The Old Testament states that God created the world and God created man. We see the lineage of Adam and Eve, to Abraham, and so forth while the Hebrew nation is created. Then, seemingly from left field, the Egyptians appear, and they are considered evil because they are worshiping multiple Gods and have enslaved the Hebrews, etc. This ultimately leads to the plague and the story of Moses leading the Hebrews out of Egypt.

I am struggling with how to state this question, but here it goes: If God created all mankind, how did nations such as the Egyptians end up so far off course? Would they not have been descendants of Abraham as well?

This does not seem to be covered by the Old Testament (much like the gap in Jesus' early years in the New Testament), so I am perplexed. It almost seems as though they evolved on a separate path. Can anyone point me to resources that would fill this gap? Or have I missed a critical passage in the Old Testament somewhere?


3 Answers 3


From a Biblical perspective, the Egyptians would have descended from Noah, but not from Abraham. Genesis 10 is considered the "Table of Nations" in the Bible as it details how the sons of Noah began to populate the earth.

The tower of Babel in Genesis 11 is also a very significant event. God had commanded Noah (like He had Adam) to fill the earth. The Tower of Babel was a direct act of disobedience by the people to not be scattered over the face of the whole earth. God confused the language there in order to force mankind to obey Him and spread out across the whole earth. The Egyptians were some of these people, no doubt.

The spreading out didn't totally resolve the issue, though, since now you had people all over the earth who had already rejected God, at least in part, at Babel.

Clarence Larkin has a very interesting chart detailing how the sons of Noah spread out over the earth.

So, there really isn' a gap at all. It probably just isn't as explicit enough to make it obvious.

  • OK - so stick with me here. And Thanks for the replies and patience. So if I read this correctly, the issue here is my reading of the text. As I suspected. The Egyptians most likely descended from Noah, and in terms of the text, were simply left to their own devices until they come back into the main story line later down the road. At which point, we see that they have fallen away from God and his teachings to worship their own Gods. Does that sound accurate? This is very helpful.
    – geoffmpm
    Commented Feb 10, 2012 at 19:24
  • 3
    Specifically, the Egyptians are thought to be the descendants of Ham's son Mizraim. Mizraim is actually the name used for Egypt in the Old Testament, but every translation I've ever seen translates it Egypt because that's what we're familiar with. Even today the official Arabic name of Egypt is Miṣr. The name Egypt comes from the Greek name, which postdates the Old Testament. Would you mind me editing your answer to add this information? Because in Hebrew it's actually extremely explicit. :)
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Jun 2, 2014 at 23:28
  • @curiousdannii Please do, and thanks for the info. Very interesting.
    – Narnian
    Commented Jun 3, 2014 at 14:27

The first problem

Recall that the ancient Jews viewed the world as descended of three different bloodlines: Jaseph, Shem, and Ham. Jaseph went North, Shem largely stayed put, and Ham went South. But, before that could happen, Ham uncovered his father's nakedness and was cursed (see Gen. 9) and summarily was cursed.

The story of Israel can be seen as a manifestation of a rivalry between brothers.

Now, a bit of extra biblical history.

The ruling class of Egypt was not always, well, Egyptian. Just about when Joseph went south, an ethnically semitic people came into control. They would have had a good deal in common with Jacob and his family (which is one of the reasons Joseph was able to rise to power. This is also why a Pharaoh arose who was no longer friends with the Jews). Because of language and cultural distinctions, however, they remained segregated from those who had been native to the land previously (sim. to how the Samaritans and Jews never quite mixed despite the Maccabean nation which re-united Israel politically).

Now, as you may recall, the Semites were not all followers of YHWH. Recall the story of the stolen "house gods" from earlier in Genesis. So, in addition to the fact that there wasn't cultural cohesion, the Semites weren't all on the same page.

Much of the above is courtesy of the Oxford Bible Atlas


As Narnian notes, the Egyptians weren't descended from Abraham. The Arabs are descended from Abraham through his son Ismael, but the ancient Egyptians weren't Arabs. That the Egyptians can't be descended from Abraham is easily seen from the fact that Abraham visited the Egyptians at least twice, and they were clearly already a populous nation.

How they fell away from belief in Jehovah is not all that mysterious. There are many families today where the children do not follow the beliefs of their parents: Moslem parents have children who become Christians, Christian parents have children who become atheists, etc.

Simple scenrio: Not long after the Flood, a son of, say, Ham, rejects belief in Jehovah. He them moves away to some remote place in Africa, out of contact with Jehovah-believers. He does not tell his children anything about Jehovah, but raises them as atheists or in some new religion that he invents. That is then all they know.

Someone once said: How long does it take to lose the accumulated knowledge of a civilization? Answer: One generation, if you work hard enough to destroy all the records.

I'm not sure where you're saying there are "omissions or inconsistencies". I guess there are "omissions" in the sense that the Bible does not name every person who ever lived and where he fit in the geneologies. But wow, such a book would be incredibly long and boring.

  • This is based on imaginary scenarios and is opinion based. There is actual content in Genesis which describes at least some parts of the history.
    – Bit Chaser
    Commented Sep 15, 2018 at 18:10

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