The descendents of Joktan (1 Chr 1:19-1:23)

“The name of Peleg’s brother was Joktan. Joktan became the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Ebal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab. All these were the descendents of Joktan.”

Joktan seems important as he apparently had an Arab connection. The 13 sons of Joktan are mentioned here. 7 of them, (1) Almodad, (2) Sheleph, (3) Hazarmaveth, (4) Jerah, (5) Diklah, (6) Obal, and (7) Abimael are only mentioned here and in Genesis, chapter 10. They may be the founders of Arabian tribes or southern Arab towns. However, the other 6 names are mentioned elsewhere in the biblical literature. (8) Hadoram is the name of 2 other biblical persons. (9) Uzal is clearly in Yemen. (10) Sheba and (11) Havilah are the same names as descendents of Cush. (12) Ophir was a place of gold mines at the time of Solomon. (13) Jobab was the name of 3 other people. All these groups probably lived in the land near the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. Somehow the biblical authors of 2500-3000 years ago felt that this explained the world in which they lived, their world of the Middle East and the Mediterranean. They had no idea about people in eastern Asia, India, Southern Africa, and Northern Europe or of course the Americas.

The descendents of Cush (1 Chr 1:9-1:10)

“The descendents of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah and Sabteca. The descendents of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan. Cush became the father of Nimrod. He was the first to be a mighty one in the earth.”

This is exactly the same as Genesis, chapter 10. Obviously, Cush is the name of the land in northeast Africa, now called Ethiopia, and the surrounding area like Somalia. In fact, Moses’ wife was called a Cushite who lived in Midian in Numbers, chapter 12. 3 of Cush’s sons (1) Seba, (2) Sabtah, and (3) Sabteca, are not mentioned elsewhere in the biblical literature. (4) Havilah poses a special problem since there was a place with this name around the Garden of Eden. A man with the same name was the son of Joktan, in the descendent line of Shem. Only (5) Raamah has his 2 sons listed (1) Sheba and (2) Dedan. Raamah was also a country somewhere in Yemen that traded with Tyre, as well as an Israelite city near Tyre. There also was a kingdom called Sheba that may also be in southern Arabia near Yemen. The Queen of this Sheba visited Solomon. Interesting enough, Havilah and Sheba appear with the same names as the sons of Joktan, who was a descendent of Shem. There may have been 2 people named Sheba, one a Cushite and the other a Semite. There is another Dedan who was the grandson of Abraham via his concubine Keturah. However, the most important son of Cush was listed separately. (6) Nimrod became the king of Shinar, a mighty person. In fact, the land of Assyria or Mesopotamia was sometimes called the land of Nimrod. An oral tradition holds that it was Nimrod who built the Tower of Babel. A lot of written literature has arisen around Nimrod who might have come into the Israelite sphere of influence after the Assyrian and Babylonian captivity. Some Midrash sources have Nimrod and Abraham having a fight. Nimrod became a mythical figure with Dante’s Inferno and some Free Masons.