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From the Flood to the Entry of Jacob into Egypt (§§60-61)
60. The genealogy of the sons of Ham, and the history of Nimrod:
10. 6 Now the sons of Ham were Cush [Note
2], Phut, and
7 And the sons of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabtecha: and the sons of Raamah, Sheba, and Dedan.
8 Now Cush begot Nimrod: he contrived to be [Note 4] a mighty one in the earth.
9 He became a mighty one of hunted prey before the LORD: whence the saying, Even as Nimrod, the mighty one of hunted prey before the LORD.
10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad and Calneh [Note 5], in the land of Shinar.
11 Out of that land he went forth in his stride [Note 6], and constructed Nineveh, and city streets [Note 7], and Calah [Note 8],
12 And a link [Note 9] between Nineveh and Calah: that is the greater city.
13 Now Mizraim begot Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim,
14 Pathrusim, Casluhim, (in respect of the place whence the Philistim came) he also begot Caphtorim.
15 And Canaan begot Sidon [Note 10] his firstborn, and Heth,
16 And the Jebusite, the Amorite, the Girgasite,
17 the Hivite, the Arkite, the Sinite,
18 the Arvadite, the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad.
19 The border of the Canaanites came to stretch from Sidon, as you go to Gerar, as far as Gaza; as you go to Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, as far as Lasha.
20 These are the sons of Ham, by their families, by their languages, in their countries, and in their nations.
Note 1. Ancestor of the Ethiopians.
Note 2. Ancestor of the Egyptians.
Note 3. Ancestor of the Canaanites.
Note 4. Lit. “contrived by effort, art or skill.”
Note 5. Accad and Calneh. Accad or Akkad is well known as the name both of a city and of a land, the city being located somewhere in the environs of Baghdad. The Biblical Calneh, otherwise written Canneh in Ezek. 27. 23 (according to Gesenius-Tregelles s.v. Canneh), and spelled Khalannê in the Septuagint, is not known as a city name and hence has been thought to be a misreading of some kind. However, it is possible that both names were territorial designations, not city names, and that together they represented a quite extensive region within the Biblical land of Shinar (Southern Mesopotamia, so called also in the El Amarna Letters, “Shanhar”). The context in Ezek. 27. 23 suggests the Biblical Canneh, at least, is the name of a land or people, rather than a city. The native Sumerian name for the greater part of Southern Mesopotamia was “Kiengi, Kiuri,” the exact pronunciation of which is problematic. Kiengi was the more southerly section of territory. It was later replaced by the name “Shumeru” (commonly written “Sumer”) and Kiuri by the name “Akkad,” i.e. the Accad of this verse. “Sumer and Akkad” was a later way of saying “Kiengi, Kiuri.” Akkad, therefore, was paired with the geographical name Kiengi (Sumer). Here Accad is paired with the geographical name Calneh. The latter is probably the Hebrew (and more correct) pronunciation of Kiengi. The Sumerologist Poebel speculated Kiengi was a dialectal form of the Sumerian word kalam, which meant “land,” or, rather “THE land” (Sumer), since, as well as being designations of the same territory, both kalam and Kiengi had the same form in the Sumerian emesal dialect, viz. kanaĝ. Notice the middle consonant in these words was represented variously as “n” (in the forms Kiengi, and kanaĝ) and “l” (in the form kalam), whilst the last consonant was represented variously as “ĝ” (in kanaĝ), “g” (in Kiengi), or “m” (in kalam). The last two of these, “g” and “m,” along with “n” and “ng,” are known as different ways of representing in written documents the sound of the Sumerian velar nasal phoneme “ĝ.” The Hebrew Calneh has an “l” and “n” in the second and third consonantal positions, and the variant Canneh an “n” in both positions, and these are legitimate representations of the corresponding consonants in the Sumerian name, whether or not Poebel’s speculation is correct. In other words, the emesal dialectal form Kanaĝ (= Kiengi, Sumer) may have sounded something like “Kalan” or “Kanan.” These are very similar to the Hebrew Calneh or Canneh and the Septuagint’s Khalannê. The Biblical name also has a final vowel “eh” where the Sumerian form Kiengi shows a similar termination, which originally was an “ir” (Kiengir) with a weak final “r.” The Biblical “Accad and Calneh,” in that case, is the same double name of the land “Sumer and Akkad” (earlier “Kiengi, Kiuri”) used in native literature. The order of the components is reversed in the Hebrew, perhaps in order to give Accad precedence, as it was the homeland of the Semitic-speaking Akkadians whose language was related to Hebrew, or to reflect an historical precedence, the dynasty of Agade (Accad, Akkad) preceding the Sumerian Third Dynasty of Ur. Enshrined in this verse all these years has been the original name of Sumer with its more correct pronunciation, Calneh, so we could legitimately, and with a higher degree of historical authenticity, call the Sumerians “Calnites.” The Talmud (Yoma 10b) identifies the Biblical Calneh as Nippur. Nippur was the ancient capital and religious center of Kiengi (Sumer), and Kiengi was used as a name for Nippur itself. Almost certainly the form Kalam was a “Sumerianization” of the Semitic kalama (bi-consonantal root k-l) meaning “all, totality,” viz. it originally meant the “whole land/people.” Likewise in respect of the Hebrew Calneh, granting it is formed from the same Semitic bi-consonantal root. Indeed the central shrine at Nippur was called Hursag-kalama, the “Mountain of the Land,” and this illustrates the close connection between the words kalam and kiengi and the city of Nippur, otherwise the Talmudic Calneh. In Mkhithar’s Armenian Chronicle (trans. Brosset, Histoire chronologique par Mkhithar, 1869, p. 33) the name Calneh is given to the plain where the Shinar Tower was built, and the same is found in the Armenian translation of the Chronicle of Michael the Syrian (with occasional additional matter, trans. Bedrosian, p. ) where it is said of the immediate post-diluvian generation that they “turned back and went to the Shinar country to the wide plain of K’ghane’ [Calneh] where they laid the foundations for a tower as they sought some means of salvation from a sudden flood.” This illustrates the use of the name Calneh for the whole land (Kiengi = Sumer).
Note 6. I.e. strengthened by previous gains to press on. Lit. a further step forward, Heb. asshur, “a step,” playing on the name Asshur, Assyria, where the following cities were located.
Note 7. “Streets” or “open areas” Heb. “rehoboth.” The old reading “the city Reheboth” implies the existence of a separate city of this name, which is not known. See also Note 9 below, and the phrase “that is the greater city” at the end of verse 12, which favor this translation. I.e. the city of Nineveh was surrounded by outlying streets and a route or structure linking it to Calah, which formed a greater metropolitan area.
Note 8. Calah, the modern Nimrud, so named after Nimrod.
Note 9. The old reading “Resen” (which means “link” in Hebrew) implies the existence of a city of this name, which is not known. The present translation is favored by the statement immediately following, that it was “between Nineveh and Calah” — an appropriate location for a “link.” See Note 7 above.
Note 10. The root of the Hebrew word Sidon is the same as that of the word “said,” translated “hunted prey” in verse 9. Hunting and fishing skills were highly prized in this line.
61. The history of the post-diluvian building of the city Babel and the Tower in Shinar:
Genesis 11. 1 Now
the whole earth had one dialect, and used the same words.
2 In the course of their migration from the east, as events unfolded, they found a plain in the land of Shinar [Southern Mesopotamia]; and settled there.
3 Then they said one to another, Come, let us make bricks, and bake them thoroughly. So they began to have brick for stone, and slime for mortar.
4 Then they said, Come, let us construct ourselves a city and a tower, with its top in the sky; and let us set up a central authority for ourselves, in case we are dispersed abroad over the surface of the whole earth.
5 Now the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the humans were constructing.
6 And the LORD said, As you see, the people are one, and they all have the same dialect; and they start to do this: now nothing will be too much for them, which they have imagined to do.
7 Come, let us go down, and there mix in the dialect of people incapable of understanding the next person’s dialect.
8 So the LORD dispersed them abroad from there over the surface of the whole earth: and they ceased constructing the city.
9 Therefore it was called Babel; because there the LORD mixed up the dialect of the whole earth: and from there the LORD dispersed them abroad over the surface of the whole earth.