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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“These are the clans of Noah’s sons, according to their lines of descent, within their nations. From these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.”—Genesis 10:32 (NIV)
After the flood, Noah, his wife, his sons, and his sons’ wives were the only people alive. They were responsible for the survival and expansion of the human race. They were the ones who repopulated the earth; out of them every nation sprang forth.
Genesis 10 is essentially an ancestry trace where we see the post-flood expansion of humanity from eight people to 70 families—around 800–1,200 people by the time we arrive at Genesis 11 and the Tower of Babel, a little over 100 years after the flood. Just think about this for a second: You are a descendent of Noah through one of his sons.
Japheth’s descendants migrated toward Europe, while Ham’s ventured into Africa and some believe India. Shem’s family stayed in the Middle East region for the most part. Thus, it’s believed by many that the eventual European settlers who came to the Americas were likely descendants of Japheth. There is some interesting, though nowhere near definitive, linguistic evidence pointing to the native tribes of the Americas possibly being descendants of Ham by way of West Africa. As Bodie Hodge, of Answers in Genesis, points out, “The farther away from Babel people traveled, the more likely the descendants were to ‘pick up the torch’ and continue moving about and filling the earth as per Genesis 9:1. Certain descendants of Noah, perhaps those listed in Genesis 10, would travel only so far, but their descendants were the ones to pick up tent and keep moving.”
One thing you may notice as you read through this entire chapter’s worth of names is that of Noah’s three sons, the one who seems to have the largest family is Ham, the son Noah cursed for his actions in Genesis 9. From Ham came the Canaanites, Egyptians, Philistines, Ninevites, Babylonians, Amorites, and the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Some of the most powerful foes of God’s people sprang forth from the cursed son of Noah.
But what family did God’s people come from? Well, they came from Shem (through Peleg), who Noah blesses along with Japheth. About Shem, he said, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem” (Genesis 9:26 NIV). We eventually see this play out through the children of Abraham, Shem’s descendants.
I hope this brief look into the family tree of Noah—and by extension your family tree—has inspired you. As a member of the family of faith, the children of God, I pray you will pass on your family legacy to your children and others, just as the ancient biblical writers did.
DIG: Why do we see genealogies like this in the Bible?
DISCOVER: How often do you think about where you came from?
DO: Share the legacy of your faith family with a brother or sister today. Reminisce about your journey to becoming part of this family. Reflect on how God adopted you and how He’s used you since then.
Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.