Answers to Questions by Yair Davidiy
Was the table of nations found in the Bible meant to be an exhaustive list or not?
I personally believe it is. There are opinions (e.g. Abarbanel) that it was not necessarily so.
Â The Table of Nations (Genesis chapter 10) lists 70 different families.
Â From these families according to a literal simple understanding derive all peoples of the earth.
Â Every different nation and people is a sub-branch of one of the original 70.
Â In Ancient Times however there was a custom associated especially with the Assyrians to conquer other peoples, in some cases separate the men from the women, and then re-settle extracted groupings in other areas.
Â As a result we now in some cases have peoples who are admixtures. Theoretically we could have a people the males of whom derive from several different peoples and the females from various others.
Â This may sound far-fetched but it is what the Midrash tells us, Assyrian inscriptions confirm, and DNA results indicate.
a letter from an Assyrian official to his king Tiglath-pileser III (744-727 BC):
Â "As for the Aramaeans about whom the king my lord has said: 'They are to have wives!' We found numerous suitable women but their fathers refuse to give them in marriage, claiming: 'We will not consent unless they can pay the bride price.' Let them be paid so that the Aramaeans can get married." (NL 26 = SAA 19 18)Â
Despite all this it may be said that each nation to some degree or other is dominated by one or other of the original seventy peoples.
Â In the Bible the following pattern emerges:
The original 70 descend from the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japhet. A descendant of Shem was Abram (Genesis 11:26) later known as Abraham (Genesis 17:5).Â
Â As explained by Yehudah Kiel, (â€˜Sefer Breishitâ€™ [Hebrew-language], Daat Mikra, Jerusalem 1997, 5757, p. 275), the descendants of Abraham total 70 parallel to the 70 sons of Noah.Â
Â From these descendants there are three main branches: Ishmael (Arabs and company), Esau (Edom) i.e. Europeans and Christianity, and Israel.
Â The Vilna Gaon (1720â€“1797) and others tell us that all peoples of the earth now belong to some degree to the camp of either Edom or Ishmael.
Â Israel to some degree at present is in its turn subservient to Edom though in the future the Israelites shall assert their independence.
Â Israel is comprised of Judah (the Jews) and Israel (also referred to as Joseph) meaning the Ten Tribes.
Â Israel has 12 Tribes divided into 70 subgroups (Genesis 46, Numbers 26).Â
Â The 70 subgroups of Israel parallel the 70 peoples of the earth (Deuteronomy 32:8).