19/04/19 Genesis 10:6-20 “The rebellious nations of Ham”


Genesis 10:6And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.


Ham – “hot”

Cush – “black” – Ethiopia. Translated Ethiopia in Genesis 2:13. Could represent much of the African nations. The meaning “black” could refer to the colour of the soil, according to some, although many believe that Ham may have been dark-skinned and belonged to warm to hot climate areas.

Mizraim – “land of the Copts” – Egypt. Mostly translated “Egypt” throughout the Old Testament.

Phut – “a bow” – a nation and people of northern Africa; probably Libyans. Northern Africa and probably into Sinai area. Translated “Phut” in Ezekiel 27:10, yet translated “Libya” in Ezekiel 30:5; 38:5. Translated “Put” in Nahum 3:9.


CanaanKᵉna‘an  “lowland” – Canaan, the land west of Jordan. Known as traders, and translated “merchant” in Hosea 12:7. Used for both “Canaan” and “traffick” in Ezekiel.

Ezekiel 16:29aThou hast moreover multiplied thy fornication in the land of Canaan (Kᵉna‘an) unto Chaldea;

Ezekiel 17:4He cropped off the top of his young twigs, and carried it into a land of traffick (Kᵉna‘an); he set it in a city of merchants (rakal – trafficker; trader).  rᵉkullah of Ezekiel 28:16 (merchandise; traffick; trade) is the passive participle form of rakal.

Kᵉna‘an is translated “traffickers” in Isaiah 23:8

Satan was also a merchant, a trafficker, a merchandiser, although a different word (rakal) is used here for traffick.

Ezekiel 28:16By the multitude of thy merchandise (rᵉkullah – merchandise; traffic; trade) they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.

Yet rᵉkullah is translated “traffick” in Ezekiel 28:5. rᵉkullah (merchandise; traffick) is used for “merchant” in Ezekiel 17:4 above in relation to Canaan being translated as “traffick”.


So what does all this mean? It is clear that Canaan was a trading nation. It included Sidon (son of Canaan Genesis 10:15) and Tyre, both major trading cities, and most likely also included Phoenicia which used Sidon, Tyre and Carthage as major trading cities. Phoenicia generally inhabited the coastal areas of northern Israel and into Lebanon, also generally accepted as Canaanite land. (Some believe that the Phoenicians actually came from Bahrain but there is little evidence to support this.) The Phoenicians were a major trading conglomerate, at one stage even challenging Rome (Hannibal and the Carthaginians). It is quite possible that the Phoenicians ultimately became the founders of that great trading city Venice (cf Venetians), although many maintain that it was founded by local Romans seeking refuge from Germanic and Hun invasions.


Satan was also a trader, it being his trading that got him into trouble in the first place (Ezekiel 28:16). The similarities between Canaan and satan should be noted; a logical connection may be assumed between them. Also note that most of the serious opposers of God’s people in the Old Testament were descended from Ham and particularly Canaan.


Genesis 10:7And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtecha: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan.


Seba – Some say that this is the Sheba of the Arabian Peninsula, but that must belong to a son of Joktan. The 13 sons of Joktan appear to have settled the Arabian Peninsula and so it is unlikely that any of Ham’s descendants also settled there in their own right. Therefore I make the assumption (along with a number of commentaries) that while some names are similar or the same in both Shem and Ham genealogies, each must be different. The exception does appear to be Asshur who does appear to be of Shem’s line (more on this in Vs 11 below).

Havilah – Not likely to be the same as Havilah in Genesis 10:29 although some say it is a part of that area. However, one source says they are of the African tribe Avalitae just south of the Babelmandeb Strait between Yemen and Djibouti.

Sabtah – Appear to be associated with Ethiopia or Ethiopian people.


Raamah – Some say that it is on the SE corner of Arabia, but uncertain. Ezekiel 27:22 says that Sheba and Raamah are traders with Tyre. This could imply that Sheba and Raamah are near each other, but would also mean that either 2 Sheba nations existed in Arabia (possible) but it is also possible that Raamah was elsewhere, such as Ramah in Israel (of Benjamin). Or Raamah is around northern Ethiopia near the African Sheba just north of Ethiopia (see below).

Sabtecha – Said to be Nigritia (Negroland) Sth of the Sahara.

Sheba – Probably Meroe, just Nth of Ethiopia. It is on the edge of Butana, a region in the Sudan. The city of Moroe was originally named Saba or Seba after Sheba the son of Cush (Wikipedia). It was almost surrounded by various branches of the Nile. The people of Sheba may have come from around Ethiopia (cf the queen of Sheba?).

Dedan – Could be in Arabia near Edom, but otherwise uncertain.


To add to the confusion, there was also a Sheba and a Dedan born to Jokshan, son of Abraham and Keturah (Genesis 25:1-3). And some of the pre-flood names were doubled up as well, plus in other areas. So it is quite likely that some names were doubled up here, especially noting that at this time they probably still all spoke the same language. It is also to be expected that the descendants of Cush would settle near Ethiopia, Cush being an old name for Ethiopia.


Genesis 10:8And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth.


Of course, this may well have been before the tower of Babel and therefore these nations could have come into being after they split up due to the confusion of languages. Nimrod is not mentioned in Vs 7 above, so it is likely that he is singled out as greater than the others. It is possible that Nimrod was not an actual son of Cush, but a male descendant from the line of Cush; thus he could have been a grandson or maybe even a great-grandson.


Nimrod – “rebellion” or “valiant” – thus Nimrod was a rebel. He was a mighty one; that is, he was one who prevailed, a fighter who defeated others. He appears to have been somewhat like Lamech of Genesis 4:19-24, a strong and mighty man who used his strength to take control of those around him, a bully!

He began to be a mighty one – see Genesis 10:10aAnd the beginning of his kingdom was Babel. It is likely to mean that Nimrod was the start of a mighty kingdom which commenced with Babel (where the tower would be built later on) and, we may assume, would continue along the lines of family descent. Nimrod, who was born of the family of Cush, probably started the first empire the world would ever know.


Genesis 10:9He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.


Nimrod was a mighty hunter – Benson says: In the Septuagint it is, He was a giant hunter: — the Arabic has it, He was a terrible giant before the Lord: and the Syriac, He was a great warrior. …. Thus he became a mighty hunter, a violent invader of his neighbours’ rights and properties.

It is probable that Nimrod not only used his hunting skills on animals over which mankind was to have dominion, but also used his power and strength to control (by violence if necessary) others of mankind. That is, he could probably be defined as a dictator.

He became a mighty hunter before the Lord – His hunting prowess and skill became the standard by which other hunters would be measured. This is like a proverb that sets the standard that must be aspired to by some.


Genesis 10:10And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.


Babel – built on both sides of the Euphrates River. Some say that it was originally named Babilu which could have been Assyrian for Gate of God, or Gateway to God. This of course could easily refer to the tower of Babel which was to be built on a plain in the land of Shinar (Genesis 11:1-9). Babel in Hebrew means “confusion” which is what God did with their languages at Babel (Genesis 11:9 – balal means confuse or confound). It is possible that the name “Babel” came to mean “confusion” to the Hebrews because of this.


Erech – Said to be about 125km south of Babylon. Ellicott says: “At the time of the opening of the Izdubar legends, the great city of the south of Babylonia was Urak, called in Genesis Erech” (Chald. Gen., p. 192). It was ravaged by Kudur-nankhunte, king of Elam, in the year B.C. 2280, according to an inscription of Assurbanipal (B.C. 670). It lies about thirty leagues to the south-east of Babylon, and is now called Warka. From the numerous mounds and remains of coffins discovered there, it is supposed to have been the early burial-place of the Assyrian kings.

Warka was said to be the chief place of worship for Anu and Istar (Babylonian gods) and the scene of the exploits of Gilgamesh (a mythical character much like Ulysses, who was known as Odysseus).


Accad – a city of northern Babylonia, the throne of Sargon I around 2000 BC (give or take a hundred years or two). He was the ruler of the Accadian dynasty until the Sumerians took over. The Accadians were allegedly a black-skinned race who would have been unknown if it hadn’t been for one fact: they were the inventors of the cuneiform system of writing which was to become the standard form of written word for that part of the world.


Calneh – A place said to be near Babylon but uncertain.

Not likely to be the Calneh of Amos 6:2aPass ye unto Calneh, and see; and from thence go ye to Hamath the great: then go down to Gath of the Philistines:


the land of Shinar – may be identified with the land that contains the 4 cities named in this verse: Babylonia.

Thus Nimrod commenced building his empire with the land of Shinar which would then lead to the building of the tower at Babel which then would lead to the various nations scattering out from this apparently central location.


Genesis 10:11Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah,


Or rather, Nimrod who began his kingdom with the cities of Babylonia (in the land of Shinar) then went forth out of that land of Shinar into Asshur (or Assyria) and took it by force (Nimrod’s classic bully approach) from those who had already established it (Asshur of the family of Shem). Thus Assyria, while named after Asshur of Shem, was to become a nation belonging to Ham’s descendants.

Assyria is known as the land of Nimrod. Micah 5:6And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof: thus shall he deliver [us] from the Assyrian, when he cometh into our land, and when he treadeth within our borders.

If Assyria existed before Nimrod’s arrival, it clearly didn’t have Nineveh nor any of the other cities named here.


Nineveh – Situated on the eastern bank of the Tigris River.

Rehoboth – Probably on the opposite (western) bank of the Tigris River. Probably where Mosul is today.

Calah – on the Tigris River about 30km south of Nineveh. It is probably associated with an archaeological site later named as Nimrud (after Nimrod in Genesis 10).


Genesis 10:12And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same [is] a great city.


Resen – “springhead” – Nothing much is known about it except that it was between Nineveh and Calah. One source says it is Selamiyah supposedly halfway between Nineveh and Calah.


Genesis 10:13And Mizraim begat Ludim, and Anamim, and Lehabim, and Naphtuhim,


Mizraim is known as Egypt today.

Ludim – possibly inhabited the Nile valley.

Anamim – uncertain but probably inhabited Egypt, perhaps the Nile Delta? Or further south?

Lehabim – could be the Lubim (Eg 2 Chronicles 12:3) Could have lived west of the Nile Delta?

Naphtuhim – Uncertain but also could have lived near the Nile Delta (in the north).


Genesis 10:14And Pathrusim, and Casluhim, (out of whom came Philistim,) and Caphtorim.


Pathrusim – Probably the people of Pathros, along the Nile of upper Egypt, between Cairo and Aswan. The southern people.

Casluhim – Probably on the eastern edge of the Nile Delta. Or perhaps next to the Red Sea?

Philistim – “immigrants”, “aliens”, “foreigners” The Philistines of the Old Testament most likely came from Mizraim, but whether it was Casluhim or Caphtorim is disputed. Eg Amos 9:7 says that the Philistines were from Caphtor. Other sources have the Philistines from Cyprus (which was originally known as “Kition”, or kittim).The Kittim (or “Chittim” link then suggests a descendant of Japheth! – Genesis 10:4).

Caphtorim – Usually associated with Crete.

All these places are around the area of Mizraim – Egypt.


Genesis 10:15And Canaan begat Sidon his firstborn, and Heth,


The descendants of Cush settled around middle Africa and possibly the south of Arabia, and the descendants of Mizraim around Egypt and northern Africa and possibly into the Mediterranean (Crete). Phut and his descendants appear to have stayed around Libya (as no more mention is made of his genealogy). But it’s Canaan that is the most interesting in this line-up from Ham. Canaan settled in the area we would generally call Israel and Philistia, away from the other sons of Ham who were generally settled in northern to middle Africa. The people of Canaan appear to have spoken Syriac, a semitic language along with Aramaic and Arabian. Note the following where both Syriac and Hebrew words are used for the same thing.

Genesis 31:47And Laban called it Jegarsahadutha: but Jacob called it Galeed.


Jegarsahadutha – witness heap (Syriac)

Galeed – witness heap (Hebrew)

All of Canaan’s descendants may be found in Canaan, the land given to the Hebrews after they left Egypt.

Sidon – this was on the coast about 50km north of Tyre. Both places were visited by Jesus. Matthew 15:21Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. Both places were fishing and trading cities.

Heth – the Hittites. They occupied northern Lebanon, Syria and much of Turkey. Carchemish on the Euphrates was their capital for a while.

2 Chronicles 35:20After all this, when Josiah had prepared the temple, Necho king of Egypt came up to fight against Carchemish by Euphrates: and Josiah went out against him.

Genesis 15:20 says that the land of the Hittites was part of the land that God had promised Abraham to give to Israel, along with the nations listed in the next few verses. They are all Canaanites, yet in many lists the Canaanites are a separate nation from the others.


Genesis 10:16And the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite,


Jebusite – Probably the original nation in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:6), later to become part of Benjamin’s territory. Also note Genesis 14:18And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he [was] the priest of the most high God.

Promised to Abraham in Genesis 15:21.

Amorite – a strong nation like the Hittites. They are recorded as having 5 kings (Joshua 10:5) where a king was probably the ruler of a city. Promised to Abraham in Genesis 15:21.

Girgasite – a nation of Canaan but geographical position uncertain. (Land) promised to Abraham in Genesis 15:21 (spelled Girgashites).


Genesis 10:17And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite,


Hivite – dwelt at Shechem (Manasseh in northern Israel) according to Genesis 33:18-34:2. Other references suggest northern Israel. Joshua 9:7 suggests they lived further south, that is, to the west of Gibeon!

Arkite – said to be a Phoenician tribe in the south of Lebanon.

Sinite – said to have lived near the Arkites.


Genesis 10:18And the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad.


Arvadite – said to be on an island (Arvad) off the coast about 160km north of Sidon. Known as Arwad on the isle of Ruad today.

Zemarite – probably a coastal nation near Arvad in what would later be known as Phoenicia.

Hamathite – the town of Hama in Syria today.

Other nations are listed as Canaanites but not here. Abraham was promised the following list of Canaanite nations:

Genesis 15:19-2119The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, 20And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, 21And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

As far as I know, other lists also vary.


Genesis 10:19And 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.


Sidon – northern coast of Israel.

Gerar – in the south (Negev) of Israel between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean.

Gaza – on the coast west of Gerar, a city of the Philistines.

Sodom – said to be near (east of?) the Dead Sea somewhere.

Gomorrah – said to be near (east of?) the Dead Sea somewhere.

Admah – supposed to be south of the Dead Sea. Associated with the other cities east and south of the Dead Sea.

Zeboim – said to be south of Admah and a long way south of the Dead Sea.


The cities east and south of the Dead Sea (Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim) were clearly in an alliance with each other.

Genesis 14:1-31And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; 2[That these] made war with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. 3All these were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea.


Lasha – some say Lasha was with the Dead Sea alliance of kings, and probably was actually Zoar, but others say, more logically, that it is Laish, a city that Dan conquered in the far north of Israel (Judges 18). This would make the land of the Canaanites roughly the same shape as the land shared out to the tribes of Israel, but far short of the total area originally promised by God to Abraham.

This outline only goes as far north as Sidon, while many Canaanites (Eg Hittites) lived further north. However, the nations further north may have been more nomadic than the ones further south.

This is not the border of the future Israel as promised to Abraham in Genesis 15:18 where those borders were from the River Nile to the Euphrates River, a far wider area than Canaan inhabited.


Genesis 10:20These [are] the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, [and] in their nations.


These are the cities and nations of Ham, son of Noah. Note that most of the opposition to God’s people in the Old Testament came from the nations of Ham, places like Egypt (Mizraim), Canaan, Babylon, Nineveh, Syria, Assyria, and the Philistines. It is really no co-incidence that so many would want to destroy the genealogical line from which would come Christ who would defeat satan. After all, destroy the ancestor and the descendant cannot exist! Just note the number of occasions in the Bible where other nations tried to either totally control or even destroy God’s people.


And Noah said, “Cursed be Canaan!” (Genesis 9:25) but notice that in Genesis 9 Canaan is used in place of Ham. Ham must still be involved, or otherwise Ham is totally left out of the cursing/blessing of Noah, and this couldn’t be so. We can therefore assume that Noah may have meant, “Cursed be Ham, especially those born of Canaan!”


To Genesis page


To Sermons & Messages page


To Calvinist Heresies page


To Posts / Blog / News page


List of all my posts on this site


Hoppers Crossing Christian Church homepage