Genesis Study #4

Bible Class – Study #4 (Gen 9-11) – Notes and Discussion questions

Genesis Study #4: The repopulation of the earth

Main passage of study: Gen 9:18 – 11:32

Related passages For:
Part A: Ge 19:33, 1Ki 16:9; 20:16, Ho 7:5, Lu 12:45, Ep 5:18
Parts B/C: 1Ch 1:4-27, Job 5:12-13; 12:20, Ps 2:4; 33:10, Is 13-14, Jer 20:1-6; 25:1-14; 50-1, Eze 38-9, Ac 2:4-11, Re 17-8
Part D: Ge 20:12, Jos 24:2, Ac 7:2-4

Outline & Notes

  1. The transgression of Noah – Gen 9:18-29
    1. Conduit of the descendants of Noah – Genesis 9:18-19
    2. Consequences of the drunkenness of Noah – Genesis 9:20-24
    3. Contrasts in the declaration of Noah – Genesis 9:25-27
    4. Calculation of years and the death of Noah – Genesis 9:28-29
  2. The table of nations – Gen 10:1-32
    1. Catalogue of the descendants of Japheth – Genesis 10:1-5
    2. Catalogue of the descendants of Ham – Genesis 10:6-20
    3. Catalogue of the descendants of Shem – Genesis 10:21-32
  3. The tower of Babel – Gen 11:1-9
    1. Construction and disobedience – Genesis 11:1-4
    2. Confusion and dispersion – Genesis 11:5-9
  4. The tracing of Abram’s ancestors – Gen 11:10-32
    1. Contraction and the descendants of Shem – Genesis 11:10-26
    2. Compromise and the descendants of Terah – Genesis 11:27-32

After the cataclysmic judgement of the flood, there might have been hope for renewal with a fresh start on the earth. Nevertheless, it doesn’t take long before the root of sin, still in the heart of man, begins to inevitably manifest itself in the dispensation of human government. Humankind unites in ambitious revolt and self-determination at Babel yet the Lord graciously intervenes to curtail their headstrong progress. In spite of man’s sin, God’s purposes move forward and by the end of our section, the stage is set for the man through whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed.

Textual notes

● The Hebrew verb translated “was/became uncovered” in Gen 9:21 usually indicates a deliberate act, so implies the idea of disgrace in revealing one’s nakedness.

● In 9:24, “Noah knew what his younger son had done” – the verb here implies that he knew it of himself – i.e. he was not told by someone else.

● In Genesis 9:26, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem” – this is a statement of covenant relationship.

● In Genesis 9:27, “May God enlarge Japheth..” – there is a play on words here as the word for “enlarge” in Hebrew sounds like the name “Japheth”.

● In chapter 10, the order in which the descendants are listed (Japheth, Ham, then Shem) is significant, beginning with those nations that would settle farthest from the land of Palestine and ending with those closest to or in Palestine.

● In Genesis 10:5, we read of the coastland peoples spreading out geographically, “everyone according to his language” but in Genesis 11:1, we read that “the whole earth had one language and one speech”. So obviously, these chapters are not meant to be read chronologically, rather ch.10 serves to explain the resulting dispersion of the nations that took place from Babel.

● The name Nimrod is thought to be linked to the Hebrew verb marad – to rebel.

● In Genesis 10:9, “a mighty hunter before the LORD” is probably best understood as “ against the LORD” or “in defiance of the LORD”. (Cp. Ge 6:11)

● In Genesis 10:21, there are variations among translations and the original allows for either “Shem…the elder brother of Japheth” or “Shem…the brother of Japeth, the elder”

● In Genesis 10:24, (and Genesis 11:12), we have Salah as the son of Arphaxad but in the genealogy of Christ in Lu 3:36, the name of Canaan is inserted between Salah and Arphaxad. 1Chr 1 also omits Canaan. This is likely best explained as an extremely rare copyists error in manuscripts that occurred at some point after 220 AD. This apparent contradiction is explained well here at

● In Genesis 11:4 – the expressed purpose of the builders of a tower “whose top is in the heavens” is not likely to literally reach the heavens but to have a tower from which astrological/religious practices could be carried out.

Prophetic notes

● The curse upon Cainan in Genesis 9:25-27 has caused much discussion since it seems from the text that the sin was committed by his father Ham. But this curse may have seen its partial fulfilment in the conquering and subjugation of the Canaanites by Israel in Joshua’s day. There could also be a prophetic link between the sin in Gen 9 and the particularly debauched form of idolatry that would become common among the Canaanites.

● It’s interesting to note that in consecutive chapters of Acts (8-10), we have 3 conversions, a descendant of Ham (the Ethiopian eunuch), a descendant of Shem (Saul of Tarsus), and a descendant of Japheth (Cornelius the Roman centurion). So only in Christ can the divided nations of the earth be united!

● Nimrod is a notable type of the antichrist and the episode at Babel can be seen as prophetic of the uniting of the nations against God when the Lord Jesus returns to the earth at the end of the Tribulation. Just as the call of Abram from Ur of the Chaldeans follows the great rebellion at Babel, so will the Lord call His ancient people from among the nations back to the promised land when He returns to reign upon the earth.

Discussion questions

1. Read Gen 3 alongside the end of Gen 9:19-28. What parallels or connections do you see between Adam and Noah?

2. We have the first mention of wine and drunkenness in Gen 9:21. How might we apply the principle of first mention to better understand this section?

3. What can we learn from the difference in the reactions of Ham and then Shem and Japheth to their father’s sin?

4. Read through the descendants of Japheth and Ham in Gen 10:2-7 and then read Ezekiel 38. What do you notice?

5. In Gen 10, we are given more detail about Nimrod than any other of the descendants of Japheth, Ham and Shem. Applying the context principle , by which God gives light upon a subject through either near or remote passages bearing upon the same theme, and by examining the greater context of the passage (including chapter 11), why do you think we are given these details about Nimrod?

6. There are 70 different descendants named in Gen 10. Look up the following references to the number 70 in the Scriptures: Ge 46:27, Nu 11:16, Ps 90:10, Je 29:10, Da 9:24. How might we apply the numerical principle to these Scriptures?

7. There is an obvious emphasis on the unity of the people in the first few verses of Gen 11. Why was this a bad thing in this case?

8. There are 4 references to “let us…” from Gen 11:3-7. What is the significance of each one of these statements?

9. Consider Gen 11:6 and in particular, the statement: “this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose will be withheld from them” (NKJV) How might we understand this verse prophetically in terms of the future of this world?

10. What do you notice about the genealogy from Shem to Terah in Gen 11:10-26?

11. Our whole section of study begins with one family and ends with one family with the whole world represented in between. What lessons do you think we can draw from the way in which this period between the flood and the life of Abraham is presented?

12. As we come to the end of our section, we have seen the end of another dispensation, that of Human Government, and the beginning of the dispensation of Promise (see Ac 7:2) as Abram was called before he lived in Haran. But in v.31, we read that the family that set out from Ur settled in Haran. What lesson(s) can we learn from this detail of the account?