Seventy Nations: Genesis 10:32

seventy nations (2)

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g) Gen 10:32: The Table of Nations in Gen 10 concludes by saying, “These are the clans of the sons of Noah according to their genealogies, by their nations. And from these were divided the nations in the land after the flood.”

This verse forms a Hebrew literary device called an inclusio by repeating the information from Gen 10:1.[1]

Together they form a frame around the genealogy enclosed within them.[2] However, Gen 10:32 replaces “sons were born” with “the nations were divided.”[3]



The number of descendants attributed to the progeny of Noah points to a larger theological reality.[4]

Ranging from Iran to Ethiopia and from Turkey to Libya,[5] this list mentions seventy people, places, and nations.[6]

Seventy consists of ten sevens, the number of perfection. Throughout the Old Testament, some fascinating usages of this number occur.[7]

First, seventy represents a great number of descendants (Gen 46:27; Judg 8:30; 2 Ki 10:1).[8]

For example, the Canaanite fertility goddess Asherah reportedly bore seventy children.[9]

Within Israel, seventy elders represented the nation as they ate in God’s presence on Mount Sinai, assisted Moses, and participated in idolatry within the temple (Exod 24:9–11; Num 11:16; Ezek 8:10–12).[10]

Whether positive or negative, the number “seventy” indicates fullness or completion.[11]



God chose Israel as one nation among seventy to represent all humanity (Deut 32:8).[12]

The Lord ordered Jacob’s descendants to share their knowledge of him throughout the earth (Deut 4:5–8; Ps 102:12–22; Isa 66:18–21).[13]

Moses commanded Israel to inscribe the words of God’s law onto an altar covered with plaster (Deut 27:1–8). According to the Mishnah, they wrote all the words of the law “in seventy languages” (m. Sotah 7.5).[14]

This implies that God holds all people-groups accountable, whether they view him as their Lord or not (Amos 9:7).[15]

All humans share a common origin, lending inherent dignity and value to everyone. We all bear God’s image, even after the fall (Gen 1:26–28; Gen 5:1–4).[16]

Image via Wikimedia Commons


Read Gen 10:32. Why is the number seventy so important in understanding the genealogy in Gen 10? How does this reminder of our common origin and accountability impact the way you view and treat other people?




Go to Jesus Sends Seventy (Two) (Luke 10:1–2)

[Related posts include Let Us Make Humanity (Gen 1:26); Made in the Image of God (Gen 1:26 cont.); Stewards of the Earth (Gen 1:26 cont.); Male and Female He Created Them (Gen 1:27); The Blessing of Fruitfulness (Gen 1:28); Ancient Near Eastern Genealogies (Gen 5:1); In the Likeness of God (Gen 5:1–2); In Adam’s Likeness and Image (Gen 5:3–5); A Renewed Mandate (Gen 9:1); The Sons of Noah (Gen 9:18–19); Noah Planted a Vineyard (Gen 9:20–21); Ham Dishonors His Father (Gen 9:22–23); A Slave of Slaves (Gen 9:24–25); Blessed Be the God of Shem (Gen 9:26–27); The Descendants of Noah (Gen 10:1); The Descendants of Japheth (Gen 10:2–5); The Descendants of Ham (Gen 10:6–14); The Descendants of Canaan (Gen 10:15–20); The Descendants of Shem (Gen 10:21–31); A Plain in Shinar (Gen 11:1–2); Let Us Bake Bricks (Gen 11:3); A Stairway to Heaven (Gen 11:4); A Deity Descends (Gen 11:5–7); Dispersed over the Face of the Earth (Gen 11:8–9); Jesus Sends Seventy (Two) (Luke 10:1–2); The Spirit Descends (Acts 2:1–3); A Bewildered Crowd (Acts 2:5–8); Babel Reversed (Acts 2:9–11); Exegesis and Hermeneutics; Author and Date of Genesis; and Ancient Literature]

[Click here to go to Chapter 11: The Table of Nations (Gen 9:28–10:32)]


[1]Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral, 2nd Ed., 54.

[2]Klein, Blomberg, and Hubbard Jr., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 2nd Ed., 303.

[3]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 174.

[4]Walton, Genesis, 367.

[5]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 346.

[6]Matthews, Chavalas, and Walton, IVPBBCOT, Gen 10:29.

[7]Ryken, et. al., “Seventy”, DBI, 775–6, 775.

[8]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 213–4.

[9]Ginsberg, trans., “Poems About Baal and Anath,” in ANET, II AB 6:46, 134.

[10]Matthews, Chavalas, and Walton, IVPBBCOT, Gen 10:29.

[11]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 164.

[12]Wenham, Genesis 1–15, 214.

[13]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 346.

[14]Ryken, et. al., “Seventy,” 775.

[15]Waltke and Fredricks, Genesis: A Commentary, 174.

[16]Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1–17, 346.