Sandwiched in between the flood story and the Tower of Babel story in this week’s parasha (Torah portion) is a genealogy of those who descended from Noah. (Gen 10: 1-32) Some of the names are foreign to us, but a number of them pop out as relevant to the stories that follow in Genesis, and indeed to Jewish life in our own day. Shem is one of Noah’s 3 sons. His name is at the root of the word “Semitic,” and he is named in the Torah portion as the progenitor of the Semitic peoples of the Middle East. Other names that jump out are Canaan (which became the Land of Israel), Ashkenaz (later identified with Germany), Cush( Ethiopia), and Mitzrayim (Egypt). Clearly, these are names of places known in the ancient world. Seventy names are given in all, representing the “70 nations of the world” spoken of in ancient Jewish texts, who are all presented here as deriving from Noah and his sons after the flood.