Leif A Boström, Sweden




The people groups can be described using language, haplogroups or genealogical relationship according to Genesis, chapter 10. Depending on how they are defined there are about 20 language groups, 20 main haplogroups and 70 nations in Genesis 10.

When God gave different languages to different people groups, he divided them according to their paternal ancestry, Gen. 10:32, 11:7-8. That led to specific Y chromosome lineages in different geographical locations. The mitochondrial lines are spread among the different people groups. This is probably mainly due to that males and females were freely intermixing prior to the dispersion from Babel.

Studies of the DNA in the Y chromosome can reveal information on the paternal relationship of different people groups. It is not straightforward since people groups have migrated, cultures have gone extinct, languages have changed, separate cultures have merged, etc.


A people group with specific SNP mutations is defined as a Y chromosome haplogroup, which means that that people group descends from a common ancestor. SNP is short for Single Nucleotide Polymorphism, which is a variation in the nucleotide allele at a certain nucleotide position in the human genome. The Y Chromosome Consortium (YCC) has assigned alphanumeric labels to the haplogroups, which can be presented graphically in the form of a haplogroup tree. Since the original Y chromosome DNA in Noah is not known the starting point in the haplogroup tree can be at any point. It does not have to begin in haplogroup A as usually is assumed when drawing the haplogroup tree.

The numbers of SNPs between two adjacent haplogroups differ from one to more than twenty. When there are several SNPs it indicates that all variations have occurred in a single individual or that all lineages that do not have all SNPs have gone extinct. All existing haplogroups are not found or defined yet and all SNPs defining the existing haplogroups are not found either. There is also a possibility of the same SNPs occurring in different individuals in different lineages. In the mitochondrial genome there are places where mutations reoccur frequently. So there may be locations along the Y chromosome with a higher probability of mutations, where mutations reoccur as well.

Figure 1. Main Y chromosome haplogroups, with number of SNP mutations between adjacent haplogroups. Descendants from Japheth, Shem and Ham are indicated. Drawn from the Y-DNA Haplogroup Tree 2010.


Thomas C. Curtis has tried to determine from which sons, grandsons and great grandsons of Noah the different languages originated. An attempt to link the different languages to haplogroups can also be made.


Language group

Language sub-group







































American Indian











































































































Figure 2. Probable haplogroups connected to each language group.

The haplogroups that probably descend from Shem - I and J - have mainly Semitic languages. The people with haplogroup I have Indo-European languages. They may have adopted the languages of the surrounding people. The language areas of the haplogroups that probably descend from Japheth - K to T - are mainly in Europe, Asia and America, but Chadic is an African language. The haplogroups that probably descend from Ham - A to H - have languages spoken in Africa, Central Asia and Australia.


In the order of 1000 SNPs defining Y chromosome haplogroups are defined. From Noah to present time there have been approximately 150 generations.

When trying to define where in the haplogroup tree that Noah and his three sons should be placed, one way is to define which haplogroups that are most probable for the sons of Noah independent on the haplogroups' relatedness. In that case the most probable haplogroup for Japheth would be R1, Shem J and Ham E1b1b. If this should be possible there have to be many SNP mutations in Noah between the births of his sons and also many of the mutations should have mutated back in many of his descendants. As Noah was more than 500 years old when his three sons were born, his reproductive cells should have accumulated many mutations. It is thus possible that his sons had different Y chromosomes separated by multiple mutations. For it to be possible that his sons had haplogroups R1 and E1b1b more than 50 mutations must have mutated back to form the other haplogroups.

Another approach would be to find a point from where there are three lineages that are probable as descendants of the sons of Noah. With this approach a probable haplogroup for Noah would be IJK. The descendants of Japheth would be K and its subgroups, Shem IJ and Ham F.

In both approaches it seems as there have to have been several SNP mutations in the Y chromosome in the first generations from Noah. In the latter generations there have not been many SNP mutations, at least not defining so far known sub-haplogroups. More SNP mutations will probably be discovered and more sub-haplogroups defined.

If some sons of Japheth had haplogroup R1 it formed in the second generation from Noah. There are more than 40 SNP mutations from IJK to R1. There are many sub haplogroups to R1, but they have only a few SNP mutations each. From haplogroup IJK to E1b1b there are more than 50 mutations. Another example is haplogroup I1. From IJK to I1 there are almost 40 SNP mutations: 9 from IJK to IJ, 7 from IJ to I and 21 from I to I1.

If there were several generations between the formation of haplogroup I and haplogroups I1 and I2, the haplogroup I* (belonging to haplogroup I, but not to any of the known subgroups, i. e. I1 or I2) ought to be very common, but it is unobserved. Therefore it is very probable that haplogroups I1 and I2 formed within a few generations, if not in the next generation, from the formation of haplogroup I. Haplogroup I1* is common, so the subgroups of I1 do not have to have formed close to the formation of I1. Haplogroup I1 has about 10 subgroups with approximately one SNP each. This means that most of the observed SNP mutations took place in a few generations from Noah.

This will also apply in the evolutionary model which allows for many more generations in total. The main haplogroups ought to have formed within a few generations; otherwise there are many male lineages that must have gone extinct.

One can speculate on why there were many SNP mutations in the Y chromosome in the few generations closest to Noah and only a few in the many following generations. Was it something in the environment in the first couple of hundred years after the flood or was it due to the long lives of the men in the first generations after Noah?

The main haplogroups must have been founded before the dispersion at Babel. The dispersion probably took place in the years of Peleg, Gen. 10:25. Peleg was in the fifth generation from Noah and was born 101 years after the flood. He became 239 years old, which can add about seven more generations. Thus the dispersion occurred in the fifth to twelfth generation after Noah. If all main haplogroups were founded in approximately 10 generations from Noah, most of all SNP mutations occurred in these generations and only a few in the following approximately 150 generations.

There may be locations along the Y chromosome where mutations reoccur. The probability of mutations reoccurring for haplogroups separated by several mutations will anyhow be low. This means that the first approach with many similar mutations occurring in different individuals is less probable than the second approach with a node in the haplogroup tree from where all other haplogroups descend.

With this assumption it is possible to determine possible genealogical relationships between the sons of Noah and the main haplogroups. To be able to connect Noah's grandsons with the haplogroups it is also assumed that the grandsons of Noah are not listed in age order in Genesis 10. There must have been many SNP mutations in the first generations after Noah, and also in the same individuals between the births of different sons.

It is difficult to determine which haplogroup the different grandsons of Noah belong to. If haplogroup R belong to descendants of Japheth, J to Shem and E to Ham, it is not possible that Noah had more sons after the flood, which agrees with Gen. 9:19. There is however a possibility that Japheth, Shem and Ham had more sons than those mentioned in Gen. 10.

Figure 3. Possible haplogroups descending from Noah's sons with indication on where SNP mutations occurred.

After that the people groups described in Genesis 10 had formed at the dispersion from Babel men from other people groups can have joined these populations and introduced other Y chromosomes. This would make the genealogy more confusing. An attempt to determine possible connections between the descendants of Noah and the haplogroups can however be made.


One of the sons of Shem must have had haplogroup I. If all sons of Shem are mentioned in Genesis 10 the most probable candidate is Lud. The split between J1 and J2 must also have occurred among the sons of Shem, otherwise almost all people in haplogroup J descend from only two of Shem's sons. The most probable situation is that first the mutations that define the haplogroup IJ occurred in Shem and after that his first son was born. In him the mutations that formed the haplogroup I took place. In Shem the J mutations came about and his second son was born. That son had a son with no more mutations, that form the haplogroup J* and another son in whom either the J1 or the J2 mutations occurred. Then either the J2 or the J1 mutations occurred in Shem before his third son was born. The third to fifth son of Shem may have belonged to the J2a and J2b haplogoups or these mutations can have taken place in later generations.

Arpachshad ought to have belonged to either the J1 or the J2 haplogroups. The Jews descend from Abraham, who descends from Arpachshad. The haplogroups J1 and J2 are almost equally distributed among Jews and many belong to other haplogroups as well. This means that many Jews do not have their paternal ancestry from Abraham. It is commonly thought that the Arabs also descend from Abraham or at least from Arpachshad. Among Arabs the haplogroup J1 is most common. Hence Arpachshad can have been the second son of Shem and have had haplogroup J and his son Shela had haplogroup J1. The other three sons of Shem - Elam, Asshur and Aram - can have belonged to haplogroup J2, which is more common in the northern area of the Middle East.


In Genesis, chapter 10, four sons of Ham are listed. People in haplogroup E seem to be descendants of at least Cush, Mizraim and Put. If that shall be possible Ham must have had more than four sons. If Ham only had these four sons, one possibility is that Mizraim was the oldest son and ancestor of haplogroup F, G and H. As he is also the ancestor of the Egyptians there ought to be some Egyptians with one of these haplogroups. The other sons can have had these haplogroups: Canaan C, Put BT and Cush DE.


The areas which commonly are thought of as the areas of the sons of Japheth have mostly populations with haplogroup R. At least four of the sons of Japheth are not ancestors to haplogroup R.


The genealogical information in the Bible can together with the Y chromosome haplogroups and the language groups be used to map out the paternal relationship between different people groups. This article is a preliminary attempt to do this in a little scale. Further studies may clarify more aspects on the history of mankind.


The calculations of number of mutations between the haplogroups above are outdated, as many more SNP's have been found since 2011. There are more than 59 million base pairs in the Y chromosome. At least 50 000 SNP's have been found so far. Between main haplogroups there are several SNP's, often more than 100. As far as I can interpret this, it means that either several SNP's have been formed in the same individuals or many male lineages have become extinct. In Genesis chapter 10 the main people groups are listed, and their genealogical relations are showed. These genealogies combined with the knowledge of the haplogroups indicate that several mutations in the Y chromosome occurred in the sons and grandsons of Noah to form the main haplogroups.


Robert W. Carter, 2010, Adam, Eve and Noah vs Modern Genetics,

Y-DNA Haplogroup Tree 2010,

Robert W. Carter, 2007, Mitochondrial diversity within modern human populations, Nucleic Acids Research, 2007, Vol. 35, No. 9 3039-3045,

Thomas C. Curtis, 1998, The origin of languages: a synthesis,



This page was created 2011, September 20th, by Leif Boström, Sweden. Latest update 2014, November 10th.