Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. sons of Noah--The historian has not arranged this catalogue
according to seniority of birth; for the account begins with the
descendants of Japheth, and the line of Ham is given before that of
Shem though he is expressly said to be the youngest or younger son of
Noah; and Shem was the elder brother of Japheth
the true rendering of that passage.
generations, &c.--the narrative of the settlement of nations
existing in the time of Moses, perhaps only the principal ones; for
though the list comprises the sons of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, all
their descendants are not enumerated. Those descendants, with one
or two exceptions, are described by names indicative of tribes and
nations and ending in the Hebrew im, or the English "-ite."
5. the isles of the Gentiles--a phrase by which the Hebrews
described all countries which were accessible by sea
(Isa 11:11; 20:6;
Such in relation to them were the countries of Europe, the peninsula of
Lesser Asia, and the region lying on the east of the Euxine.
Accordingly, it was in these quarters the early descendants of Japheth
had their settlements.
6. sons of Ham--emigrated southward, and their settlements were:
Cush in Arabia, Canaan in the country known by his name, and Mizraim in
Egypt, Upper and Lower. It is generally thought that his father
accompanied him and personally superintended the formation of the
settlement, whence Egypt was called "the land of Ham"
[Ps 105:23, 27; 106:22].
8. Nimrod--mentioned as eclipsing all his family in renown. He
early distinguished himself by his daring and successful prowess in
hunting wild beasts. By those useful services he earned a title to
public gratitude; and, having established a permanent ascendancy over
the people, he founded the first kingdom in the world
10. the beginning of his kingdom--This kingdom, of course,
though then considered great, would be comparatively limited in extent,
and the towns but small forts.
11. Out of that land went forth Asshur--or, as the Margin
has it, "He [Nimrod] at the head of his army went forth into Assyria,"
that is, he pushed his conquests into that country.
and builded Nineveh--opposite the town of Mosul, on the Tigris,
and the other towns near it. This raid into Assyria was an invasion of
the territories of Shem, and hence the name "Nimrod," signifying
"rebel," is supposed to have been conferred on him from his daring
revolt against the divine distribution.
21. Unto Shem--The historian introduces him with marked
distinction as "the father of Eber," the ancestor of the Hebrews.
23. Aram--In the general division of the earth, the countries of
Armenia, Mesopotamia, and Syria, fell to his descendants.
24. Arphaxad--The settlement of his posterity was in the
extensive valley of Shinar, on the Tigris, towards the southern
extremity of Mesopotamia, including the country of Eden and the region
on the east side of the river.
25. Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided--After the
the descendants of Noah settled at pleasure and enjoyed the produce of
the undivided soil. But according to divine instruction, made probably
through Eber, who seems to have been distinguished for piety or a
prophetic character, the earth was divided and his son's name, "Peleg,"
was given in memory of that event (see
32. These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their
generations, in their nations, &c.--This division was made in the
most orderly manner; and the inspired historian evidently intimates
that the sons of Noah were ranged according to their nations, and every
nation ranked by its families, so that every nation had its assigned
territory, and in every nation the tribes, and in every tribe the
families, were located by themselves.