Shem (Semites) (26 nations)

10:30-31 – “The region where they lived stretched from Mesha toward Sephar, in the eastern hill country.  These are the sons of Shem by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations.”



































Land of Shem and his cities, Genesis 10:21




Shem was the ancestor of all the sons of Eber” –

·         The focus is on the sons of  Eber

·         The word “Hebrew” comes from “Eber” or the “Eberites”

·         Abraham is six generations from Eber and is still known as a “Hebrew” (Gen.11:16-26)

·         Abraham lived around the Canaanite town of Hebron


Who is the oldest brother?


  1. Elam
    1. Located in the mountainous region east of the Tigris-Euphrates Valley in what is now modern southwest Iran.
    2. Susa was its ancient capital
    3. Archaeologists used to think this land was originally settled by Ham but they have recently discovered that the earliest inhabitants of this area were Semites or from Shem.
    4. Abraham will fight with a coalition of kings that include the King of Elam (Southwest Iran) in Gen.14:1, 9)
    5. Elam is situated along side the descendents of Ham: Babylon, Assyria
    6. The descendants of Shem in Elam were replaced by Ham
  2. Asshur
    1. Located on the Upper Tigris River in northern Mesopotamia in what is now modern Iraq.
    2. Asshur gives the name to the Assyrian people or the land of Asshur or Assyria.
    3. This also appears in Ham’s line (10:11).
    4. So both Ham and Shem’s line converged in the land of Asshur and became the Assyrians.
  3. Arphaxad
    1. Possibly the Babylonians since the last Hebrew letters of Arphaxad, “ksd”, are the letters in the word “Chaldean” or “kasdim”
    2. The exact information is still a mystery
    3. Josephus says that from Arphaxad the Chaldeans were called “Arphaxadaeans”
  4. Lud
    1. Lud is also mentioned in 10:16 in Ham’s line
    2. The Ludites are location and people are still unknown.
  5. Aram
    1. The Greeks call Aram “Syria”
    2. The prophet Amos says Aram came out of Kir which is located in the area of Elam or Assyria (Amos 1:5). Amos 9:7 places Aram as a Shemite neighbor of Elam
    3. Abraham would consider the people of Aram in the area of Haran as his relatives when looking for a wife for Isaac.
    4. Jacob is called “a wandering Aramean” in Deut. 26:5
    5. The name “Aram” comes up again in the genealogy of Nahor the brother of Abraham in Gen. 22:21.
    6. Aram then migrated west and became the Arameans (Syrians)
  6. Uz
    1. One of four descendants of Aram
    2. He is the head of the Aramean tribes
    3. Like Aram, the name of Uz will again surface in the genealogy of Nahor, Abraham’s brother in 22:21.
    4. Job was a descendent of Uz living in the land of Uz and appears to be in the east (of Midian and Egypt) in the Arabian desert
    5. Uz and Edom are interdependent in Lamentations 4:21 and Jeremiah 25:20-21
    6. A man by the name of Uz from Edom is the son of a Horite chieftain living at Seir in Gen. 36:28-29
    7. The Uz of Aram and the Uz associated with Edom may or may not be the same.  Uz may have settled south of their father Aram making the two the same.
  7. Hul
    1. Second of four descendants of Aram
    2. Unidentified
    3. Probably became an Aramean city.
  8. Gether
    1. Third of four descendants of Aram
    2. Unidentified
    3. Probably became a city in Aram
  9. Meshech
    1. Fourth of four descendants of Aram
    2. Sounds like the same word as the Meshech in the line of Japheth but it is a different people.   This Hebrew word is spelled “mas” or “Mash”
    3. It may refer to the “Masa” in central Asia Minor known to us by the Hittite texts.
    4. This probably refers to Lebanon
  10. Shelah
    1. The son of Arphaxad
    2. Shelah is the  father of Eber
    3. His name appears in the families of the people of Judah
  11. Eber
    1. Eber has two sons:  Peleg and Joktan
    2. Peleg’s name comes along with a etymological comment
    3. Joktan’s name is followed by 13 descendants
    4. Eber is the origin of the name given to Abraham and his descendants: Eberites or Hebrews.
    5. It is interesting to note that the name Eber has been discovered to have been a proper name in use around 2300 BC.  Ebrum (Eber) was the name of a king of Elba in the second half of the third century BC.
  12. Peleg
    1. 10:25 – “One was named Peleg, because in his time the earth was divided.”
    2. Peleg’s name is accompanied by an explanation of its etymological meaning.
    3. The name Peleg (“peleg” or “p-l-g” in Hebrew) has a similar sound and spelling as “divided” (“niplega” or “nplg” in Hebrew”)
    4. The mention of this event ties Peleg to a specific event
    5. This word for “divided” is used in:

                                                               i.      Psalm 1:3 where it refers to the noun for “channel” or “stream”.  This meaning is well attested in Hebrew.

                                                             ii.      Job 38:25 it is used for digging a channel for rainwater

                                                            iii.      Psalm 55:9, “divided” is used in a curse on the wicked that would “confuse” or “divide” their speech: “Confuse the wicked, O Lord, confound their speech, for I see violence (hamas) and strife in the city.”

    1. A direct connection to the Tower of Babel in chapter 11 is assumed but this word for “divided” (“niplega”) is not the same word as “scattered” (“pus”) of chapter 11.
    2. The word “earth” refers to “land” and can be translated that way.  This would then be saying, “In Peleg’s day the channels of water divided the earth”.
    3. The event would have taken place around the time of Peleg’s birth causing Eber to name his son after the event.
    4. This event clearly involved a division of land or people.  The options are:

                                                               i.      Division of people at the Tower of Babel

                                                             ii.      Division of the land or earth with earthquakes followed by water filling in the divisions.

                                                            iii.      The separation of the people of Eber from the rest of the line of Shem or the separation of Peleg from Joktan.

                                                            iv.      Or, Peleg may have been a cultural hero who originated or made popular the digging of cannels to irrigate the land

  1. Joktan
    1. Joktan means “the younger son”
    2. The names of his sons are Arabian groups.
  2. Almodad
    1. A southern Arabian people
    2. Southern Yemen
  3. Sheleph
    1. The same as the Arabian Salaf or Salif
    2. This occurs in Sabean inscriptions as the name of a Yemenite district.
  4. Hazarmaveth
    1. Settled in the Wadi Hadramaut in south west Arabia east of Yemen
    2. Their capital was Shabwa
  5. Jerah
    1. May be related to a people close to Hazarmaveth
  6. Hadoram
    1. Located in Yemen
    2. Possibl the modern site Dauram inYemen
  7. Uzal
    1. A in the neighborhood of Medina called Azalla
  8. Diklah
    1. Diklah means “date-palm grove” and refers to some oasis filled with palms
  9. Obal
    1. An unknown Arabian group
  10. Abimael
    1. unknown
  11. Sheba
    1. Sabeans dwelling in the southwest corner of the Arabian Peninsula
  12. Ophir
    1. Located in Arabia and across the Red Sea into Africa
    2. Source of good gold pursued by Solomon and Jehoshaphat
  13. Havilah
    1. West coast of Arabia
  14. Jobab
    1. Located near Mecca






Genesis 11:1-9  - The City of Babel


This account of the city of Babel and its tower is placed in scripture between the two sons of Eber: Joktan and Peleg.


The account of Babel follows the line of Jaktan and reflects the conflict man has with God.

The account that follows Peleg and his line is the account of Abram which reflects the life of faith and obedience to God.


God has a plan for man beginning in Genesis 1 that:

But man continues to refuse to trust God and instead tries to create his own good.

This is what happened in the garden.

God had told man to fill the earth.  Fill the land of blessing and receive the good things God has prepared.

Instead men gathered in Babel to create a city and seek what they thought was good.



Notice men moved east which means they had been in the land west of Babel.

Since Genesis 4 moving east has been an indication of men leaving the land of blessing:


There are several word plays and rhymes in this short story.

It is written full of irony and sarcasm as if mocking the men of Babel.

God has forced his way into the story so as to make it impossible to retell it with out including him while at the same time reducing the men of Babel to the level of helpless fools.


Some word plays:

  1. “nilbenah” is what the men say – “let us build”
  2. “nabelah” is what the Lord says – “let us confuse”


  1. The men seek a “name” or “fame” in 11:4 but by 11:9 that “name” or “fame” is the embarrassment of being called forever “Babel”


  1. “place” in 11:2,7,8


  1. Men try to build to heaven but God comes down from heaven


  1. “Babel” is the name of the city but God will “confuse” (“balal”) their language



Two Hebrew words:

  1. “z-m-m” means “purpose, devise”
  2. “b-ts-r” means “be impossible”
  3. Together they mean do whatever the person wants to do
  4. In Job 42:2 it refers to God and says he can do exactly as he pleases.
  5. When applied to men it reflects what the Greeks called “hubris” or “outrageous arrogance”
  6. The tower of Babel was an act of “hubris” where men thought they could do whatever they wanted to.  This attitude always leads to destruction.  It can be done by a person or an empire.


The people of Babel had united language, collective knowledge, a common goal.

The result of unity is great achievement.

Our nation could solve a lot of problems if we could unite, but the division we face will be our judgment.


The people of Babel lost:

  1. Their labor force
  2. Their collective knowledge

The result was the building of the city of Babel stopped.  It will be completed by Rev. 18