Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Genesis 10: The Nations of the World (Japheth)

Before settling in upon the life of Abraham in Genesis 11-12, chapter 10 gives us a whirlwind tour of the origins of the nations of the world. Genesis 10 takes the three sons of Noah (Shem, Ham and Japheth) and begins to tell of the nations that arose from their lines. Japheth's descendants are dealt with first.

Japheth had seven sons: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech and Tiras. Next, we are told of the sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah. The sons of Javan are next: Elishah, Tarshish, the Kittim and the Rodanim. (Note that those last two are peoples as opposed to individuals, although they each sprang from some son of Japheth.) We are also told that from these sons of Javan, the seagoing peoples spread out into other territories, each with its own language. In a way we are getting ahead of ourselves here, for we have not yet been told of the Tower of Babel incident, which comes in Genesis chapter 11. However, this is just an overview of the peoples who come from Japheth's line.

I am very interested in history and archaeology, especially as it relates to Biblical events. However, I am far from knowledgeable about many aspects. It seems that the consensus is that the following are the peoples indicated from the above sons of Japheth. I'll just put them into a list for now. Perhaps later, as I go along, I can get into a more detailed exploration of these people groups/nations. In a way, you are following me as I explore the book of Genesis and try to set out its connections with actual individuals or nations.

Japheth's sons and the nations/peoples that these represent:

Gomer - the Cimmerians (and others: see Genesis 10:3, where Askenaz (Scythians), Riphath and Togarmah are mentioned. All are near the Black Sea area.)

Magog - a Scythian people in the Caucasus and the area southeast of the Black Sea.

Madai - The Medes

Javan - Ionia (southern Greece) and western Asia Minor. Some sons of Javan mentioned in Genesis 10 are Elishah (either Alashia, which is an older name for Cyprus, or a reference to Sicily and southern Italy), Tarshish (southern Spain?), Kittim (a people living on Cyprus), and the Rodanim, whose name may be reflected in the Greek isle of Rhodes.

Tubal, Meshech - some say these are related to Tobolsk and Moscow in modern Russia. Some say that this is not the case, but that Tubal is possibly Pontus, and Meshech was in the Moschian Mountains. Sounds like a topic for further investigation, in a post of its own.

Tiras - possibly Thrace

As I mentioned in earlier posts, the Bible is not just a collection of moral stories or fables, but is rooted in actual history. I find it fascinating that the Bible has never been proven wrong when it speaks of individuals or events. Time after time, skeptics have held up certain elements of a Biblical account as false, only to have the steady march of time and archaeological exploration reveal that the account was indeed true. I'll try to give some concrete examples of that in later posts.

That is all I have on Japheth's sons for now.

No comments:

Post a Comment