Japhetic is a term that refers to the supposed descendants of Japheth, one of the three sons of Noah in the Bible. It corresponds to Semitic (descendants of Shem) and Hamitic (descendants of Ham). Variations of the term include Japhetite and Japhethitic.

Japhetic geography and race

Traditionally, Japheth has been understood to be the progenitor of the peoples of Europe. Thus "Japhetic" came to be used as a synonym for Europeans. In medieval Europe, the world was understood to have been divided into three large-scale racial groupings. In addition to the Japhetic peoples of Europe, the Semitic peoples were equated with all Asians, and Hamitic peoples with Africans.

The link between Japheth and the Europeans is reflected in "Genesis" 10:5, which states that the sons of Japheth moved to the "isles of the Gentiles" — commonly believed to be the Greek isles, while others claim them to be the British Isles.

In the Bible, Japheth is ascribed seven sons and seven grandsons:

* Gomer
** Ashkenaz
** Riphath
** Togarmah
* Magog
* Madai
* Javan
** Elishah
** Tarshish
** Kittim
** Dodanim
* Tubal
* Meshech
* Tiras

The intended ethnic identity of these 'descendants of Japheth' is not certain; however, over history, they have been identified by Biblical scholars with various historical nations who were deemed to be descendants of Japheth and his sons — a practice dating back at least to the classical encounters of Jew with Hellene, for example in Josephus's "Antiquities of the Jews", I.VI.122 ( [http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=J.+AJ+1.122 Whiston] ). Josephus wrote::Japhet, the son of Noah, had seven sons: they inhabited so, that, beginning at the mountains Taurus and Amanus, they proceeded along Asia, as far as the river Tanais (Don), and along Europe to Cadiz; and settling themselves on the lands which they light upon, which none had inhabited before, they called the nations by their own names.

Josephus subsequently detailed the nations supposed to have descended from the seven sons of Japheth.

According to the "Zend Avesta" and sacred texts of the Zoroastrian faith, the Aryan race had their earliest homeland in a legendary place called "Airyanem Vaejah". This has traditionally been associated with Arran and the valley of the Araxes river, which rises next to Mount Ararat (eg., in the "Bundahishn" 29:12). However, in the 20th century, certain agencies went to extraordinary lengths to assert the sole acceptance of the Soviet hypothesis that the Aryan peoples had entered the Iranian plateau from the Northeast, ie. from the opposite direction as Mount Ararat, despite a lack of any hard evidence for this conjecture. The result is that the Zoroastrian traditions of having originated in the Northwest of Iran and spreading out from there, have rarely been mentioned in post-Soviet scholarship.

Among the nations that various later writers (including Jerome and Isidore of Seville, as well as other traditional accounts) have attempted to assign to them, are as follows:

* Gomer: Scythians, Armenians, Welsh, Picts, Irish, Germans (Teutons), Turks;
* Magog: Scythians, Slavs, Magyars (Hungarians), Irish;
* Madai: Mitanni, Mannai, Medes (and hence Kurds), more generally Persians, or even more generally Indo-Aryans;
* Javan: Ionians (Greeks)
* Tubal: Tabali, Georgians, Italics, Illyrians, Iberians, Basques;
*Meshech: Phrygians, Meskheti, Moschoi;
* Tiras: Thracians, Etruscans, Goths, Jutes, Teutons (Germans).

Extrabiblical genealogies


An ancient, relatively obscure text known as Pseudo-Philo and thought to have been originally written ca. 70 AD, contains an expanded genealogy that is seemingly garbled from that of Genesis, and also quite different from the much later one found in Jasher [ [http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/bap/bap20.htm Pseudo-Philo] ] :

*Sons of Japheth: "Gomer, Magog, and Madai, Nidiazech, Tubal, Mocteras, Cenez, Riphath, and Thogorma, Elisa, Dessin, Cethin, Tudant."
**Sons of Gomer: Thelez, Lud, Deberlet.
**Sons of Magog: Cesse, Thipha, Pharuta, Ammiel, Phimei, Goloza, Samanach.
**Sons of Duden: Sallus, Phelucta Phallita.
**Sons of Tubal: Phanatonova, Eteva.
**Sons of Tyras: Maac, Tabel, Ballana, Samplameac, Elaz.
**Sons of Mellech: Amboradat, Urach, Bosara.
**Sons of <>cenez: Jubal, Zaraddana, Anac.
**Sons of Heri: Phuddet, Doad, Dephadzeat, Enoc.
**Sons of Togorma: Abiud, Saphath, Asapli, Zepthir.
**Sons of Elisa: Etzaac, Zenez, Mastisa, Rira.
**Sons of Zepti: Macziel, Temna, Aela, Phinon.
**Sons of Tessis: Meccul, Loon, Zelataban.
**Sons of Duodennin: Itheb, Beath, Phenech.


The "Book of Jasher", a midrash first published in 1625, provides some new names for Japheth's grandchildren not seen in the Bible or any other source. More complete genealogies reconstructed on this basis include:

Gomer lineage

Gomer "complete" (sons were Ashkenaz, Riphath and Togarmah [Jasher|7:3] ) - also "Gamir, Gommer, Gomeri, Gomeria, Gomery, Goth, Guth, Gutar, Götar, Gadelas, Galic, Gallic, Galicia, Galica, Galatia, Gael, Getae, Galatae, Galatoi, Gaul, Galls, Goar, Celt, Celtae, Celticae, Kelt, Keltoi, Gimmer, Gimmerai, Gimirra, Gimirrai, Gimirraya, Kimmer, Kimmeroi, Kimirraa, Kumri, Umbri, Cimmer, Cimmeria, Cimbri, Cimbris, Crimea, Chomari, Cymric, Cymry, Cymru, Cymbry, Cumber"

In Western tradition Gomer lineage is associated with Caledonians, Picts, Milesians, Umbrians, Helvetians, Celts, Galatians, Ostrogoths, Visigoths, Goths, Vandals, Scandinavians, Jutes, Teutons, Franks, Burgundians, Alemanni, Armenians, Germans, Belgians, Dutch, Luxembourgers, Liechtensteiners, Austrians, Swiss, Angles, Saxons, Britons, English, Cornish, Irish, Welsh, Scottish, and other related groups);

In alternate Caucasian and Asiatic genealogies Gomer is also ancestor of Turks, Bulgars, Tartars, Cossacks, Circassians, Bashkirs, Chuvashes, Khazars, Azerbaijanis, Kazakhs, Turkmen, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Kyrgyz, Phrygians, Bithynians, Carpathians, and Paphlagonians.

Magog lineage

Magog "land of God" (sons were Elichanaf and Lubal [Jasher|7:4] ) - also "Gog, Gogh, Magug, Magogae, Mugogh, Mat Gugi, Gugu, Gyges, Bedwig, Moghef, Magogian, Massagetae, Dacae, Sacae, Scyth, Scythi, Scythia, Scythae, Sythia, Scythes, Skuthai, Skythai, Scythia, Skythia, Scynthia, Scynthius, Sclaveni, Samartian, Scoloti, Skodiai, Scotti, Skoloti, Skoth-ai, Skoth, Skuthes, Skuth-a, Askuza, Askuasa, Alani, Alans, Alanic, Ulan, Uhlan also Rasapu, Rashu, Rukhs, Rukhs-As, Rhos, Ros, Rosh, Rox, Roxolani, Rhoxolani, Ruskolan, Rosichi, Rhossi, Rusichi, Rus, Ruska, Rossiya, Russian" (Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians); also "Mas-ar, Mas-gar, Masgar, Mazar, Madj, Madjar, Makr-on, Makar, Makaroi, Merkar, Magor, Magar, Magyar, Mohgur" (Hungarians - also "Hungar, Hunugur, Hurri, Gurri, Onogur, Ugor, Ungar, Uhor, Venger"); Siberians, Yugoslavians, Croatians, Bosnians, Montenegrins, Serbians, Slovenians, Slovakians, Bulgarians, Poles, Czechs, and other related groups);

Also Turks, Hungarians, Huns, Voguls, Finns, Lapps, Estonians, Mordvins, Karelians, Komi-Zyrians, Udmurts, Izhorians, Livonians, and Siberians.

Madai lineage

Madai "middle land" (sons were Achon, Zeelo, Chazoni and Lot) - Medes, Persians, Caspians, Achaemenians, Manneans, Iranians, Afghans, Hazaras.

Javan lineage

Javan "miry" (sons were Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim and Dodanim [Jasher|7:6] ) - also "Jevanim, Iewanim, Iawan, Iawon, Iamanu, Iones, Ionians, Ellas, Ellines, El-li-ness, Hellas, Hellenes, Yavan, Yavanas, Yawan, Yuban, Yauna, Uinivu, Xuthus" (Greeks, Fomorians, Spartans, Dorians, Britons, Aeolians, Achaeans, Myceneans, Ancient Macedonians, Carthaginians, Cypriots, Cretans, Basques, Latins, Venetians, Sicanians, Romans, Sicilians, Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese, and other related groups);

Also Anatolians, Cilicians, Greeks, Ionians, Tartessians, Cypriots, Macedonians, and the aboriginal inhabitants of the British Isles such as the Irish Travellers.

Tubal lineage

Tubal "brought" (sons were Ariphi, Kesed and Taari [Jasher|7:7] ) - also "Tabal, Tabali, Tubalu, T'bilisi, Tibarenoi, Tibareni, Tibar, Tibor, Sabir, Sapir, Sabarda, Subar, Subartu, Thobal, Thobel, Tobol, Tobolsk" (Russians, Georgians, Dagestanis, Chechens,Albanians, and other related groups);

Also Avars, Basques, Colchians.

Meshech lineage

Meshech "drawing out" (sons were Dedon, Zaron and Shebashni [Jasher|7:8] ) - "Me'shech, Mes'ek, Meshekh, Meskhi, Mushch, Muschki, Mushki, Mishi, Muski, Mushku, Musku, Muskeva, Muska, Muskaa, Muskai, Maskali, Machar, Maskouci, Mazakha, Mazaca, Massagatae, Mtskhetos, Modar-es, Moskhi, Moshkhi, Mosher, Moshch, Moschis, Mosoch, Moschi, Moschian, Mo'skhoi, Moschoi, Mosochenu, Mosochean, Mossynes, Mosynoeci, Moskva, Moscovy, Moscow" (Russians, Muscovites, Latvians, Lithuanians, Romanians, and other related groups);

Also Moschi, Sarmatians, Alans, Ossetians, Georgians, and Cappadocians.

Tiras lineage

Tiras "desire" (sons were Benib, Gera, Lupirion and Gilak [Jasher|7:9] ) - also "Tiracian, Thracian, Thirasian, Thuras, Troas, Tros, Troia, Troi, Troy, Trajan, Trojan, Taunrus, Tyrsen, Tyrrhena, Rasenna, Tursha, Tusci, Tuscany, Etruscan, Eturscan" (Thracians, Pelasgians, Phrygians, Leleges and Etruscans.

Japhetic and Caucasian

The term "Caucasian" as a racial label for Europeans derives in part from the assumption that the tribe of Japheth developed its distinctive racial characteristics in the Caucasus area, having migrated there from Mount Ararat before populating Europe. In the same vein, Georgian nationalist histories associated Japheth's sons with certain ancient tribes of the Caucasus area, called Tubals (Tabals, "Tibarenoi" in Greek) and Meshechs (Meshekhs/Mosokhs, "Moschoi" in Greek), who they claimed represented ancient pre-Indo-European and non-Semitic, possibly "Proto-Iberian", tribes of Asia Minor of the 3rd-1st millennias BC. This theory influenced the use of the term Japhetic in the linguistic theories of Nikolai Marr (see below). During the eighteenth and nineteenth century the Biblical statement that "God shall enlarge Japheth" (Genesis 9:27) was used by some Christians as a justification for the "enlargement" of European territories through Imperialism, which was interpreted as part of God's plan for the world. The subjugation of Africans was likewise justified by the curse of Ham.


The term Japhetic was also applied by William Jones, Rasmus C. Rask and other pre-Darwinian linguists to what later became known as the Indo-European language group, on the assumption that the principal languages of Europe would have originated with the tribe of Japheth.

In a conflicting sense, it was also used by the Soviet linguist Nikolai Marr in his Japhetic theory, which was intended to demonstrate that the languages of the Caucasus formed part of a once-widespread pre-Indo-European language group, and also to apply Marxist notions of class consciousness and class struggle to language.


See also

* Japheth
* Whites
* Japhetic theory
* Confusion of tongues
* Proto-Indo-Europeans
* Aryan
* Gog and Magog
* Hephthalites
* Indo-Scythians
* Tower of Babel
* Garden of Eden

External links

* [http://pursiful.com/chronology/gen_noah.html Descendants of Noah]
* [http://www.ccel.org/e/easton/ebd/ebd/T0001900.html#T0001970 Easton Bible dictionary about Japheth]
* [http://www.biblestudytools.net/Dictionaries/SmithsBibleDictionary/smt.cgi?number=T2252 Smith's Bible Dictionary about Japheth]
* [http://www.sbl.org/biblestudies/biblejourney/dictionary/isbe/j/japheth.htm International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: Japheth]
* [http://jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=154&letter=J&search=japheth Japheth] in the Jewish Encyclopedia

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  • Japhetic — Ja*phet ic, a. Pertaining to, or derived from, Japheth, one of the sons of Noah; as, Japhetic nations, the nations of Europe and Northern Asia; Japhetic languages. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Japhetic — old name for Indo European (see ARYAN (Cf. Aryan)), 1828, from Biblical JAPHETH (Cf. Japheth) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Japhetic — [jə fet′ik] adj. 1. of or from Japheth 2. Archaic INDO EUROPEAN (adj. ) …   English World dictionary

  • japhetic — I. jəˈfed.ik, (ˈ)jā|f adjective Usage: usually capitalized Etymology: Japheth (Japetus), one of the sons of Noah in the Bible (Gen 5:32 ff.) + English ic 1. : relating to or derived from Japheth who was a son of Noah used vaguely as an… …   Useful english dictionary

  • Japhetic — /dʒeɪˈfɛtɪk/ (say jay fetik) adjective 1. of or relating to Japheth. 2. of or relating to a hypothetical linguistic family of Europe and western Asia, which was considered by some to have developed before Indo European and Semitic. –noun 3. the… …  

  • Japhetic theory — is a term used to describe a linguistic theory developed by the Soviet linguist Nikolay Yakovlevich Marr (1864 ndash;1934). In linguistics it is considered to be the equivalent of Lysenkoism in biology: a theory that was promoted and supported… …   Wikipedia

  • Japhetic languages — Japhetic languages. This is an obsolete pre scientific term for the languages spoken by the descendants of Japheth, son of Noah, dating from before the discipline of historical linguistics developed. It was usually ascribed to the speakers of… …   Wikipedia

  • Japhetic — /jeuh fet ik/, adj. 1. of or pertaining to Japheth. 2. of or pertaining to a hypothesized group of languages of the Caucasus, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, and southern Europe, including the Caucasian languages, Sumerian, Basque, and Etruscan,… …   Universalium

  • japhetic — ja·phet·ic …   English syllables

  • Japhetic — Ja•phet•ic [[t]dʒəˈfɛt ɪk[/t]] adj. bib of or descended from Japheth …   From formal English to slang

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