What does Genesis 10:12 mean?
ESV: Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.
NIV: and Resen, which is between Nineveh and Calah--which is the great city.
NASB: and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.
CSB: and Resen, between Nineveh and the great city Calah.
NLT: and Resen (the great city located between Nineveh and Calah).
KJV: And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.
This verse concludes the biographical aside about Nimrod in chapter 10's table of nations. Nimrod, a descendant of Noah's son Ham, was a mighty man who established a kingdom of his own in the regions of Shinar and Assyria.
The previous verse revealed that Nimrod established the "great city" of Nineveh in Assyria, along with several other cities. Resen, mentioned in this verse, is the final of Nimrod's cities to be mentioned. The name Resen likely meant "fountainhead," and the city may have been situated on the Tigris river.
In the future, Nimrod's descendants will become some of Israel's greatest enemies. They will also be directly involved in some of the Old Testament's most unfortunate incidents. Among these, as seen in the next chapter, is the incident at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1–9).
Genesis 10:6–20 details the descendants of Noah's son, Ham. The majority of these tribes settled in the regions south and east of the Promised Land. While Ham's son Canaan was cursed (Genesis 9:24–25), many of Ham's descendants established powerful nations. One of these is Mizraim, also known as Egypt. Though Canaan's sons were destined to fall to the sons of Shem, other sons of Ham would hold Israel captive for more than 400 years. This passage also contains an interesting aside about one particular man: Nimrod.
Genesis 10 is sometimes called the table of nations. It describes, in three sections, the peoples that descended from Noah's sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Japheth's people settled mostly to the north of what would be Israel. Ham's people became great nations in the region of the Middle East, including the people that would settle in the Promised Land before Israel drove them out. Shem's line would lead to Abraham and the Israelites.
Genesis 9 described events that happened between God, Noah, and his three sons after the flood. Genesis 11 will tell the story of the Tower of Babel and the dispersal of the nations. Between them, Genesis 10 is a table of the nations that come from Japheth, Ham, and Shem after God divides and disperses humanity.
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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