on Genesis 10 :25
Peleg - From פלג palag, to divide, because in his days, which is supposed to be about one hundred years after the flood, the earth was divided among the sons of Noah. Though some are of opinion that a physical division, and not a political one, is what is intended here, viz., a separation of continents and islands from the main land; the earthy parts having been united into one great continent previously to the days of Peleg. This opinion appears to me the most likely, for what is said, Genesis 10:5, is spoken by way of anticipation.
on Genesis 10 :25
This nation was very extensive, and accordingly branched out into several, of which the immediate ones are Peleg and Joctan.
(56) Peleg is remarkable on account of the origin assigned to his name. "In his days was the land divided." Here two questions occur. What is the meaning of the earth being divided, and what is the time denoted by "his days?" The verb "divide" (פלג pālag) occurs only three times elsewhere in the Hebrew scriptures 1 Chronicles 1:19; Job 38:25; Psalm 55:10. The connection in which this rare word is used in the Psalm, "divide their tongues," seems to determine its reference in the present passage to the confusion of tongues and consequent dispersion of mankind recorded in the following chapter. This affords a probable answer to our first question. The land was in his days divided among the representative heads of the various nations. But to what point of time are we directed by the phrase "in his days?" Was the land divided at his birth, or some subsequent period of his life? The latter is possible, as Jacob and Gideon received new names, and Joshua an altered name, in later life.
The phrase "in his days" seems to look the same way. And the short interval from the deluge to his birth appears scarcely to suffice for such an increase of the human family as to allow of a separation into nations. Yet, on the other hand, it is hard to find any event in later life which connected this individual more than any other with the dispersion of man. It is customary to give the name at birth. The phrase "in his days" may, without any straining, refer to this period. And if we suppose, at a time when there were only a few families on the earth, an average increase of ten children in each in four generations, we shall have a thousand, or twelve hundred full-grown persons, and, therefore, may have five hundred families at the birth of Peleg. We cannot suppose more than fifty-five nations distinguished from one another at the dispersion, as Heber is the fifty-fifth name, and all the others are descended from him.
And if three families were sufficient to propagate the race after the flood, nine or ten were enough to constitute a primeval tribe or nation. We see some reason, therefore, to take the birth of Peleg as the occasion on which he received his name, and no stringent reason for fixing upon any later date. At all events the question seems to be of no chronological importance, as in any case only four generations preceded Peleg, and these might have been of comparatively longer or shorter duration without materially affecting the number of mankind at the time of his birth. Peleg is also remarkable as the head of that nation out of which, at an after period, the special people of God sprang. Of the Palgites, as a whole, we hear little or nothing further in history.
(57) Joctan, if little or insignificant as an individual or a nation, is the progenitor of a large group of tribes, finding their place among the wandering races included afterward under the name Arabic. Cachtan, as the Arabs designate him in their traditions, may have given name to Cachtan, a town and province mentioned by Niebuhr.
on Genesis 10 :25