The Order of Nations


The charge has been made that there is a contradiction in Genesis 10–11. The accusation is that if people had already spread around the world (as recorded in Genesis 10), fulfilling God’s command, why was mankind judged with the confusion of languages as recorded in Genesis 11? This is actually an easy “contradiction” to clear up.
Genesis 10, often called “the Table of Nations,” traces the origins of nations and people groups as they dispersed around the world after the Flood. It is a historical narrative of the descendants of Noah’s three sons. That chapter concludes with this statement:

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 (Genesis 10:32).

After the descendants of each of the sons of Noah are mentioned, the text says that they were dispersed “according to their families, according to their languages” (Genesis 10:5, 20, 31). So, if Noah and his sons all spoke the same language, where did all of these other languages come from? Genesis 11 gives us the answer.

These groups of people did not willingly and obediently separate to fill the earth. Rather, we learn in Genesis 11:1–9 why these families separated from each other and how it came to be that there were so many languages in the world.

There is no contradiction here; Moses merely put the effect before the cause. Genesis 10 gives an overview, and then Genesis 11 fills in the details. You often find the same technique in other history books. One chapter might contain an overview of World War I — along with a list of major events. But the very next chapter might detail what the world was like in the years before the war and what events led up to it.

There may also be another reason why the order of these two events is switched. Keith Krell explains:

The actual outworking of the genealogies of Genesis 10 occurs after the events at the Tower of Babel (cf. 11:1 with 10:5, 20, 31). This interspersal of narrative (11:1–9) separates the two genealogies of Shem (10:21–31; 11:10–26), paving the way for the particular linkage between the Terah (Abraham) clan and the Shemite lineage (11:27). The story of the tower also looks ahead by anticipating the role that Abram (12:1–3) will play in restoring the blessing to the dispersed nations. By placing the Tower of Babel incident just prior to the stories of Abram and his descendants, the biblical writer is suggesting, in the first place, that post-flood humanity is as wicked as pre-flood humanity. Rather than sending something as devastating as a flood to annihilate mankind, however, God now places His hope in a covenant with Abraham as a powerful solution to humanity’s sinfulness. This problem (Genesis 11) and solution (Genesis 12) are brought into immediate juxtaposition, and the forcefulness of this structural move would have been lost had Genesis 10 intervened between the two.[4]

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Location, Location, Location


Why do names of places appear in both the pre-Flood and post-Flood world? Does this refute a global Flood that should have destroyed such places?

When we read Genesis 6–9, it is obvious that there was a global Flood.

So the alleged contradiction is that some pre-Flood place names rea

ppear after the Flood. For example, table 1 illustrates the most common ones.
Table 1. Pre-Flood and Post-Flood References

Name Reference Person
Pre-Flood Post-Flood
Havilah Genesis 2:11 Genesis 10:7, 29 Noah’s grandson through Ham; Noah’s great, great, great, great grandson through Shem
Cush Genesis 2:13 Genesis 10:6 Noah’s grandson through Ham
Asshur Genesis 2:14 Genesis 10:22 Noah’s grandson through Shem
Tigris Genesis 2:14 Genesis 10:4 River in modern-day Iraq
Euphrates Genesis 2:14 Genesis 15:18 River in modern-day Iraq

The answer to this conundrum is quite simple, but let’s use some illustrations so that we can better understand this.

Names of places often transfer. For example, Versailles, Illinois, was named for Versailles, Kentucky, when settlers moved from Kentucky into Illinois. And before that Versailles, Kentucky, was named for Versailles, France. If someone said to meet me in Versailles, you may have to ask “which one?”

Names of places often come from names of people as well. The land of Canaan was named form Noah’s grandson Canaan. St. Louis, Missouri, was named for King Louis IX of France.

Names of people sometimes came from places. Consider the name London that many people today have and its origin as a city in England.

With this in mind, it should be fairly easy to see how names could easily have been transferred through the Flood. Ham’s grandson was likely named after the land of Havilah. Cush was Ham’s son, and Asshur was Shem’s son. Noah, Ham, and Shem lived before the Flood and would have been aware of these regions. And of course, these names have gone on to become names of regions where some of these people settled after the dispersal of the Tower of Babel. Cush is modern-day Ethiopia, Asshur was where Assyria developed into a great nation, and so on.

For example, if I were to mention the “Thames River,” most people would quickly think of a river in southern England. However, the state of Connecticut in the United States, as well as Ontario, Canada, each have a river named “Thames.” When people settled in the Americas from Europe, they named some of these rivers for rivers they were familiar with. Why would we expect Noah and his descendants to do any differently? The Tigris and Euphrates that we know today in modern-day Iraq were named for the famous headwaters in the Garden of Eden.

There is no contradiction, but merely a situation of renaming new places, rivers, and people with previously used names.

Unringing the Bell


So Peter went out and wept bitterly.
Luke 22:62

Expungement is a legal term that means “to remove from general review.” It means that an offense against the law is sealed in a court record and therefore not viewable in the future. In short, the record of the offense is removed from a person’s legal record. For practical purposes, expungement erases the record of legal offense—except for one thing: the consequences of the act. Removing the guilt and punishment of an offense is one thing; removing the consequences is another.

Such is the case with our sins before God. The guilt and punishment for our sins has been removed; Christ has taken upon Himself our sins; Christ has died in our place. But the consequences of our sins remain. To use another legal expression, you can’t “unring the bell.” Once something is said, heard, or done, it cannot be undone. That happened in the case of David’s sin of adultery. A loyal soldier lost his life, a woman and a king lost their honor, and they both lost their child. All were consequences of David’s sins. God forgave David his sins but did not take away the consequences (Psalm 51).

Instead of hoping you can ring the bell of sin and then unring it, better not to ring it at all.

We are born in sin and spend our lives coping with the consequences.
John Blanchard

Dried Up Brooks


And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.
1 Kings 17:7

Late one evening, businessman Allan Emery checked into a hotel after a long, delayed flight, and he was discouraged. He expected to lose his best customer the next day. Preparing for bed, Emery opened his Bible and said, “Lord, if You have something to say to me, some encouragement, let me have it now.” He turned to the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 17 and read about how Elijah’s brook dried up. But the Lord had another mission for Elijah, and he was soon in Zarephath, witnessing another miracle that kept a family alive—a bin of flour that was never used up and a jar of oil that never ran dry. When the brook ran dry, the jar of oil started flowing.

God never leaves us stranded, forsaken, or abandoned. If the brook dries up, it’s because He has a jar of oil waiting for us. When a disappointment strikes us, we must trust Him for the next move. When a dream crashes around us, look for God’s direction and a new challenge.

There is always a next step with God; and there are always new blessings—grace upon grace—to claim from His guiding hand.

In the twenty years since that night I have had numerous “dried up brooks,” but my attitude toward them has been one of expectancy, for I know God is faithful to me just as He was to Elijah.
Allan Emery

Stepping Stones of Faith


My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
James 1:2-3

Think of the people in the Bible who faced the death of their dreams. Abraham dreamed of being the father of a great nation, but he was still childless in old age. Joseph dreamed of grandeur in Genesis 37, but he landed in an Egyptian prison. Prince Moses of Egypt dreamed of liberating his people, but he was thrown out of Egypt as a murderer. David dreamed of leading the armies of Israel, but he became their prey. Thomas dreamed of proclaiming the Messiah, but his Jesus was crucified. Paul dreamed of going to Spain, but was a prisoner of Rome.

And yet in each case, the setbacks became stepping stones; for in God’s will there is no failure, and out of His will there is no success. Our dreams sometimes die so they can be reborn in the image of God’s will.

Faith is trusting God’s promises when they are most needed, and going forward without a loss of enthusiasm. God provides the opportunity of having big dreams, but we must work according to His timing and will to achieve them. Along the way, if your dream dies, don’t let your spirits falter. Keep your eyes focused on Jesus, count it all joy, and wait for Him to give the victory.

Failure isn’t so bad if it doesn’t attack the heart. Success is all right if it doesn’t go to the head.
Grantland Rice