Description
Genesis 10 contains the Table of Nations, and is an important reference point for place names in many end-time prophecies. Genesis 11 includes the story of the Tower of Babel, which many Christians link to Mystery Babylon
Commentary
Genesis 10 - Table of Nations
Many Old Testament end-time prophecies refer to nations or regions according to their ancestral names as recorded in this table of nations.

Magog (v2)
For example, Ezekiel 38 identifies the Antichrist as Gog of the land of Magog, and says he is the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. Gomer and Togarmah as identified among his allies. Gog is one of several names the bible gives to Antichrist as an individual (see my commentary on Ezekiel 38). But all the place names are names that appear in this table of nations. Magog, Meshech, Tubal and Gomer were all sons of Japheth (v2). Meshech, Tubal and Gomer have been clearly identified as regions in ancient Anatolia (modern-day Turkey). Their brother Javan is identified with Ionia in modern-day Greece and the coastal region of western Turkey. The big question in that chapter is 'Where is Magog?" Given that Gog is identified as chief prince of two regions in Turkey, the obvious answer is that Magog was also a region in Turkey.

However, commenting on Genesis 10:2-4 in the 1st century AD, Jewish historian Flavius Josephus wrote in Antiquities, Book 1, Chapter 6.1, "For Gomer founded those whom the Greeks now call Galatians, [Galls,] but were then called Gomerites. Magog founded those that from him were named Magogites, but who are by the Greeks called Scythians. Now as to Javan and Madai, the sons of Japhet; from Madai came the Madeans, who are called Medes, by the Greeks; but from Javan, Ionia, and all the Grecians, are derived. Thobel founded the Thobelites, who are now called Iberes; and the Mosocheni were founded by Mosoch; now they are Cappadocians". So having identified most of these names with Greece and Turkey, Josephus identifies Magog with the Scythians. The Scythians were the nomadic peoples of the Russian Steppe to the north of the Caucasus. Six hundred years had passed since Ezekiel's day, so the accuracy of Josephus' opinion is certainly open to question. But it has led to a common assumption among contemporary bible scholars that Gog's invasion of Israel is a Russian invasion. See my commentary on Ezekiel 38 for further details.

If you read Genesis 10 in the NET bible, I recommend reading their many notes on names listed in this chapter.


Cush (v6)
Cush's descendants spread out over a wider area, including Africa, Arabia, and Mesopotamia.

Some settled in Nubia, in the region of southern Egypt and northern Sudan. This seems to be the region referred to as Cush in most Old Testament prophecies. This region of 'African Cush' was known in classical times as Aethiopia. Consequently, Cush is translated as Ethiopia in several bible translations, including the NET Bible. But it should not be confused with modern-day Ethiopia which is further south.

However most of Cush's sons and grandsons listed in verse 7 settled in the Arabian Peninsula. After Moses murdered an Egyptian and fled to Midian, he married Zipporah the daughter of Jethro the priest of Midian (Exodus 3:1). Midian is the region in northwest Saudi Arabia, on the east side of the Gulf of Aqaba. But in Numbers 12:1 his wife Zipporah is referred to as a Cushite, indicating that Midian was also considered to be part of Cush. Habakkuk 3:7 refers to Midian as 'Cushan', perhaps to differentiate 'Arabian Cush' from 'African Cush'. Habakkuk 3 is a passage which describes Jesus' second-coming military campaign in Edom (see also Isaiah 63:1-6). By the 6th century BC, Edom was considered to extend as far south as Dedan (Al-Ula in modern-day Saudi Arabia) and therefore included Midian (Ezekiel 25:13).

Cush also had a son called Nimrod (v8-12) who ruled over much of Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq), including the city of Babel (also called Babylon).

Cush is identified as a nation that allies itself with the Antichrist (Ezekiel 38:5). This is most likely a reference to African Cush (i.e. Northern Sudan).



Genesis 11:1-9 - The Towel of Babel
Verse 2 records that the people settled in a plain in Shinar, another name for Babylonia. At that time, the whole earth shared a common language (v1).

In verses 3 to 4 they decide to build a city there, and a tall tower 'with its top in the heavens'. Most likely this simply means a very tall tower. Their goal was to make a name for themselves and to prevent themselves from being scattered across the face of the earth. The desire to stop themselves being scattered suggests the city would be fortified and prevent them being scattered by marauding invaders. The desire to make a name for themselves reflects the natural inclination of man to become proud.

Perhaps it was this pride that God objected to in the building of their tower (v6). As a result, God confuses their language so that they can no longer understand each other. With their unity broken, I guess they divided into groups that could understand each other, and each group went its separate way. As a result they were scattered across the face of the earth (v9).

Two thousand or more years later, the site of this ancient city and tower became the great city of Babylon. in 605 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon defeated the Assyrians and their Egyptian allies at the battle of Carchemish. This signalled the end of the Assyrian Empire, and the beginning of the Babylonian Empire. Both of these Empires feature significantly in the history of Old Testament Israel. The northern kingdom of Israel was conquered and deported by the Assyrians in 722 BC, from which they never returned. The southern kingdom of Judah was conquered and deported by the Babylonians. This occurred in three stages, 605 BC, 597 BC, and finally in 586 BC when Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed. The Jews (descendants of the kingdom of Judah) were allowed to return to their ancestral homeland after the Persian conquest of Babylon in 539 BC.

A region identified as 'Babylon' features in many end-time prophecies, including Revelation 17:5. This passage describes a place with a mystery name, 'Babylon the Great'. It is translated in several bibles as 'Mystery Babylon'. The mystery nature of this 'Babylon' is apparent is several other passages, including Isaiah 21, Jeremiah 25, and Jeremiah 51 (see my commentary on Revelation 17). It indicates that the ancient kingdom of Babylon is seen as a prototype for an end-time kingdom that is figuratively called 'Babylon the Great'. And King Nebuchadnezzar is seen as a prototype of the end-time Antichrist (Jeremiah 25:26, 46:26, 49:30, Ezekiel 29:18-21, 30:10-26).

After the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century, it was common for Protestant Christians to identify the Antichrist and his end-time empire with the Pope and Rome. In 1853, the Reverend Alexander Hislop published a pamphlet entitled 'The Two Babylons'. In this, he promoted his theory that Roman Catholicism is an evolved form of religion started by Nimrod at the Tower of Babel. He based this theory on various supposed connections that he had identified between the two. The bible makes no connection between Nimrod and any religion. Concerning him, Genesis 10:8-12 says, "Cush was the father of Nimrod; he began to be a valiant 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 primary regions of his kingdom were Babel, Erech, Akkad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar. From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and Resen, which is between Nineveh and the great city Calah". Presumably he was therefore involved in building the city of Babel and its tower. But the bible records no religious reasons for him doing so. The people wanted to make a name for themselves, and prevent themselves from being scattered (Genesis 11:4).

In recent years, Hislop's research has been exposed as a fraud. However, his theory received widespread acceptance among Evangelical Christians and prophecy scholars. It continues to influence the thinking of many prophecy scholars today. For more detailed discussion of these issues, see chapter 5 of 'Mystery Babylon' by Joel Richardson.
Tags
Places: Magog, Gomer, Javan, Meshech, Tubal, Togarmah, Kittim, Cush, Mizraim, Sheba, Dedan, Turkey, Arabia, Sudan, Mesopotamia, Mystery Babylon, Babel, Shinar, Nimrod, Asshur, Ethiopia
Symbols:
Tags: Table of Nations, Nimrod, Mystery Babylon, Antichrist as Nebuchadnezzar, Tower of Babel
The Table of Nations
10 This is the account of Noah’s sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Sons were born to them after the flood.
2 The sons of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras.
3 The sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah.
4 The sons of Javan were Elishah, Tarshish, the Kittim, and the Dodanim.
5 From these the coastlands of the nations were separated into their lands, every one according to its language, according to their families, by their nations.
6 The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan.
7 The sons of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. The sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan.
8 Cush was the father of Nimrod; he began to be a valiant warrior on the earth.
9 He was a mighty hunter before the Lord. (That is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord.
10 The primary regions of his kingdom were Babel, Erech, Akkad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar.
11 From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah,
12 and Resen, which is between Nineveh and the great city Calah.
13 Mizraim was the father of the Ludites, Anamites, Lehabites, Naphtuhites,
14 Pathrusites, Casluhites (from whom the Philistines came), and Caphtorites.
15 Canaan was the father of Sidon his firstborn, Heth,
16 the Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites,
17 Hivites, Arkites, Sinites,
18 Arvadites, Zemarites, and Hamathites. Eventually the families of the Canaanites were scattered
19 and the borders of Canaan extended from Sidon all the way to Gerar as far as Gaza, and all the way to Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha.
20 These are the sons of Ham, according to their families, according to their languages, by their lands, and by their nations.
21 And sons were also born to Shem (the older brother of Japheth), the father of all the sons of Eber.
22 The sons of Shem were Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram.
23 The sons of Aram were Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash.
24 Arphaxad was the father of Shelah, and Shelah was the father of Eber. 25 Two sons were born to Eber: One was named Peleg because in his days the earth was divided, and his brother’s name was Joktan.
26 Joktan was the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah,
27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah,
28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba,
29 Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab. All these were sons of Joktan.
30 Their dwelling place was from Mesha all the way to Sephar in the eastern hills.
31 These are the sons of Shem according to their families, according to their languages, by their lands, and according to their nations.
32 These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, by their nations, and from these the nations spread over the earth after the flood.
(NET)
The Dispersion of the Nations at Babel
11 The whole earth had a common language and a common vocabulary.
2 When the people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
3 Then they said to one another, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” (They had brick instead of stone and tar instead of mortar.)
4 Then they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens so that we may make a name for ourselves. Otherwise we will be scattered across the face of the entire earth.”
5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the people had started building.
6 And the Lord said, “If as one people all sharing a common language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be beyond them.
7 Come, let’s go down and confuse their language so they won’t be able to understand each other.”
8 So the Lord scattered them from there across the face of the entire earth, and they stopped building the city.
9 That is why its name was called Babel – because there the Lord confused the language of the entire world, and from there the Lord scattered them across the face of the entire earth.
(NET)