Why We Have Various Ethnic Groups—Genesis 10

Genesis 10 is pivotal in understanding the concept of ethnicity from the Bible. Genesis 10 is known as the Table of Nations. This is because it describes how men filled the Earth, and how different ethnic groups were formed.


All the main features of an ethnic group are found in Genesis 10:

1) the proper name of the ethnic group.

2) the name of their ancestor (e.g. Nimrod is mentioned in Gen 10 vv. 8-12)

3) the territories occupied by the ethnic group (land) (e.g. Sephar in the East is mentioned in vs. 30)

4) the genealogy of the sons (or descendants) i.e. this begot this, this begot this (For example, Salah begot Eber in Vs. 24)

5) the language spoken by the ethnic group.

(Hutchinson and Smith)


All these mentioned are mentioned in Genesis 10. Vv. 2-4 lists the genealogy of Japheth (White), then vs. 5 mentions lands, language, families and nations:


Gen 10:5 (NKJV)

5 From these the COASTLAND PEOPLES of the GENTILES were SEPARATED into their LANDS, everyone ACCORDING to his LANGUAGE, according to their FAMILIES, into their NATIONS. 


This is repeated in vs. 20, “These were the SONS OF HAM (Black), according to their FAMILIES, according to their LANGUAGES, in their LANDS and in their NATIONS.” Note that vv. 6-19 had already listed Ham’s genealogy.


Then after vv. 21-30 list the descendants of Shem (Dusky), vs. 31 says, “These were the SONS OF SHEM, according to their FAMILIES, according to their LANGUAGES, in their LANDS, according to their NATIONS.


Altogether, 14 nations in total that came from Japheth (Gen 10:2-4), thirty nations came from Ham (Gen 10:6-20) and 26 from Shem (Gen 19:21-31), which adds up to 70 nations in total.

Thus, Genesis 10 shows how different ethnic groups were formed. People came together and grouped themselves as one in DIFFERENT geographical locations. They began to form nations with a distinct culture.


(For a thorough treatment of this subject, you may consult the sermon-series “God Wants The World! PART 2” by Pastor Josh Banks which deals with the concepts of RACE, SKIN COLOUR and ETHNICITY)


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2021.



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