February 15th, 2017

The Descendants of Japheth:
Indo-Europeans and Western Civilization

What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?

The Bible is the story of Shem (Semitic people, the Jews) through Shem’s great-grandson Heber (Eber) who is the father of the Hebrew people (Jews). In Jewish teaching, Eber lived in the time of Babel, and refused to take part in the Tower of Babel, so the Shemites (as well as the Japhethites) never had their language confused. One can trace the Semitic people (Jews and Arabs) and the Japhethite people by their languages (Semitic and Indo-European languages respectively). All the descendants of Ham spread throughout the world, exploring the land, and finding their languages confused. An illustration of the family of Ham are the Yap Natives of the Pacific Islands. Though from the same family, Yap Natives on differing islands have different languages without the same root. But tonight we study the Japhethtites.

Western culture, sometimes called Western civilization, is a term used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems, political systems and specific influences that have some origin or association with Europe. It is sometimes called the Occident (which means “the west”) in opposition to the Orient (which means “the east”), terms usually associated with Turkey are in the middle (where the ark landed). The term also applies beyond Europe, to countries and cultures whose histories are strongly connected to Europe by immigration, colonization, or influence. For example, Western Culture includes countries in the Americas and Australasia, whose language and demographic ethnicity majorities are currently European. The Japethites are the founders of western culture, or the Indo-European civilization (see Appendix 10).

Japheth is the Father of the Europeans and the Indians (of India, not America)

To begin with, it is well known that Japheth's name has been preserved in both branches of the Aryan family, which very early split into two major divisions and settled in Europe and India. The Greeks, for example, trace themselves back to Japetos. In Aristophanes' The Clouds, Japetos is referred to as one of the Titans and the father of Atlas. Japetos was considered by the Greeks not merely as their own ancestor but the father of the human race. According to their tradition, Ouranos and Gaia (i.e., Heaven and Earth) had six sons and six daughters, but of this family only one - Japetos by name - had a human progeny. He married Clymene, a daughter of Okeanos, who bore him Prometheus and three other sons. Prometheus begat Deukalion who is, in effect, the "Noah" of the Greeks, and Deukalion begat Hellen who was the reputed father of the Hellenes or Greeks. If we proceed a little further, we find that Hellen himself had a grandson named Ion; and in Homer's poetry the Greeks were known as Ionians.

Meanwhile, the Indian branch of this Aryan family also traced themselves back to the same man. In the Indian account of the Flood, "Noah" is known as Satyaurata, who had three sons, the eldest of whom was named Jyapeti. The other two were called Sharma and C'harma (Shem and Ham?). To the first he allotted all the regions north of the Himalayas and to Sharma he gave the country to the south. But he cursed C'harma, because when the old monarch was accidentally inebriated with strong liquor made from fermented rice, C'harma had laughed at him. In primitive Aryan speech the title Djapatischta means "chief of the race," a title which looks like a corruption of the original form of the name "Japheth." We know little about Japheth from Scripture, except that in Hebrew his name means “fair.” We know much more about his seven sons (see Appendix 11).

Out of the spreading of Japheth’s seven sons, there emerges a reasonably clear picture in which a single family beginning with Japheth multiplied in the course of time and peopled the northern shore of the Mediterranean, the whole of Europe, the British Isles and Scandinavia, and the larger part of Russia.

The same family settled India, displacing a prior settlement of Hamites who had established themselves in the Indus Valley. Isolated groups of this same people seem to have wandered further afield towards the East, contributing to small pockets of Japhethites which, in course of time, were almost, if not wholly, swallowed up by the Hamites. It is possible that some of them contributed characteristics found in the people of Polynesia, and it is conceivable that in the Ainu of northern Japan there is a remnant of Japhethites.

Noah had said that God would enlarge Japheth (Genesis 9:27). It seems that this enlargement began very early in Japheth's history, but it has been a continuing process and occurring in every part of the world, with the exception of the Far East. The children of Japheth have tended to spread and multiply at the expense of the Shem and Ham families. This enlargement did not mean that Japhethites were the first to migrate far and wide, for wherever they have spread, whether in prehistoric or historic times, they have been preceded by even earlier settlers whose racial origin was not Indo-European. This pattern of settlement of the habitable areas of the world has had a profound significance in the development of civilization, a significance which is considered in some detail in another Doorway Paper.

It has been established by many lines of evidence that the actual names provided in Genesis 10:1-5 were indeed those of real people, whose families carried with them recognizably clear recollections (though often in corrupted form), of their respective forebears, so that they have survived to the present day, still bearing the kind of relationships that are implied in this ancient Table of Nations. And even the patriarchal name is often unmistakably preserved!