Q. I understand Genesis 11 says in reference to the Tower of Babel that: “So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel —because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.” Was this a case in which God scattered them instantaneously across the earth? If not, how was this accomplished? How did Adam & Eve’s descendants multiply AND cross major bodies of waters to populate other entirely new/unpopulated areas?
Also, how can other races, i.e. Native Americans, Asians, be attributed to Noah’s children? If not Noah’s children, then where did they start? I know that the world’s languages originated at the Tower of Babel, but I’m wondering where and when skin colors and unique physical attributes of the worlds races came to be. On top of all this, time for the creation of their own cultures, seemingly void of the God of the Jewish tradition, all in around 6,000 years. I know it’s an involved question, but any insight would be a huge help and much appreciated.
A. In Genesis 10 we’re given an overview of the descendants of Noah’s three sons (Shem, Ham, and Japheth) and how they grew to become 70 distinct people groups (nations) after they were scattered. Today the UN recognizes over 200 nations, but all people on Earth are descended from these three brothers. Genesis 11 gives us more detail about man’s scattering before focusing on the descendants of Shem.
Here’s a quick overview on how all of this might have happened. Nimrod was two generations removed from Ham and built the City of Babylon where the Tower of Babel was located and from whence the people were scattered.(Genesis 10:8)
Peleg was three generations from Ham’s brother Shem. It was during Peleg’s time that the land was divided (Genesis 10:25). Many scholars believe this refers to a separation of Earth’s single land mass into continents. There could have been several hundred years between Nimrod and Peleg. (Genesis 10:25)
Originally everyone spoke the same language (Genesis 11:1). When God scattered the people, he did it by giving each people group a unique language making it impossible for any of the families of the three brothers to understand any of the others’ languages (Genesis 11:7). This created mistrust and caused them to separate. God put it into their hearts to continue roaming until there were great distances between them. Initially no oceans impeded their wandering so they kept going until they were scattered all over the single land mass. Then God further isolated them by breaking the land mass up into the continents we see today.
This forced people of like language to marry only among themselves. Their dominant traits became more so. For instance Ham’s name means dark, as if sunburned. He named one of his sons Cush, which is the Hebrew word for black. Cush is the father of the black African races. Another son, Mizraim, founded both Upper and Lower Egypt. Shem is the father of the Arabs and Jews. Japheth is the father of the Europeans and Russians. The Chinese are most likely descended from the Sinites, a branch of the Canaanites whose father was Ham. Recently conducted DNA studies show that the American Indians are descended from the people of Eastern Asia. Genetic science has shown that all the races we know today could have begun to show distinguishing characteristics within a relatively few generations. But it all began with Noah’s three sons.