Genesis 10:5 (KJV)

5 By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.

The word "gentile" is only mentioned once in the table of nations. And this is the first time that the word "gentile" was mentioned in scripture. Does this imply that the Japhetic peoples are the true gentiles or that they are especially gentile in some way?

  • The descendants of Ham included Nimrod, who is credited with founding Babylon. On the contrary, the sons of Japheth do not have this association. Perhaps based on this we could make an argument than the term גּוֹיִם֙ has a noble connotation in this context. Dec 16, 2017 at 12:58
  • @TimBiegeleisen But Babylonians were not Hamitic either culturally or ethnically. Modem day Iraqis like the Yazidis, Kurds, shabakas, feylis etc are not Hamites but Semites. And moreover Japheth dwells in the tents of Shem according to Noah's prophecy in Gen 9.
    – user20490
    Dec 16, 2017 at 18:28

1 Answer 1


The word גוֹי goy ("nation," or "gentile" in the KJV translation) appears in the context of every one of the sons of Noah (10:5, 10:20, 10:31) in the word בְּגוֹיֵהֶם (begoyehem "in their nations"). KJV translates the word בְּגוֹיֵהֶֽם as "in their nations," differently than the word הַגּוֹיִם (haggoyim "the Gentiles") in the same verse, despite the fact that they come from the same word גוֹי. In addition, the word הַגּוֹיִם, translated in 10:5 as "the Gentiles," is repeated in 10:32, where KJV translates it more correctly "the nations."

If the inconsistency in the translation was intentional, I would guess it was a theological translation, influenced by Paul the Apostle's mission to the gentiles in the New Testament. Since Paul visited and wrote to communities mostly in Europe, the translator viewed the descendants of Japheth as "gentiles" rather than just "nations."

  • You make a very good point. I was thinking about it too. Paul was always talking about Jews and gentiles but he usually used the phrase "jew or greek". Greek meant gentile. And then the Greeks were Japhetic. So that's why I asked the question. But you have shown that it was the translators who interpreted Gen 10:5 due to the influence of the NT. A good answer +1
    – user20490
    Dec 16, 2017 at 18:23

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