By Isaac Asimov

In Asimov's advisor to the Bible, Isaac Asimov explores the historic, geographical, and biographical facets of the occasions defined within the previous and New Testaments. Asimov's makes an attempt to light up the Bible's many imprecise, mysterious passages turn out soaking up analyzing for a person drawn to faith and heritage.

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And Cain went out from the presence and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. of the Lord, No one has tried to identify the "land of Nod" with any actual specific region and it is usually taken to be a metaphorical expression. The Hebrew word "Nod" is related to the tern meaning "wanderer"; there fore to dwell in the land of Nod is taken to mean that one takes up a wandering life and becomes a nomad. Here we seem to have a second strand incorporated into the ancient tale. Now we are dealing not with Cain the fanner and smith, but with Cain the nomad.

These also spoke a Hamitic language. Mizraim is the Hebrew word for "Egypt," so he is the eponym of that nation. Wherever else it occurs in the Bible, Mizraim is translated into "Egypt" (a term of Greek origin). If such translations were done here, the verse might read: "And the sons of Ham; Ethiopia, and Egypt, and Libya, and Canaan," which would accurately reflect the area dominated by Egypt in the days of her greatness. In the very next verse, however, Cush is described as the father of Seba, Havilah, and a series of other sons, all of whom are clearly eponyms of Arabian tribes.

The first two sons of Shem are Elam and Asshur, the eponyms of the Elamites and the Assyrians, which at the time that Genesis was reduced to writing were the most powerful nations of the "Semitic" world. I put "Semitic" in quotes because actually Elam was not Semitic in the modem sense; its language being of uncertain affiliation, and certainly not Semitic. However, its propinquity to Semitic Babylonia and Assyria and its long connection with both (if only through perennial war) fulfilled the Biblical criterion of the word.

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