GEN 10:2 begins "The sons of Japheth:" but we are also told in the footnotes that 'sons' could also be 'descendants', 'successors' or 'nations' in this and many of the other verses of this chapter. Now call me a dirty unbeliever if you will, but when one pretty insignificant word can be interpreted or translated in such a wide way, in fact so widely that the meaning of the sentence can be utterly different with every differing interpretation, how is one supposed to take something in the Bible literally and not look like a drooling idiot?
Next we have verse 4. The sons (or descendents. Or successors. Or nations) of Javan are listed, and amongst them is Rodanim. Only, the footnotes tell us that in some texts this is Dodanim. Apparently this is also so confusing that the footnote itself is confused because it reads:
Some manuscripts of the Masoretic Text and Samaritan Pentateuch (see also Septuagint and 1 Chron. 1:7); most manuscripts of the Masoretic Text Dodanim. [my emphasis]I thought there were no errors in the Bible? I thought it could be taken literally? Is it some of the Masoretic Texts or most of them? Did I miss something blindingly obvious here? Of course, there couldn't possibly have been an error in translation or transcribing that has been passed down through subsequent copies. Oh no. The Bible is inerrant after all.
There's some amateur anthropology and history then sprinkled in here and throughout the rest of this chapter - basically primitive attempts to explain why there are different nations with different languages that I guess we are supposed to take literally but that fly in the face of what we know of human prehistory and early humanity.
In verse 8 we are told that Cush was the father of Nimrod. Of course, the footnotes also tell us that 'father' may actually be 'ancestor', 'predecessor' or even 'founder' here and in verses 3, 15, 24 and 26. And clearly none of those have an entirely different meaning to 'father'. Literalism indeed.
Interestingly, the fact that Nimrod was a mighty hunter before the Lord is also where the well known phrase "Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord." comes from. I know I use it all the time.
Verse 11, and yet more problems with translation and interpretation. Part of the verse reads "... where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir ..." But the footnotes also say that this could be " Nineveh with its city squares". I defy anybody to see the idiocy in taking this text literally. Clearly there are no problems.
Verse 15, more footnotes. We have Canaan's sons/descendents/successors/nations listed. "... father of Sidon his firstborn..." Or, as the footnotes point out, maybe "of the Sidonians, the foremost." Nope, no major differences in meaning there. What's your problem heathen?
Canaan's clans scatter and then we're on to the Semites, sons/descendants/successors/nations of Shem. Now, here in verse 21 we have more problems with translations or interpretations, according to the footnotes. It reads "Sons were also born to Shem, whose older brother was Japheth..." The footnotes tell us that this may also be "Shem, the older brother of..." A quite significant difference. Literal you say?
More lists of names and then the chapter is pretty much over. Not a great deal to write about other than the differing translations of interpretations I think. Really they make a mockery of any idea that the Bible is inerrant or to be taken literally because some of the alternatives completely alter the meaning of the passage in question and one is forced to ask again - which bits are to be taken literally and why, and then which interpretation of which bit is to be taken literally and why?