Biblical Nations - Japheth


Key Scripture: Genesis 10:2-5

Figures: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras

The Bible tells us that all nations descended from the family of Noah, who was of the line of Adam and Eve's third son, Seth.  Whether the wives of Noah and his three sons came from other lineages can't be determined from what Scripture has to say, but after the Flood recorded in Genesis it is clear that each of the three families expanded away from Mount Ararat in generally three directions.  This week we will look at Japheth, who is the last listed of the three sons.  From the names of his seven sons, we can determine that most of the people groups to the north and northwest of the Fertile Crescent came from his family, representing much of western Asia and Europe.  Genesis 10 also informs us that they populated the coasts and islands, so we can safely include the original inhabitants from several locations across the Mediterranean among his descendants.

What do we know of Japheth himself?  As one of three sons, we know at least one was older (Shem is referenced in Genesis 10:21 as his older brother) but as Genesis 9 mentions that Noah had three sons at 500 it is possible that the boys were triplets.  A total of 100 years passed before the Flood came, during which time he had a wife but no record of children.  After the flood, Japheth and Shem treated their father more honorably than Shem, leading Noah to bless them above their brother. 

The sons of Japheth, listed above from Genesis 10, became the heads of their own nations or people groups.  The eldest son of Japheth was Gomer, and his children settled to the north between the Black and Caspian Seas, then farther on into modern Russia.  Madai was the third son and his family settled to the east of Mount Ararat in modern Azerbaijan and Iran.  The rest seem to all have headed west into modern Turkey, also referenced throughout history as Asia Minor or Anatolia.  Javan has traditionally been associated with Greece, while Magog has often been grouped with Meshech and Tubal under the control of Gog (appearing in both Ezekiel and Revelation), perhaps representing the region north or northwest of the Black Sea.  In both cases, the descendents of Japheth are seen as enemies of God and His people, Israel.  Several modern people groups have traditions associating themselves with Japheth, including the Turks, Swedes, Irish, and Mongolians. 


  1. Very interesting! I love how well this was summarized for easy understanding.


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