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Genesis 10: The Table Of Nations

The most boring chapters of the Bible, in my opinion, are chapters like Genesis 10. All you read are the names of people. Then I tell myself, yes, I’ve got it, let’s move on. Noah had all these sons and their wives and their children and their children. None of these people live like they should according to my standards. None live like the sons and daughters of a great prophet.

One day as I was studying this chapter again, I realized that the writers had to work hard to come up with 70 names in the chapter. This chapter is known as the Table of Nations. Here is the story of 70 nations. To make it seventy nations not twenty-five, I am sure the writers had to invent names and put things together in order to achieve this classical biblical number of 70, the number of perfection. There must be a reason for all of that.

Walter Brueggemann, one of my favorite Biblical scholars and teachers in the world, gave me some insight into it when he said this is “an unparalleled ecumenical vision of human reality.” The Table of Nations declares the interconnectedness of all people. At the time when it was written, the authors only spoke of the known world, not about the near east or nations outside of their purview. It was what they knew and what they believed. God was the author of all and brought the world to perfection by making 70 nations after the flood. The number 70 meant perfection in the eyes of God. So, why not go with 70 that would encompass all nations of the known world?

The point here is that even though the worldview of the writers’ thousands of years ago was so limited and narrow, their hearts were in the right place. They knew no matter who lived where, they were designed by God and therefore no matter what sin they or their ancestors committed, they all belonged to the same God. They believed God was the author of life, therefore, their names deserved to be in the sacred texts for generations to come. Nothing, no color, creed, gender, ethnicity mattered to the writers because the entire world had only one author. Therefore the 70 nations were a sign of God’s complete perfection. In short, our DNA comes from the same source and same origin. The Tale of The Nations points to the ultimate power of God over humanity.

Now that made sense. Nimrod, one of the sons of Cush, was a conqueror. He was greedy and he was not satisfied with all what he had. He conquered the lands and kept building them rather than be satisfied with what he got. It’s about power and prestige. It did not matter. In the end, God still is in charge through the ruthlessness of Nimrod. The story is not about the perfection of what mankind does but rather the perfection of the plan of God. That is what brings us together as the people of God. Every time I read genealogy I find the constant reminder to us all that the story is not to limit our lineage but to expand it and connect it to God as the author of all lives.

St. Augustine of Hippo says, “Peace in society depends upon peace in the family.” This same idea is redefined by Mother Theresa when she said, “we do not have world peace, because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” I mentioned this previously and continue to repeat this, only to say, this chapter of Genesis states simply that we have an interconnectedness as one human family that shares the same DNA. God found it to be perfect and beautiful and therefore the story goes to 70 people, to 70 nations, to 70 differences, to 70 problems. In all that happens around God, there is perfection if only we could believe we are all the sons and daughters of Noah. The writers of the Bible want us to believe in the unity of the world and not the uniformity of our behavior.

God’s solution #10

Ever increasing population is simply the multiplication of divine love and a chance for us to see the wealth of God’s understanding of differences in us. True transformation lies in our ability to the see perfection in God’s creation just like the writers of Genesis 10 did. The 70 people and 70 nations demonstrated the complete perfection of God’s plan. Every person on earth is part of that 70 nations club, meaning, a club of people sharing in God’s DNA. We have more reason to be at peace with each other and the world than otherwise.

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