Noah's son Japheth is the Mythical Greek Titan Japetus (Iapetos)?

by Walter R. Mattfeld
(Millbury, MA)

Some Liberal PhD scholars embracing an anthropological point of view understand that one of the sons of Noah, Japheth, is a Hebrew recast of the Homeric Greek mythological protagonist known as Iapetos (also rendered as Japetus).


English rendered Japheth (Hebrew: Yapheth) as Noah's son, is associated with a universal flood. Does such an association exist in Homeric Greek myths? Yes.

In Greek myth Japetus (Iapetos) is understood to be the "father of the human race" via his son Prometheus. Japetus' grandson, Deucalion, enters a great box with his wife and 3 children to survive a flood arising in Greece which will destroy all humans.

In Homeric Greek myth Japetus is _not_ the son of the flood survivor, Deucalion, he is the grandfather! Yet, his descendents, including Deucalion and progeny, are called Iapetiade. So descendants of Japetus survive a flood that destroys mankind in Greece.

How old is this myth? Homeric myths are dated anywhere from 1000-700 BC.

How would Jews come to know of a Homeric Greek flood myth and recast the mythical Titan Japetus as Japheth?

Some Liberal PhD scholars date the book of Genesis-2kings to circa 562-560 BC, it being composed in the Babylonian Exile. They note Greek trade pottery in Judah circa the 8th-6th centuries BC before Judah went into the Babylonain Exile. It is proposed that the Jews learned of Japetus via either Greek merchants at Jerusalem, or via Greek mercenaries possibly hired by King Josiah, circa 610 BC.

It is then proposed that the Jews, in error, assumed that the Homeric Greek flood myth and its protagonists were but a variant of their myth of a flood; which scholars have traced to circa 2900 BC in Mesopotamia at the city of Shuruppak, because both stories share similar motifs (the release of 3 birds
to test the abatement of flood waters).

How does Hebrew Madai (the Medes) become Japheth's son?

In Greek myth a princess called Medea from Colchis, a Greek colony on the Black Sea, travels to Greece with Jason of the Argonauts and becomes pregnant by a king of Athens. She flees Greece to Asia and gives birth to a son she calls Medus, and thus for the Greeks, Medus is a descendant of Japetos via his Greek father, the king of Athens. The 8th-5th centuries BC Greeks understood that the Medes were Medus' descendants.

How did the Jews learn that Madai (Medes) was Japheth's (Japetus) descendant? Apparently, via Greek merchants trading in Jerusalem circa the 8th-6th centuries BC (Greek trade pottery being found in Jerusalem by archaeologists).

The 6th century BC Jews apparently recast Medus as Madai, and Japetos his ancestor as Japheth.

Thus Noah's Flood is based upon the fusion of two different myths from two different locations:

(1) circa 2900 BC the Shuruppak Flood in Mesopotamia and

(2) the Homeric Greek Deucalion Flood myth occuring in Greece which mentioned Japetos, both myths appearing in a fused format in Genesis' circa 562-560 BC account of Noah's Flood.

How do some Liberal PhD scholars date Genesis to 562-560 BC?

They note that the "Primary History" (Genesis-2 Kings) is a history of the world for the Jews, from Eden to Exile. The last datable statement is 2 King 25:27, noting the Jewish king Jehoiachin is released from prison by the Chaldean king Evil-Merodach.

This Chaldean/Babylonian king reigned from circa 562-560 BC when he was assassinated in a palace putsch. Apparently Genesis-2 Kings was composed by an author in the Exile who knew of Evil-Merodach (Babylonian: Amel Marduk), but had no knowledge of those who succeeded him to the throne (another 3 monarchs).

Comments for Noah's son Japheth is the Mythical Greek Titan Japetus (Iapetos)?

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Jul 26, 2013
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Tubal & Gomer
by: Anonymous

I've read this and others by you (the author). I really appreciate these articles, but I wonder what your opinion is on the other sons attributed to Iapetos? Tubal (I imagine is Tabal), or Gomer (Cimmerians) ect, I'm having trouble connected them directly to Iapetos, thought this could also be a sloppy grouping of all these people with Iapetos absent Greek myth support.

Also I'm under the impression that any son of Zeus would be a son of Iapetos, which would link the human patriarch to divinity (ancestor worship), would this be possible in your perspective. Is there a way to link mythological geneology of "Gods" with the geneaology of the antique Greco-Roman world?

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