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.
The Table of Nations (Genesis chapter 10) lists 70 different families.
From these families according to a literal simple understanding derive all peoples of the earth.
Every different nation and people is a sub-branch of one of the original 70.
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.
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.
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):
"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)
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.
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).
As explained by Yehudah Kiel, ("Sefer Breishit" [Hebrew-language], Daat Mikra, Jerusalem 1997, 5757, p. 275), the descendants of Abraham total 70 parallel to the 70 sons of Noah.
From these descendants there are three main branches: Ishmael (Arabs and company), Esau (Edom) i.e. Europeans and Christianity, and Israel.
The Vilna Gaon (1720-1797) and others tell us that all peoples of the earth now belong to some degree to the camp of either Edom or Ishmael.
Israel to some degree at present is in its turn subservient to Edom though in the future the Israelites shall assert their independence.
Israel is comprised of Judah (the Jews) and Israel (also referred to as Joseph) meaning the Ten Tribes.
Israel has 12 Tribes divided into 70 subgroups (Genesis 46, Numbers 26).
The 70 subgroups of Israel parallel the 70 peoples of the earth (Deuteronomy 32:8).
Abraham and his immediate offspring (Ishmael, Isaac, Sons of Keturah, etc) as listed in the Bible number 70. These parallel the 70 descendants of Noah listed in Genesis 10. later there were 70 descendants of Israel (Numbers 26, Genesis 46) who went down to Egypt and gave rise to 70 sub-clans who came out of it. The Children of Esau (Edom) gave rise to the small Edomite nation southwest of Judah in addition to numerous sub-groups throughout the Middle East. These are listed in Genesis ch. 36. Descendants of Esau later spread throughout the world becoming especially prominent in specific regions of Europe and Asia.