Based on the following verses...

Genesis 10:5 (From these the maritime peoples spread out into their territories by their clans within their nations, each with its own language.) The Hamites

Genesis 10:31 These are the sons of Shem by their clans and languages, in their territories and nations.

Genesis 11:1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.

...can we assume (or is it simply a fact) that Genesis is not chronological?

2 Answers 2


Genesis 10, called the Table of Nations, gives a long list of the various descendants of Noah and his sons. Christians debate whether we are to understand the various nations as actually being named after Noah's grandsons and great-grandsons or whether they're just representative, but as a whole that's what it indicates. Chapter 10 is not a narrative, it is a genealogy, like chapter 5 before it, and chapter 11:10-32 after it, and more after that.

Chapter 11:1-9, the story of the tower of Babel, is a narrative explaining how the languages were confused and the descendants of Noah dispersed.

Each genealogical section in Genesis is in order, as are all its narrative sections, however these different genres overlap in what they cover. Whether you want to call that "non-chronological" is up to you.


That the identification of any group of peoples by their dispersion occurs before the description of Babel, and the fact that at Babel the people had a common language; has no bearing on chronology. It only indicates that Genesis was written after the description of the Tower of Babel incident.

Referring to a particular ethnic group by its general locality is not unusual either in the Bible of in everyday life throughout the ages. Consider the following Scriptures and compare those to exerpts from other writings.

Genesis 36:37  And Samlah died, and Saul of Rehoboth by the river reigned in his stead.

The designation Saul of Rehoboth is only added to seperate this Saul from other individuals named Saul.

Joshua 5:4  And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt. 

Just as in Genesis 36:37 Joshua refers to all the people who came out of Egypt in an effort to distinguish that particular group as different from those born after leaving Egypt.

in Genesis 10:5 it is simply a designation of certain maritime tribes from other maratime peoples.

Even today we hear people being referred to as African Americans, or Chinese, or any of another group of peoples, by their ethnic origins, instead of given names. Being an African American in no way indicates that that individual ever lived in Africa as distinguished from the ancestory which did.

Hope this helps.

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