Japheth, one of the three sons of Noah, by most critics regarded as the eldest. It is said of him (Gen. ix. 27): "God shall enlarge Ja-pheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant." He was the progenitor of extensive tribes inhabiting the northern parts of the Mosaic world. His sons (Gen. x. 2) were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. Gomer is now generally identified with the Cimmerians of the ancients; Magog probably represents Turanian Scyths about the Caucasus; Madai is the Hebrew name for Media; Javan for Ionia and Greece; Tiras probably for Thrace. Meshech and Tubal, who in the Scriptures always appear coupled together, are identified with the equally associated Moschi and Tibareni of the Greeks, and Muscai and Tuplai of the Assyrian inscriptions (or Muski and Tabali, as Schrader renders the names), the former of whom, according to Rawlinson (Herodotus, book i., essay xi.), "are regarded on very sufficient grounds as the ancestors of the Muscovites, who built Moscow, and who still give name to Russia throughout the East; and these Muscovites have been lately recognized as belonging to the Tchud or Finnish family, which the Slavonic Russians conquered, and which is a known Turanian race." This statement is made still more probable by the Hebrew text of Ezekiel xxxviii. 2, 3, and xxxix. 1, which connects Meshech and.
Tubal with Rosh; the latter word, rendered "chief" in the English version, being now regarded by Gesenius and others as a proper noun corresponding to the Pws of the Byzantine historians, and the people Rus (on the Volga) of the Arabian Ibn Foslan, and thus containing the earliest historical trace of the Russian name. Thus Japheth, as a family name, embraces a large number of primitive nations, in modern ethnology partly designated as Turanian and partly as Indo-European. This agrees with the tradition of the Arabians, which assigns to Japheth 11 sons, progenitors of as many nations, among whom are Jin (the Chinese), Gomari (Cimmerians?), Turk (Turks), Khozar (Khazars), and Ros (Russians). The name Japheth is from a Hebrew root meaning expansion, wide-spreading (Gen. ix. 27). Another derivation, meaning fair, comely, denoting the white-colored races, is less pertinent. It has also been compared with the Japetus of Greek mythology. Japhetic is often used by ethnologists instead of Indo-European.