Genesis 10

These toledot include the names of places, and of tribes and groups, some already familiar to us. There is overlap and repetition, reflecting the interleaving of the competing sources. From an old perspective in Palestine or Iraq, this was a recital of the surrounding places and peoples.

Have you tried the map exercise of Adam Shoalts? Start drawing a map of your home country and people, and neighbours – see what you omit or exaggerate. Then start again, with a bigger picture, more inclusive. It’s a story about what matters, not simply what exists.

Here’s an account of how the nations relate to their common origins: Shem, associated with places and peoples of Asia, Ham associated with places and peoples of Africa, and Japheth associated with places and peoples of Europe – their clan-groupings, by their nations.

One vicious line of interpretation applied a race bias against Africans – but the original affirmed ‘our’ Asian lineage from Shem, denigrating both Europeans and Africans! If the alternative theology is that different Gods created different peoples from different soils, this myth offers a greater source of common humanity, while recognizing ethnic and regional associations.