The Sixteen Grandsons of Noah (H. Hunt with R. Grigg)

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Author's Bias | Interpretation: conservative

Secular history gives much evidence to show that the survivors of Noah’s Flood were real historical figures, whose names were indelibly carved on much of the ancient world...

When Noah and his family stepped out of the Ark, they were the only people on Earth. It fell to Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and their wives, to repopulate the earth through the children that were born to them after the Flood. Of Noah’s grandchildren, 16 grandsons are named in Genesis chapter 10.

God has left us ample evidence to confirm that these 16 grandsons of Noah really lived, that the names the Bible gives were their exact names, and that after the Babel dispersion (Genesis 11) their descendants fanned out over the earth and established the various nations of the ancient world.

The first generations after the Flood lived to be very old, with some men outliving their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. This set them apart. The 16 grandsons of Noah were the heads of their family clans, which became large populations in their respective areas. Several things happened:

a) People in various areas called themselves by the name of the man who was their common ancestor.

b) They called their land, and often their major city and major river, by his name.

c) Sometimes the various nations fell off into ancestor worship. When this happened, it was natural for them to name their god after the man who was ancestor of all of them, or to claim their long-living ancestor as their god.

d) All of this means that the evidence has been preserved in a way that can never be lost, and all the ingenuity of man cannot erase. We will now examine it.

Japheth, the third son of Noah, and his seven sons:


Ezekiel locates the early descendants of Gomer, along with Togarmah (a son of Gomer), in the north quarters (Ezekiel 38:6). In modern Turkey is an area which in New Testament times was called Galatia. The Jewish historian Flavius Josephus records that the people who were called Galatians or Gauls in his day (c. AD 93) were previously called Gomerites. (1)

They migrated westward to what are now called France and Spain. For many centuries France was called Gaul, after the descendants of Gomer. North-west Spain is called Galicia to this day.

Some of the Gomerites migrated further to what is now called Wales. The Welsh historian, Davis, records a traditional Welsh belief that the descendants of Gomer ‘landed on the Isle of Britain from France, about three hundred years after the flood’. (2) He also records that the Welsh language is called Gomeraeg (after their ancestor Gomer).

Other members of their clan settled along the way, including in Armenia. The sons of Gomer were ‘Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah’ (Genesis 10:3). Encyclopaedia Britannica says that the Armenians traditionally claim to be descended from Togarmah and Ashkenaz. (3) Ancient Armenia reached into Turkey. The name Turkey probably comes from Togarmah. Others of them migrated to Germany. Ashkenaz is the Hebrew word for Germany.


According to Ezekiel, Magog lived in the north parts (Ezekiel 38:15, 39:2). Josephus records that those whom he called Magogites, the Greeks called Scythians. (1) According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, the ancient name for the region which now includes part of Romania and the Ukraine was Scythia. (4)


Along with Shem’s son Elam, Madai is the ancestor of our modern-day Iranians. Josephus says that the descendants of Madai were called Medes by the Greeks. (1) Every time the Medes are mentioned in the Old Testament, the word used is the Hebrew word Madai (maday). After the time of Cyrus, the Medes are always (with one exception) mentioned along with the Persians. They became one kingdom with one law — ‘the law of the Medes and Persians’ (Daniel 6:8, 12, 15). Later they were simply called Persians. Since 1935 they have called their country Iran. The Medes also ‘settled India’. (5)


Javan is the Hebrew word for Greece. Greece, Grecia, or Grecians appears five times in the Old Testament, and is always the Hebrew word Javan. Daniel refers to ‘the king of Grecia’ (Daniel 8:21), literally ‘the king of Javan’.

Javan’s sons were Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim (Genesis 10:4), all of whom have connections with the Greek people. The Elysians (an ancient Greek people) obviously received their name from Elishah. Tarshish or Tarsus was located in the region of Cilicia (modern Turkey).

Encyclopaedia Britannica says that Kittim is the biblical name for Cyprus. (6) The Greeks worshipped Jupiter under the name of Jupiter Dodanaeus, possibly a reference to the fourth son of Javan, with Jupiter a derivative of Japheth. His oracle was at Dodena.


Ezekiel mentions him along with Gog and Meshech (Ezekiel 39:1). Tiglath-pileser I, king of Assyria in about 1100 BC, refers to the descendants of Tubal as the Tabali. Josephus recorded their name as the Thobelites, who were later known as Iberes. (1)

Their land, in Josephus’ day, was called by the Romans Iberia, and covered what is now (the former Soviet State of) Georgia whose capital to this day bears the name Tubal as Tbilisi. From here, having crossed the Caucasus mountains, this people migrated due north-east, giving their tribal name to the river Tobol, and hence to the famous city of Tobolsk. (7)


Meshech is the ancient name for Moscow. Moscow is both the capital of Russia, and the region that surrounds the city. To this day, one section, the Meschera Lowland, still carries the name of Meshech, virtually unchanged by the ages.


According to Josephus, the descendants of grandson Tiras were called Thirasians. The Greeks changed their name to Thracians. (1) Thrace reached from Macedonia on the south to the Danube River on the north to the Black Sea on the east. It took in much of what became Yugoslavia. World Book Encyclopedia says: ‘The people of Thrace were savage Indo-Europeans, who liked warfare and looting.’ (8) Tiras was worshipped by his descendants as Thuras, or Thor, the god of thunder.

Ham, second son of Noah, and his four sons


The descendants of Ham live mainly in south-west Asia and Africa. The Bible often refers to Africa as the land of Ham (Psalms 105:23,27; 106:22). The name of Noah’s grandson Cush is the Hebrew word for old Ethiopia (from Aswan south to Khartoum). Without exception, the word Ethiopia in the English Bible is always a translation of the Hebrew word Cush. Josephus rendered the name as Chus, and says that the Ethiopians ‘are even at this day, both by themselves and by all men in Asia, called Chusites’. (9)


Mizraim is the Hebrew word for Egypt. The name Egypt appears hundreds of times in the Old Testament and (with one exception) is always a translation of the word Mizraim. For example, at the burial of Jacob, the Canaanites observed the mourning of the Egyptians and so called the place Abel Mizraim (Genesis 50:11).


Phut is the Hebrew name for Libya. It is so translated three times in the Old Testament. The ancient river Phut was in Libya. By Daniel’s day, the name had been changed to Libya (Daniel 11:43). Josephus says, ‘Phut also was the founder of Libia [sic], and called the inhabitants Phutites, from himself’. (9)


Canaan is the Hebrew name for the general region later called by the Romans Palestine (i.e. modern Israel and Jordan).

Here we should look briefly at a few of the descendants of Ham (Genesis 10:14–18). There is Philistim, obviously the ancestor of the Philistines (clearly giving rise to the name Palestine), and Sidon, the founder of the ancient city that bears his name, and Heth, the patriarch of the ancient Hittite empire. Also, this descendant is listed in Genesis 10:15–18 as being the ancestor of the Jebusites (Jebus was the ancient name for JerusalemJudges 19:10), the Amorites, the Girgasites, the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites, ancient peoples who lived in the land of Canaan.

The most prominent descendant of Ham was Nimrod, the founder of Babel (Babylon), as well as of Erech, Accad and Calneh in Shinar (Babylonia).

Shem, the first son of Noah, and his five sons.


Elam is the ancient name for Persia, which is itself the ancient name for Iran. Until the time of Cyrus the people here were called Elamites, and they were still often called that even in New Testament times. In Acts 2:9, the Jews from Persia who were present at Pentecost were called Elamites. The Persians are thus descended from both Elam, the son of Shem, and from Madai, the son of Japheth (see above). Since the 1930s they have called their country Iran.

It is interesting to note that the word ‘Aryan’, which so fascinated Adolf Hitler, is a form of the word ‘Iran’. Hitler wanted to produce a pure Aryan ‘race’ of supermen. But the very term ‘Aryan’ signifies a mixed line of Semites and Japhethites!


Asshur is the Hebrew word for Assyria. Assyria was one of the great ancient empires. Every time the words Assyria or Assyrian appear in the Old Testament, they are translated from the word Asshur. He was worshipped by his descendants.

‘Indeed, as long as Assyria lasted, that is until 612 BC, accounts of battles, diplomatic affairs and foreign bulletins were daily read out to his image; and every Assyrian king held that he wore the crown only with the express permission of Asshur’s deified ghost.’ (10)


Arphaxad was the progenitor of the Chaldeans. This ‘is confirmed by the Hurrian (Nuzi) tablets, which render the name as Arip-hurra — the founder of Chaldea.’ (11) His descendant, Eber, gave his name to the Hebrew people via the line of Eber-Peleg-Reu-Serug-Nahor-Terah-Abram (Genesis 11:16–26). Eber’s other son, Joktan, had 13 sons (Genesis 10:26–30), all of whom appear to have settled in Arabia. (12)


Lud was the ancestor of the Lydians. Lydia was in what is now Western Turkey. Their capital was Sardis — one of the seven churches of Asia was at Sardis (Revelation 3:1).


Aram is the Hebrew word for Syria. Whenever the word Syria appears in the Old Testament it is a translation of the word Aram. The Syrians call themselves Arameans, and their language is called Aramaic. Before the spread of the Greek Empire, Aramaic was the international language (2 Kings 18:26 ff). On the cross, when Jesus cried out, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani’ (Mark 15:34), (13) He was speaking Aramaic, the language of the common people.


We have only taken the briefest glance at Noah’s sixteen grandsons (14), but enough has been said to show that they really did live, that they were who the Bible says they were, and that their descendants are identifiable on the pages of history. Not only is the Bible not a collection of myths and legends, but it stands alone as the key to the history of the earliest ages of the world.

Pastor Harold Hunt has pastored churches in Tennessee, Georgia and Mississippi for 40 years. He is currently writing a verse by verse commentary on Paul’s epistles.

Dr. Russell M. Grigg M.Sc. (Hons.) was born in Auckland, New Zealand, and received his schooling and university education in that country. He studied chemistry at Victoria University College, Wellington (now known as Victoria University of Wellington), graduating in 1948. He then worked for a number of years as an industrial chemist and then as a manager in the paint manufacturing industry in Wellington and Christchurch.

After theological studies at the New Zealand Bible Training Institute (now known as the Bible College of New Zealand), he joined the Overseas Missionary Fellowship in 1959. He served for 12 years, heading up OMF’s publishing program in Jakarta, Indonesia. Here he met and married Miss Merle Cornelius, another member of OMF, from Adelaide, Australia. They now have three adult children and five grandchildren.

In 1971, the family settled in Adelaide and Russell worked for 10 years with Rigby Ltd., an Australian publishing company, rising to the position of Senior Editor. Here he wrote two books, Australian Trains and Death in the Family: What to Do, both published by Rigby Ltd.

In 1982, Russell rejoined OMF and served on the home staff for eight years. He was State Director for South Australia.

During the 1980s, Russell became aware of a new magazine called Creation Ex Nihilo that was published by Creation Science Foundation (now Answers in Genesis) in Brisbane. The first few editions had been written by an Adelaide doctor, Carl Wieland, and turned out by him on the photocopier in his surgery. When Carl called a few friends together to form a local committee in Adelaide, Russell went along. With his science background, and several years experience in arranging meetings for missionary speakers, showing films, and selling books in local churches, he felt he might have something to contribute.

In the next few years, the Creation Science Foundation grew into a large organization, with headquarters, offices, and bookroom at Acacia Ridge in Brisbane, and support groups in each State. The latter arranged meetings for CSF’s highly qualified speakers in churches throughout Australia, as well as debates and other public meetings in universities, Bible Colleges, and schools.

In 1988, when Dr Duane Gish came from the USA to speak in Australia, Russell and Peter Sparrow, the Adelaide CSF representative (of Creation Bus fame), tried to arrange a debate with one of the university biology professors or lecturers. However, no one at either Adelaide University or Flinders University was willing to accept the challenge. Clearly the evolutionists in these universities did not want Dr Gish to be heard by the students on either campus.

What to do? Russell came up with the idea of organizing a ‘Clayton’s Debate’ (the debate you have when you are not having a debate) in which Dr Gish would be the sole speaker. In the first hour, he would present ‘The Scientific Evidence for Creation’, and then for another hour he would give and refute ‘The Alleged Evidence for Evolution’ based on the arguments that scores of evolutionary scientists, including such well-known personalities as Dr. Isaac Asimov and Dr. Stanley Miller, had used in over 200 debates with him in USA, Canada, England, India, New Zealand, and other countries.

A meeting was advertised along these lines. Posters and leaflets were prepared, with a range of different cartoons on each to catch people’s attention. Members of Students for Christ enthusiastically supported the idea and put up the posters all round the campus, as well as keeping a daily supply of hundreds of pamphlets explaining the circumstances on the counter and tables in the caeteria for students to read while they were eating their lunch. When the time came, about 300 people comfortably filled the hall, which was probably more than would have attended had a more orthodox debate been held!

Since 1990, Russell and Merle have lived in Brisbane, where Russell is a staff member of Answers in Genesis. He writes scientific and theological articles for Creation magazine, edits articles and books written by others, and reviews books and videos on creation topics submitted to AiG from overseas.


1. Josephus: Complete Works, Kregal Publications, Grand Rapids, Michigan, ‘Antiquities of the Jews’, 1:6:1 (i.e. book 1, chapter 6, section 1).

2. J. Davis, History of the Welsh Baptists from the Year Sixty-three to the Year One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy, D.M. Hogan, Pittsburgh, 1835, republished by The Baptist, Aberdeen, Mississippi, p.1, 1976.

3. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2:422, 1967.

4. Encyclopædia Britannica, 20:116, 1967.

5. A.C. Custance, Noah’s Three Sons, Vol.1, ‘The Doorway Papers’, Zondervan, Michigan, p. 92, 1975.

6. Encyclopædia Britannica 3:332, 1992.

7. Bill Cooper, After the Flood, New Wine Press, Chichester, England, p. 203, 1995.

8. World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 18, p. 207, 1968.

9. Ref. 1, 1:6:2.

10. Ref. 7, p. 170.

11. Ref. 7, p. 172.

12. Ref. 5, p. 117.

13. Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34 quote the Aramaic form of Psalm 22:1, but Matthew reconverted Eloi to the Hebrew Eli.

14. For example, we made no attempt here to trace the origins of the Chinese. For evidence on this subject see ‘The original, "unknown" God of China’, Creation 20(3):50–54, 1998. See also how ancient Chinese Characters show that the ancient Chinese knew the Gospel message found in the book of Genesis.

This article, with permission from, was adapted from the original article with the same title found in Can we really trust the Bible from the very first verse? How can we build a Biblical world-view starting with Genesis? How do we know there is a God? These are just a few questions whose answers you can find at strives to provide answers from Genesis to make Jesus Christ, our Creator and Redeemer, relevant to the Church and world today (

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