The Table of Nations: Genesis

The Table of Nations

            The list of nations given in Genesis 10 is unique in ancient literature. No other list contains such a complete list of where all the world's nations originated and no other list is comparable to its accuracy. According to Genesis 11:10, the list was compiled by Shem, one of the sons of Noah. The list is organized by family and by tongue. This means the list of nations was compiled after the event in Genesis 11. The events described in Genesis 10 overlap the events described in Genesis 11.


            From the list, we learn that Indo-European nations descended from Japheth. It is interesting to note that the Greeks refer to Iapetos as their founder. Indians refer to Iyapeti as the founder of their race. If you allow for alterations of names over time, it is likely that both nations are referring to Japheth.

            Gomer is associated with a nation the Greeks called the Cimmerians who were located south of the Black Sea. During the reign of Sargon, this nation was called Gimirrai.

            Magog is associated by the Jewish historian, Josephus, with ancient Scythian tribes who lived southeast of the Black Sea. They are also mentioned in Ezekiel 38:2 and Ezekiel 39:6.

            Madai are the Medes who settled southwest of the Caspian Sea. This name is frequently used in the Scriptures and Assyrian writing to refer to this nation.

            Javan is an older form of the name Ionia, the name for Greece. One of Javan's sons, Elishah is believed to be another form of the name Hellas, from which we get the Hellenist. In the Iliad, there is a reference to the Eilesian people. Another son of Javan, Dodanim is thought to be related to an ancient Greek oracle, known as the Oracle of Dodona. Tarshish is connected with the ancient Spanish city Tartessus in southern Spain. Kittim refers to the people who dwelt on the east coast of Cyprus (see Numbers 24:24, Jeremiah 2:10, Ezekiel 27:6).

            Tubal is associated with the nation in the eastern part of Asia Minor, whom we now call the Tibarenians. The Assyrians called this nation Tabal.

            Meshech is connected to nation in the southwestern corner of the Black Sea. The Assyrians called this nation Muskaya. They latter were known as the Muskovi, an early name for Russia.

            Tiras is thought to have founded the pirate nation known as the Pelasgians on the edge of the Aegean Sea.


            The land of Cush is generally regarded as the area of modern day Ethiopia. Cush actually occupied a larger area of Africa than Ethiopia does today and extended into Arabia. (See II Kings 19:9, Isaiah 37:9). One of Cush's son was called Nimrod. The literal meaning of his name is "Let us rebel." He is described as a mighty hunter. This same phrase can be translated as "mighty tyrant." Babel was a city in his kingdom. The Assyrians called their founder Ninus, which is believed to be a derivative of Nimrod. This is also why the Assyrians capital was called Ninevah. The Babylonians also descended from Nimrod. There is a reference to the city of Calah, which has been found by archeologists. In the city's records, it refers to itself as the city of Nimrud.

            The Egyptian founder was Mizraim. The name is very close to the name of the first Egyptian Pharaoh. The children of Mizriam are all associated with tribes in the area of Egypt. It is interesting to find that the Philistines are also related to the Egyptians.

            Canaan and his children settled the region that was latter conquered by the Israelites. One of his children, Sin, is remembered in the Wilderness of Sin and Mount Sinai. The Assyrians also had a god named Sin. It is believed that descendants of Sin settled China. An older name for China is Sinae (as in the Sino-Japanese War).


            Elam settled the region east of the Tigris River. They were known as Elamites and later called the Persians.

            Asshur is the ancestor of the Assyrians, who were eventually conquered by Nimrod.

            Arpachshad founded the country called Arrapachitis, located northeast of Nineveh on the Zab river. Arpachshad's grandson was called Eber. From Eber's name is derived the name "Hebrew", of whom Abraham is the most famous descendant. One of Eber's sons was named Peleg, which means division. We are also told the world was divided in the days of Peleg, so we concluded that the incident at Babel occurred about the time Peleg was born.

            Lud is associated with the Lydians in Asia Minor. An early historian, Herodotus, reported that the nation called itself a Semitic nation.

            Aram founded the Aramaeans, who lived northeast of Palestine. In the Bible, they are often called Syrians. The names of the locations in this region often contain the prefix "Aram".

            Notice that Shem's descendants are traced in greater detail than the other brothers. This makes sense since the division of the world would cause families to lose track of each other.