The Lineage of the Serpent Crusher
The Bible is a book full of books. It is composed by 40 different authors, from three continents (Asia, Europe, Africa), in three different languages, over roughly 2,000 years. The Author of Scripture is the Holy Spirit, but men penned the text as they were carried by the Spirit. Shepherds, kings, scholars, fishermen, prophets, military generals, and a cup bearer all wrote portions of Scripture. They often had different purposes for writing, capturing different stories, events, eras of time, and in different genres (styles). Yet what is most remarkable about these facts is that the Bible tells the story of one overarching message: the message of redemption. Pastor Nick has an incredible message he does on this very thing that I want him to do one Sunday.
You can view the Scriptures through the framework of a 6 act play. This 6 act story has many scenes and events within them, but one central story driving throughout. God's purpose in saving a people for Himself is the story. It includes man's redemption and the redemption of all the created universe.
Scene 1 - Creation (God makes all things, good)
Scene 2 - Fall (Man rebels, Creation broken) **promise made in Gen. 3:15
Scene 3 - Israel (God establishes covenant with Abraham)
Scene 4 - Jesus (God sends the Promised Redeemer)
Scene 5 - The Church (A new people of God formed around Christ)
Scene 6 - New Heavens & New Earth (Christ returns and makes all things new)
These six scenes tell the story. No matter where you are in the Bible you are somewhere in this story. But what that also means is that as you read the Bible, you are watching the purposes of God unfold to bring about this redemption. All of it.
The reason this is so important to understand is that even passages like a genealogy (like today's text) is part of this overarching story. In fact, what I hope you will see from today's text and sermon is: God's redemptive purposes play out in the theater of everyday interactions and people.
What I believe we'll see is that this is true of what God HAS DONE, but it is also true in what He is NOW doing, and WILL DO in the future.
Scripture Exegesis: Genesis 10
Today's passage is often referred to as "The Table of Nations." Pastor Brandon referenced this last Sunday in Genesis 9. After the Flood, Noah's family is all that remains in the world. Noah has three sons: Japheth, Ham, and Shem. From these three sons will come all the peoples of the earth. We all have the same ancestry. We all come from Adam and Noah. I don't care if you're of European descent, Indian descent, Asian descent, Middle Eastern descent, African descent, or Latino descent. I probably left someone out, but you're all included. In fact, the purpose of Genesis 10 is to show this very thing.
When each of the descendants of all three sons is added up, it numbers 70. This number represents totality. It is intended to represent all the nations. What's fascinating if you didn't pick it up when I was reading the passage, is that the names under each son are different. Why? Because these people end up forming different nations and languages. Your little radar should be going off a little bit and asking how we have different languages represented in Chapter 10, but in Chapter 11 we hear there was one language shared by all people before God scattered them and confused their languages. This is exactly right. What it shows us is that Moses is not giving us a chronological story...Genesis 10 is the big picture. Genesis 10 gives us the 30,000 foot view of how the world was repopulated after the Flood. Genesis 11 hones in on an event (Tower of Babel) that takes place within the time period of Genesis 10. This isn't a chronological description. It is a macro to micro description.
While these names may not be familiar to us, ancient readers would have recognized these names. In fact, many of the names listed became names synonymous with the founding of great cities and civilizations around the world. Those cultures and peoples recognized some of the names listed because they were associated with their people.
VS 1 -- These are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Sons were born to them after the flood.
The genealogy captures the generations of the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. It captures the sons born to them after the flood. Keep in mind that this isn't every descendent that ever came from them. This is a highlight reel of the key figures down their line.
VS 2-5 -- 2 The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. 3 The sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah. 4 The sons of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. 5 From these the coastland peoples spread in their lands, each with his own language, by their clans, in their nations.
The first genealogy begins with Japheth. He is the eldest son. We see 7 sons of Japheth mentioned: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. These sons and their descendants lived most to the north and east of Canaan. This would include the areas of Asia Minor and Armenia, southern Greece, and Southern Spain.
Japheth is represented as the ancestor of various Anatolian and Mediterranean nations lying to the north and west of Israel (VS 2–3):
Javan – originally Ionia, the dwelling place of Greeks in western Turkey; later Greece in general.
Madai – the Medes of N.W. Iran.
Ashkenaz – the Scythians, who emigrated from Siberia to Ukraine (the furthest north of the nations listed).
Several places in Asia Minor (modern Turkey)
The sons of Yawan represent Mediterranean peoples (V 4): Elishah – Cypriots of Greek or other non-Phoenician origin.
Tarshish – the furthest western place mentioned in Genesis 10, though its precise location is disputed. Various biblical references imply that Tarshish was a distant place in the west reached by sea (Psalm 72:10; Isaiah 66:19; Jonah 1:2; 4:2), a point reinforced by the fact that ships going to distant places like Ophir were called “ships of Tarshish” (1 Kings 10:22; 22:49 [*22:48]; Isaiah 2:16; 23:1, 14; 60:9). Tarshish is traditionally equated with Tartessos in southern Spain, which produced the same metals that the Bible attributes to Tarshish and that the Phoenicians brought back to the Levant.
Kittim – also Cypriots, especially those of Phoenician origin, a name derived from the Phoenician site of Kition, on the east coast of Cyprus.
Rodanim – the island of Rhodes (emending Hebrew MT Dodanim, with the Septuagint, Samaritan Pentateuch, and 1 Chronicles 1:7).
VS 6-20 -- 6 The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan. 7 The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan. 8 Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man.[a] 9 He was a mighty hunter before the Lord. Therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.” 10 The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. 11 From that land he went into Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and 12 Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city. 13 Egypt fathered Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, 14 Pathrusim, Casluhim (from whom[b] the Philistines came), and Caphtorim. 15 Canaan fathered Sidon his firstborn and Heth, 16 and the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, 17 the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, 18 the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites. Afterward the clans of the Canaanites dispersed. 19 And the territory of the Canaanites extended from Sidon in the direction of Gerar as far as Gaza, and in the direction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. 20 These are the sons of Ham, by their clans, their languages, their lands, and their nations.
Ham's sons: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan. They dwelled primarily in northeast Africa, Egypt, the eastern Mediterranean, and Southern Arabia. The descendants from this line would include the: Egyptians, Babylonians, and Assyrians. Ham's line built powerful empires.
One of the main figures, and one that gets extra attention in this lineup of names is Nimrod. He was the ambitious ancestor of Cush, of Ham's line. He was a mighty hunter, from the looks of things that included more than game, but people. He gathered a following. He ruled over others. He built and founded cities and empires. Nimrod is one of the first great conquerors in human history.
Ham (VS 6–20) is especially represented as the father or ancestor of various peoples in north Africa around Egypt and of various places in Arabia, but also curiously of the Canaanites (as well as a few others like Cretans and Lydians). The origin of the name Ham is uncertain, but we can say that “the land of Ham” elsewhere in the Bible refers to or at least includes Egypt (Psalm 78:51; 105:23, 27; 106:22; 1 Chronicles 4:40).
The immediate sons of Ham are said to be (V 6):
Kush – Although traditionally rendered “Ethiopia,” Kush is actually northern Sudan and Egypt south of Aswan, the area sometimes known as Nubia.
Egypt – in Hebrew mitzrayim.
Put – Put is Libya (not Punt, which has a t not ṭ, and an n).
Canaan – this embraces both the area of Palestine/Israel and also modern Lebanon (the latter occupied by the Phoenicians).
Kush is the ancestor of various places, mainly in Arabia, including (V 7):
Havilah – in southern Arabia. The name is duplicated in verse 29 under Shem.
Dedan – an oasis and city-state in north-west Arabia.
Sheba – the kingdom of Saba in south-west Arabia, modern Yemen, made famous by the story of the Queen of Sheba’s visit to Solomon. It is called ֶא ֶרץ ֶמ ְר ָחק , “a distant land,” in Jeremiah 6:20, and ָרחוֹק , “far off,” in Joel 4:8 [*3:8]. Later it was misidentified as Ethiopia, as in Josephus (Jewish Antiquities, 2:10.2 §249; 8:6.5 §165) and the Ethiopian national epic, Kebra Negast. Sheba is duplicated in verse 28 under Shem.
Seba – in east Africa. This name seems related to Sheba. Sheba and Seba are the most southerly places in the table of the nations.
Canaan is the father of Sidon and Heth, the latter designating the Hittites (V 15). The second set of names descended from Canaan are in the plural (VS 16–18), suggesting peoples rather than eponymous individual ancestors of nations:
In Palestine – Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, and Hivites.
In Phoenicia – Arkites, Sinites, Arvadites, Zemarites, and Hamathites. The names are cited in correct geographical order from south to north, with the exception of the Zemarites, who should come just before, not after the Arvadites.
VS 21-31 -- 21 To Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the elder brother of Japheth, children were born. 22 The sons of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram. 23 The sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash. 24 Arpachshad fathered Shelah; and Shelah fathered Eber. 25 To Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg,[c] for in his days the earth was divided, and his brother's name was Joktan. 26 Joktan fathered Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba, 29 Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab; all these were the sons of Joktan. 30 The territory in which they lived extended from Mesha in the direction of Sephar to the hill country of the east. 31 These are the sons of Shem, by their clans, their languages, their lands, and their nations.
The five sons of Shem listed are: Elam, Asshur, Arpachsbad, Lud, and Aram. These are the Semitic peoples. This is the line of the Hebrew people. Shem is the father of all the children of Eber. The name "Eber" shares its root with the word Hebrew. Eber is understood to be the ancestor of the Hebrew people. Eber was the grandson of Arpachshad.
Shem, whose name lies behind our word “Semitic,”is the ancestor of various countries that are mostly in western Asia (VS 21–31):
Elam – in north-west Iran, the most eastern location mentioned in Genesis 10. Although included amongst the sons of Shem, Elam was not Semitic and Elamite is not a Semitic language. Presumably, Elam is listed here because of its geographical location east of Mesopotamia, represented by the next two sons of Shem, Asshur and Arpachshad.
Asshur – Assyria, in northern Mesopotamia (modern Iraq).
Arpachshad – Coming after Elam (Persia) and Asshur (Assyria), it denotes Chaldea (Babylonia, in southern Mesopotamia), as already recognized in antiquity. The second part of the name plausibly relates to kaśdîm, the Hebrew name for the Chaldeans, but the first part of the name has proved puzzling to scholars. Possibly the name is a deliberate distortion of ארץ כשד (ʾrṣ kśd), “land of Chaldea,” which could have become the meaningless ארפכשד (ʾrpkšd) by the alteration of one letter (the tzade becoming a pe).
Lud – Lydia in western Asia Minor (also listed as a descendant of Ham in V 13; more on these doublets later).
Aram – Syria. This nation gave its name to the Aramaic language.
Eber is the grandson of Arpachshad, but he is specially highlighted at the beginning of the section on Shem. Eber has two sons:
Peleg – Abraham is descended from Eber’s son Peleg (V 25), as noted in Genesis 11:16–26. The geographical identity of Peleg is uncertain, though Phaliga at the junction of the Khabur and Euphrates rivers has been suggested.
Joktan – His descendants include as many as 13 place names of nations in southern Arabia (VS 26–29), which implies a remarkable sense of kinship between Israel and the Arabs (contrast V 7, which attributes various Arab countries to Ham and comes from P; more on this later).
Southern Arabia was an important source of the spice and gold trade. Some of the names in verses 26–29 are somewhat obscure but the best known are Ophir and Sheba. Ophir was especially noted for its gold. It was almost certainly in southern Arabia, however, as it is listed between Sheba and Havilah in Genesis 10:29, and all the other identifiable Joktanites were there.
Uz, a descendant of Aram (V 23), is mentioned as the home of Job (Job 1:1). Scholars have debated whether Uz is located in Edom/North Arabia or Syria. Most of the evidence supports the former location.
What is significant about Shem's line is this is where Abram (Abraham) will come from. He is the man that God will establish His covenant with to bless all nations. Through Abraham, Shem's line, all the other nations will be blessed. How? Through Abraham's offspring: Jesus.
1. The commonality of all peoples.
There is a certain kind of unity all people of the earth have in common. We may vary in language, color, cultures, and other features, but where we are the same is our common descent. We are from the children of Noah. There is no getting around this fact. We come from either Shem, Ham, or Japheth. We are all kin way back down the line in the family tree (not in an Alabama or Kentucky kind of way), but in a real way.
Why is this significant? Because we live in a culture that does everything it can to divide us from one another. It wants to emphasize race and ethnicity distinctions in ways that elevate particular ones over other ones. This commonality is why racism is so dumb. There may be differences in skin color and facial features amongst groups of the world, but it is not a difference of essence.
That's the key: we are different when it comes to particular features, but we are the same when it comes to our essence as humans (image-bearers of God). We come from one of three brothers. We're all cousins of a sort.
2. The division of all peoples.
But we recognize from this passage and from experience that there is a division amongst us. It is a difference that plays out because of sin, which is why we see people taking our differences of skin color, features, culture, and other things and using it as a ladder of value and worth. We create hierarchies based on those differences because of our sin.
The Bible very clearly condemns us from exhibiting ethnic vainglory. This doesn't mean you can't be proud of your heritage. It means you can't sin by making your heritage the standard of holiness and everyone else's inferior.
Why is there strife among us today in the world? Why is there strife among Christians? Because of sin. Pride. Covetousness. Hatred. Jealousy. These are things we are called to put to death. We are called to be reconciled to one another. And we are called to see reconciliation among races.
Gang, if you recognize in yourself sin in regards to how you view other people, confess it and repent. If you elevate yourself and look down on others, confess it and repent. If you believe other groups have inherently less value because of their skin color, socio-economic status, or where they are from, confess it and repent. These things have no place in the heart and life of a Christian. These are certainly features of the old man (the flesh), but should not be so with those in Christ.
But how does reconciliation amongst people truly happen?
3. The Reconciler of the nations.
Jesus. That's the answer. It's always the answer. Jesus is the promised seed of Abraham that comes to bless all nations. He makes it possible for people of different colors, heritages, cultures, and geographic locations to be united together. In fact, He may be the only thing amongst a people that reconciles them to one another. It may not be their interests, likes, hobbies, or commonalities. It's Christ. We unite around Him.
And here's why that's such a big deal...in Christ we are all called to the standard of holiness, love for neighbor, and ways of living in the world. We begin to grow in commonality because we are conforming more and more to the pattern of Christ. We have common love for Jesus.
Have you ever connected with someone at a gathering full of people you didn't know, but you discovered you both liked the same team, or watched the same show, or followed some person on social media. This one common thing immediately gives you common ground to connect, no matter what your differences. For the believer, Jesus is that common ground. And it is Jesus who alone has the power to reconcile nations.
Friends, the Reconciler, Jesus, is who you must put your trust in. You cannot be reconciled to God apart from trusting in His death in your place for your sins. Like every other person in our lineage, we are in need of the Redeemer of men to redeem us.
4. The working of God in all places and times.
Something to marvel at in our text is how this list of names that we can barely pronounce and lives that we are relatively clueless about is not insignificant. This isn't some random genealogy that Moses dumps in between the Flood and the call of Abraham. The significance of this lineage is that it is the line from which Jesus would come. There are hundreds upon hundreds of years that pass in this genealogy, yet there is no randomness taking place. God is at work in bringing forth the life of every name mentioned. He orchestrated the events of their lives to bring them to spouses and have children. Just imagine the number of conversations, introductions to people, turning of hearts, and other things that took place for this genealogy to come about.
God is in every jot and tittle. He is the sovereign conductor leading the orchestra that plays out. John Calvin said the world is a theater for the glory of God. And we see that glory displayed in the promise of an offspring that would crush the head of the serpent. Noah wasn't that offspring. He was a sinner and he died. But God's promises always prevail. He never fails to accomplish His purposes. But they aren't always in the big grandiose activities. They take place in the lives of everyday people you've never heard
of, in places you've never been, and in ways you don't see the fruit of in that moment. But then it comes to pass in marvelous glory and we see the wonderful working of God.
Friends, He's at work in your life too. It doesn't have to be in grandiose events. The everyday stuff is where God lives. He's at work in those little car ride conversations. He's at work in those whispered prayers you offer. He's in the everyday grind of your job. He's at work in those marriages you fight to hold together. Never mistake it. God is always at work in the everyday interactions of life.
❖ Why is this passage referred to as “The Table of Nations''?
❖ What is the importance of this genealogy?
❖ How does this passage show us the commonality in all people?
❖ What commonality do believers have with one another?
❖ Do you find yourself elevating your differences from others or your heritage above your new identity in Christ? What should your response be if you do?
❖ Genesis 10:32 - These are the clans of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations, and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood.
❖ Isaiah 46:10 - Declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose