babylonia and Egypt respectively. But it was abundantly fulfilled in early antiquity when the Canaanites in Joshua’s time were partly exterminated and partly reduced to abject slavery by the Israelites who belonged to the family of Shem, and those that remained were further reduced by Solomon (Josh. 9:23, I Kings 9:20,21). It was fulfilled later when the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, and Egyptians, all of whom belonged to the Line of Canaan, were reduced to subjection by the Japhetic Persians, Macedonians, and Romans. These peoples, the Canaanites included, all were obsessed with the gross sexual indulgences characteristic of the ancient Cult of Fertility, as described by the Apostle Paul in Rom. 1:18-32. It may be fulfilled too in the longstanding moral and spiritual (and cultural) backwardness of the South African peoples who perhaps more than any other have been forcibly reduced to abject slavery…” (College Press).

The Table of Nations is valuable because it gives the early history of the spreading of the family of Noah and his descendants throughout the world (Appendix 2). There are, of course, nations in the world that are left out of the Table. These nations play no immediate or essential role in the story of salvation, which is the purpose of scripture. The total number of the nations listed equal seventy, which is symbolic number signifying completeness. For example, the total number of the people recorded as going into Egypt of the house of Jacob was seventy (Gen. 46:27). We will meet many of these places again as we study through the lands of the Bible.

Eric L. Padgett

Appendix 1
1056 – Noah was born (Gen. 7:6)
1556 – Noah began to bear his children, making Japheth the first born
1558 – Shem born (Gen. 11:10)
1656 – Flood, date determined from the genealogies
1658 – Arphaxad, son of Shem born (Shem 100 years old – Gen. 11:10)
Genesis 9:24 – Ham is the youngest son of Noah

Appendix 2
“W. F. Albright comments that the Table of Nations ‘shows such a remarkably ‘modern’ understanding of the linguistic situation in the ancient world . . . that it stands absolutely alone in ancient literature, without even a remote parallel even among the Greeks, where we find the closest approach to a distribution of the peoples in genealogical framework. But among the Greeks the framework is mythological and the people are all Greeks or Aegean tribes’ (quoted by Cornfeld, AtD, 37)” (College Press).


The Mountains of Ararat

Gen 8:4 – And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat

The world before the flood was different than the world we live in today as far as its topagraphy is concerned. The antediluvian world more than likely consisted of one super land mass (Gen. 1:9,10). Science agrees with this and a quick look at the contours of the continents of the modern globe will easily convince most people that the continents were once connected. It is also possible that there was some kind of vapor canopy covering the globe, making the world a more tropical zone worldwide (Gen. 1:6,7). Though in recent years some have questioned that model, others still maintain the canopy model and it seems to fit the scriptures best.

Also, before the Flood, the Bible described the earth as possessing high hills (Gen. 7:19). It is interesting that the KJV translators chose to translate “har” as “hills” instead of “mountains”, when later they translate the word as mountains. Many creation scientists believe that the earth was less geographically diverse then and that the high mountains we now see were largely a result of the hydrolic forces of the waters covering the earth during and after the flood and tectonic movement. These high hills were covered with the flood water by fifteen cubits or something like 22 feet of water above the highest hills over all the globe.

Certain creation scientists now believe that mount Ararat, the largest of the mountains of Ararat, and the place generally believed to be the resting place of the ark, was formed after the flood because sedimentary layers that were produced by the flood are found under the formations producing the mountain. There is geologic evidence that later localized sediments were layed down between the valcanic flows that make up the plataue on which it sits. But geology is subject to various interpreatations depending, as in all of science, upon the assumptions made.

Yet, the Bible plainly says that the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat (Gen. 8:4). Observe that Moses uses the plural, mountains. It is not known exactly where in this range of mountains the ark came to rest, but we believe the Bible to be accurate. Could the ark still be there somewhere? It is certainly possible. But Noah and his family may also have repurposed the wood that made up the ark to build dwellings and other structures. But it is also possible it still remains somewhere on the mountains of Ararat waiting to be found.

Many claims have been made that the ark has been found in various parts of the mountain. Somr have claimed they have brought wood back from the ark. Another sight nearby, the Drupinar sight, is also claimed to be the spot where the ark came to eventally rest.

The ancient Jewish historian Flavius Josephus mentions the ark in his Histories of the Jews as still being visible in the first century. He says of the place where Noah and his family came out of the ark, which is what the Armenians call “(Apobaterion) The Place of Descent; for the ark being saved in that place, its remains are shown there by the inhabitants to this day” (Antiquities I:3:5). He writes that other ancient historians describe how visitors to the ark would take pieces of bitumen away to make amulets. Among those who wrote of the ark was Berosus the Chaldean, “Hieronymus the Egyptian also, who wrote the Phoenician Antiquities, and Mnaseas, and a great many more, make mention of the same” and also “Nicolaus of Damascus, in his ninety-sixth book, hath a particular relation about them” (Antiquities I:3:6). And so secular history affirms that the ark was in the region and many saw it.

The word translated Ararat is found four times in the Bible. Twice it is translated Ararat and twice it is translated Armenia. In II Kings we are told that while Sennecherib, king of Assyria, was worshiping his god Nisroch, that a man, Adrammalech, and his son, Sharezer, assasinated him with a sword. These two men then escaped into the “land of Armenia” (II Kings 19:37). “Armenia” is the same word translated Ararat in Genesis. Isaiah relates the same story (Is. 37:38). Jeremiah connects Ararat (Armenia) with Minni and Ashchenaz (Jer. 51:27) . Minni is taken to be lesser Ararat (Armenia) and Ashchenaz “is a province in the neighbourhood of Armenia. For Asken is an Armenian proper name, and az an Armenian termination” (Keil and Deliitsch).

So somewhere in this region on a mountain on the border between Turkey and Armenia the ark of Noah came to rest. The ark was not built as a sea-going vessel, but a container to rideout the turbulent waters of the flood. So most likely it didn’t travel very far. In a similar manner, the church will ride out the turbulent waters of this volatile life and we will end up in a much better place than we started.

Eric L. Padgett

The Garden of Eden

The Garden of Eden was not a garden named Eden, but a garden in a place called Eden. Where Eden was no one can say. It is very likely that the original garden was destroyed in the flood. Ezekiel tells us that the trees of Eden were brought down to the nether part of the earth (Ezek. 31:18). In any event, God’s judgement on man’s sin was to bar his presence in the garden by driving him out and placing cheribim with flaming swords to keep or block the entrance into the garden (Gen. 3:24). The implication seems to be that man can no longer experience this place. Our knowledge of it now must be limited to what the scriptures teach us of it.

Most translations tell us Eden was “eastward.” The King James Version translates this as saying God planted His garden “eastward in Eden” (Gen. 2:8). If this is the correct translation, then we must ask, was it that Eden was in the east and the garden was placed there or was it that the garden was placed in the east of Eden? The language is not definitive enough to discern.

There is another possibility. The word translated “eastward” is used in two ways in the scriptures. One way it is used is in reference to location. Fifty times in the Old Testament the word “mikkedem” is translated as some form of the word “east.” However, at least another thirty times it is used with reference to time (old 17, ancient 6, before 3, ancient time 2, aforetime 1, eternal 1, everlasting 1). God is from “mikkedem” or “everlasting” (Hab. 1:12). “The days of old (mikkedem)” (Micah 7:20). The wise man said “The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old (mikkedem)” (Proverbs 8:22). So it is legitimate to translate this word as relating to time not to place.

Could it be that Moses was saying that God had already planted a garden “before,” i.e., when He had made the trees (the third day-Gen. 1:9-13)? Some early translations support this. Wycliffe (1394, Purvey Revision) translates mikkedem as “at the beginning.” Tyndale (1533) translated it “from the beginning.” Jerome’s Latin Vulgate translated mikkedem as “a principio” (“from the beginning”). The 1899 Douay-Rheims versions reads “And the Lord God had planted a paradise of pleasure from the beginning.”

So whether the garden was planted in the east or it was already planted and prepared before, the word Eden means delight. It was a garden of delights. A Paradise. The physical description of the garden is one of a lush and beautiful and luxurious place. It is referred to as the garden of God (Ezek. 31:9). Every precious stone seemed to be strewn on the ground, stones like gold, bdellium and the onyx stone (Gen. 2:12). Ezekiel says there was also sardius, topaz, diamond, jasper, sapphire and emerald and Ezekiel calls these the stones of fire (Ezek. 28:13). It must have been like seeing flashes of multi-colored fire as the sun glanced off each gem.

A lively river of the purest water this world has ever known ran out from Eden into the garden to water it. Rivers generally start from higher sources like mountain glacial formations. Whether or not they would have existed in a pre-flood environment is not known. But there were also sub-terrainian water chambers, the fountains of the great deep (Gen. 7:11), which could have supplied the source. But Ezekiel mentions that connected with the garden of God was the holy mountain of God. The garden of God was not in some low lying plain, but in a mountain, supplied by an even higher source of living water.

The rivers that are mentioned in Genesis as connected with the garden cannot be used to locate either Eden or the garden. The topography of the earth would have been completely altered by the hydrolic forces of the flood. In any event, there is no place where the rivers mentioned in Genesis all come together to fit the Biblical description. As one commentator noted, “It is impossible, however, to imagine how any of the great rivers that are mentioned in the tabular view can ever have been united in one stream” (Jamieson, Fausset, Brown). Scholars have in vain tried to fit the pieces together only to be met with abject failure, not because the Biblical descripion is faulty, but because it is just a description of something that no longer exists. The names of these old, pre-flood rivers being applied to new, post flood rivers by Noah and his descendents after they reinhabited the new world.

Every kind of tree was present in the garden. Every tree that was pleasant in sight and good for food. The beauty and grandeur of these stately and satisfying flora was emphasized again by the prophet Ezekiel when he represented the leaders of the nations as trees. When the Assyrian was held up as an example, when seen as a tree, even all the trees of Eden envied him, showing that the trees of Eden were the standard by which to judge such vegetation (Ezek. 31:9). Perhaps the Redwoods of the California Redwood Forest give us a glimpse of their grandeur. Imagine cedars, fir and chesnut trees of this magnitude making their home in the garden of Eden (Ezek. 31:8).

Of course, there were two other trees of great significance. The Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Of every single tree and plant man was allowed by the Lord to partake, save one, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. One tree brought life, the other death. The many lessons of these trees are for another lesson save only this, that to do what God forbids leads only to death and corruption.

It has been said there was no law in the Garden, but this is manifestly false. God put man in the Garden with a purpose. Without man there was no one to till the ground (Gen. 2:5). So God placed man in the Garden to dress it and to keep it (Gen. 2:15). God’s directive to man was to work and keep up this Garden. Furthermore, God also commanded man from taking of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen. 2:16). Even in man’s primitive, pristine, pure state, there was law to be obeyed. How much more today in the sin-cursed world.

This wondrous garden of God was man’s orginal home. Man’s every need–physical, social, moral, intellectual, spiritual–was fully met. He was in perfect fellowship with Jehovah and walked with Him in the garden among the stones of fire (Gen. 3:8). There was no shame, nothing to cause man to hide from the Lord and there was nothing to hide. Until… Until man broke faith with the Lord and violated His will. Then the world very literally began to fall apart as the force of God’s condemnation weakens the forces He put in place to sustain the world and one day, when He is ready, it shall melt with fervent heat and dissolve away with a great noise (II Pet. 3:10-12).

The old serpent subtilly entrapped man with his mortal lies. Because of sin, man was driven from his home, placed under a curse, lost his ability to grasp life, lost his innocence, lost his fellowship with God and lost his salvation. The way to Eden was blocked and no sinful mortal could ever find his way back to walking with the Lord among the stones of fire.

But all hope was not lost. We’ll speak of Paradise again.

Eric L. Padgett