Catching up this morning took a backseat to chatting with a friend who seemed like she needed someone to vent to.
In Japanese, this chapter is basically unreadable. Not because there are many words I’m not familiar with – there were only four – but because this is a long list of the names of all the peoples in the world that the writers could think up and their connection back to Noah’s three sons. They’re hard enough to get through in English, and when they’re rendered awkwardly into katakana – the Japanese writing system for foreign words – it’s a complete mess.
This was undoubtedly a much more interesting chapter to its initial audience who knew who all these different nations and tribes were. Now we know some of them, but a lot of them are complete mysteries. It tells you something about the limited scope of the authors’ understanding when, in the Japanese translation, there’s no mention of anything remotely East-Asiany. It’s a very Fertile Crescent/Asia Minor list.
I have a feeling Nimrod (v 8-12) has his own epic back in the day that got cut for space, which is a shame. Apparently he was a great warrior and a hunter and founded the largest cities in Mesopotamia, including Babel (who will appear in the next, more interesting chapter). I did a bit of Wikipedia-research and apparently a Jewish midrash (a fill-in-the-gap interpretive story) tells how he was king of those cities at the time of Abraham and tried to force Abraham to worship false gods. It also explains a brief note in the next chapter where one of Abraham’s brothers, Haran, dies before his father, without any other explanation. Apparently he chose to side with Abraham’s refusal and was killed for it.
That’s about it for this chapter. The Tower of Babel is in the next one, along with Abraham’s birth, so that’s something to look forward to. Also, I’m one fifth of the way through Genesis. Woohoo!
Japanese words: yuukan(na), “brave, courageous,” (v 9), sho-, “various, many” (v 18), ryoudo, “territory” (v 19), and kougenchiditai, “tablelands” (v 30).