Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. This is study #9 of Genesis, chapter 10 and we are going to read Genesis 10:15-20:
And Canaan begat Sidon his firstborn, and Heth, And the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite, And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite, And the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad. And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha. These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations.
I will stop reading there. Here, we see the descendants of Canaan are listed. When we read about the land of Canaan, we find that several of these sons are often mentioned. For example, it says in Exodus 33:1-2:
And JEHOVAH said unto Moses, Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it: And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite:
Some of Canaan’s descendants were mentioned here. Also, it says in Deuteronomy 7:1:
When JEHOVAH thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;
The descendants of Canaan are shown to be very important in Old Testament history, especially regarding the promise of God. He promised that the land of Canaan would be an everlasting habitation to Abraham and his seed. We know Joshua defeated these nations when he conquered the land of Canaan at the end of the forty-year wilderness sojourn. However, the nations in the land of Canaan remained in the land, to some extent. For instance, it says in Judges 3:1-6:
Now these are the nations which JEHOVAH left, to prove Israel by them, even as many of Israel as had not known all the wars of Canaan; Only that the generations of the children of Israel might know, to teach them war, at the least such as before knew nothing thereof; Namely, five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites that dwelt in mount Lebanon, from mount Baalhermon unto the entering in of Hamath. And they were to prove Israel by them, to know whether they would hearken unto the commandments of JEHOVAH, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses. And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites: And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their gods. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of JEHOVAH, and forgat JEHOVAH their God, and served Baalim and the groves.
Again, we see how integral the land of Canaan and the sons of Canaan are in Biblical history.
Let us move on, after I comment on something it says in Genesis 10:19:
And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha.
We know that Gaza identifies with the land of the Philistines. The name “Lasha” is only mentioned here, but in this verse, we see Sodom and Gomorrah are mentioned for the first time in the Bible. Of course, these places were later destroyed by God as a historical illustration of the end of the world. We read of the location of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 13:10:
And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before JEHOVAH destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of JEHOVAH, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.
Sodom and Gomorrah were located in the plain of Jordan.
It says in Genesis 10:20:
These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations.
In the land of Ham, there were the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Egyptians and the Canaanites, the major enemies of God’s people in the Old Testament Biblical history. Typically, the people that would come against the Israelites, the outward representation of the kingdom of God, were the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Egyptians or one of the other nations of the land of Canaan that God left in the land to prove Israel. All of them were descendants of Ham, except for Assyria. In that case, it was Asshur that went forth and builded Nineveh and Asshur was a son of Shem.
Let us move on to Genesis 10:21-25:
Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born. The children of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram. And the children of Aram; Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Mash. And Arphaxad begat Salah; and Salah begat Eber. And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother's name was Joktan.
I will stop reading there. This is the lineage of Shem and Shem was one of Noah’s three sons and that is why we were a little surprised to read that Shem is the brother of Japheth the elder. Whenever we read of the three sons of Noah, it normally lists Shem first. For example, it says in Genesis 6:10:
And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
It says in Genesis 7:13:
In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark;
Then it says in Genesis 10:1:
Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth…
Shem is always listed first, so we wonder why the Lord does that if Japheth was the elder. You would think Japheth would be listed first as the oldest son. I think we are helped to understand the reason for this when we look at Genesis 11:26:
And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
In this case, there are three sons of another man in the line of the “sons of God.” We know that the first son listed here is Abram, but he is not the elder son either. We will look at this more when we get to Genesis, chapter 11, but the Bible indicates that Abram was not the oldest son of Terah, even though he is listed first. The reason why Abram is listed first, as well as Shem being listed first as Noah’s son, is because they are in the line of those blessed of God and the line the Lord will follow in His timeline. Apparently, Shem was one of God’s elect and this was also true of Abram. In accord with God’s salvation program they are most important, so the Lord listed them first in the lineage.
Again, it says in Genesis 10:21:
Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber…
But, again, we have a question: Why does God tell us that Shem was the father of the children of Eber? Eber comes into view when we read in Genesis 10:22-24:
The children of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram. And the children of Aram; Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Mash. And Arphaxad begat Salah; and Salah begat Eber.
So, Arphaxad is a descendant of Shem, but Eber is a descendant of Salah. In order to go back to Shem, it is at least four generations, so in verse 21 as God begins to reveal the genealogy of Shem (the blessed line), why does God look down at least four generations to Eber and make the point that Shem is the father of the children of Eber? When we read the account, we do not really find anything outstanding or significant about Eber, with the exception that Eber had two sons and one of these sons was Peleg and in Peleg’s day the earth was divided. That was an extremely important milestone in Biblical history, as well as the history of the world. It was the time when the original huge continent was split to become the several continents we have today. But why would God single out and highlight Eber in Genesis 10, verse 21?
The name “Eber” is #5677 in Strong’s Hebrew concordance. Notice I said Strong’s Hebrew concordance, because the name “Eber” is closely related to #5680, which is the Hebrew word for “Hebrew.” The word “Hebrew” will come into focus a little later in the time of Abram, in Genesis 14:13:
And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram.
This is the first time the word Hebrew appears in the Bible and it was over 2,800 years since the flood, but Eber was a man in the line of Shem, who was born in the year 3617BC and he died 464 years later in the year 3153BC. Then Peleg, a descendant, was born. According to the Biblical calendar of history, the earth was divided in his day.
As we think about these two major things, in the next chapter in Genesis, chapter 11 we are going to read about the tower of Babel and how the entire earth was of one language and one speech. It would appear obvious that the tower of Babel occurred before the earth was divided in the days of Peleg. The reason it is obvious is because if the Lord had first divided the earth to split the continents and the peoples were divided before God confounded the language, then we would find that the people all over the earth would have spoken the same language. It was necessary to first confound the language and to later divide the continents.
It appears that Eber was the calendar reference patriarch that was alive at the time when God confounded the languages. The confusion of language was not that far removed from Abram. Abram was born in 2167BC and the confusion of languages went back to the time of Eber, who died in 3163, about one thousand years earlier, so when God confounded the language of the people, there became a “language” of Eber. The descendants of Eber began to speak their own language, which became known as “Hebrew,” so we find that when Abram came into the picture he was called “Abram the Hebrew,” because he spoke this language.
Also, we do find that Abram was in this lineage, if we go to Genesis 11:17-26:
And Eber lived after he begat Peleg four hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters. And Peleg lived thirty years, and begat Reu: And Peleg lived after he begat Reu two hundred and nine years, and begat sons and daughters. And Reu lived two and thirty years, and begat Serug: And Reu lived after he begat Serug two hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters. And Serug lived thirty years, and begat Nahor: And Serug lived after he begat Nahor two hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and begat Terah: And Nahor lived after he begat Terah an hundred and nineteen years, and begat sons and daughters. And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
Abram can trace his lineage to Eber and Eber stands out because it was around that time that God confounded the language of the people and one of the languages that came into being was Hebrew. It is also possible that Hebrew was the original language and this line continued to speak it. However, that is unlikely because the name “Eber” identifies with the word “Hebrew,” because it was in his day that there was the tower of Babel and God confounded the languages. At that time, the line of Shem through Eber and his descendants began to speak a language that would become identified with the language of Eber or Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament. It was the language of Moses, as God moved Moses to write the first five Books of the Pentateuch. Most of the Old Testament was written in the Hebrew language, but some of it was written in Aramaic, but it was the Hebrew language that would become the language identified with the people of God. Abram was a child of God and he was a tremendously important figure in God’s salvation program and he became known as “Abram the Hebrew” and his descendants became known as Hebrews. When we see that word Hebrew, we now have a better understanding of it and how it relates to Eber. It also gives us a little more insight into the timing of the tower of Babel. There is good evidence that the tower of Babel took place in the days of Eber.