Peleg In Gen 10:25 -- By: David M. Fouts

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 41:1 (Mar 1998)
Article: Peleg In Gen 10:25
Author: David M. Fouts


Peleg In Gen 10:25

David M. Fouts*

* David Fouts is associate professor of Bible at Bryan College, Dayton, TN 37321–7000.

Many years ago I became fascinated by a short discussion by Henry Morris and John Whitcomb concerning the mention of Peleg in the genealogies of Genesis 10 and the etiological note that appears there: “In his days the earth was divided” (Gen 10:25). Though Morris and Whitcomb understood this to refer to the division of languages that would be revealed in the Babel pericope,1 a visual presentation I witnessed later indicated that the verse may have referred instead to continental drift. I have subsequently wondered about this passage on a number of occasions.

My colleague Kurt Wise informs me that the passage has become a hot topic in the ongoing creation/theistic-evolution debate. The discussion, however, arises within the creationist camp solely among young-earth creationists who are trying to explain Biblically the separation of the continents. On one side are those who see the continental drift occurring within the cataclysmic flood of Genesis 7–8. On the other side are those who see it mentioned in the text before us. It is the purpose of this present paper to develop both of these views and to suggest a third view that may be more plausible.

I. The Possible Views

1. Division of tongues/genealogies. The traditional understanding of Gen 10:25 has been that the etiological notice appearing with Peleg’s name (“for in his days the earth was divided [niplĕgâ]”) is a literary foreshadowing of the division of languages in the account of the tower of Babel (chap. 11) and/or that it also may serve to demonstrate a division of Eber’s line into the ancestors of Abraham on the one hand and the builders of Babylon on the other.2 Those who support a traditional view include Keil and Delitzsch, Morris and Whitcomb, G. C. Aalders, H. C. Leupold, Allen Ross, John Sailhamer,

Victor Hamilton, Richard T. White3 and Jewish sources.4 Umberto Cassuto does not comment on the significance of the entire phrase. He only discusses “in his days.”5 But he does adopt the rabbinical designation of “generation of division” for the Babel account.

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