ChristianAnswers.Net WebBible Encyclopedia

Japheth

Meaning is uncertain—either “wide spreading” as in “God shall enlarge Japheth” (Hebrew: Yaphat Elohim le-Yephet, Gen. 9:27), or some derive the name from yaphah, “to be beautiful.”

Japheth was one of the sons of Noah, mentioned last in order (Gen. 5:32; 6:10; 7:13), perhaps first by birth (10:21; compare 9:24). [Note: The KJV, NKJV and NIV show Japheth as the “elder” in Gen. 10:21. However, the NASV, RSV and NRSV assume the meaning was opposite, that Shem was “the elder brother of Japheth.” The NASV marginal note acknowledges that this assumption may be wrong.]

Japheth and his wife were two of the eight saved in the ark (1 Pet. 3:20). The name of his wife is not mentioned. He was the progenitor of many tribes inhabiting the east of Europe and the north of Asia (Gen. 10:2-5). An act of filial piety (9:20-27) was the occasion of Noah's prophecy of the extension of his posterity.

After the Flood, the Earth was re-peopled by the descendants of Noah, “the sons of Japheth” (Gen. 10:2), “the sons of Ham” (Gen 10:6), and “the sons of Shem” (Gen. 10:22).

The following table shows how his his descendants dispersed after the Tower of Babel:

       JAPHETHGomer
              Cimmerians, ArmeniansMagog
             Caucasians, ScythiansMadai
              Medes and Persian tribes
         —Javan
              ~ Elishah
                  Greeks
              ~ Tarshish
                  Etruscans, Romans
              ~ Chittim
                  Cyprians, Macedonians
              ~ Dodanim
                  RhodiansTubal
              Tibareni, Tartars
         —Meshech
              Moschi
              Muscovites
         —Tiras
              Thracians
Author: Matthew G. Easton and Paul S. Taylor.

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