The list of tribes in Gen 10 seems provincial, restricted to the world known to the Israelites; would not a God’s-eye view of history be broader?

Here is the purported problem: surely the reason the tribes listed in Gen 10 were from the areas surrounding Israel is that this was the world known to the Israelites. But does this not undermine the scriptures’ pretensions to give a God’s-eye view of human history? There are three possible reasons (not necessarily mutually exclusive) for what appears to be a provincial listing: (1) these were the only known tribes; (2) these were the first descendants of Noah, and it was from these places relatively near to the landing of the ark that the rest of the earth was populated; (3) these were the descendants of Noah who figured in the lives and history of the Hebrews. First, it is true: these were the only early tribes known to the early Hebrews. But on the other hand, the assertion is that these were the men who lived within just a few generations of Noah. Hence of course it does not presume to give a history of all of humanity. Finally, it is also quite true that the Bible deals with just that portion of humanity that deals directly with the Hebrews. The text purports to be written with inspiration from God, but not to teach things irrelevant to the covenants God made with the Hebrews. So all three of the explanations are reasonable.

Is the Table of Nations of Gen 10 generally plausible?

Anthropologists have found homo sapiens skeletons in many places going back thousands of years—well over 100,000 years—in many places. These are surely inconsistent a Young Earth history, and particularly with a view in which Adam was created in the fifth millennium B.C., or even a few millennia before that. Considering that, it is probable given the extra-Biblical evidence that mankind has been roaming earth for tens of thousands of years. You might say that even if that were true, mankind might have been wiped out in the Flood and then the Table of Nations would still be accurate as a snapshot circa 2500 B.C. of the nations centered around Israel. The problem with that response is that we have evidence that the ancestors of today’s Australians are ancient pre-Flood Australians, and the ancestors of today’s Europeans are ancient pre-Flood Europeans, and so forth. Moreover, it does not seem likely that the Flood, if it lived on in global memory from ancient times, could have lived on in that way for literally many thousands, let alone tens of thousands, of years. If the Flood of the Bible, it would have had to have happened roughly when it was supposed to have happened—sometime between 4000 and 2000 BC, say (Henry puts it at 2349 B.C.). So this is one question on which I am afraid that in all honesty I have no good answer. I simply do not see how the Table of Nations is plausible, at least when combined with a worldwide flood.

The Sons of Japheth

Sons of JaphethLocation Notes
GomerJosephus and Holman have them settled in central Turkey. Josephus adds that they became the Galatians, from whom the Gauls were descended; ESV puts them east of there, in the southern Caucasus region.
MagogJosephus identifies them with the Scythians, i.e., people who settled north of the Black and Caspian Seas. ESV has them in the southern Caucasus with Gomer, while Holman puts them in central Turkey.
MadaiAll my sources agree in identifying these with the Medes, of northern Iran and who later joined with the Persians.
JavanJosephus identifies these with “Ionians” and says all Greeks descended from him. The other two sources put them in the Aegean islands, anyway.
TubalJosephus says these became the “Iberes”—Iberians? But the ESV map puts Tubal in modern-day Georgia in the Caucasus, while Holman places him in central Turkey (Cappadocia).
MeshechBecame the Cappadocians (in central Turkey), says Josephus; its capital was called Mazaca. ESV places them somewhat east of there, still in Turkey, while Holman places them slightly west.
TirasJosephus says they became Thrace, on the north of the Aegean Sea, and Holman agrees, but encorporates the suggestion that it included ancient Troy; Etruscians, speculates ESV.

Note: seven sons, a “complete” number representing others.

The Sons of Gomer

AshkenazJosephus says the the Ashkenazis were “Rheginians,” but what this means is not totally clear. The Talmud purportedly places this in east-central Europe. The ESV and Holman both place them in Caucasus.
RiphathJosephus identifies this with Paphlagonia, on the north-central coast of Turkey, while Holman places them in eastern Turkey and ESV has no opinion.
TogarmahJosephus identifies them with Phrygians, in western central Turkey, while the other sources have Togarmah in eastern Turkey or Armenia.

The Sons of Javan

ElishahJosephus says they are “now the Aeolians,” on the northern part of the Aegean coast of Turkey. The ESV and Holman both put them on Cyprus.
TarshishThe location of “Tarshish,” in the Bible, is famously unknown, but Josephus confidently has it as Cilicia, the capital of which was Tarsus, on the southeast coast of Turkey. The ESV speculates it is Tartessos in Spain, while Holman says that it is in Italy, or some point thereabout.
KittimAll agree that Kittim is Cyprus.
DodanimReading “Rhodanim,” ESV and Holman have this as Rhodes; Josephus does not mention it.

Note: these two latter groups together also make seven in number.

The Sons of Ham

The Sons of HamLocation Notes
CushThe name is well-known to mean Ethiopia, although it might have been located around present-day Sudan.
MizraimAgain, well-known to mean Egypt.
PhutAll sources agree (although not all are confident) that this is probably Libya, on the African coast to the west of Egypt.
CanaanThis is well-known indeed.

The Sons of Cush

Note: To save time, from now on I will be using only the Holman Atlas for place names. There is some disagreement, as above; e.g., the ESV says Havilah is at the tip of the Arabian peninsula, not in Africa.
Seba, HavilahBoth far to the southeast in Africa, along the entrance of the Red Sea, around present-day Eritrea.
Sabtah, RaamahBoth around present day Yemen, near the southern corner of Arabia.
SabtechahLocation unknown
Sons of Raamah: Sheba and DedanSheba is widely thought to be around Yemen, near the southern corner of Arabia, while Dedan is placed just east of the Gulf of Aqaba—close to the place where the Midianites were thought to dwell. Note that Noah was married to a woman described as a “Cushite,” who was also a Midianite; perhaps she was called “Cushite” simply because the Midianites were among the “sons of Cush.”
NimrodHe was said to have started four cities, Babel (i.e., Babylon), Erech (i.e., Uruk), Accad (i.e., Akkad), and Calneh, all in “the land of Shinar,” which evidently is in southern Mesopotamia and might have meant either “Sumer” or “Akkad,” and some references say simply “Babylonia,” referring to the entire southern Mesopotamian region and the cultures that grew up around there.
Asshur (“out of that land”)Asshur is the name of a chief city in the future Assyria; this included Nineveh, Resen, Calah, all in northeastern Mesopotamia, and Rehoboth, the location of which is not known.

The Sons of Mizraim

LudimAround present-day Tunisia.
AnamimLocation unknown.
LehabimAround present-day coastal Libya.
NaphtuhimThe Nile Delta region.
PathrusimAppear to be around the ancient (more northerly location of) Ethiopia; possibly just Upper Egyptian?
“Out of whom came Philistim.” Placed in present-day coastal Libya. This offers a different origin to the usual one given of the Philistines; archaeologists believe them to have originated in the Aegean islands.
CaphtorimFrom Crete.

Note: From here I will go much faster, as this is simply taking too long. Note also, among the sons of Ham, Phut/Put is here skipped.

The Sons of Canaan

Sidon, Heth, Jebusites, Amorites, Girgasites, Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, Arvadites, Zemarites, HamathitesSidon is of course the famous city. Heth, located north of the land of Canaan, is the source of the Hittites. The rest are all to be found in or very near to the land of Canaan, where they can be specifically located at all. Information about the tribes can be found throughout the following notes.

The Children of Shem

These are the so-called Semites, or Semitic tribes.

ShemHe is placed in and north of the Arabian Peninsula.
Children of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, AramElam, Asshur, and Aram (Syria) were all Mesopotamian. Lud was purportedly located in northwest Asia Minor, while the location of Arphaxad is unknown.
Children of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether, MashUz and Hul were apparently in the desert south of Syria, near Canaan, while Mash was north of Elam and Gether’s location is unknown.
Children of ArphaxadHere was have not a list of Arphaxad’s immediate offspring but instead a genealogical line, as follows: Arphaxad > Salah > Eber > Peleg and Joktan. Salah’s location is unknown, but Eber—after whom the Hebrews were named—and his son Peleg lived in northern Mesopotamia, in southern Turkey, or northern modern Syria. Joktan lived in the Arabian desert.
Children of JoktanThe names of Gen 10:26-29 are, like the line of Cain and many more to follow, listed in detail as “the road not traveled” by the genealogy that would lead to the kingdom of Israel and the Messiah. The names, which I will not bother listing, are all held to be the 13 original and “purest” Arabian tribes. The names can be found around the Arabian peninsula, especially the southern end, and even (in the case of Ophir) possibly in Africa on the other side of the entrance of the Red Sea.

Who was Shem (Gen 10:21-31) and why was he important? What about Eber (10:21, 24-25)?

As to his location and those of his descendants, see the table above. His name is the source of the word “Semite.” This implies that not just Hebrews, but all the Arab tribes, as well as Syrians, probably the Babylonian and Assyrian peasantry, and a number of others, were considered Semitic. But among those who were not deemed Semitic included the Canaanites (most importantly), the Egyptians, and Nimrod, the founder of Babylonia if not many of the people. Note that not all the people who were purportedly descended from Shem spoke a language of the Semitic language family; some spoke an Indo-European language. That the connections are close enough is interesting. As to Eber, it was he after whom the Hebrews were named.

Was Terah’s journey not a homecoming to the land of the sons of Eber (Gen 10:21, 24-25)—the “Hebrews”?

The name “Eber” means “the other side” as in “the other side of the flood,” so the other side of the Euphrates. This was the land of Haran, from which Isaac and Jacob got wives. If the homeland of Eber was in northern Syria, as it is widely thought, then indeed it might be identified with the land of Haran, where Terah took his family, including Abram, after they left “Ur of the Chaldeans.” So, whatever the reason for the move, they were coming back to their ancestral homeland. Abraham sought a wife for Isaac from the same place, and Rebekah told Jacob to find a wife there as well.