Genesis 10 is a table of nations, showing how all the peoples of the ancient near eastern world descend from Noah’s family, or how the set-apart are set-apart for the inclusion of the set-aside in God’s will.
The focus is on the descendants of Ham, the cursed son, the son who will be a servant to his brothers and in particular his brother Shem – who we will soon find out is the father of the particular line of set-apart people the story will follow.
Among Ham’s descendants we find the nations of Egypt, Canaan, the Babylonian Empire, the Assyrian Empire centred on Nineveh, and the Philistines. As the story continues, each of these peoples will, in one way or another, play host to the descendants of Shem – often in the guise of overlords.
This story, then, tells us something of what it means to be a slave. It certainly isn’t a position under the other brothers. The lowest of slaves will rule over them, serving them – against their will – for set times, in order to keep the set-apart set apart.
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