Re: [asa] A question on Genesis

From: gordon brown <Gordon.Brown@Colorado.EDU>
Date: Mon Mar 23 2009 - 23:30:34 EDT

On Sat, 21 Mar 2009, Preston Garrison wrote:

> All,
>
> This may be off topic, unless Biblical studies can be considered something of
> a science, but such things have been discussed here before, so here goes.
>
> Has anyone else noticed that multiple languages are already mentioned among
> the descendants of Jephthah in Genesis 10:5, nearly a full chapter before the
> story of Babel, which concerns Nimrod, a descendant of Ham.
>
> From the NASV:
>
> "From these [the descendents of Jephthah], the coastlands of the nations were
> separated into their lands, EVERY ONE ACCORDING TO HIS LANGUAGE, according to
> their families, and into their nations."
>
> The rest of chapter 10 concerns the descendants of Ham, one of whom was
> Nimrod. His kingdom and the Babel story are described in chapter 11:1-9. Then
> the descendants of Shem are described in 11:10-32.
>
> It starts to look like to me that Genesis 11 didn't originally refer to a
> univeral unity of language - the unity described was something that was
> imposed by the conquests of Nimrod.
>
> It was the working out of the curse on Ham. They were cursed by getting an
> able, effective and violent leader who unified them, conquered surrounding
> tribes and imposed the same language on all of them, which was followed by
> unified rebellion against God and the resulting judgement.
>
> Insert the usual admission that I haven't been to seminary, and I have no
> idea what I am talking about.
>
> Let the expertise commence.
>
> Preston

It is not surprising that Genesis 10 and 11 give rise to much speculation,
but I think that what you suggest about Nimrod is less likely to be true
than the rest of your scenario. As for the rest, in Gen. 11:1 we do have
the question as to whether 'erets means land or earth. In Gen. 11:2, who
did the migrating? No noun or pronoun to tell us, just a third person
masculine plural inflectional ending.

The Expositor's Bible Commentary proposes that it was descendants of Shem
who moved into a plain in Shinar. Chapter 10 begins with the descendants
of Japheth and their dispersal with their various languages. This is
followed by a similar discussion of the descendants of Ham. Then the same
things are said of Shem's descendants. However, after mentioning Peleg and
Joktan, only the descendants of Joktan are mentioned. The descendants of
Peleg are not given until after the account of the Tower of Babel. In this
account the people are said to want to make a name (Heb. shem) for
themselves.

Gordon Brown (ASA member)

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Received on Mon Mar 23 23:31:04 2009

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