127 Why Only 70 Descendants of Noah?
In this episode we take a close look at the descendants of Noah and discover that although he had many descendants only 70 are mentioned. We discover the interesting use of the number 70 throughout Scripture and are reminded that this is a history of Abraham and his ancestry as God reveals the beginning of the Hebrew people.
Genesis 10 - Why Only 70 descendants of Noah?
This is the account of the families of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the three sons of Noah. Many children were born to them after the great flood.
Exactly 70 descendants of Shem, Ham and Japheth are listed, 14 for Japheth, 30 for Ham, and 26 for Shem. Many second-generation descendants’ children are not listed. For Japheth only two of his 14 children have their offspring listed.
Descendants of Japheth (14 descendants)
2 The descendants of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. (7 descendants) 3 The descendants of Gomer were Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah. (3 descendants) 4 The descendants of Javan were Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Rodanim.7(4 descendants) 5 Their descendants became the seafaring peoples that spread out to various lands, each identified by its own language, clan, and national identity.
Descendants of Ham (30 descendants)
6 The descendants of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. (4 descendants)
7 The descendants of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. (5 descendants) The descendants of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan. (2 descendants)
8 Cush was also the ancestor of Nimrod, who was the first heroic warrior on earth. 9 Since he was the greatest hunter in the world his name became proverbial. People would say, “This man is like Nimrod, the greatest hunter in the world.” 10 He built his kingdom in the land of Babylonia, with the cities of Babylon, Erech, Akkad, and Calneh. 11 From there he expanded his territory to Assyria, building the cities of Nineveh, Rehoboth-ir, Calah, 12 and Resen (the great city located between Nineveh and Calah). (1 descendant—not sure who his father was.)
13 Mizraim was the ancestor of the Ludites, Anamites, Lehabites, Naphtuhites, 14 Pathrusites, Casluhites, and the Caphtorites, from whom the Philistines came. (7 descendants)
Put’s descendants are not listed
15 Canaan’s oldest son was Sidon, the ancestor of the Sidonians. Canaan was also the ancestor of the Hittites, 16 Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, 17 Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, 18 Arvadites, Zemarites, and Hamathites. The Canaanite clans eventually spread out, 19 and the territory of Canaan extended fromSidon in the north to Gerar and Gaza in the south, and east as far as Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, near Lasha. (11 descendants) 20 These were the descendants of Ham, identified by clan, language, territory, and national identity.
Descendants of Shem (26 descendants)
21 Sons were also born to Shem, the older brother of Japheth. Shem was the ancestor of all the descendants of Eber. “older brother of Japheth” can also be translated “whose older brother was Japheth.”
Eber is mentioned because he is the ancestor of Abraham (11:10-26) and Eber is also the root of the name Hebrew (14:13; 39:14; 40:15; 41:12; Ex 2:11; 3:18). Hebrew is not to be confused with Habiru an Egyptian term for a group of mercenaries.
22 The descendants of Shem were Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram. (5 descendants)
23 The descendants of Aram were Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash. (4 descendants)
24 Arphaxad was the father of Shelah (grandson of Shem), and Shelah was the father of Eber (great grandson of Shem). (2 descendants)
25 Eber had two sons. The first was named Peleg (which means “division”), for during his lifetime the people of the world were divided into different language groups. His brother’s name was Joktan.Peleg and Joktan are 4th generation sons of Shem (2 descendants)
26 Joktan was the ancestor of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba, 29 Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab. All these were descendants of Joktan. 30 The territory they occupied extended from Mesha all the way to Sephar in the eastern mountains. (13 descendants)These are 5th generation sons of Shem
31 These were the descendants of Shem, identified by clan, language, territory, and national identity.
32 These are the clans that descended from Noah’s sons, arranged by nations according to their lines of descent. All the nations of the earth descended from these clans after the great flood.
Exactly 70 descendants of Shem, Ham and Japheth are listed. 14 for Japheth, 30 for Ham, and 26 for Shem. Many second-generation descendants’ children are not listed. For Japheth only two of hischildren have their offspring listed. Shem has descendants to the 5th generation listed and included in the count of 70.
This is why 70 descendants are listed. 70 is 7 (symbol of completion) times 10 (for emphasis.) The writer picks 70. There were many more he could have listed but he apparently randomly picks 70 descendants. 70 people are listed to demonstrate that Noah’s descendants multiplied and filled the earth as theywere commanded to. They completed the instructions given to Noah to multiply and fill the earth.70 descendants of Noah fill the whole earth.
70 Israelites migrated to Egypt (Genesis 46:27)
70 leaders go up mount Sinai to have a meal with God (Numbers 11:16-30; Exodus 24:9-11). 70 elders (not counting the High Priest) composed Israel's great tribunal (Exodus 24:1, Numbers 11:16)—Sanhedrin. 70 sons of Gideon 70 years make a man’s lifespan (Psalm 90:10). 70 years was the time of Ancient Israel’s captivity in Babylon (Jeremiah 29:10). 70 years of Sabbaths were celebrated by Jerusalem in Babylonian captivity (Jeremiah 25:11). 70 sevens (490 years) were determined upon Jerusalem for it to complete its transgressions, to make an end for sins and for everlasting righteousness to enter into it (Daniel 9:24).
Jesus sent out 70 disciples on a missionary tour (Luke 10:1-5).
Jesus insisted that sins are forgiven 70 times 7, not 7 times as Peter suggested (Matthew 18:22). 70 translators produced the Septuagint (Greek version of the Hebrew Old Testament). 7for70.com is a Jewish website which gives 7 universal laws to complete the preparation for Messiah to come.
Ian Hartley December 2022