The Table of Nations
Genesis 3:18-19 states the following “And Noah’s sons who came out of the ark were Shem and Ham and Japheth. …. These three were Noah’s sons, and from these was all the earth’s population spread abroad.”
Note the last past of the sentence “and from these was all the earth’s population spread abroad.” Yes, the whole of the earth’s population! However, many today question this simple statement.
What evidence is there for this? Genesis 10 and Genesis 11 contain a passage commonly referred to as the Table of Nations. It contains a considerable number of generations coming from the sons of Noah.
Let us take some time and examine the Bible record and see if there is any trace outside the Bible to verify its accuracy. Firstly, we will take a brief look at the line of Japheth.
For example, Genesis 10:3-5 gives the following:
Japheth had the following sons:
Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, Tiras.
Gomer had the following sons:
Ashkenaz, Riphath, Togarmah
Javan had the following sons:
Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, Dodanim.
The account goes on to say, “from these the population of the isles of the nations was spread about in their lands, each according to its tongue, [due to the dispersion from the Tower of Babel], according to their families, by their nations” (Genesis 10:5).
Is this the only mention of these people and their families and nations in the Bible?
No, it is not. 1 Chronicles 1:5-6 contains a similar listing to Genesis 10.
Perhaps what may be more interesting for Bible students is Ezekiel 38:1-18.
Ezekiel 38:1-2 talks about Gog of the land of Magog (sounds familiar?) but note who he is: “the head chieftain of Meshech and Tubal” (Ezekiel 38:3). These were two of the sons of Japheth, as was Magog. Further on, in Ezekiel 38:6, it reads, “Gomer and all its bands, the house of Togarmah of the remotest parts of the north” are mentioned. Togarmah was a son of Gomer, the firstborn of Japheth. A few verses later Ezekiel 38:13 mentions “the merchants of Tarshish” a son of Javan son of Japheth.
Therefore, on this basis Gog of Magog was a real person, rather than Satan or someone or something else as some have interpreted this passage. Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Gomer and Togarmah, and Tarshish were all sons or grandsons of Japheth. Furthermore, the areas in which they lived came to be named after them.
A search of the Bible for Tarshish brings back many references. 1 Kings 10:22 records that Solomon had a fleet of ships of Tarshish, and that once every three years the fleet of ships of Tarshish would come carrying gold and silver and ivory and apes and peacocks. Where was Tarshish? Ivory comes from elephants as do apes. Peacocks come from Asia. It was clearly a major trading centre. Isaiah 23:1-2 links Tyre, a trading port of the Phoenicians on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the south of modern-day Lebanon, with the ships of Tarshish. Jonah 1:3 tells us that “Jonah proceeded to get up and run away to Tarshish … and finally came down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish”. (Joppa is just south of modern-day Tel-Aviv, Israel, on the Mediterranean Coast). The exact location is now unknown, but researchers have identified it with such places as Sardinia, Cadiz (southern Spain), Cornwall (South West England). All these locations would match the Biblical descriptions of most scriptures citing Tarshish and be reachable from the Mediterranean coast of Israel. It is possible there were two places named Tarshish as 1 Kings 10:22 and 2 Chronicles 20:36 would indicate an Arabian or Asian destination (from Ezion-geber in the Red Sea).
The consensus today is that Askenaz settled in the area of northwest Turkey (near modern-day Istanbul, Riphath on the northern coast of Turkey on the Black Sea, Tubal on the north-eastern coast of Turkey on the Black Sea, with Gomer settled in Central eastern Turkey. Kittim went to Cyprus, with Tiras on the southern Turkish coast opposite Cyprus. Meshech and Magog were in the Ararat mountains area, south of the Caucasus, with Togarmah south of them and Tubal in modern-day Armenia.
For a map indicating the areas of settlement please see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meshech#/media/File:Noahsworld_map.jpg
Is there any trace of Japheth outside the Bible?
Greek mythology has Iapetos\Iapetus\Japetus. The sons of Japetus were sometimes regarded as mankind’s ancestors and were viewed as Gods. Iapetos was viewed as a Titan God symbolizing mortality.
Hinduism has the god Pra-japati believed to be the highest God and creator of the universe in the Vedic period of ancient India, now identified with Brahma. Pra in Sanskrit = forward, or first or original.
The Romans had Iu-Pater, which became Jupiter. Jupiter is God of the sky and thunder and king of the Gods in Ancient mythology.
Can you see the pattern developing? Similar phonetic sounding or derived names to the Hebrew Japheth. A god from whom other Gods and eventually mankind came from.
But is there any evidence more reliable and definite than this, such as written evidence? Yes, there is. We will now look at European Histories where genealogies are recorded.
History of the Britons
An 8th Century historian named Nennius wrote a “History of the Britons” (Historia Brittonum). He merely compiled a collection of genealogies from older sources (without creating his own). In Chapter 17 his record states; “I have learned of another account of this Brutus [from which Briton derives] from the ancient books of our ancestors. After the deluge, the three sons of Noah severally occupied three different parts of the earth.: Shem extended his borders into Asia, Ham into Africa and Japheth in Europe.
The first man that dwelt in Europe was Alanus, with his three sons Hisicion, Armenon and Neugio. Hisicion had four sons, Francus, Romanus, Alamanus and Brutus. Armenon had five sons, Gothus, Valagothus, Cibidi, Burgundi, and Longobardi: from Neugio, the Bogari, Vandali, Saxones, and Tarincgi. The whole of Europe was subdivided into these tribes.” [ii].
Do you notice the names of tribes that you may be familiar with? In order, the Franks, Romans, Albans, Britons. Then the Goths, Visigoths, Cibidi (a Germanic Tribe), Burgundians, Lombardians [Longobards]. Finally, the Bavarians, Vandals, Saxons, and Thuringians.
Nennius continues “Alanus is said to have been the son of Fethuir; Fethuir, the son of Ogomuin, who was the son of Thoi; Thoi was the son of Boibus, Boibus off Semion, Semion of Mair, Mair of Ecthactus, Ecthactus of Aurthack, Aurthack of Ethec, Ethec of Ooth, Ooth of Aber, Aber of Ra, Ra of Esraa, Esraa of Hisrau, Hisrau of Bath, Bath of Jobath, Jobath of Joham, Joham of Japheth, Japheth of Noah, Noah of Lamech, Lamech of Mathusalem, Mathusalem of Enoch, Enoch of Jared, Jared of Malalehel, Malalehel of Cainan, Cainan of Enos, Enos of Seth, Seth of Adam, and Adam was formed by the living God. We have obtained this information respecting the original inhabitants of Britain from ancient tradition.”
Notice how he traces the genealogy of Alanus all the way back to Japheth son of Noah.
In Chapter 18 he records that “Japheth had seven sons; from the first name Gomer, descended the Galli; from Magog, the Scythi [Scythians], and Gothi; from the third, Madian, the Medi [Medians or Medes]; from the fourth Juuan [Javan] the Greeks; from the fifth, Tubal, arose Hebrei, Hispani [Hispanic], and Itali [Italians]; from the sixth, Mosoch [Mesech] sprung the Cappadoces [Cappadoceians] and from the seventh, name Tiras, descended the Thraces [Thracians]”.
Nennius also there gives the genealogical record for Britons. “The Britons were thus called from Brutus: Brutus was the son of Hisicion, Hisicion was the son of Alanus, Alanus was the son of Rhea Silvia, Rhea Siliva was the daughter of Eneas, Eneas of Anchises, Anchises of Troius, Troius of Dardanus, Dardanus of Flisa, Flisa of Juuin [Javan], Juuin of Japheth;”. As a side point notice Troius [Troy] and Dardanus [Dardanelles, the narrow Straits where the channel from the Black Sea meets the Mediterranean Sea]. Note, how once again it is traced back to Japheth, going back to Alanus, then via the mother instead of the father to a different descent from Japheth.
The Chronicle of the Kings of Britain
Another source, The Chronicle of the Kings of Britain[iii] p XXVIII describes Anchises (mentioned in the genealogy of Nennius above) as a relative of Priam, and Dardanian as a gate of Troy (pXXVII). The early part of the Chronicle relates how Brutus, the son of Hisicion the son of Alanus came to settle in Britain and founded London. This is dated to the time when Eli was priest in Judea and the Ark of the Covenant was in the hands of the Philistines, (see p31).
Nennius gives “… Esraa of Hisrau, Hisrau of Bath, Bath of Jobath, Jobath of Joham, Joham of Japheth … ” here in the lines of British Celtic Kings. These same names, Esraa, Hisrau, Bath and Jobath, although in a different order, also appear in the Irish Celtic line of Kings recorded totally separately and independently.
History of Ireland
G Keating compiled a History of Ireland[iv] in 1634 from many old records. Page 69 tells us that “Ireland indeed, was desert three hundred years after the deluge, till Partholón son of Sera, son of Sru, son of Esru, son of Fraimint, son of Fathacht, son of Magog, son of Japheth came to occupy it”. The spellings and order are slightly different, but we can clearly matchup Esraa with Esru, Sru with Hisrau. The British line then diverts through Bath, Jobath and Joham [Javan] to Japheth, whereas the Irish line goes through Fraimin, Fathacht and Magog to Japheth. However, these are not necessarily contradictions when we remember the great migrations after Babel were in the 5th generation.
Magog is understood to have given rise to the Scythians (a particularly fearsome warrior race) and the Irish have long held traditions that they descended from the Scythians.
Reliability of these texts
Some skeptics may suggest that these are fabrications or late changes made by Irish Christians (the Irish were non-Christian until the time of early 400’s AD with the arrival of Palladius (around 430), followed shortly by St Patrick (patron saint of Ireland) in 432 AD.
Regarding this note what we find in Chapter V p81-82 of “An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD400 – 1800AD” by Mary Frances Cusack[v].
“The Books of Genealogies and Pedigrees form a most important element in Irish pagan history. For social and political reasons, the Irish Celt preserved his genealogical tree with scrupulous precision. The rights of property and the governing power were transmitted with patriarchal exactitude on strict claims of primogeniture, which claims could only be refused under certain conditions defined by law. Thus, pedigrees and genealogies became a family necessity; but since private claims might be doubted, and the question of authenticity involved such important results, a responsible public officer was appointed to keep the records by which all claims were decided. Each king had his own recorder, who was obliged to keep a true account of his pedigree, and also of the pedigrees of the provincial kings and of their principal chieftains. The provincial kings had also their recorders (Ollamhs or Seanchaidhé); and in obedience to an ancient law established long before the introduction of Christianity, all the provincial records, as well as those of the various chieftains, were required to be furnished every third year to the convocation at Tara, where they were compared and corrected.”
Anglo-Saxon Kings and Royal Descent
Alfred the Great – King of Wessex
Most of our readers if familiar with English history will know of Alfred the Great.
This is an excerpt from his biography[vi] “Annals of the Reign of Alfred the Great” authorized by Alfred himself.
“In the year of our Lord’s incarnation 849, was born Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, at the royal village of Wanating, in Berkshire, …. His genealogy is traced in the following order. King Alfred was the son of king Ethelwulf, who was the son of Egbert, who was the son of Elmund, who was the son of Eafa, who was the son of Eoppa, who was the son of Ingild. Ingild, and Ina, the famous king of the West-Saxons, were two brothers. Ina went to Rome, and there ending this life honourably, entered the heavenly kingdom, to reign there for ever with Christ. Ingild and Ina were the sons of Coenred, who was the son of Coelwald, who was the son of Cudam, who was the son of Cuthwin, who was the son of Ceawlin, who was the son of Cynric, who was the son of Creoda, who was the son of Cerdic, who was the son of Elesa, who was the son of Gewis, from whom the Britons name all that nation Gegwis, who was the son of Brond, who was the son of Beldeg, who was the son of Woden, who was the son of Frithowald, who was the son of Frealaf, who was the son of Frithuwulf, who was the son of Finn of Godwulf, who was the son of Geat, which Geat the pagans long worshipped as a god. …. Geat was the son of Taetwa, who was the son of Beaw, who was the son of Sceldi, who was the son of Heremod, who was the son of Itermon, who was the son of Hathra, who was the son of Guala, who was the son of Bedwig, who was the son of Sceaf, [Not Shem, but Sceaf, i.e. Japheth][vii] who was the son of Noah, who was the son of Lamech, who was the son of Methusalem, who was the son of Enoch, who was the son of Malaleel, who was the son of Cainian, who was the son of Enos, who was the son of Seth, who was the son of Adam.” (page 2-3).
Notice how Alfred traced his genealogy all the way back to Adam, via the line of Japheth. Also notice another possibly familiar name who was worshipped as a god by the Vikings, that of Woden (Odin).
Again, some ask was this due to Alfred becoming a Christian. The answer is no. The Christian Saxons knew Japheth as Iafeth, not Sceaf.
Furthermore, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (p.48) records the genealogy of Ethelwulf, King of the West Saxons, and father of Alfred the Great, in the entry for the year AD853, ending with “Bedwig of Sceaf, that is, the son of Noah, who was born in the Ark”[viii] clearly repeating the original (pagan) genealogy rather than a corrected Christian spelling.
“Ethelwulf was the son of Egbert, Egbert of Elmund, Elmund of Eafa, Eafa of Eoppa, Eoppa of Ingild ; Ingild was Ina’s brother, king of the West-Saxons, he who held the kingdom thirty-seven years, and afterwards went to St.Peter, and there resigned his life ; and they were the sons of Kenred, Kenred of Ceolwald, Ceolwald of Cutha, Cutha of Cuthwin, Cuthwin of Ceawlin, Ceawlin of Cynric, Cynric of Cerdic, Cerdic of Elesa, Elesa of Esla, Esla of Gewis, Gewis of Wig, Wig of Freawin, Freawin of Frithogar, Frithogar of Brond, Brond of Beldeg, Beldeg of Woden, Woden of Fritliowald, Frithowald of Frealaf, Frealaf of Frithuwulf. Frithuwulf of Finn, Finn of Godwulf, Godwulf of Geat, Geat of Tcetwa, Tcetwa of Beaw, Beaw of Sceldi, Sceldi of Heremod, Heremod of Itermon, Itermon of Hatlira, Hathra of Guala, Guala of Bedwig, Bedwig of Sceaf, that is, the son of Noah, he was born in Noah’s ark;”.
Danish and Norwegian Saxons
In “Scriptores Rerum Danicarum, Medii AE VI – Jacobus Langeberk 1772” [ix] we find the following genealogy in 3 sections.
Page 26 of pdf version (page 3 of book), from Seskef [Japheth] down to Oden\Voden\Woden,
Page 27 (page 4 of book) from Oden to Yngvarr,
Page 28, (page 5 of book)) down to Haralldr Harfagri of the Royal House of Norway.
On the same page there is a genealogy from Oden to Ingialdr Starkadar of the Royal House of Denmark.
This book from 1772AD also contains a copy of the Ethelwulf to Sceafing\Sceafae [Japheth], son of Noah, genealogy of the Anglo-Saxon (Wessex) line of descent over the following 4 pages (page 6-9, pdf page 29-32).
These are sufficient references for the purposes of this article. There are more available for those still not convinced.
Overall accuracy of the Table of Nations
Apart from the genealogies considered above, from different countries and different sources which show evidence that most Europeans descended from Japheth, there is also the important confirmation of all the names of the descendants of Noah given in the account of Genesis 10, collectively given the name, the Table of Nations.
In this passage of scripture there are 114 named individuals. Of these 114, traces can be found of 112 of these individuals outside the Bible. Many in place names still known to us and used by people today.
An example is Mizraim, a son of Ham. His descendants settled in Egypt. The Arabs today still know Egypt as “Misr”. A simple search of the internet returns the following amongst others: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misr. The author has physically passed petrol stations with the logo “Misr” in Misr itself, one of the uses included in the list on the referenced Wikipedia page.
Another is Kush/Cush, which referred to the region south of the 1st Cataract of the Nile, the area of modern Northern and Central Sudan.
We could go on, naming one after the other, remembered as a place name or an area where certain groups of people settled in antiquity and were recorded in various archaeological objects as doing so.
Simply put, if we can trace these 112 early descendants of Noah, the account of Genesis 10 must be true.
The account of Genesis 10 contains 67 named individuals including Shem under the line of Shem. 65[x] of them can be traced externally to the scriptures, whether as place names, or mentioned as kings in cuneiform tablets, etc.
Likewise, Genesis 10 contains 32 individuals in the line of Ham including Ham. Information for all 32 is available, as per Shem’s line above.[xi]
Finally, Genesis 10 contains 15 individuals in the line of Japheth including Japheth. Information is available for all 15, as per Shem and Ham above.[xii]
Indeed, information for most of these 112 can be obtained from the following 4 references:
- The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. (4 volumes with Supplement) Abingdon Press, New York, 1962.
- The New Bible Dictionary. Inter-varsity Press, London, 1972.
- The Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus, translated by William Whinston.
- Commentary on the Holy Bible. Three volumes (1685), Matthew Poole. Fascimile published by Banner of Truth Trust, London, 1962.
A short summary of the information and their sources is well documented for these 112 individuals in the fascinating referenced book entitled “After the Flood” by Bill Cooper, which the author recommends for further reading.
A review of all the evidence presented in this article should lead us to the conclusion that Genesis 3:18-19 is accurate and trustworthy when it states the following “And Noah’s sons who came out of the ark were Shem and Ham and Japheth. …. These three were Noah’s sons, and from these was all the earth’s population spread abroad”.
Note the last past of the sentence “and from these was all the earth’s population spread abroad.” Yes, the whole of the earth’s population!
Once again, the account of Genesis is found to be true.
[i] Pdf Chart of Genesis 10, see https://assets.answersingenesis.org/doc/articles/table-of-nations.pdf
[ii] Nennius, “History of the Britons”, Translated by J.A.Giles;
[iii] “The Chronicle of the Kings of Britain”, translated from the Welsh copy attributed to Tysilio, by Rev. Peter Roberts 1811.
http://www.yorku.ca/inpar/geoffrey_thompson.pdf or a very similar manuscript
[vii] The original work had “Sceaf” not Shem. Sceaf was a derivation of Iapheth. For further evidence see After the Flood by Bill Cooper p.94
[viii] Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Page 48 (pdf page 66) of https://ia902605.us.archive.org/16/items/anglosaxonchroni00gile/anglosaxonchroni00gile.pdf
[ix] Scriptores Rerum Danicarum, Medii AE VI – Jacobus Langeberk 1772 https://ia801204.us.archive.org/16/items/ScriptoresRerumDanicarum1/Scriptores%20rerum%20danicarum%201.pdf
[x] For Shem, See After the Flood, Page p169-185, 205-208
[xi] For Ham, see After the Flood, page 169, 186-197, 205-208
[xii] For Japheth, see After the Flood, page 169, 198-204, 205-208
[xiii] Corpus Poeticum Boreales – (Edda Prose) https://ia800308.us.archive.org/5/items/corpuspoeticumbo01guuoft/corpuspoeticumbo01guuoft.pdf