It’s tempting to skip over the lists of names in the Bible.  We’re not too sure what to do with them but they are worth pausing and reading.  In Genesis, when we get to the words “These are the generations” as we do at the start of Genesis 10, it provides a marker to indicate that a new and distinct phase in history is happening.  Here, we are seeing that we are now moving on from the Flood account to what happened next.

The Flood was God’s judgement on creation for sin. The world had become filled with wickedness following the Fall.  God had rescued Noah from the flood and kept him safe in the ark.  Noah was described as righteous and blameless.  Did this meant that the problem was now fixed? We’ve already seen a hint that it wasn’t at the end of chapter 9.

Read Genesis chapter 10

The chapter mainly lists out the descendants of Shem, Japheth and Ham, giving us their family trees.  However, there are two specific areas of interest where the writer gives us some crucial detail.  First, in verses 6-13, we are told about Ham’s descendants.  This means that links are made between Ham and places like Cush and Egypt as well as through Nimrod, the great cities of Babylon and Ninevah as well as the civilisations that would later settle in Mesopotamia.

This is important because we see here, that despite Noah’s curses and blessings on his sons, it looks initially like power and wealth descend through Ham rather than Japheth.  Indeed, here, we see the nations and civilisations that at different times will subjugate God’s people.

Furthermore, we have the intriguing character, Nimrod, described as the first “mighty man” and a “mighty hunter before the Lord.”  Nimrod is a potential hero, a strong man with great gifts and if these are “before the Lord” then we are reminded that these gifts comes from God.  How, though will; he use them? Well, the association with Babel and Babylon tells us that things do not bode well and suggest that he will use his strength and influence against God, not in his service.

Then in v 14-19, we are told a bit more about Canaan, Noah’s grandson, cursed at the end of chapter 9.  Canaan and his descendants are geographically linked with the land that will be promised to Abraham and his descendants, the promised land where Moses will later lead the people to inhabit.  Here the Canaanites are being presented as a future potential obstacle to God’s purposes.

Obstacle or conduit?

Ham’s descendants despite their skills, strength, power and wealth fail to recognise that all these things are from God and so become obstacles. They seek to rival God and oppress his people. However, they cannot succeed. Each in turn will fail and fall.

Do we recognise the gifts that God has given us? Do we use them so that we can be a conduit for blessing or do we seek to selfishly use them for ourselves and so become an obstacle. We should heed the warning of Genesis 10. Obstacles are removed.

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