Arphaxad & Other Locations in Genesis 10:22
Genesis 10:22, aka the Table of Nations, is a biblical chapter that tripartitions the world of the Septuagint authors into the areas Alexander the Great divided among his generals; Seleucius, Ptolemy and Lysimachus. Genesis 10 lists these divided peoples according to the LXX authors’ views as fellow Semites or sons of Noah’s first born, Shem; a region granted to Seleucius. Hamites or Africans and Egyptians as well as Canaanites were labeled as descendants of Noah’s second son, Ham which also described the area ruled by the Ptolemaic Dynasty. Mediterranean trading partners and others as Aegean Islanders, Greeks, Hittites and Armenians were viewed as offspring of Japheth, the third son of Noah. This region was granted to Lysimachus. One of the most puzzling names listed in the Table of Nations is the name Arphaxad who is listed as a son of Shem or fellow Semite. According to Genesis 10:22:
“The sons of Shem: Elam, Ashur, Arphaxad, Lud and Aram.”
So, we are looking at the area controlled by Chaldean Empire under which the Book of Genesis was written by the exiled authors who were captured by the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar II. The Chaldean Empire was essentially the Assyrio-Babylonian empire that was controlled by the Chaldeans, who had absorbed the language and culture of their predecessors. The following states bordered Chaldea: Elam was a bordering state to the East and South of the Chaldean Empire, Ashur is Assyria located to the North, Aram was located in Syria to the West around Aleppo, Lud is Lullubi located in the North in the Zargos Mountain. (Tiglath-Pileser III claims to have conquered this region). Since, Arphaxad is listed together with Ashur (Assyria) and Lud (Lullubi), it makes sense that Arphaxad was located in the North of the Chaldean Empire too. This would make Arphaxad the city of Arrapha aka Arraphkha. The second pronunciation explains the LXX (Septuagint/Koine Greek) word Arphaxad. According to Wikipedia:
“Arrapha or Arrapkha (Akkadian: Arrapha, Syriac: Garapha, Arabic: Ar Rabkha/Arafah) was an ancient city in what today is northeastern Iraq, on the site of the modern city of Kirkuk.”
Ancient Arrapkha was a part of Sargon of Akkad’s Akkadian Empire (2335–2154 BC), and city was exposed to the raids of the Lullubi during Naram-Sin’s reign.
Later the city was occupied around 2150 BC by language Isolate speaking Zagros Mountains dwellers who were known as the Gutian people by the Semitic and Sumerian of Mesopotamians. Arrapkha was the capital of the short lived Guti kingdom (Gutium), before it was destroyed and the Gutians driven from Mesopotamia by the Neo-Sumerian Empire c. 2090 BC. Arrapkha became a part of the Old Assyrian Empire (c.2025–1750 BC), before Hammurabi briefly subjected Assyria to the short lived Babylonian Empire, after which it again became a part of Assyria c.1725 BC).
Subsequent to this it fell to the Neo-Sumerian Empire, the Old Assyrian Empire and Babylonian Empire, and was an important trading center in the 18th century BCE under Assyrian and Babylonian rule. However, during the 15th and early 14th century BC it was again a largely Hurrian city, the capital of the small Hurrian kingdom of Arrapkha, situated along the southeastern edge of the area under Mittani domination, until it was fully incorporated into Assyria during the Middle Assyrian Empire (1365–1050 BC) after the Assyrians overthrew the Hurri-Mitanni empire.
The city reached great prominence in the 11th and 10th centuries BC as a part of Assyria. In 615 BC, seeing the Assyrians occupied with the Babylonians and violent rebellions among themselves, the Median king Cyaxares successfully invaded Arrapha, which was one of the last strongholds of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. The region later became part of the Persian ruled province of Athura (Achaemenid Assyria).
Arrapha then fell to the Macedonian Empire and its succeeding Seleucid Empire, where it became a part of Seleucid Syria. Syria originally being a Greek corruption of Assyria Arrapha is mentioned as such until Hellenistic times, at which point the settlement was refounded under the Syriac name Karka.
Between the mid 2nd century BC and mid 3rd century AD, during the Parthian Empire and early Sassanid Empire the site was the capital of a small Neo-Assyrian kingdom called… Beth Garmai, in Assyrian-Aramaic, apart from a brief interregnum in the early 2nd century AD when it became a part of the Roman Province of Assyria. The Sassanids conquered the patchwork of independent Assyrian states in the mid to late 3rd century AD, and Arrapha was incorporated into Sassanid ruled Assuristan (Assyria), until the Arab Islamic conquest of the mid 7th century AD, when Assuristan was dissolved and Arrapha-Karka eventually became Kirkuk.
Arrapha has not been excavated yet, due to its location beneath modern Kirkuk.”
So, Arrapha/Arrapkha was conquered by the Akkadians, the Gutians, the Neo-Sumerians, the Middle Assyrians, the Old-Babylonians, the Hurrians, the Neo-Assyrians, the Neo-Babylonians (Chaldeans), the Medes, the Persians, the Macedonians and the Seleucids etc. Many different people settled in this area, but at the time of the writing of Genesis, the assumption would have been that the citizens of Arrapkha were fellow Semites as indicated by the verse in Genesis 10:22. It is clear to the modern day historian that the Ludites (Lullubians) and the Elamites were not Semites. However, the writers’ assumption that they were also descendants of Shem was very likely based on their incorporation into and/or geographical proximity to the Chaldean Empire.