Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | May 15, 2013

8. Tower of Babel – Origin of People Groups

What do the Boston Marathon bombers of April 15, 2013, have to do with Noah’s grandson Tubal and the pattern of dispersion from the tower of Babel? Read on to find out.

It was over 4,000 years ago that an astounding event at the Tower of Babel made language translation necessary today.

The History Book of the Universe records a remarkable series of events. Noah’s family disembarked from the Ark after the Great Flood (Genesis 6:1-9:19) around 2500 BC. God clearly instructed Noah and his sons to “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” (Genesis 9:1,7)

Building the Tower of Babel

Building the Tower of Babel

Did Noah’s descendants listen to God? No, the clan settled on the plain of Shinar. They made no attempt to spread out and fill the earth. On the contrary, they stuck together to build a Tower, defying God’s order to re-populate the earth. Yahweh therefore confused the language of the Tower builders to force them to scatter across the face of the earth (Genesis 11:1-9).

Why So Much Diversity in Humans?

When I was in school, textbooks listed three races: Caucasian, Mongoloid, and Negroid. Is this accurate? Where did all the many different people groups come from?

Why do people from different parts of the world look so different? Why are there so many different colors, sizes, and shapes?

Actually, all human beings belong to only one race—Adam’s race. The Apostle Paul said, “He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth.” (Acts 17:26) Yahweh created Adam from the dust of the ground and formed Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. All other humans descended from Adam and Eve.

All people groups are able to intermarry, reproduce, and birth fertile offspring. This is biological evidence that all humans belong to a single race. Therefore the concept of race is essentially meaningless biologically.

Thus it is legitimate to say we are all one family. We’re all relatives of each other, for we are all descendants of Adam and Eve, as well as descendants of Noah and Mrs. Noah.

Building the Tower of Babel

Building the Tower of Babel

Different Colors, One Race

The dispersion of humanity across the earth from the Tower of Babel accounts for the many different people groups. Yahweh separated and dispersed family lines by giving them different languages, and each family line had a distinct set of genes. Since they were isolated as a result of language differences, different groups exhibited, sustained, and accentuated different genetic characteristics.

Adam’s and Eve’s skin was probably middle-brown in color with a mixture of light and dark color genes in their genome. In this way their offspring could range from very light to very dark. But all are part of the single Adamic race.

Similarly, Adam and Eve undoubtedly possessed genetic variation for other traits like hair color and texture, eye color and shape, height and weight, talents and abilities, intellectual and physical gifts, etc.

Some of the original gene pool was probably lost at the Flood when the entire population of the world was wiped out except for Noah and his three sons and their four wives. The gene pool was limited to Shem, Ham, and Japheth and their three wives. Everyone today is descended from those three couples.

As people migrated from Babel, language groups became isolated from each other. Each group’s genes determined their physical characteristics. Since they likely married within language groups, over time distinctive characteristics would become more pronounced in each group.

Dispersal From Babel

From Babel, the sons of Shem, Ham, and Japheth dispersed across the earth. Many geographic place names still reflect the identities of these early settlers.

The first-century Jewish historian Josephus was the first to record the settlement patterns of Noah’s sons in the Genesis 10 Table of Nations. (See Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 1, Chapter 6.) Subsequent ethnographers have largely followed Josephus.

Johns Hopkins University professor William F. Albright, the father of Biblical Archaeology, said Shem’s Table of Nations “stands absolutely alone in ancient literature without a remote parallel even among the Greeks. … The Table of Nations remains an astonishingly accurate document.” (From William F. Albright, Recent Discoveries in Bible Lands, Funk & Wagnalls, 1955, p. 70-71.)

Map shows Josephus' geographic identifications for the Sons of Noah. Red=Japheth, Blue=Ham, Green=Shem.

Geographic dispersal of Noah’s sons as given by Josephus
Red=Japheth, Blue=Ham, Green=Shem

Noah’s oldest son Japheth (Genesis 10:21) may be the origin of the Roman god Jupiter (Zeus to the Greeks), father of the gods. Japheth’s sons were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras (Genesis 10:2), and they mostly migrated north into Europe and Russia. Magog and Meshech (Moscow) settled in Russia. Magog, meaning “the place of Gog,” may be Georgia of the former USSR. Javan is the Hebrew translation of Greece. Madai fathered the Medes who allied themselves with the Persians to overthrow the Babylonians. The Greek historian Herodotus (484–425 BC) identified Gomer with Cimmeria, now called the Crimea. Gomer’s descendants migrated westward, preserving his name in Germany and Cambria (Wales in Great Britain). Gomer’s son Askenaz is the Hebrew name for Germany.

Japheth’s son Tubal settled the region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. This region is called the Caucasus. Right in the middle of the Caucasus is Chechnya, the homeland of the Boston Marathon bombers.

Ham’s sons Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan mostly migrated west and south into Africa. Cush settled Ethiopia. Today Ethiopians still call themselves Cushites. Mizraim is the Hebrew name for Egypt. Put settled northwest Africa (Libya). Canaan settled the Promised Land (Genesis 10:19) that Yahweh later gave to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Sinites, descendants of Canaan, traveled east into China. This term is still widely used, as in Sino-Russian relations and Sino-Japanese languages.

Shemites located around Babel and to the east. Shem’s sons were Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, Aram (Genesis 10:22). Elamites are the Persians of the Old Testament. Aram was the father of the Syrians (Arameans) and the Aramaic language used in Bible times. Asshur was the father of the Assyrians. Lud settled in Lydia in Turkey. Arpachshad’s grandson was Eber, the father of the Hebrews.

The human race is both unified and diverse. It is unified because everyone who ever lived descended from Adam. It is diverse because of the genetic complexity and variation that Yahweh built into Adam. The diversity eventually became apparent as a result of the dispersal from Babel.

The Tower of Babel was a mammoth edifice. It was the site of a pivotal event of world history. Its consequences cascade down through the centuries to our own day. Have you ever struggled to learn another language, or to understand someone with a heavy foreign accent? Have you ever felt confused or bewildered in a place with an unfamiliar language? You can credit your rebellious ancestors at the Tower of Babel for causing your troubles.

Soli Deo Gloria.

This is the concluding post in the Tower of Babel series.
Read the prequels:
1. Tower of Babel & Language Translation
2. Tower of Babel – Where?
3. Tower of Babel – What Did It Look Like?
4. Tower of Babel – When?
5. Tower of Babel – Origin of Languages
6. Tower of Babel – How Many Languages?
7. Tower of Babel – Problem for Evolutionists

The Translation Page which prompted this series offers automatic translations of the Bible-Science Guy Blog into over 60 languages!

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:4)
Wednesday May 15, 2013 A.D.

Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. And it came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. And they said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name; lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth. (Genesis 11:1-9)

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