Noah's Descendants
"Now this is the genealogy of the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And sons were born to them after the flood" (Gen. 10:1). Genesis 10 & 11 are transitional and span approximately four centuries. After Noah the next major person the Holy Spirit wanted Moses to write about was Abram. These chapters connect Noah to Abram through Shem's lineage. Once we get to Genesis 12, Abram is the central figure for many chapters. There are two significant events covered in these two chapters: (1) the origin of nations (from the sons of Noah) and (2) the origin of many languages (as a punishment for man's disobedience, which then led to humanity being dispersed around the world). Although Shem is not the youngest of Noah's sons, his genealogy is listed last. This was a common writing style in Moses' day. Provide the less important information first and then move on the main idea or most important information. In this case, Shem's lineage is most important since it leads to Abram (and eventually to the Christ). But, Moses will share some information about Japheth and Ham first. We learn from Genesis 10:5 concerning the descendants of Japheth - "From these the coastland people of the Gentiles were separated into their lands, everyone according to his language, according to their families, into their nations."

Then Moses began writing about the sons of Ham (which included Cush and the previously mentioned Canaan). "Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, 'Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD'" (Gen. 10:8,9). It is difficult to know what made Nimrod so mighty, but his reputation was legendary. In addition to being a powerful hunter, Nimrod established his own kingdom including these familiar places: Babel, Assyria, and Ninevah--which he built. Nimrod's name meant "we will revolt", and many believe that Nimrod was a tyrant and organizer of the tower of Babel (which was itself a revolt against God). Moses had this to say about Canaan:

"Canaan begot Sidon his firstborn, and Heth; the Jebusite, the Amorite, and the Girgashite; the Hivite, the Arkite, and the Sinite; the Arvadite, the Zemarite, and the Hamathite. Afterward the families of the Canaanites were dispersed. And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon as you go toward Gerar, as far as Gaza; then as you go toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha" (Gen. 10:15-19).

Many familiar names are found in this list! As one might have assumed, the peoples of the land of Canaan descended from the man Canaan. True to Noah's curse, many of these people would be slain during the Israelite conquest of Canaan and some would become servants (cf. 9:25-27).

"And children were born also to Shem, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder" (Gen. 10:20). Moses now moves on to Shem's lineage. "To Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided; and his brother's name was Joktan" (Gen. 10:25). The reference to the Earth being divided must refer to the events of Genesis 11, where a commonly shared language is intentionally "confused" by God and the result is the birth of many human languages. When you cannot communicate effectively with a person (due to a language barrier), there is necessarily a division. Moses concludes this section by stating - "These were the families of the sons of Noah, according to their generations, in their nations; and from these the nations were divided on the earth after the flood" (Gen. 10:32).