{20}   Gen 10:1-32  Rise of Nations


Part F. The rise of nations (10:1-32)

F1. The Japhethites (10:1-5)

F2. The Hamites (10:6-20)

F3. The Shemites (10:21-32)

        Gen 10 is a chapter completely dedicated to a record of genealogies. There are a total of 70 clans and nations (Shem 26, Ham 30, Japheth 14). The total number is the product of two symbolically perfect numbers, 7 and 10.

        As this chapter mentions the different languages (v.5,20,31) which did not exist until Babel, it should chronologically be located after Gen 11:9.


10:1     generations: a new “toledot” section (the 4th of 10 in Genesis).

10:2     The Japhethites included 14 clans and nations. These 14 groups were described to be residents of Asia Minor, the Mediterranean region and Europe. These were the Europeans and the ancestors of the white races. These nations belong to the Indo-European language group. After migration, they resided in Europe, North and South America, and Australia.

10:6     The Hamites included 30 clans and nations. These 30 groups were described to be residents of northern Africa and the Middle East. These were the Africans and the ancestors of the black races. These nations belong to the African language group. After migration, they occupy most of the continent of Africa while some migrated to the Indian Subcontinent.

10:8     Cush fathered Nimrod: Nimrod, a grandson of Ham is described extensively because of his many conquests (v.8-12). His name means “rebel”. Some consider him the founder of the great godless Babylonian empire and possibly the builder of the Tower of Babel.

10:21   The Shemites included 26 clans and nations. These 26 groups were described to be residents of the Middle East. These were the Asians and the ancestors of the yellow races. Many of these nations belong to the Semitic language group. After migration, they resided in the continent of Asia and northern Africa. Some migrated across the Berling Strait and became the American aborigines and the ancient peoples in Central America (Aztecs, Mayans, Incas, etc.).

10:24   Eber: ancestor of Abraham (4th after Shem); great-grandson of Shem, but was mentioned first amongst Shem’s descendants in v.21; his name has been associated with the word Hebrew.

10:25   Peleg: ancestor of Abraham (5th after Shem); the name means “division”.

in his days the earth was divided: probably pointing to the Tower of Babel.

Question: Can we classify human beings into different races?


[1] Race as a Question of Political Correctness: In the last 20 years, talking about race becomes a taboo in the present social atmosphere of political correctness. Many people object even using the concept of race. Yet, objectively, race is a fact. For the majority of people we meet, the race can be easily determined by visible physical appearance. Trying to avoid the subject of race in the name of  political correctness is unnecessary. Objective truth must be recognized.

[2] Objective Criteria for Races: Human groups do vary strikingly in a few highly visible characteristics, such as skin color, eye shape, hair type, body and facial form—in short, the traits that often allow us to determine a person’s origin at a single glance. But there are more differences between races than appearance alone. Races are recognized by a combination of geographic, ecological, and morphological factors and gene frequencies of biochemical components.

[3] Physical Characteristics of the 3 main races: Traditionally, anthropologists classify mankind into 3 races: Mongoloids (yellow people), Negroids (black people), and Caucasoids (white people).



Mongoloids / Orientals (Yellow)

Negroids / Africans (Black)

Caucasoids (White)

skin colour

yellowish to brown

brown to black

very light to brown

eye colour and shape

dark brown pupils, almond-shaped eyes

dark brown pupils

light blue to dark brown pupils

hair type and colour

straight black to brown hair

tightly curled, woolly, kinky black hair

varied, straight to wavy/ curly black to blonde hair


body hair scarce, fewest sweat glands, dry crumbly ear wax

most sweat glands, moist adhesive ear wax

moderate sweat glands, moist adhesive ear wax

facial form

relatively broad and flat, small noses, medium to low nose bridges, narrow nasal opening; rounded orbital opening

prominent nasal spine, steepled nose bridge, broad nostrils, wide nasal opening, low nose; rectangular orbital opening, thick everted lips

narrow nasal opening, high nose bridge, angular to rounded orbital opening


round-headed, prominent cheekbones

head shape of medium breadth, receded cheekbones

long-headed, with receded cheekbones


[4] Genetic Differences between Races:

Anthropologist Cavalli-Sforza documented the genetic distances among 5 blood group systems. The result: Africans are most different from all others. Oceanians are furthest from Africans and are also different from the other three. The other 3 groups are closest to each other, with Americans (Indians in North and South America) being in the middle.

[5] Recent Arguments:

Since the 1970s, some anthropologists have proposed that races are an artificial concept not justified by reality. Biologists have attempted to show that only a small proportion (6% or less) of human genetic variability occurs between races. [It should be noted that human DNA is only 13% different from the chimpanzee and only 25% different from the nematode worm.] This is part of the campaign for political correctness which truth-believing Christians should not support.

The case against using the concept of race is based on: [a] There is much genetic variation within each race, but less variation between races. Counter argument: This is a statistical trick, comparing the differences between individuals within the group to the average values of different groups. [b] There are no “pure” races because of increasing intermarriages among races. [c] Different races are still potentially interfertile (intermmariages can produce children).

Psychologist Rushton used empirical research to show significant differences among 3 racial groups: Mongoloids, Negroids, Caucasoids. On more than 60 variables—such as brain size, intelligence, reproductive behaviour, aggressiveness, etc.—Mongoloids and Negroids define opposite ends of a spectrum, with Caucasoids falling intermediately. While Rushton’s research is internationally recognized for its high quality, he was strongly criticized by some people for crossing the line of political correctness by probing into racial differences.


        There were many great heroes in history, perhaps wellknown in the whole world at their times. Their great deeds have all been buried in history. Few of them are even mentioned today. Yet, service for God will be recorded in God’s records and will be forever remembered.