Alexander the Great & the Table of Nations (Genesis 10)

The Table of Nations is a section of Genesis in which the Septuagint (LXX) authors, who lived in Alexandria, Egypt under the Ptolemaic Dynasty divided up the nations according to their regional and religious understanding:

“This is the account of Shem, Ham and Japheth, Noah’s sons, who themselves had sons after the flood:

The Japhethites

The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshek and Tiras.The sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah.The sons of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, the Kittites and the Rodanites. (From these the maritime peoples spread out into their territories by their clans within their nations, each with its own language.)

The Hamites

The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put and Canaan. The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah and Sabteka. The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan.Cush was the father of Nimrod, who became a mighty warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; that is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the LORD.” The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Uruk, Akkad and Kalneh, in Shinar. From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir,[fn] Calah and Resen, which is between Nineveh and Calah—which is the great city.

Egypt was the father of the Ludites, Anamites, Lehabites, Naphtuhites, Pathrusites, Kasluhites (from whom the Philistines came) and Caphtorites. Canaan was the father of Sidon his firstborn, and of the Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, Arvadites, Zemarites and Hamathites. Later the Canaanite clans scattered and the borders of Canaan reached from Sidon toward Gerar as far as Gaza, and then toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, as far as Lasha. These are the sons of Ham by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations.

The Semites

Sons were also born to Shem, whose older brother was Japheth; Shem was the ancestor of all the sons of Eber. The sons of Shem: Elam, Ashur, Arphaxad, Lud and Aram. The sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether and Meshek. Arphaxad was the father of Shelah, and Shelah the father of Eber. Two sons were born to Eber: One was named Peleg, because in his time the earth was divided; his brother was named Joktan. Joktan was the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Obal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah and Jobab. All these were sons of Joktan.The region where they lived stretched from Mesha toward Sephar, in the eastern hill country. These are the sons of Shem by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations.

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.”

It is evident that the above Table of Nations was authored in Alexandria, Egypt by the LXX authors as the table is divided according to the regions that Alexander the Great divided among his generals, Lysimachus, Ptolemy and Seleucis. The area granted to Lysimachus corresponds to the Greek speaking lands and isles controlled by Alexander the Great as well as his conquests in Anatolia. The name Yapeth (Japheth) is the Masoretes’ transliteration of the Greek name Iapetos, who was thought to be the father of the Hellenes. Iapetos in the book of nations is listed as the patriarch of Javan aka the Ionians, the Rhodanim (people dwelling on the Isle of Rhodes), the Kittim (Aegeans who dwelt on Cyprus) and the people of western Anatolia who were the Lydians and Cimmerians.

The sons of Ham refer to the area given to the Ptolemy Soter which included Egypt, Canaan, Lebanon and Cyprus. General Seleucius was granted the area formerly occupied by the Assyrians and the Arameans which included the trade routes used by the caravan tribes from the Arabian Peninsula.

In short, the Table of Nations in Genesis 10 is divided into areas that Alexander the Great conquered and then tripartitioned among his generals, which indicates that Genesis 10 could not have been composed earlier than than the death of Alexander which occurred in 323 BCE.

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