{11}     STUDY: Noah’s Descendents專題:挪亞的後裔


        Chapter 10 lists the 70 nations, originated from Noah’s 3 sons. Despite being from the same family, these nations became different racial groups on Earth. How did this happen? The black races have passed through horrendous history. Can this be traced to Noah’s curse on Canaan?



In which year was Adam created?

[1] Estimates for the creation of Adam are usually based on the timing of Abraham who was born in or about 2000 BC. Gen 11 and Gen 12:4 indicates that 353 years passed between the Flood and the birth of Abraham. Gen 5 and Gen 7:6 indicates that 1656 years passed between Adam’s creation and the Flood. Therefore, about 2000 years had elapsed from Adam to Abraham.

[2] Archbishop (of Ireland) James Ussher published a biblical chronology in 1650-54. He dated creation in 4004 BC [and the Great Flood in 2350 BC]. His calculations were based on the genealogy of Genesis as recorded in the Hebrew Bible, the Masoretic Text. If Septuagint and Samaritan texts were used, the creation dates will be different.

o        Different scholars put the creation date at 4004 BC, 5490 BC, 10842 BC, and 12028 BC; and the date of the Flood at 2348 BC, 3228 BC, 4819 BC, and 5799 BC respectively. The first two dates are based on the Ussher method applying to Mesoretic text and the Septuagint. The last two dates are based on the “patriarchal-age method” proposed by Harold Camping. He proposed that unless it was obvious from the text that there was a direct father-son relationship, there was instead an ancestrial relationship with the named descendant being born during the year of the death of the patriarch.

o        There is another method when the “samech” characters are considered. In the Hebrew text there are overlooked occurrences of a single Hebrew letter separator interjected within the text of chapters 5 and 11 (8 times in ch.5, 8 times in ch.11, and a total of only 15 more times in the other 48 chapters of Genesis). That is the 15th Hebrew letter “samech” (equivalent to the English letter S). The letter itself can be used to stand for the number 60. It occurs between sets of verses pertaining to many, but not all, of the patriarchs and would seem to indicate separate paragraphs. These indicate that the text is not intended to be treated as one continuous chronological record. It is proposed that each patriarch is indeed the ancestor of the next listed patriarch, but there were many non-listed generations between them. With this method, the Flood is estimated to happen at 8,000 BC to 10,000 BC and the creation at 12,000 BC to 14,000 BC.

[3] Dr. John Lightfoot (same time as Ussher) said creation happened on Oct 23, 4004 BC at 9 am. John Urquhat (1902) dated creation in 8167 BC.

[4] However, there are clearly genealogical gaps (e.g. Gen 11:12 missing Cainan between Arphaxad (also spelt Arpachshad) and Shelah, as recorded in Lk 3:36). The reason is not because of inaccuracy of the Bible. In Jewish custom, “father” can mean “ancestor”, “son” can mean “descendent”. Sometimes the omission is deliberate (Mt 1:11). Because of these proven gaps in the Biblical genealogies, the date of creation was thought to be 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. However, if the genealogies were only 10% complete, the creation of Adam could be as far back as 60,000 years ago.

o        In biblical Hebrew, ab (father) can be used to mean grandfather, great-grandfather or even before, while ben (son) can mean grandson, great-grandson or even later.

o        “When X had lived Y years, he became the father of Z” can mean “When X had lived Y years, he became the father of a family line that included or culminated in Z.” However, most Bible scholars believe that the gaps are not large.

o        The ten-name schemes from Adam to Noah and from Noah to Abraham may be symbolic in creating the effect of a compressed history. For example, Matthew used an artificial symmetry in the 14-generation schemes to report Jesus’ descent. Also a comparison of Ezra’s priestly genealogy (Ezr 7:1-5) with its parallel information (1Ch 6) indicates how the former has omitted 6 names. However, in some cases, the descent has clearly no gaps, for example, Adam and Eve named Seth and Lamech named Noah.


How did different racial groups originate?

[1] When were the different races first described in the Bible?

The origin of different racial groups remains a mystery. In the Bible, racial diversity existed at least by the time of the Jewish exodus from Egypt. Moses’ siblings rebuked him from marrying a dark-skinned woman (Nu 12:1). Then, the dark skin colour of the Nubians and Ethiopians were contrasted with the lighter complexions of the Egyptians, Jews, and Mesopotamians (Jer 13:23).

[2] Secular explanation of the origin of races—natural selection and adaptation:

How did human beings develop such distinct skin colours and other more subtle differences in the relatively short time from the days of Noah to the days of Moses? Secularists believe that races were the result of human evolution as a response to the various environments that the human groups are exposed to. For example, because of the large amount of sunlight in Africa, Africans develop dark-coloured skins which offer more protection against solar ultraviolet radiation damage.

However, the explanation based on natural adaptation seems inadequate because:

[a] The rapid changes in many different racial traits are impossible to develop within the few thousand years. Genetic and anthropological research shows that natural selection cannot work as rapidly as necessary to offer a plausible explanation.

[b] The significant genetical differences are difficult to explain by natural occurrences.

[c] Genetical changes based on environment cannot be observed today. (Example: Caucasians who have lived in Africa for many many generations still give birth to entirely white babies.)

[d] Sun sensitivity works poorly as a selection effect. For example, the advantage of dark-coloured skin is too small to discourage people of light-coloured skin from settling in the tropics. Nor is the biological cost of producing dark-coloured skin high enough to give light-coloured people a survival advantage over dark-coloured people in the polar regions. Evidence for how weakly natural selection favours one skin colour over another comes from the observation that dark-skinned Eskimos live in the arctic and fair-skinned Greeks live on Mediterranean islands.

[3] Process for genetic diversification:

The Bible does not explicitly give us the origin of the different “races” or skin colors of humanity. In the beginning, there was only one race because every human being was a descendant of both Adam and Noah. Admittedly, there could be much diversity in skin color and other physical characteristics but still there was only one race.

Genetic research shows the possibilities of hybridization and breed development through selective pairing. Highly selective pairing among humans (such as marrying people with similar characteristics such as living habits or intelligence) might have facilitated the development of racial diversity. For example, if those who were more physically active married other physically active people, the new families might become doubly more physically active than the rest of the people. Eventually, they would become a distinct group. As a result of this process, many distinct or diverse groups might form out of the original single race. These groups later became different races.

Another possibility is that Adam and Eve possessed the genes to produce children with different skin tones. This would be similar to how a mixed-race couple often has children that vary greatly in color from one another. Later, the only survivors of the Flood were Noah and his three sons and their 4 wives, eight people in all (Genesis 7:13). Perhaps Noah’s, Shem’s, Ham’s, or Japheth’s wives were all of different races. Maybe all 8 of them were of mixed race, which would mean that they possessed the necesssary genes to produce children of different races.

[4] Is race related to the confusion of languages at Babel?

Some speculate that when God confused the languages at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), He also instituted racial diversity. God’s intention at Babel was to break up the destructive unity and to motivate people to spread throughout Earth’s habitable land masses. The separation could be achieved by diversifying language as well as introducing by God some new genetic material that caused external changes—those we recognize as racial distinctives. This assignment of genetic racial differences by God could be based on the geographic location each racial group would eventually settle so that they could adapt more easily.

The two types of change (linguistic and racial) would seem to complement each other in causing mankind to segregate. Just as geographical barriers and distinct languages helped move and keep the nations apart, they might be even more effective with the addition of superficial but noticeable differences of skin, hair, eyes, etc. Time has proved that geographical barriers by themselves do not guarantee separation, nor do distinct languages by themselves, but the three together erect a barely adequate fence—at least until the late 20th century. That this was God’s intent seems indicated in Gen 10:5,20,31 where the world’s peoples are differentiated according to their clans, languages, lands, nations.

While this is a distinct possibility, there is no explicit Biblical basis for this view. The races or skin colour of man are nowhere mentioned in connection with the Tower of Babel.

[5] Stabilization of racial traits: (continuation of the genetic diversification process in point [3] above)

After the Flood, when the different languages came into existence, groups that spoke one language moved away with others of the same language. In doing so, the gene pool for a specific group shrunk dramatically as they no longer had the entire human population to mix with. Closer inbreeding took place, and in time certain features were emphasized in these different groups. As further inbreeding occurred through the generations, the gene pool got smaller and smaller, to the point that people of one language family all had the same or similar features, thus intensifying the previously minor genetical differences.


Which of Noah’s sons was the ancestor of the Chinese people?

[1] Because Chinese are located in Asia, the most common belief is that Chinese are the descendants of Shem whose descendants live in Asia.

[2] Because Chinese have skin tone whiter than the Middle East people (who according to the Bible are Shem’s descendants), some believe that Chinese are the descendants of Japheth whose descendants are the white races. In addition, China was quite far from the Middle East and could only be reached by long travellers like the expanding Japhethites (Gen 9:27).

[3] For some, Semitic people are from Shem, and Caucasian people from Japheth. As Chinese are non-Semitic and non-Caucasian, they are from Ham.

[4] For some, Chinese are very different from the yellow races of the Middle East, the black races of Africa, and the white races of Europe so they believe that the Chinese were descendants not from the 3 sons but directly from a child (or children) of Noah born after the Flood.

In conclusion, the ancestry of Chinese has been regarded as a mystery by many Biblical scholars.


Why was Canaan cursed, not Ham?

[1] Perhaps some copyist made a mistake by leaving out the word “father” after Canaan’s name. However, there is no such support in manuscripts.

[2] Septuagint has a note that the curse should have been on Ham. The name on the Genesis manuscript was later changed to Canaan by some unknown person because Canaanites were the enemies of the Israelites in Joshua’s and David’s time.

[3] Perhaps Canaan was morally the worst son out of Ham’s 4 sons (Gen 10:6) so he was cursed.

[4] Canaan was paying for the sin of his father.

[5] Noah’s words were prophetic (similar to Isaac’s in Gen 27:27-29 and Jacob’s in Gen 49:2-27). He was prophesying the future of Ham’s descendants. This is why the word used is “shall”, not “may” (which is commonly used in curses). Later facts proved that Canaanites “defiled” themselves in sexual sins (Lev 18:24).

The last two explanations are reasonable.


Was dark skin of Africans the penalty of Ham’s sin?

[1] Some argue that Canaan’s descendants may not have dark skin.

Gen 9 gives no hint that a change of skin colour marked the change in Canaan’s future. For some unknown reason, the penalty fell only on Canaan; Ham’s other named sons, Cush, Mizraim, and Put, were excluded. The historical record shows us that few if any of Canaan descendants lived long on Earth. The OT records that the nations moving in to occupy the ancient land of Canaan wiped out the inhabitants who were Canaan’s descendants.

There is no archaeological evidence that the Canaanites had dark skin. They were later known as Phoenicians by the Greeks because from Tyre and Sidon they traded in purple dye and purple-dyed cloth garments (the Greek word for purple is phoinix). The last of the Canaanites died in the Roman-Punic wars when Carthage was destroyed. So there is no definitive proof that Ham’s descendants had dark skin.

However, most Biblical scholars believe that dark-skinned Africans are descendants of Ham.

[2] History and World Events:

Some people do not believe the curse on Canaan extends to any ethnic groups because they argue that Noah’s curse does not involve the issue of ethnicity. This line of argument is perhaps the result of compliance to modern political correctness (which often trumps truth). Noah’s curse clearly involved the descendants from Ham and Canaan.

As we have witnessed from history, the black people are indeed an unfortunate race. In history, they were conquered and were taken as slaves. Their land was colonized by white people until the mid-20th century. They were culturally backward.

Baker (1974) did an extensive analysis of ancient cultures. He drew up 21 criteria to evaluate cultures: [1] clothing, [2] cleanliness, [3] no mutilation, [4] construction, [5] roads, [6] cultivation, [7] husbandry, [8] metallurgy, [9] wheels, [10] money, [11] laws, [12] witnesses in defence, [13] no torture, [14] no cannibalism, [15] no widespread superstitions, [16] writing, [17] mathematics, [18] calendar, [19] education, [20] fine arts, [21] value in pure knowledge.

Caucasoids in ancient times developed all 21 components of civilization in 4 locations: [a] Sumerian of the Tigris-Euphrates Valley, [b] Crete, [c] Indus Valley, and [d] Egypt. The ancient Mongoloids developed a full civilization in China. The ancient Amerindians achieved about half of the 21 components in the Mayan society; the Inca and Aztec societies had slightly fewer components. The ancient Negroids and the Australian aborigines achieved virtually none of the criteria of civilization.

Today, the black people face a multitude of disasters. Physical disasters include frequent droughts, famines, and AIDS. Human disasters include Rwanda massacre (1994), ongoing massacre in the Darfur region of Sudan, totalitarianism in many countries such as in Zimbabwe, internal military struggles such as in Ethiopia, religious struggles in Nigeria, recent ethnic struggles in Kenya (2008); all of these resulting in massive deaths. All the countries are economically backward with little prospect of improvement, many of them in extreme poverty. It is truly a dark continent.

Yet, God is still merciful to them. Spiritually, the continent is no longer dark. Many countries have a growing Christian population (although Islam is also growing and spreading from the north). We need to pray for a miraculous relief of their sufferings.

[3] Christian Position on racial discrimination:

Some people used Noah’s curse to justify the systemic discrimination of black people, such as apartheid (racial segregation system in South Africa, disbanded in 1989). This is unwarranted. If a racial group is cursed by God, it is up to God to dispense judgment. To us, each person in that group is still an image of God, deserving the same dignity as everyone else. Racial discrimination is always wrong.



        All races are originated from the same source (Adam) and all are in the image of God (Ac 17:26). Any form of racial discrimination and segregation should not be tolerated.

        Most important of all, God opens the door of salvation for everyone in the world. As Peter said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” (Ac 10:34-35)


{12}     STUDY: Confusion of Languages專題:語言的變亂


        Language is one of the great barriers to human communication. It is as great a barrier as colour and ethnicity, if not greater. Misunderstanding because of linguistic difference could have significant and sometimes tragic consequences. Yet it is God who decided to divide man by languages. Why did God divide man by language? Are there any evidence that there was one language in the world at one time? If there was one language, then what was this universal language like?



Why did God need to confuse the languages of man at Babel?

In Gen 1:28, God instructed Adam and Eve to “multiply and fill the earth.” In order to wisely manage all of Earth’s resources for the benefit of all life, the whole globe needs to be occupied. But it seems that man failed to carry out this instruction and did not move too far from the original settlements in Mesopotamia.

In Gen 9:1, God again instructed Noah and his sons to “multiply and fill the earth.” In Gen 11, we see that God’s command was again ignored for many generations after Noah. Mankind had settled in only one geographical region.

At Babel, people on Earth, with a single language and a single nation, embarked on an ambitious building project, the construction of a huge city and a high tower in pursuit of two stated goals:

[1] To prevent human emigration beyond the boundaries of Mesopotamia, that is, to prevent their dispersion: Josephus commented that this was in disobedience to the command of Gen 9:1, to replenish the Earth. God commanded them to scatter. No, they said, we will live and die together.

[2] To express pride in their own achievements and to make themselves a name: they would achieve something to be envy of by future generations.

The confusion of languages in Babel achived two results shattering the two goals.

[1] God forced man to obey His command to fill the Earth for their own survival’s sake. This can be deduced from the place names mentioned in Genesis. In Gen 1—9, the place names mentioned were only in the environs of Mesopotamia. From Gen 10 onward, likely after Babel, we encounter references to places beyond Mesopotamia, in fact, to places covering a large part of the Eastern hemisphere.

[2] God crushed their pride and their wish to gain fame. Philo Judeus (a Jewish philosopher at the time of Jesus, working in Alexandria, Egypt) said that the Babel-builders engraved the name of every worker upon a brick; yet we do not find in any history the name of even one of these. In addition, since Babel, God has kept the nations geographically and politically separated to prevent a recurrence of the problem.

How did man spread out to inhabit the whole world?

After the confusion of languages, people were inclined to find and stay close to anyone with whom they could communicate. God could have caused each individual to speak a different language. But, apparently, God caused the people from the same tribe or clan or family to speak the same language so that they could converse with each other but not with people from other tribes or families. As a result, nations formed along language lines.

The world was created and formed by God in such a way as to produce land masses and oceans in just the right balance for life. He also fashioned its geography and geophysical forces so that, at just the right time and in just the right places, conditions would foster the separation of the peoples and ensure their staying separated.

Geographers have long noted, with awe and amazement, that virtually all Earth’s continental land masses lie in climatic zones suitable for human habitation. Moreover, the continents and major islands are nearly contiguous so that man could migrate on land for great distances. However, some water barriers still presented a formidable challenge to people in ancient times. For example, North and South America are cut off from Eurasia by the Bering Strait; Indonesia is separated from mainland Asia by the Strait of Malacca; Australia is divided from Indonesia by the Torres Strait; and the English Channel flows between Britain and the rest of Europe. These water bodies, though not very wide, were found to be barriers difficult for ancient people to cross.

The Bering Strait is 80 km wide with a cold treacherous sea between Alaska and Siberia. However, a 1996 geological and paleontological study established that between 40,000 and 11,000 years ago, the sea level was much lower than today because of the existence of huge ice sheets covering all sub-arctic regions including Alaska and Siberia. As a result, a land bridge briefly joined North America to Asia. Just before the Bering land bridge was covered by rising seas from the melting of ice sheets, a brief period of warm moist climate occurred. This would have allowed human migration from Asia across the land bridge to North America. Another study concluded that other land bridges opened and closed at about the same time as did the Bering Strait bridge, allowing migration of peoples to distant islands.


How many language families are found in the world today?

There are 7 large language families (each with more than 200 million speakers, indicated by bold words in the following table) and 11 smaller regional language families. (The language family at Kamchatka shown in italics is sometimes classified as part of the Altaic family.)

Linguist Joseph Greenberg proposed 4 language super-families: African (no.1 to 4 in the table), Eurasiatic (5 to 12), Indo-Pacific (13 to 15), language of the Americas (16 to 18).



Language Family






Middle East to northern Africa [Arabic]

Ethiopian, Berber, Southwest Asian

339 million


Niger-Congo (Niger-Kordofanian)

central and southeast Africa [African]

West African, Bantu (Mbuti Pygmy)

358 million



central Africa


35 million



southwest Africa (Kalahari)

San/Bushman, Hottentot




Latin and Germanic, including northern India [European]

European, Iranian, Sardinian, Indian

2.56 billion




Chechan, Georgian

5 million



central Asia and Turkey [central Asian]

North Turkic (some include Mongol, Korean, Ainu, Japanese)

250 million







Uralic (Uralic-Yukaghir)

Russian Arctic coast and Finland

Lapp, Samoyed

22.6 million



southeast India [Indian]

Southeast Indian

222 million



China, east Asia, Tibet [Chinese]

Chinese, Mongol, Korean, Japanese, Ainu, Tibetan

1.28 billion


Tai-Kadai (Daic)



78.4 million




Mon Khmer, Miao-Yao

101 million



Indonesia [Indonesian]

Indonesian, Malaysian, Filipino, Polynesian, Micronesian

311 million


Pama-Nyungan (Australian)

central Australia

Australian aborigine



Papuan (Indo-Pacific)


Melanesian, New Guinean

3.4 million


American Indian (Amerind)

northern Quebec and Labrador, isolated areas in N and S America

South Amerind, Central Amerind, North Amerind

20 million



Alaska, Yukon and NWT

Northwest Amerind



Eskimo-Aleutian (Eskimo-Aleut)

Arctic coast of Canada

Inuit (Eskimo)



Are all languages in the world originated from a single language?

[1] Man’s linguistic ability: When God created the first human beings—Adam and Eve—He created them in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27). This likeness unquestionably included the ability to engage in intelligible speech via human language. In fact, God spoke to them from the very beginning of their existence as humans (Genesis 1:28-30). Hence, they possessed the ability to understand verbal communication—and to speak themselves.

[2] Origin of languages: Linguists have tried to find out the origin of language, just like scientists try to find out the origin of life. They have invented many different hypotheses but none is supported by the majority of linguists.

o        Hypotheses for the origin of language can be classified into 3 groups:

o        [1] Imitation hypotheses—human mimicry of naturally occurring sounds or movements: [a] ding-dong hypothesis (sounds of the world), [b] pooh-pooh hypothesis (semi-involuntary cries or exclamations), [c] bow-wow hypothesis (animal sounds), [d] ta-ta hypothesis (hand gestures).

o        [2] Necessity hypotheses—human response to acute necessity in the community: [a] uh-oh hypothesis (warnings), [b] yo-he-ho hypothesis (sounds during communal labour), [c] sing-song hypothesis (laughter, courtship, emotional mutterings), hey-you hypothesis (identity, fear, anger), [d] hocus pocus hypothesis (magical or religious sounds), [e] eureka hypothesis (assigning arbitrary sounds to meanings).

o        [3] Lying or watch-the-birdie hypothesis—human invention for the purpose of lying or deceiving.

o        Christian viewpoint on these hypotheses: We believe that God created the linguistic capacity in man. Since the beginning, Adam and Eve could speak and could understand what God said. No wonder linguists could not definitively support any one of the hypotheses in explaining the origin of language. On the other hand, these hypotheses may be useful in explaining the development of languages through time, that is, how new vocabulary and new usages of existing words develop.

[3] Proto-languages: The existing state of human language suggests that the variety of dialects and sub-languages has developed from a relatively few (perhaps less than 20) languages. These original ‘proto-languages’—from which all others allegedly have developed—were distinct within themselves, with no previous ancestral language. Creationist Carl Wieland rightly remarked: ‘The evidence is wonderfully consistent with the notion that a small number of languages, separately created at Babel, has diversified into the huge variety of languages we have today’.

[4] Linguistic stocks: Evidence exists in predynastic times in Mesopotamia (before 2700 BC) of the presence of three linguistic stocks: Japhethites, Semites (a language akin to Hebrew and Arabic), and the Sumerians. (according to V. G. Childe)

[5] Linkage between language stocks: Hervas, a Spanish Jesuit, wrote a famous 6-volume Catalogue of Languages, published in 1800. He proved by a comparative list of declensions and conjugations that Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic, and Amharic are all but dialects of one original language and constitute one family of speech, the Semitic.

o        The idea of deriving Japhetic languages from Semitic languages has been studied. It was found that parallelisms exist, not merely for a few possibly borrowed words, but for a vast number of words which are basic to any vocabulary: numerals, personal relationships, household objects, things of prime and immediate importance for individual survival or well-being, and so forth.

o        A similar result is found between Hamitic languages and Semitic languages.

o        Therefore, all 3 major language groups are related.

[6] Monogenesis: It is a hypothesis that there was one single protolanguage (the “Proto-World language”) from which all other languages spoken by humans descend. Is there any evidence that mankind did at any time within the last few thousand years share a single language, as seems to be clearly implied by the wording of Genesis 11:1? The linguists Joseph Greenberg and Merritt Ruhlen advocate such a position. For example, the sound ‘Ma’ seems to universally mean ‘mother’.

[7] One original language: Non-Christian linguistics scholar, Max Muller in his classic work The Science of Language, while denying that any light on the subject could be derived from the biblical story, argue that there was nothing unreasonable in the idea of there having once been a single language shared by all men.

o        His analysis of languages from all over the world had led him to group them into categories which he terms respectively the radical, the terminational, and the inflectional.

o        China’s Place in Philology,” has collected a large amount of fact tending to show that the early Chinese in its monosyllabic radicals presents root forms traceable into all the stocks of human speech in the Old World.

[8] Evidence of one original language: Linguists have found connections between quite dissimilar languages, such as the Aryan group, the Semitic group, the Chinese and Polynesian. C.R. Conder [“On the Comparison of Asiatic languages” (1894)] used examples taken from 12 languages: Sumerian, Egyptian, Aryan, Hebrew, Assyrian, Arabic, Turkic, Finnic-Ugric, Mongol, Cantonese (southern dialect of Chinese), Proto-Medic, and Susian. Then 172 root forms were examined in the 8 classes, each root being traced through virtually all the listed dialects or languages in every case. He concluded that all three large families (Semitic, Hamitic, and Indo-European) were probably united as a single language until something occurred to begin their independent development.

o        The 8 classes were used for sensations connected with various organs: [1] life or breathing with the nose; [2] light, sight, and fire, with the eye; [3] sound, with the ear; [4] movement, with the leg, [5] swallowing, eating and drinking with the mouth; [6] holding, and striking, with the hand; [7] work, which is not very clearly distinguishable from the preceding class; [8] love and desire.

[9] Linguistics consistent with the Bible: All these results of research in linguistics, including one original language, proto-languages, and linguistic stocks, are consistent with the Biblical record.


What was the original speech of man used by Adam?

Modern Christian scholars generally believe that the original language used by Adam until Babel was Hebrew, supported by some Church Fathers including Augustine, Jerome, and Origen.

Custance believes that the language of Eden was a language similar to Hebrew, perhaps Aramaic. The reasons include:

[1] The names of the immediate descendants of Noah (in Gen 10) were the real names which those people originally bore and are not merely transliterations. They are still traceable, though in modified forms, very extensively among their living descendants who, however, have no recollection of their meanings. Further, these names as given have meanings in Semitic but not in Japhetic or Hamitic languages.

[2] In Genesis 4, which deals specifically with the history of man from Adam to Noah, there are a number of references to persons, places, and events that throw unexpected light upon the subsequent human history even down to the present time. But this light is obtained only if the key words in these references derive their significance from their meaning in Semitic.

[3] If a Semitic form of language was the language of Noah, then presumably it was similar for Adam. The Scripture lends some support to this conclusion because:

o        The word woman is a translation of a Semitic word which is the feminine form of the word for man. Man is Ish, woman is Ishah. In no other language does it appear to be true that the word for woman is the feminine form of the word for man. Compare, for example, the Latin: vir for man, mulier for woman; the Greek. aner for man, gune for woman. In English the word woman is a broken down form of an original “woof-man,” which meant “the man who weaves.” In Spanish the forms senor and senora may seem at first sight to be parallel, but senor is not really the word for “man” nor senora the word for “woman.” They are more exactly titles of courtesy like “sir” and “lady” in English. This exceptional circumstance in the story of Adam and Eve is in itself some evidence that Semitic was the form of speech which Adam employed, since it would seem only natural that the first human being should have named his companion by a modified form of his own name.



        Because of human pride and disobedience, human language was confused. Now, different ethnic groups cannot easily communicate. Yet through the power of God, the process was temporarily reversed at Pentecost in Ac 2:5-13. At the end of the world, the diverse peoples will come together as a single people of God (Rev 7:9).

        Custance quoted the following story to illustrate the universality of the language of heaven: Two believers from different countries met at a conference and observed in one another the unmistakable evidences of their common faith. They approached each other with outstretched hands in welcome and, though quite unable to speak a word of the other’s language, communicated perfectly when the one said, “Alleluia!” and the other replied instantly, “Amen!”


{13}     Conclusion結語


        Genesis provides the foundation for our understanding of the origin of everything. It is the foundation for a comprehensive worldview for Christians (and for Jews too).

·         purpose of creation and the establishment of institutions, including family and marriage.

·         relationship between God and man, and between man with the rest of the created order

·         our exalted position as the image of God


Main Themes

[1] The origin of all things

Genesis begins with the creation. There is no explanation where God comes from, but He is simply there, as declared in 1:1. He is all-powerful, wise and in control, but He cares about the human whom He created. Genesis clearly defines the relationships among God, man, and the world. Life has meaning only in God’s plan.

Man’s dignity comes from the fact that we are created in God’s image. There are clear differences between animals and man as man are given power to rule over the animals. Also apparently, only man are given the ethical choice of following God’s command, and their decisions on which choices to make actually affects the whole earth.


[2] Man’s sin

God originally created a perfect world. Apparently, man had meaningful work to do but did not need the work for survival nor suffered and toiled at work. God provided everything that man needed. Yet man still decided to disobey God. Today, many people blame the environment and the society for people’s wrong doing. We try not to create excuses for all the wrongs man commit but downplay the responsibility of the individual. However, as Genesis demonstrates, even in a perfect environment, man still sins.

In Genesis, man’s sin led to destruction. Sin got progressively worse: from Adam and Eve’s disobedience to Cain’s murder, then to Lamech’s boasting of his murders, then to heinous sins committed by all mankind. If it wasn’t for the faithful and obedient Noah, man would be extinct in the Flood. Freedom without God leads only to death. While man are hopelessly running down a slippery slope, God intervenes. Genesis lays out the ground for God’s wonderful plan of salvation, which is one of the most important theme throughout the Bible. And we all know that everything will eventually end up with God’s total victory.


[3] God of Love and of Justice

God is a God of love. He designed an eternal plan of sharing His glory with man. In Genesis, there were times when God’s plan appeared to fail. In fact, the plan was only deferred but still on track. Despite the many episodes of darkness, there was always hope shining like a beam of light breaking the dark night.

o        After the Fall of Adam and the murder committed by Cain, there was the birth of Seth.

o        After the Flood killed almost the whole human race, there was the family of Noah.

o        After the Tower of Babel, there was the family of Abraham.

But God is also a God of justice. He deals with sin with punishment; yet He also rewards righteousness and obedience with blessings. (Ex 20:5; 34:6-7; Nu 14:18; Dt 5:9-10; 7:9)


[4] The Toledots and the Genealogies

Genealogies appear throughout the Bible. They show us that what was recorded was real history, not arbitrary man-made stories. However, because of the peculiar usage of the Hebrew language, genealogies may contain gaps. The Bible authors often use a perfect number of generations between two main characters (10 generations between Adam and Noah, 10 generations between Noah and Abraham, 14+14+14 generations from Abraham to Jesus etc.). The numbers do not necessarily reflect the real genealogies.

The Bible usually only focuses on particular persons, and God has been blessing all the world through these people whom He chose.


Questions in Interpretation

[1] The 3 Theories of Creation

The Theories of Creation arise from the interpretation of the Bible (mainly Genesis) as well as scientific findings. Three theories were introduced. Each has its supporters among the evangelical scholars. Also each one has its merits and shortfalls in explaining how the earth becomes what we see today. As more scientific evidences are found, these theories may need amendments or modifications. No matter which theory is accepted, the key point remains the same: God created this world.


[2] Science and Genesis

Science is a systematic way to find out the rules of the world through observations, hypotheses, theories and experiments. Many people are misled that the Bible and science are frequently in conflict, but the fact is that most of the time scientific findings match what is described in the Bible. Scientific theories are often revised or modified to fit new observations, yet the Bible is always the same and has never been proved wrong. The problem remains that man are sinful and always try to judge whether something is right or wrong using our limited intelligence instead of trusting our obviously more intelligent Creator.

In fact, from scientific findings, this world has an extremely complex architecture such that it is easier to believe that it is created and designed instead of being the result of random processes. The Theory of Intelligent Design introduces many valid arguments to prove how the universe must have been carefully designed by higher intelligence.

The Evolution Hypothesis is supported by many secular scientists and has been blindly accepted by many people. The purpose is to find an answer to the origin of life without God. The theory of natural selection could possibly be true, but objective evidences do not support its alleged effect in the formation of species. Those who objectively examine scientific proofs used to support or to deny the Evolution Hypothesis will agree that the hypothesis is close to an impossibility.


[3] Difficult Passages

It is important to recognize the inerrancy of the Bible. Throughout past history and especially in today, many Christians are willing to sacrifice the accuracy of Genesis in the face of difficulties. This is not necessary. There is no definitive proof of any errors in Genesis, either internally (absence of inconsistencies in the Bible) or externally (Biblical records consistent with research in other subjects).

Because Genesis was written in ancient Hebrew which has become an unused language for many centuries, the exact meaning of many words are unclear. As a result, there are different possible meanings to the same verses or even the same words. Therefore, the first 11 chapters of Genesis undeniably consists of many difficult passages or controversial topics. We may not have a definite answer.

We must admit that our knowledge and wisdom are limited and that we are ignorant of the true answers. However, it is important to know that the lack of definitive explanation is never involved with essentials of our faith.


Theme and Motifs of Chapters 12-50

The theme is an overarching idea that holds the stories together. The theme of Part 2 of Genesis is the promise. This promise has 3 elements: land, descendants (or seed), and blessing (relationship with others) (Gen 12:1-3). It has 3 characteristics:

        Promises were repeated for Abraham (Gen 12:7; 13:15–17; 15:7–21; 17:4–8; 22:16–18), Isaac (Gen 26:2–4), and Jacob (Gen 28:13–14; 35:9–12; 46:1–4).

        The present occupants of the land would be removed because of their sin (Gen 15:16). The patriarchs’ descendants will receive the land (Gen 12:6–7; 13:15,17; 15:7,18–21; 17:8; 24:7; 26:3–4; 28:13; 35:12; 48:4).

        The promise has international significance as the blessing is intended for all humanity. The patriarchs’ testimony was that God blessed them and those favourably related to them (Gen 21:22–24; 24:31,50; 26:26–29; 30:27; 41:39).

God’s promise is in the form of a covenant. A covenant is defined as a formal agreement or alliance made by God with an individual or a group of people. The importance of the concept of covenant can be seen from the division of the Bible into Old Testament (old covenant of Moses) and New Testament (new covenant of Jesus).

Motifs are the recurring keywords or ideas that appear throughout the book. They include:

[1] Sibling rivalry:

        Abraham vs. Lot, son of Haran

        Isaac vs. Ishmael

        Jacob vs. Esau

        Jacob vs. Laban, grandson of Nahor

        Joseph vs. brothers

[2] Deception:

        Abraham and Isaac lied about their wives

        Rebekah helped Jacob to trick Isaac

        Jacob tricked Esau but was in turn tricked by Laban

        Jacob was deceived by his sons about Joseph (37:31–36)

        Simeon and Levi murdered the Shechemites through deceit (after requiring them to circumcise) (34:13,30)

        Simeon and his brothers were deceived (42:24)

        Rachel deceived her brother Laban by stealing and hiding his “household gods” (31:19,34–35)

        Tamar disguised as a harlot (38:13–15)

        Joseph deceived his brothers before reunion

[3] Alienation/Separation: Abraham (from Lot), Jacob and Joseph all involved the separation from the father’s household. The motify becomes increasingly important to each successive story. Separation is followed by reconciliation: Abraham to Terah’s household with Isaac’s marriage to Rebekah, granddaughter of Nahor; Jacob was reconciled by marrying the daughters of his uncle Laban.

In addition, Abraham identied himself as “an alien and a stranger” in the land of Canaan (Gen 23:4; Heb 11:13)— meaning a foreigner who took up residence mostly for a temporary time. Isaac and Jacob (and Esau) also were described as aliens sojourning in Canaan (Gen 28:4; 35:27; 37:1; 36:7). Christians, too, also view themselves as aliens in this world travelling to an eternal home in heaven (1Pe 2:11).




        Christianity is the only religion with a philosophy of life or a worldview that is completely rational as well as logical and can answer all questions related to life satisfactorily. By this attribute alone, we can see that it is from the one true God and it is truth.

        History of the World:

[1] Eternal Past——[2] Paradise Created (Gen 1—2)——[3] Paradise Lost (Gen 3 to Rev 20)——[4] Paradise Regained (Rev 21—22)——[5] Eternal Future

        Poetry by John Milton (1608-1674):

Milton: Paradise Lost (Book 1, lines 1-3)

Of Man’s First Disobedience, and the Fruit

Of that Forbidden Tree, whose mortal test

Brought Death into the World, and all our woe.

Milton: Paradise Regained (Book 4, lines 616-617)

Where they shall dwell secure, when time shall be

Of Tempter and Temptation without fear.

Milton: On Time

And Joy shall overtake us as a flood;

When everything yet is sincerely good

And perfectly divine.

With truth, and peace, and love shall ever shine

About the supreme throne

Of him t’ whose happy-making sight alone,

When once our heav’nly-guided soul shall climb

Then all this earthly grossness quit.

Attir’d with stars we shall for ever sit

Triumphing over death, and chance, and thee o time.