A Largely Plausible Interpretation of Genesis 10's Table of Nations
Table of Nations
Taken from: http://www.ezekielwatch.com/TheNations/TableofNations/tabid/1432/Default.aspx
The passage of Scripture known as the Table of Nations is Genesis 10, in which the first few generations of the sons of Noah (Shem, Ham, and Japheth) are described. Some of the lines have only 1 generation from their founder, while other have 3-4. The Abrahamic line from Shem is the only one that is maintained in Genesis, because it is the line through which the Messiah would come. The book of Genesis had multiple authors (probably around 10 different contributors) who would each contribute their part of the stories and the relevant geneaology. However, the Bible is clear in attributing the final editing and combining of the records of Genesis to Moses.There are several theories as to how the nations spread out after Noah and his family left the ark. Some scholars believe that the nations were forcibly dispersed after the Tower of Babel, while others believe they gradually migrated from the foothills near the Ark to further reaching areas as their current areas became crowded.
From the historical and archaeological evidence, a combination of the two theories is what probably occured. There are a number of ancient cities and villages being discovered that are hundreds of feet under water in the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, but they have no damage as would be evidenced by the Flood. Also, not many of the families of Shem and Japheth appear to have been widely disbersed at the Tower of Babel, but primarily the families and tribes of Ham.
The Book of Jasher provides some interesting insights as to what could have happened after the Flood to the dispersion at the Tower of Babel. Coupled with some other information concerning the post-flood Ice Age and the decreasing lifespans, a timeline emerges that roughly satisfies the textual, archaelogical, and historical evidence of what happened in the early days after the Flood, and how the nations of the earth spread over the globe to their present lands.
The Table of Nations is a unique document in the world, and is invaluable in deciphering the nations mentioned throughout the Bible, especially Ezekiel 38-39. Alan Cooper has validated most of these tribes and their relationships in his book After the Flood, which has further proved invaluable in piecing together man's early history after the Flood. According to his research, the Tower of Babel dispersion appears to have occurred during the 4th-5th generation after the Flood, which matches roughly with Peleg in Genesis 10, which footnotes his name as saying "for in his time, the earth was divided".
The following timeline/sequence of events can be pieced together that squares with the textual, historical, and archaelogical evidence of what happened from the Flood to Abraham (which the Bible is largely silent about).
After the Flood, the ice caps began to grow. There is only evidence for one Ice Age that had a series of growths and melt-backs. Only during the years following the Flood could there have been enough evaporation from the warm oceans to grow the glaciers quickly enough to generate the 'Ice Age'. While the glaciers are growing, the ocean levels are being lowered and the animals begin to spread out all over the world. The climate is very rainy, but mild and temperate. The oceans are very warm and cause massive evaporation which rapidly grows the glaciers as the moisture moves over land and the ice sheets. The oceans are much smaller and lower, and people/animals can migrate easily over the land between continents. The main oceans are in the area of the Pacific, with a smaller, but deeper one in the Atlantic.
The families, still fearing God and the Flood, are obedient to Noah and God and spread out into villages, mostly in the hills and high-country. They live about 400-500 years now (down from 900 ) because of the water/ice canopy being broken up in the Flood and the air pressure being cut in half. The oxygen and CO2 content is still twice what it is today, which continues to give them long lifespans.
As the families spread out, some of the people begin following the herds migrating from the Middle East. When they find a good land, they settle and are isolated later. Meanwhile, the glaciers continue to grow, and the bulk of the civilizations are still in the Middle East in villages in hilly areas.
About 200-300 years after the Flood, people are building temples, cities, and such with a high degree of culture and technology. They build near the rivers and water sources. Nimrod is born in Cush's old age and becomes a great hunter. He starts a great building project at Babel with others of the families of Ham, who are the emerging superpower of the world at that time (Shinar, Egypt, Ethiopia). Other families from Shem and Japheth join them, but the majority is made up of Ham's descendants.
The Tower of Babel dispersion occurs and Ham's descendants are scattered all over the world. Few of the established villages let them settle because they speak strange languages and are nomads until they reach the unsettled lands, where eventually they establish their own remote villages and settlements. Most of Japheth and Shem's groups and families may have been still intact after the Tower of Babel, but their languages had changed. Later, as they intermixed with some Ham's descendants migrating through, the languages and geneaologies became muddied and unidentifiable.
A number of years after the Tower of Babel (perhaps 100?), the glaciers begin to melt and the Great Meltdown occurs, which floods the lowlying cities (Atlantis?) and separates all the landmasses. As the Great Meltdown occurs, much of the technology is lost and many of the people groups are now separated by water and isolated into their present locations.
As the glaciers melt, the warm oceans cool and draw the CO2 (and then the oxygen also decreases- with less CO2, the plants produce less oxygen) out of the atmosphere and the lifespans are again cut in half during Peleg's generation, down to about 200 years. The lifespans then taper off and continue to decrease until about David's time, when the lifespan has settled at about 75 years old. The older people with the longer lifespans end up outliving generations of their children and grandchildren, and are buried in the lands to which they have migrated and isolated. These older generations have the strange, long facial characteristics that are now classified as the Neanderthals (refer to Jack Cuozzo's book Buried Alive for information on who the real Neanderthals were).
The tribes, tongues, and languages settle down and change over the centuries into their current conditions.