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Bible: What Does Genesis 9-10 Teach Us About the Noahic Covenant and the Table of Nations?

Updated on September 8, 2016

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God: "Be Fruitful and Multiply"

Elohim blesses the male survivors with the command to beget and rear many children (v. 1).

To aid them in this endeavor, God places the fear of man within the instinctual make-up of every living creature (v. 2).

Now not only has He given man green herbs and fruits to eat, but also grants them flesh—as long as they eat it without its blood (vv. 3-4).

[Has something changed in man’s physical constitution that requires or allows for the consumption of meat?

The Flood radically altered the environment, of course, so perhaps man needs the protein and other nutrients meat provides (but that vegetables don’t) in order to endure the climate change.]

The LORD makes it very clear that He requires a “reckoning” for blood shed; people must punish murderers with death (vv. 5-6a).

What is the ultimate reason for such finality?

Anyone who murders another human being destroys one who has great dignity and worth in God’s eyes; therefore, he must forfeit his own life as payment (v. 6b).

God then reiterates His command to Noah and his sons: “Propagate the species” (v. 7).

Noah, the Ark, and the Rainbow

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The Noahic Covenant

After relating their role (“And as for you”), Elohim informs Noah and his sons what He plans to do (“And as for me”): establish a covenant with them as well as with every creature never again to destroy the earth with a flood [vv. 8-11].

As the sign of this covenant, God puts a bow in the cloud so that He might “remember” that this pact with man and beast is “everlasting” (vv. 12-17).

[Verses twelve through seventeen contain significant repetition:

“covenant between Me and you” (v. 12);

“covenant between Me and the earth” (v. 13);

“My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh” (v. 15);

“the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth” (v. 16);

“covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth’’ (v. 17)].

Noah’s sons—Shem, Ham, and Japheth—begin to repopulate the whole earth (vv. 18-19).

The Fruit of the Vine

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The Curse on Ham, Noah's Son

The author relates a short story that affords an embarrassing glimpse into Noah’s post-diluvian life, and reveals the differing characters of his sons.

It highlights Ham’s action after finding his farmer-father, drunk and naked, in his tent (vv. 20-21).

[Did Noah know about alcohol?]

Rather than showing him respect by covering him up (as Shem and Japheth did without looking at his body), Ham gazes upon his father, leaves the tent, and tells his brothers (possibly in an improper way) about their father’s antics/bad example (vv. 22-23; cf. Lev. 18: 6, 7).

Verse twenty-four hints that Ham, the future father of Canaan, may have done more to his father than just look at him.

Regardless of all the facts, when Noah becomes sober, he curses Ham’s son Canaan, making him a slave of his brethren (v. 25).

On the other hand, he blesses both Shem and Japheth with growth, fellowship together, and mastery over Canaan (vv. 26-27).

Verses twenty-eight and twenty-nine finalize the account, announcing how long Noah lived after the Flood and when he died.

Noah and His Sons

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The Table of Nations

Genesis 10

The third toledoth appears in verse one, signaling the genealogies of Noah’s sons and the so-called "Table of Nations."

Interestingly, the list of Japheth’s sons precedes Shem’s; the end of this chapter discusses Shem’s descendants, lending itself to another toledoth in chapter eleven.

The author lists Japheth’s seven boys (v. 2), but names grandsons from only two of them—Gomer and Javan (vv. 3-4).

The peoples from whom these men have sprung inhabit the Gentile coastland, their disparate languages separating them from their brethren (v. 5).

[Gomer is modern-day Germany, and Javan is Greece.

Tubal and Meshech may be in Russia].

Son of Cush


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Sons of Ham

Ham’s brood comes next; four sons assemble around his table (v. 6).

Moses (the author) first mentions the five sons of one of Ham’s sons—Cush—, and then two great-grandsons (v. 7).

He particularly focuses upon a son of Cush omitted from the list—Nimrod—who became a noteworthy hunter of old (vv. 8-9).

King Nimrod founded Babel in Shinar (v. 10), Nineveh in Assyria (v. 11), and other prominent cities (v. 12).

Another son of Ham—Mizraim (Egypt)—begets six sons, one of whom develops into the Philistines (vv. 13-14).

A third son—Canaan—begets the various families which the sons of Shem would dispossess during the Conquest of the Land (vv. 15-18).

The author provides the dimensions of the border of the Canaanites (v. 19), and concludes his discussion of the sons of Ham (v. 20).

[He does not mention Ham’s fourth son Put at all].

Employing the same format, the author finally delineates Shem’s genealogy, mentioning first his five sons (vv. 21-22), but focusing on only two of them: Aram and Arphaxad (vv. 23-24).

The latter’s grandson, Eber, begets two sons—Peleg (“Division”) and Joktan (Arabia) (v. 25).

[Peleg was living when the Tower of Babel incident took place.]

Joktan begets thirteen sons whose dwelling places the text indicates (vv. 26-30).

As Shem’s genealogy ends (v. 31), so does the listing of the families of the sons of Noah (v. 32).

© 2013 glynch1

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      graceinus 3 years ago from those of the Ekklesia

      glynch1. I am glad to see that you have mentioned the animals of the earth being included in the Noahic covenant. As it is mentioned in Gensis 9: 9-17. This is the only time I am aware of where the animals of the earth are included in a covenant God made with man.

      Good Hub's thanks for sharing.

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