|ja'-feth (enlarged; fair; persuading, wide spreading)
RELATED: Ham, Noah, Shem
Easton's Bible Dictionary
wide spreading: "God shall enlarge Japheth" (Hebrew Yaphat
Elohim le-Yephet, Genesis 9:27 . Some, however, derive the name from yaphah ,
"to be beautiful;" hence white), One of the sons of Noah, mentioned last in order
( Genesis 5:32 ; 6:10 ; 7:13 ), perhaps first by birth ( Genesis 10:21 ; comp
9:24 ). He and his wife were two of the eight saved in the ark ( 1 Peter 3:20
). He was the progenitor of many tribes inhabiting the east of Europe and the
north of Asia ( Genesis 10:2 - 5 ). An act of filial piety ( Genesis 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" ( Genesis 10:2 ), "the sons of Ham" (6), and "the sons of Shem" (22).
It is important to notice that modern ethnological science, reasoning from a careful
analysis of facts, has arrived at the conclusion that there is a three-fold division
of the human family, corresponding in a remarkable way with the great ethnological
chapter of the book of Genesis (10). The three great races thus distinguished
are called the Semitic, Aryan, and Turanian (Allophylian). "Setting aside the
cases where the ethnic names employed are of doubtful application, it cannot reasonably
be questioned that the author [of Genesis 10] has in his account of the sons of
Japheth classed together the Cymry or Celts (Gomer), the Medes (Madai), and the
Ionians or Greeks (Javan), thereby anticipating what has become known in modern
times as the 'Indo-European Theory,' or the essential unity of the Aryan (Asiatic)
race with the principal races of Europe, indicated by the Celts and the Ionians.
Nor can it be doubted that he has thrown together under the one head of 'children
of Shem' the Assyrians (Asshur), the Syrians (Aram), the Hebrews (Eber), and the
Joktanian Arabs (Joktan), four of the principal races which modern ethnology recognizes
under the heading of 'Semitic.' Again, under the heading of 'sons of Ham,' the
author has arranged 'Cush', i.e., the Ethiopians; 'Mizraim,' the people of Egypt;
'Sheba and Dedan,' or certain of the Southern Arabs; and 'Nimrod,' or the ancient
people of Babylon, four races between which the latest linguistic researches have
established a close affinity" (Rawlinson's Hist. Illustrations).
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
(FROM JAPHET) enlarged; fair; persuading
Smith's Bible Dictionary
(enlargement), One of the three sons of Noah. The descendants
of Japheth occupied the "isles of the Gentiles," ( Genesis 10:5 ) --i.e. the coast
lands of the Mediterranean Sea in Europe and Asia Minor-- whence they spread northward
over the whole continent of Europe and a considerable portion of Asia.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
(1) ja'-feth (yepheth; yapheth; Iapheth):
1. Etymologies of Japheth:
This name, in Genesis 9:27, seems to be explained by the phrase "may God make
wide (yapht, the American Standard Revised Version "enlarge") for Japheth," where
yapht and Japheth are represented by the same consonants, but with different vowel-points.
The root of yapht is pathach, "to make wide." This etymology, however, is not
universally accepted, as the word-play is so obvious, and the association of Japheth
with Shem ("dark") and Ham ("black") suggests a name on similar lines--either
gentilic, or descriptive of race. Japheth has therefore been explained as meaning
"fair," from yaphah, the non-Sem and non-Hamitic races known to the Jews being
all more or less whiteskinned. The Targum of Onkelos agrees with the English Versions
of the Bible, but that of Jonathan has "God shall beautify Japheth," as though
2. His Descendants:
The immediate descendants of Japheth were seven in number, and are represented
by the nations designated Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Mesech, and Tiras;
or, roughly, the Armenians, Lydians, Medes, Greeks, Tibarenians, and Moschians,
the last, Tiras, remaining still obscure. The sons of Gomer (Ashkenaz, Riphath
and Togarmah) were all settled in the West Asian tract; while the sons of Javan
(Elisah, Tarshish, Kittim and Dodanim or Rodanim) occupied the Mediterranean coast
and the adjacent islands.
3. His Place among the Sons of Noah:
In Genesis 9:27, as in other passages, Japheth occupies the 3rd place in the enumeration
of the sons of Noah, but he is really regarded as the 2nd son, Ham being the youngest.
In the genealogical table, however (Genesis 10:1), the descendants of Japheth
are given first, and those of Shem last, in order to set forth Semitic affinities
at greater length. Though this would seem to indicate that the fair races were
the least known to the Jews, it implies that the latter were well disposed toward
them, for Japheth was (ultimately) to dwell in the tents of Shem, and therefore
to take part in Shem's spiritual privileges.
4. Japheth and Iapetos:
It seems unlikely that the Greek giant-hero, Iapetos, father of Prometheus, who
was regarded by the Greeks as the father of the human race, has any connection
with the Hebrew Japheth. The original of the Hebrew record probably belongs to
a date too early to admit borrowing from the Greek, and if the name had been borrowed
by the Greeks from the Hebrews, a nearer form might be expected.
See SHEM; HAM; TABLE OF NATIONS.
T. G. Pinches
(2) ja'-feth (Iapheth):
A region mentioned only in Judith 2:25, where no
particulars are given which may lead to its identification. Holofernes "came unto
the borders of Japheth, which were toward the south, over against Arabia."
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