Hebrew: יָ֫פֶת —transliteration: Yepheth or Japheth
Meaning is uncertain—either “wide spreading” as in “God shall enlarge Japheth” (Hebrew: Yaphat Elohim le-Yephet, Genesis 9:27), or some derive the name from yaphah, “to be beautiful.”
Japheth was one of the sons of Noah, mentioned last in order (Genesis 5:32; 6:10; 7:13), perhaps first by birth (10:21; compare 9:24). [Note: The KJV, NKJV and NIV show Japheth as the “elder” in Genesis 10:21. However, the NASB, RSV and NRSV assume the meaning was opposite, that Shem was “the elder brother of Japheth.” The NASB marginal note acknowledges that this assumption may be wrong.]
Japheth and his wife were two of the 8 saved in the ark (1 Peter 3:20). The name of his wife is not mentioned. He was the progenitor of many tribes inhabiting the east of Europe and the north of Asia (Genesis 10:2-5). An act of filial piety (9:20-27) was the occasion of Noah’s prophecy of the extension of his posterity.
After the Flood, the Earth was re-peopled by the descendants of Noah, “the sons of Japheth” (Genesis 10:2), “the sons of Ham” (Gen 10:6), and “the sons of Shem” (Genesis 10:22).
The following table shows how his his descendants dispersed after the Tower of Babel:
Medes and Persian tribes
Article Version: October 12, 2017