The Descendants of Japheth


(Genesis 10:2-5)


Japheth was the youngest of Noah's three sons. His two brothers were Ham and Shem.  Japheth, along with his parents, his brothers and their wives, were on the Ark during the Great Flood.  Japheth's sons were named Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech and Tiras.  Their descendants became the maritime nations in various lands, each with a separate language (Gen 10:5).  It is believed most of Japheth's descendants settled in Europe.   


The descendants of Japheth, after the Tower of Babel, when God made man go out and populate the world migrated west and north. The sons of Japheth's sons are listed giving more detail than is found in the list of Ham's or Shem's sons. A study of names Japheth's sons and grandsons sheds some light on who are his descendants today.


Name of the Son

People Associated With the Name




Greeks, Aryans of India


People living in area of the Black Sea, Germany and Wales.


Reference to "Gog" referring to Georgia, a region near the Black Sea and Scythians.


Medes (Persia), Japheth through Madai father of peoples of India.


People of Greece and Cyprus.


Russian, city of Tobolsk.


Russian, (Name Muskovi) city of Moscow.


Thracians, possibly the Etruscans of Italy.


Germany, Armenia, Scandinavia, Denmark, northern islands of Europe and European west coast.


Generally Europe, Carpathians and Paphlagonians


Armenians, Germany and Turkey


Greeks ("Hellas" is a form of word Elishah)


Spain, Carthage in North Africa


Greeks, Cyprus, Macedonia


Greeks, Rhodes, Dardanelles


(The above information came from Henry M. Morris's book The Genesis Record, pages 247-249)


 As you can see from the list above Japheth descendent are the Indo-European peoples. The Indo-European peoples are identified as the "white" or Caucasian race.

After the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel, God orderly divided up the different peoples of the world. When God changed the language of the people of the world He did so by family (tribe or clan) and nations. These families who were related found they spoke the same language and gathered together in migrating generally west and north out of Babylonia. This was probably not a migration of all these families in one group. It would seem all these families separately migrated in the same general direction because they all had a common language. This migration of people lasted over many centuries. In seeking new lands as the population grew they spread northward and to the west.


It should be noted that some teach that the people of the British Isles were the descendants of the Ten (supposed) Lost Tribes of Israel.  They also teach that America, where the English Pilgrims first arrived in 1620 A.D., is the “New Israel”.   This is only a conjecture and hypothesis without any anthropological evidence.  The English people are Caucasians, the descendants of Japheth, not Shem, who is the ancestor of the Jews through Abraham.  Of course many Jews have dispersed throughout Europe, but they remained as homogeneous ethnic groups of people wherever they lived because of their distinctive religious practices.


“May God enlarge Japheth, and may he dwell in the tents of Shem; and may Canaan be his servant.” (Gen. 9:27)


This is a statement made by Noah.  Some use this prophecy to teach that Japheth is the ancestor of the Chinese people because of the word “enlarge”.   They base their teaching on the fact that the Chinese are the most populous race in the world.  The word “enlarge” in the Hebrew language “Pathah”  Strong’s Hebew Dictionary does not mean having many people.



Htp pathah

a primitive root; to open, i.e. be (causatively, make) roomy; usually figuratively (in a mental or moral sense) to be (causatively, make) simple or (in a sinister way) delude:--allure, deceive, enlarge, entice, flatter, persuade, silly (one).


The English word “enlarge” used in the King James Bible usually means to extend, expand, broaden or widen borders, lands or territories.  God promised Israel: “For I will cast out the nations before you and enlarge your borders; . . .” (Ex. 34:24; ref. Deut. 12:20; 19:8)  The prophecy “May God enlarge Japheth” was accurately fulfilled in the history of the European nations that are descendants of Japheth.  In 331 BCE the Greek Alexander the Great, conquered Persia and extended his empire to India in the east and Egypt in the southwest.  Alexander also spread the ideas of Aristotle and other classical Greeks throughout conquered lands, creating the Hellenistic Age.  In 260 BCE Rome fought Punic Wars against Carthage – rise of Roman Empire and fall of Greece.  In 100 CE Roman Empire peaked – trade flourished with India and China.  In 65 BCE Julius Caesar conquered Gaul (modern-day France) and other parts of Europe.  In 1 CE - Rise of Christianity. In 100 CE - Roman Empire peaked – trade flourished with India and China.  In 325 CE Constantine converted to Christianity, established city of Byzantium (later known as Constantinople, then Istanbul), and ruled the Roman Empire.  Rome’s influence in the British Isle can be proven by archaeology.


The Age of Exploration by the European nations is from 1450 A.D. to 1700 A.D.   There are two main motives behind the exploration.  First is the desire for power and wealth.  Second is for the expansion of the Church.  The Christian missions often follow after the territorial conquests.  The Portuguese Prince Henry (1394 A.D. – 1460 A.D.) sent ships to explore West Africa to find a sea route to the East.  In 1444 A.D. Gil Eannes, a squire of Prince Henry, captured 200 natives in Cape Blanco and started the European slave trade.  In 1497 A.D. the king of Portugal sent Vasco de Gama on a diplomatic mission to India.  His four ships were loaded with cannons and goods to trade.  Some Portuguese traders threatened the Indian rulers to grant them favorable trading rights.  Christopher Columbus (1451 A.D. – 1506 A.D.) an Italian who explored for Spain, is well known for his discovery of America, but we seldom read about his other discoveries in the West Indies and Central America that led to territorial conquests.  Today many of these countries such as Cuba, Nicaragua, etc. still have vestiges of colonialist Spain.  How do you think most of the countries in South America still have Spanish as their national language and Brazilians got to speak Portuguese?  It came from the expansionist legacy of European nations who are descendants of Japheth.  What about the British Empire that once embodied Africa, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Burma (now Myanmar), the West Indies, Iraq, Turkey, Transjordan (now Jordan), Palestine (now Israel), Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa?  If America did not win the War of Independence (1765-1777) it would have also become a part of the British Empire.  We should also not forget France that colonized Vietnam (originally called French Indo-China) and the Dutch that once ruled Indonesia (formerly called Dutch East Indies).  Philippines was, at one time, a colony of Spain.  This is one of the reasons why many Filipinos still retain their Hispanic surnames.  Lest we forget, the former British Crown colony Hong Kong was only given back to China in 1997, and Macau was returned by Portugal to China in 1999.  Those that teach the Chinese are descendants of Japheth do not have any historical evidence of China’s colonization of other countries.  It does not fit Noah’s prophecy.  The Chinese people are descendants of Shem, not Japheth who is, without a doubt, the progenitor of the European people.


If we believe in the fulfillment of Bible prophecy then what Noah proclaimed had already been fulfilled. 


“May God enlarge Japheth, and may he dwell in the tents of Shem; and may Canaan be his servant.” (Gen. 9:27)


How did the descendants of Japheth dwell in the tents of Shem”?  From history we observe the European nations first explore the foreign lands to expand their territories.  This “enlarges Japheth.”  Their next step was to establish Christian missions.  We all acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ is the “God of Shem”.  The “tents of Shem” signify the Christian churches and missions. 


“Glory, glory HalleluYah!  His truth is marching on.” – Battle Hymn of the Republic



May God bless you



This Article is the response of Paul Wong
to a discussion in the ARK Forum on February 10, 2003

It was published on this Website on September 10, 2009
For comments please write first to:

Paul Wong is a Christian minister and the President of ARK International.
His ministry also serves as an architectural service company in Houston.
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