Table of Contents
- Houses and Children as “Audiences of God”
- Table of Nations as “Audiences of God”
- Additional Important “Audiences of God”
- Audiences Related To Israel
- Audiences NOT Related To Israel
An audience is a group of people that you address with some information or content. This might be a speech, a concert, etc. God has defined a set of audiences in Scripture that are important to understand. He uses these audiences repeatedly through the Scripture. At this point, I am going to mainly focus on God’s speaking in the Old Testament. There are both “good” audiences and “bad” audiences. These audiences are very important to understanding God’s speaking through the Bible.
- Nations as Audiences
- Kings as Audiences
- People Groupings as Audiences
- Titles/Roles as Audiences ()
- Houses as Audiences
- Sons/Children as Audiences
- Individuals as Audiences
To some extent this is common sense, but it is important to realize that God is a being who is communicating to all of mankind and He is choosing the audiences He wants to address. Understanding those audiences the way the author (God) understands them is one key to understanding the Bible.
When God speaks to a particular audience, He is not just speaking to that particular that audience but also what it represents to Him. This can include:
- Symbolically referencing an important spiritual reality through an audience
- Referencing a future person or future group of people through an audience
- Sometimes, God is referring to a spiritual being or spiritual dominion – this type of reference is not provable or clear cut.
Old Testament Person / Group with Symbolic Meaning
Sometimes the references may by God are symbolic and independent of time. For example, in the book of Malachi God says:
“…I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated…”Malachi 1:2b–3a (LEB)
Jacob and his descendants become Old Testament Israel. Esau and his descendants become Edom. Esau symbolically represents the “flesh” that Paul talks about in Romans (see Romans 8:4-9). Esau’s behavior and the way he is presented in Scripture connects him symbolically with the “flesh”. Furthermore, the nation sourced from Esau (i.e. Edom) also pictures the “flesh” and God commits Edom to utter and complete destruction. This is pictorally correct for us. Our current “flesh” (i.e. our bodies) will go away and be replaced with a new body that is not “flesh”. It is still a body, but it is not composed of “flesh”.
Old Testament Person referencing Future Character
There are various foreshadowings of Jesus in the Old Testament through prophetic Scripture. There are also people in the Old Testament that point towards Jesus. One of the strongest examples of this is Joshua. Jesus’ name is actually the Greek version of Jehoshua. Jehoshua is the same as Joshua.
There are many things in the life of Joshua that point forward to things that Jesus does through his ministry. So, the various things we can read about Joshua in the Old Testament allow us to understand more about Jesus.
In this case, God does not speak to Joshua as an “audience”, but uses him to express meaning that communicates more than just the story of Joshua’s life.
The following categories of “Audiences of God” does not cover 100% of the audiences. It covers most of them, but there are still minor references which have not been understood or mapped by anyone.
Houses and Children as “Audiences of God”
As you read the Bible (especially the Old Testament) there are various references to “House of”. For example,
- House of Israel (very common – occurs ~150 times in the Old Testament)
- House of Joseph (occurs ~15 times in the Old Testament)
You will also find references to “Children of” or “Sons of”. Depending on the translation you are reading the number of occurrences of each of these references will vary. There are a few of these references that are relevant, but the most important one is:
- Sons/Children of Israel – ~40 times in the Old Testament
The Hebrew words for “house” and “son” are very similar. They come from the same root word in Hebrew and conceptually the idea of having a son is very similar to building a house. Even in modern terms this makes sense.
Table of Nations as “Audiences of God”
Genesis 10 is referred to by many scholars as the Table of Nations. This is very accurate, but I want to rename this reference for our purposes. I want to call this portion of Scripture the “Audiences of God”. This is where God defines various groupings of people which He will speak to throughout Scripture. Sometimes He speaks directly to the groups named in Genesis 10. Sometimes He speaks to the descendants of the groupings He defines in Genesis 10. In any case, you will almost always be able to trace every audience throughout Scripture back to Genesis 10. In fact, doing this can sometimes give you insight to understand what God is saying and why He is speaking to a particular audience in a particular way at various points throughout Scripture. There are a few important audiences that are introduced after the Table of Nations. They also connect back to the Table of Nations and there is some insight to be gained from their connection, but they are introduced after Genesis 10. A few examples of some of the most important audiences established after the Table of Nations are introduced below in the section titled Additional Important Audiences of God
The last verse in the chapter confirms that the chapter is a Table of Nations which are the core Audiences of God.
It should be noted in advance that the genealogy given here is sporadic. Some descendants of Shem, Ham and Japheth are elaborated to multiple generations while others are not. You should assume that all of this is intentional. This is not a scientific presentation, but a presentation from the mind of God which expresses detail where it is needed and does not in places where it is not relevant.
Later in Scripture you will find that various individuals or descendants are referred to in prophetic speaking by God through the prophets. Sometimes the individuals or descendants are named directly from this Table of Nations and sometimes you have to backtrack by study.
Descendants of Noah (Table of Nations)
The Table of Nations defines 70 individuals or people groups which come from the sons of Noah.
1 These are the generations of the sons of Noah—Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Children were born to them after the flood. … 32 These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their generations and in their nations. And from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood.Genesis 10:1, 32 (LEB)
Descendants of Japheth
Japheth covers many Gentile nations which expand across the earth. There are various references to these audiences. Some are good and some are bad.
2 The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras.Genesis 10:1–5 (LEB)
3 And the sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah.
4 And the sons of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim.
5 From these the coastland peoples spread out through their lands, each according to his own language by their own families, in their nations.
Here are a few audiences from Japheth’s descendants which are very significant.
- Javan – the Ionians (aka the Greeks)
- Magog – referred to in Ezekiel 38 in the war of Gog of Magog
- The coastland peoples – referred to as “the coastlands” in various Scriptures (e.g. Isaiah 49:1 – “Listen to me, coastlands…”)
Descendants of Ham
6 And the sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan.
7 And the sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan. 8 And Cush fathered Nimrod. He was the first on earth to be a mighty warrior. 9 He was a mighty hunter before Yahweh. Therefore it was said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before Yahweh.” 10 Now, the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Akkad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. 11 From that land he went out to Assyria, and he built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, 12 Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.
13 And Egypt fathered Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, 14 Pathrusim, and Casluhim (from whom the Philistines came), and Caphtorim.
15 Canaan fathered Sidon, his firstborn, and Heth, 16 and the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, 17 the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, 18 the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites. Afterward the families of the Canaanites were spread abroad. 19 And the territory of the Canaanites was from Sidon in the direction of Gerar as far as Gaza, and in the direction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. 20 These are the descendants of Ham, according to their families and their languages, in their lands, and in their nations.Genesis 10:6–20 (LEB)
18 On that day Yahweh made a covenant with Abram saying, “To your offspring I will give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates river, 19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”Genesis 15:18–21 (LEB)
1 “When Yahweh your God brings you into the land that you are about to enter into it to take possession of it, and he drives out many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations mightier and more numerous than you,Deuteronomy 7:1 (LEB)
Descendants of Shem
21 And to Shem, the father of all the children of Eber, the older brother of Japheth, children were also born. 22 The sons of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram.
23 And the sons of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash. 24 And Arphaxad fathered Shelah, and Shelah fathered Eber. 25 And to Eber two sons were born. The name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided, and the name of his brother was Joktan. 26 And Joktan fathered Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba, 29 Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab. All these were the sons of Joktan. 30 And their dwelling place extended from Mesha in the direction of Sephar to the hill country of the east. 31 These are the sons of Shem, according to their families, according to their languages, in their lands, and according to their nations.Genesis 10:21–31 (LEB)
Additional Important “Audiences of God”
Audiences Related To Israel
The following audiences are all in direct or close familial proximity to the chosen lineage of God related to Israel. In most cases, the closer they are from a family/bloodline perspective the more problematic for Israel they can be in the Biblical story line. There are bigger enemies that are not in the same bloodline, but many of the most problematic ones for Israel are in closer proximity.
Moab — Moabites & Ben-Ammi — Ammonites (Children of Lot & His Daughters)
Familial Connection: Lot is Abraham’s nephew. Moab & Ammon are a grandnephews of Abraham.
33 And they gave their father wine to drink that night, and the firstborn went and lay with her father, but he did not know when she lay down or when she got up. … 36 And the two daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father. 37 The firstborn gave birth to a son, and she called his name Moab. He is the father of Moab until this day. 38 And the younger, she also gave birth to a son, and she called his name Ben-Ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites until this day.Genesis19:33, 36–38 (LEB)
The people of Moab (Moabites) and the people of Ammon (aka Ben-Ammi) are closely linked in their heritage and in the Bible. Moab plays a more prominent role, but the two are associated together in dealings with Israel in several key instances. Here are a few examples:
- Moab blocked the path to the Promised Land and brought the children of Israel to a very low place through Balak (king of Moab) and what he learned from Balaam (See Number 22-25).
- God acknowledges he has granted some territory to Moab and Ammon as a descendant of Lot (See Deuteronomy 2:9, 19)
- Moab and Ammon were repeated enemies of Israel (Judges 3:12-30; 1 Samuel 14:47; 2 Samuel 8:2)
God speaks prophetically to Moab
- See Isaiah 15-16 and Zephaniah 2:8-10 for judgments on Moab
God also uses Moab as part of His story line of salvation. He demonstrates the power of the blood of Jesus Christ overcomes any and all challenges through his ancestral blood line.
- Ruth was a Moabitess. The Book of Ruth tells her story. She becomes a maternal ancestor of Jesus Christ by marriage.
Ishmael — Has 12 children who become tribes and nations
Familial Connection: Ishmael is the son of Abraham and half-brother of Isaac. Born to Hagar the servant of Sarah (Abraham’s wife)
God makes it clear before Ishmael is even born that he will become a great number of people, but that he will have a challenging nature.
7 And the angel of Yahweh found her at a spring of water in the wilderness, at the spring by the road of Shur. 8 And he said to Hagar, the female slave of Sarai, “From where have you come, and where are you going?” And she said, “I am fleeing from the presence of Sarai my mistress.” 9 Then the angel of Yahweh said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit yourself under her authority.” 10 And the angel of Yahweh said to her, “I will greatly multiply your offspring, so that they cannot be counted for their abundance.”
11 And the angel of Yahweh said to her: “Behold, you are pregnant and shall have a son. And you shall call his name Ishmael, for Yahweh has listened to your suffering. 12 And he shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand will be against everyone, and the hand of everyone will be against him, and he will live in hostility with all his brothers.”Genesis 16:7–12 (LEB)
The following article summarizes what happens to Ishmael’s descendants. It is pretty likely that the descendants of Ishmael actually play a role in modern times through Islam (Muslim’s)
Esau — Edom/Edomites
Familial Connection: Esau is the son of Isaac. and twin brother of Jacob who was born first, but traded his birthright for a bowl of soup.
He was named Esau at birth, but when he gave away his birthright for a bowl of soup he and his descendants became Edom. Edom is very close to Adam in Hebrew spelling and meaning. It means “red” or “ruddy”.
23 And Yahweh said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from birth shall be divided. And one people shall be stronger than the other. And the elder shall serve the younger.” 24 And when her days to give birth were completed, then—behold—twins were in her womb. 25 And the first came out red, all his body was like a hairy coat, so they called his name Esau. 26 And afterward his brother came out, and his hand grasped the heel of Esau, so his name was called Jacob. And Isaac was sixty years old at their birth.Genesis 25:23–26 (LEB)
30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Give me some of that red stuff to gulp down, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom).Genesis 25:30 (LEB)
Esau and Edom have numerous interactions with Jacob/Israel. Most of the interactions are not good, but some are okay. There is mostly struggle and strife between Esau/Edom and Jacob/Israel.
In the end God prophecies to Edom that Edom will be completely destroyed (Obadiah). In addition, God expressed his hatred towards Esau as opposed to his love for Jacob.
“…I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated…”Malachi 1:2b–3a (LEB)
Amalek — Amalekites
Familial Connection: Grandson of Esau (son of Isaac, twin brother of Jacob)
Amalek plays a special role in scripture as a key picture of God’s enemy. Amalek shows up not long after the children of Israel exit from Egypt. Even before they reach Mount Sinai and receive the 10 commandments, Amalek comes to fight with Israel.
8 And Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. 9 And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us, and go out, fight against Amalek tomorrow. I will be standing on the top of the hill, and the staff of God will be in my hand.”Exodus 17:8–9 (LEB)
14 And Yahweh said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in the scroll and recite it in the hearing of Joshua, because I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under the heavens.” 15 And Moses built an altar, and he called its name Yahweh Is My Banner. 16 And he said, “Because a hand was against the throne of Yah, a war will be for Yahweh with Amalek from generation to generation.”Exodus 17:14–16 (LEB)
Notice here that God identifies Amalek as an enemy from “generation to generation”. Amalek and his descendants (the Amalekites) appear repeatedly. Gods intention for this enemy (Amalek) is for destruction, but the descendants of Amalek appear multiple times fighting with Israel and play a central role in the near annihilation of the Jews in the book of Esther through Haman (descendant of king Agag, an Amalekite) that King Saul was supposed to have killed but did not.
Audiences NOT Related To Israel
All of the following audiences are included in the Table of Nations, but they bear special mention because of how uniquely they are placed in the Table of Nations and the role they play in later portions of Scripture (especially in the prophets). All of the following parties descend from Ham who uncovers his father’s (Noah’s) nakedness and caused Noah to curse one of his children (Canaan). This is pretty unique and interesting.
20 And Noah began to be a man of the ground, and he planted a vineyard. 21 And he drank some of the wine and became drunk, and he exposed himself in the midst of his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and he told his two brothers outside.Genesis 9:20–22 (LEB)
Noah’s curse identifies a child of Ham to be cursed, but says nothing about Ham himself.
25 And he said, “Cursed be Canaan, a slave of slaves he shall be to his brothers.” 26 Then he said, “Blessed be Yahweh, the God of Shem, and let Canaan be a slave to them. 27 May God make space for Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be a slave for him.”Genesis 9:25–27 (LEB)
Nimrod — Established Kingdoms of Babylon, Assyria and Others
Nimrod was the child of Cush who was the firstborn of Ham.
8 And Cush fathered Nimrod. He was the first on earth to be a mighty warrior. 9 He was a mighty hunter before Yahweh. Therefore it was said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before Yahweh.” 10 Now, the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Akkad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. 11 From that land he went out to Assyria, and he built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, 12 Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.Genesis 10:8–12 (LEB)
Nimrod’s kingdoms include some of the most important enemies of Israel in Babylon and Assyria.
Egypt (aka Mizraim)
Egypt (aka Mizraim) is one of the most prominent nations in the Bible. Egypt shows up in various ways including as an audience of God’s speaking through the prophets. It plays a role with Israel in multiple ways. Most importantly, it represents the “world” in type and picture (i.e. symbolically). Israel’s interaction with Egypt is almost always problematic. It is sometimes an enemy and sometimes Israel seeks out Egypt for alliance and support. This is rarely done in a way that is approved of by God.