One Race, Many Nations

All humans are descendants of Adam and Noah

The first 11 chapters of Genesis are an account of early human history, beginning with God‘s creation of Adam and Eve, and continuing until the birth of Abraham, about 2000 BC. The rest of Genesis (chapters 12-50), is about the beginning and early history of the nation of Israel. This lesson briefly examines the table of nations descended from the three sons of Noah (Genesis chapter 10). Then, attention is given to the building of the tower of babel, and God‘s scattering of people over the earth by confusing their language, as the means to having the earth populated with people. In conclusion, the lesson looks at the ancestral roots of Abraham.


A. Descendants of Japheth and Ham

Gen 10:1  Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood.

Gen 10:2  The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras.

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

…….There is one God who made all people of one race. Act 17:26  And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;

There is one God who made from one race of people all Nations, with a common ancestry going back to Noah and Adam. This truth rules out the evil notion there are several different races of humans on earth.

In the Table of Nations in Genesis 10, Inrwin’s Bible Commentary says: “many of the names in this genealogical table are plurals; and several have the formal termination used to designate a tribe. Hence it has been thought the greater part of them are names of nations; which may, however, have been so called from their founders. These nations were early and frequently intermixed; but it is probable the descendants of Japheth occupied Armenia, the Caucasus which have 3 language groups, and Asia minor, spreading from there through Europe and the northern part of Asia and India, and perhaps to [pre-Columbian] America. Hams family took possession of the south of Mesopotamia and Arabia, and passed from there to what later was the land of Israel, and to Africa”.

The places where the descendants of the sons of Noah settled, indicates nothing of superiority or inferiority of any nation. The Bible nowhere makes skin color, or any other physical feature of humans, indicators of either the superiority or inferiority of any person. God‘s will has always been that humans should live together on earth as one people with one God-the Creator of all people as one human race. Adherence to this truth could have eliminated much human suffering in the past and could eliminate much suffering in the present.

B. Descendants of Shem

Gen 10:21  Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children born.

Gen 10:22  The children of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram.

Gen 10:32  These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood.

…….The purpose in Genesis of calling attention to the descendants of Shem was not to suggest that they possess some innate superiority to the descendents of Japheth or Ham, but in preparation for telling that Abraham and the nation of Israel (the Jews) were descendents of Shem. The Jews, whose ancestors were known as Hebrews, were descended from “Eber”, one of the descendants of Shem. In addition to the Jews, other nations descended from Shem were the Assyrians and the Syrians. The ancient descendants of Shem lived in what we call now “the Middle East.” The Canaanites, descendants of Canaan, the fourth son of Han (Genesis 10:6), were already living in Canaan when Abraham arrived there.

As the account of human history is presented in the Old Testament, from Genesis 12 onward, the man focus is on the history of Israel. This does not mean the other nations of the world were less important to God than the nation of Israel, but God chose the nation of Israel to be the people who would bring Jesus the Messiah into the world to be the Savior of all nations. Without the Old Testament and the Biblical history of Israel, there would be no Jesus the Messiah, no New Testament, and no Gospel to proclaim.


A. Self Will Expressed

Gen 11:1  And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.

Gen 11:2  And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.

Gen 11:3  And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.

Gen 11:4  And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.

…….As a child I was taught that these people were literally trying to reach heaven by means of a tower. Though the scripture states heaven, it probably meant the sky since the meaning of heaven is sky. The principal of the scripture to me is, “and let us make a name, lest we be scattered”. Questions: What kind of name were these people trying to make? What would cause these people, the soul descendants of the flood to be scattered? Another flood? The Lord Himself?

…….If we truly think about it prior to reading the next portion of scripture, and not knowing the Lord’s reaction, it’s easy to judge that these people were not relying on whatever trust they had, or should have had, in the Lord. The commentator of this lesson said, they were “Acting with arrogance and irreverence toward God, they were driven by self-will, seeking self-glory.”

B. God’s Disapproval

Gen 11:5  And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.

Gen 11:6  And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

…….It is almost as if the Lord said, I have blessed them with the ability to communicate and do great things, and this is what they had rather do with their time. Would they spend their time trying to make themselves great? And if so, greater than who since they were one people? The answer would be, greater than God. They know that the human race had been destroyed by the Lord because of sin. Is this why they wanted to make themselves great, so they could go back to sinning and have a means of protection by a great city?

Gen 11:7  Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.

Gen 11:8  So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.

Gen 11:9  Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

…….Scattered is exactly what it feels like when the child of God is in rebellion. When people are living contrary to what the Lord has planned, everything feels like it’s out of balance and out of control.

…….Human self will can never, ultimately, triumph over God’s will. Whatever their final goal would have been by building this great city, the Lord knew it would have caused greater arrogance and sinfulness. God does not tolerate rebellion in any form. When the Lord places His blessings on our lives, if not used with the intention of blessing and honoring Him, those blessings will be stripped. After all is stripped away, the individual and everyone around can easily see that the Lord does not let His favor spoil. These people were blessed with the means of communication and used it in a way of self gain and pride. Thankfully, that didn’t last forever.


A. Descendants: Shem to Terah

Gen 11:10  These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood:

Gen 11:11  And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.

…….If you read on from here to verse 26, you will find that Shem is the great grandfather of Abraham. This genealogy is important, because Abraham was the first patriarch (father) of the nation of Israel (the Jews), and Jews today respectfully regard Abraham as “the first Jew”. Christians regard Abraham as the ancient spiritual father of all who live by faith in God (Galatians 3:7). So knowing about Abraham‘s life and relationship with God is significant for both Jews and Christians.

B. Terah’s Family

Gen 11:26  And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.

Gen 11:27  Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.

Gen 11:28  And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.

Gen 11:29  And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah.

Gen 11:30  But Sarai was barren; she had no child.

…….It is important to correlate the following verse with this story to have an understanding of what is going on.

Jos 24:2  And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.

Jos 24:3  And I took your father Abraham from the other side of the flood, and led him throughout all the land of Canaan, and multiplied his seed, and gave him Isaac.

…….History has it stated that the land that Abraham came out of, Ur, worshipped false gods in extremely perverted ways. It is said that Abraham refused to worship these gods and because of that his family came under great pressure, and his father Terah made a way of escape to save his family’s life.

Gen 11:31  And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.

Gen 11:32  And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.

…….God blesses those who take the stand against sin!

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