Unraveling the Japheth Mystery (Genesis 9:25-27)
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20 Dec 2000
Revised and Updated: 29 July 2003 & 27 Feb; 17 & 21 June 2005
I understand that the Primary History (Genesis-2 Kings) was written in the Exile, ca. 560 B.C., for the arguments cf.
Scholars have been bewildered as to Japheth's identity in Noah's blessing (Genesis 9:27); some have noted the similarity of Japheth's name to the Greek Titan Iapetos (Japetus), but are at a loss to explain the historical connection between these individuals. Why would a Hebrew bless a Greek, or a descendant of the Greeks, to co-rule the coveted Promised Land, Canaan, with the Israelites, Shem commonly being identified with the Israelites? The Primary History (Genesis-2 Kings) never identifies an event that saw Noah's prophecy fulfiled, that Canaan would be co-ruled by Japheth and Shem- perhaps this was a "hoped for event" which would transpire sometime in the future, after the 560 B.C. Primary History had been written in the Exile?
Genesis 9:27 RSV
"God enlarge JAPHETH, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his slave."
The case for Iapetos being Japheth:
Professor Hess was unable to establish a West Semitic etymology or an onomastic environment for Japheth, and ended up concluding that it is most likely derived from Greek traditions about Iapetus/Iapetos :
"Japheth is the one name among those found in the narratives of Genesis 6-9 which has neither a West Semitic etymology nor an onomastic environment. Unlike Ham's son Canaan, it has no comparison with place names, either. Thus we must look elsewhere for a source for this name. Neiman (1973) observes the origin of the descendants of Japheth in the Table of Nations as located in the region of Hellas and the islands of the Aegean Sea (p.122). Whether every group mentioned can be so located is beside the point. We have sufficient evidence in the preponderance of place names and gentilics to seek Japheth among the Greeks and their ancestors. It is there that Neiman finds a comparable name in Iapetos, the Titan father of Prometheus and the progenitor of Humanity. The figure already appears in Homer's Iliad (VIII, 479) and in Hesiod's Theogony."
(p. 31. "The Origins of the Personal Names in Genesis 1-11." Richard S. Hess. Studies in the Personal Names of Genesis 1-11. [Alter Orient und Altes Testament, band 234]. Verlag Butzon & Bercker Kevelaer. 1993. ISBN 3-7666-9869-9)
Scholars have long been intriqued by the similarity of names Japheth (Genesis 10:1) and Iapetos. The quasi-Jewish Sybilline Oracles make this association in the Greco-Roman period:
"In the quasi-Jewish Sibylline Oracles- in which the sons of Noah are given the names of Greek gods- Shem is identified with Chronos, Ham with Titan, and Japheth as Iapetus."
(cf. p. 642. Vol. 3. Ephraim Isaac. "Japheth." David Noel Freedman, Editor. The Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York. Doubleday. 1992)
Until recently, however, most scholars were hesitant to assert that Japheth must be Iapetos. The German scholar Professor Von Rad is an example of this hesitancy:
"From Greek mythology we know of a Iapetos, the father of Prometheus, but we see no clear connection with the biblical use of the name."
(p. 138. "Noah's Curse and Blessing." Gerhard Von Rad. Genesis, A Commentary. Philadelphia. Westminster Press. , 1973)
However, maverick scholars like Graves and Patai had no hesitation in asserting that Japheth was Iapetos:
"Japheth represents the Greek Iapetus, father by Asia of Prometheus and thus ancestor of the pre-diluvian race."
(p. 122, note #3. Robert Graves and Raphael Patai. Hebrew Myths, The Book of Genesis. New York. Greenwich House. [1963-64], 1983)
Josephus understands some of Japheth's descendants to be Greek nations- Javan is Ionia, Elishah is Aeolis (a province adjacent to Ionia), Tarshish is Tarsus, Kittim is Cyprus (from the seaport of Kition, Latin: Citium). I have traced some these genealogies to Iapetos in the Greek myths found in Classical Dictionaries.
Evidently the Jews (of the 7th-6th centuries B.C.) took the Greek myth of Iapetos, who was regarded by the Greeks as the ancestor of the human race, through his son Prometheus, and transformed him into Japheth:
"Iapetus. . .he was regarded by the Greeks as the ancestor of the human race..."
(p. 336, "Iapetus." William Smith. A Classical Dictionary of Biography, Mythology, and Geography. London. John Murray. 1875)
I understand that Deucalion (the Greek equivelant of Noah), the grandson of Iapetos was recast by the Jews into Noah.
The Greek myths mention Deucalion fathering three children, two sons- Hellen, and Amphictyon, and a daughter, Protogenia. Of interest is that Genesis' Noah has three children too (cf. p.217-18. "Deucalion." William Smith, A Classical Dictionary of Biography, Mythology, and Geography. London. John Murray. 1875).
"Iapetus, one of the Titans, son of Uranus...His descendants, Prometheus, Atlas and others are often designated by the patronymic Iapetidaes or Iapetiionidae(es), and the feminine Iapetionis."
("Iapetus." p. 336. William Smith. A Classical Dictionary..., London. 1875)
The great Greek lyric poet Pindar (518-438 B.C.) makes mention of Iapetos' descendants who survived the Flood of Deucalion (Deucalion being a grandson of Iapetos), said event being located in Hellas or Greece (emphasis mine):
"They tell, indeed, how the strength of the waters overwhelmed the dark earth; but by the skills of Zeus the ebbing tide suddenly drained off THE FLOOD. From these were your ancestors with their bronze shields, young men sprung from the beginning from the stock of the DAUGHTERS OF IAPETUS and from the powerful sons of Cronus, always a native line of kings."
(Pindar. The Olympian 0.9.49)
Smith on Deucalion's Flood (emphasis mine):
"Deucalion. Son of Prometheus and Clymene, king of Pythia, in Thessaly [Greece]...Zeus...resolved to destroy the degenerate race of men, Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha were, on account of their piety, the only mortals saved. On the advice of his father, Deucalion built a ship, in which he and his wife floated in safety during the 9 days' flood, WHICH DESTROYED ALL THE OTHER INHABITANTS OF HELLAS. At last the ship rested on mount Parnassus in Phocis, or, according to other traditions, on mount Othrys in Thessaly, on mount Athos, or even on Aetna in Sicily."
(p. 217. "Deucalion." William Smith. A Classical Dictionary of Biography, Mythology, and Geography. London. John Murray. 1875)
I suspect that Greek mercenaries from Ionia, Caria and Lydia (sent by Gyges of Lydia) serving in the army of the Saitic Pharaohs who invaded and annexed Judah with the Assyrian withdrawal of circa 640 B.C., may have had contact with the Jews and thus the Jews before going into the Exile at Babylon ca. 587 B.C., knew from them of Greek myths about "Iapetidaes who had survived a Flood," which they -in error- associated with their Jewish Flood traditions (traced by biblical scholars to the Shuruppak Flood of ca. 2900 B.C. near Ur of the Chaldees in Lower Mesopotamia and preserved in the Epic of Gilgamesh). Greek mercenaries' names do appear at 7th century B.C. Tell Arad in the Negev, drawing food supplies from the fortress (and temple there dedicated to Yahweh). I understand that Genesis was composed in the Exile ca. 560 B.C., so it is quite possible that the Jews would have known of "Iapetos' descendants surviving a flood" for almost 80 years or four generations (640-560 B.C.) before Japheth's "appearance" in the Genesis composition of 560 B.C. That is to say, Liberal scholars are CORRECT that Genesis' Flood is a later Hebrew _recast_ of the Shuruppak Flood in Lower Mesopotamia which occurred ca. 2900 B.C., BUT in the 7th/6th century B.C. via the Greek mercenaries who served in Judah and Palestine, the Jews came to know of Iapetos' descendants surviving a Flood (Deucalion's Flood) and they (the Jews) ERRONEOUSLY ASSIMILATED THIS FLOOD TO THEIR EARLIER FLOOD TRADITIONS which were descended of the Shuruppak Flood. Please click here for all the details on Noah's Flood being a _recast_ of the Shuruppak Flood.
Madai (the Medes), a descendant of Japheth (LXX: Iapheth) and Greco-Roman myths about the Medes' descent from Iapetos (Ge 10:2):
Genesis 10:1-2 RSV
"These are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth; sons were born to them after the flood. The sons of JAPHETH: Gomer, Magog, MADAI, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras."
My research has suggested that Genesis' statement that Madai (Media) is a descendant of Japheth is based on Greek myths. From Classical Dictionaries (William Smith and John Lempriere) I have compiled several genealogies on Medus, the son of Medea of Colchis, ancestor of the Medes, and his descent from the Greek Titan Iapetos.
The line from Classical Dictionaries:
Iapetos (Japheth?), Prometheus, Deucalion, Hellen, Aeolus, Cretheus, Aeson, Jason (of the Argonauts) who has an affair with Medea of Colchis, their son being Medus.
Strabo (circa B.C. 65 to 25 A.D.) makes Medus the son of Jason and Medea, while another account makes Medus the son of Medea and a Greek king of Athens. Hesiod (7th century B.C.) makes Medea of Colchis the mother of Medus. Diodorus Siculus (circa 55 B.C.) claims Medus is of Athenian descent.
Cook makes the following observation about Greek myths making the Medes and Persians Greek descendants:
"It is curious that Medea and Perseus were figures of Greek legends who had oriental connections. But granted that they were, it was natural that when word of the Mada and Parsa reached them, the Greeks should tie them into their own mythology, making Medea travel to Media and claiming Perseus as the progenitor of the Persians..."
(p. 1. J. M. Cook. The Persian Empire. New York. Barnes and Noble. , 1993)
Cook has also noted that Greeks, Jews, Egyptians, and Minaeans, all called the Persians Medes:
"But while Herodotus is careful in distinguishing individual Medes and Persians, the Greeks generally continued to know the great power in Asia as the Medes; and Herodotus himself often speaks of the Medes when he is referring to 'the enemy' or putting words in the mouths of other people such as the queen of the Massagetai. And it is not only the Greeks; Jews, Egyptians (who also used the word Mede as a term of abuse), and even the Minaeans from southern Arabia continued almost indefinitely to speak of the Medes and not of the Persians."
(pp. 42-43. J. M. Cook. The Persians. Barnes & Noble.  1993).
Herodotus on the Persians being named after the Greek hero Perses:
"This people [the Persians] was known to the Greeks in ancient times by the name Cephenians; but they called themselves and were called by their nieghbors, Artaeans. It was not till Perseus, the son of Zeus and Danae, visited Cepheus the son of Belus, and marrying his daughter Andromeda, had by her a son called Perses (whom he left behind him in the country because Cepheus had no male offspring) that the nation took from this Perses the name of Persians."
(Herodotus. The Persian Wars. Bk. 7.61. Translated by F.R. B. Godolphin. p. 523)
Did the Medes really believe they were the descendants of the Greeks? In the fifth century B.C., Herodotus noted that the Medes, originally calling themselves Aryans, changed their name in honor of Medea:
"The Medes were once universally known as Aryans, but they too, changed their name. In their case, according to their own account, following the visit of Medea the Colchian, who went to their country from Athens."
(Herodotus. Persian Wars. 7.62)
Medus, according to another account was the son of Aegeus, king of Athens and Medea of Colchis, who had been jilted and abandoned by Jason of the Argonauts for another woman (cf. p. 427, "Medea," William Smith, A Classical Dictionary of Biography, Mythology and Geography, London, John Murray, 1875). This account has Medea fleeing Athens and settling in Asia where her son Medus is born, becoming the progenitor of the Medes. Later Greek mythologies make Hellen, the great-grandson of Iapetos, the ancestor of all the Greeks, who call themselves in his honor, Hellenes. Medus' father, Aegeus, being a Greek of a royal bloodline would therefore make Iapetos (Japheth?) Medus' ancestor.
Diodorus Siculus (ca. the 1st century B.C.) suggests that, indeed, the Medes claimed a Greek genealogy for themselves (The war with Datis is set in the 5th century B.C.):
"Datis the general of the Persians and a Mede by descent, having received from his ancestors the tradition that the Athenians were descendants of Medus, who had established the kingdom of Media, sent a message to the Athenians declaring that he was come with an army to demand the return of sovereignty which had belonged to his ancestors; for Medus, he said, who was the oldest of his own ancestors, had been deprived of the kingship by the Athenians; and removing to Asia, had founded the kingdom of Media. Consequently, he went on to say, if they would return the kingdom to him, he would forgive them for this guilty act and for the campaign they had made against Sardis; but if they opposed his demand, they would suffer a worse fate than had the Eretrians. Miltiades, voicing the decision reached by the ten generals, replied that according to the statement of the envoys it was more appropriate for the Athenians to hold the mastery over the empire of the Medes than for Datis to hold it over the state of the Athenians; for it was a man of Athens who had established the kingdom of the Medes, whereas no man of Median race had ever controlled Athens. Datis, on hearing this reply, made ready for battle."
(p. 97, Loeb Classics #4. Diodorus Siculus. Library of History. Book 10.27)
The Book of Jubilees, dated by various scholars to the Hasmonean period (circa 160-90 B.C.), seems to preserve the story of Medea fleeing Athens, Greece for Asia, settling in Media. Jubilees explains that Madai was alotted the islands of Aegean Sea, to the west of Lud (Lydia). Not satisfied with this, Madai obtains permission to settle in Shem's patrimony, in Media, near Elam. In both accounts, Greek and Hebrew, an individual associated with Media, leaves a Greek area and settles in Media. Here is Jubilee's account:
"And Japheth and his sons went toward the sea. and they dwelt in the land of their portion, but Madai saw the land of the sea and it did not please him. He begged it from Elam and Asshur and Arpachshad, from the brother of his wife. And he dwelt in the land of Media near his wife's brother until this day. And he called his dwelling place and the dwelling place of his sons Media after their father, Madai."
(p. 77. Vol. 2. O. S. Wintermute. "Jubilees," in James H. Charlesworth, Editor. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. New York. Doubleday. 1985)
The Greek account:
"Medea, daughter of Aeetes, king of Colchis...she fled to Athens, and married Aegeus...she escaped and went to Asia, the inhabitants of which were called after her Medes...She is said to have given birth to her son Medus after her arrival in Asia, where she married a king..."
(p. 427. "Medea." William Smith. A Classical Dictionary of Biography, Mythology, and Geography. London. John Murray. 1875)
Alexander noted that Jews of the Talmudic era sought to identify Japheth with the Persians:
"The Babylonian Talmud (redacted ca. 500 CE) presents an exposition of the Table of Nations in order to answer the question, "From where do we know that the Persians are derived from Japheth?"
(p. 983, Vol. 2. Philip S. Alexander. "Geography and the Biblr (Early Jewish)." David Noel Freedman. Editor. The Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York. Doubleday. 1992)
My research has revealed that current biblical scholarship is unaware of this Greek myth underlying Madai's descent from Japheth.
To my knowledge, I am _the first_ to make this connection!
If my assertion is correct -that Genesis has preserved a Greek myth about the Medes' descent from Iapetos- then biblical scholars will have to reassess their views that there are no Greek concepts underlying Genesis' account of the nations of the world and their origins.
Did the Greeks borrow Madai/Japheth and transform them into Medus/Iapetos from the Jews, or did the Jews borrow this genealogy from the Greeks? I suspect the latter.
Just how old is this Greek myth about Medus being the ancestor of the Medes? Dating this myth might help in establishling the earliest conceivable period that this myth could have entered the Hebrew Bible.
Gantz' research suggests that the myth probably dates from the 5th century B.C., noting that the earliest literature presented Medus/Medos as the son of Jason (of the Argonauts) and Medea, but that Diodoros Siculus (flourished ca. 55 B.C.) preserves a version making Medus the son of Medea and the King of Athens, Aegeus (Diodorus also has Datis, the Median general, implying Medus is his ancestor on the eve of the invasion of Greece in 490 B.C., cf. Dio.Sic. 10.27):
"As for Medeios, or Medos, as he is more often known, at some point he becomes the son of Aigeus rather than of Iason. Our first source to actually speak of this transfer is Diodoros, but he ascribes it to tragedy and indeed we should certainly expect it to have occurred in the fifth century B.C. (so too ApB 1.9.28, save that Medeia commits the deed). Such a tale could derive from a prophecy at the end of one of the Aigeus plays, but when we turn to Hyginus we find a similar story, told in great detail with false idenities (Medos impersonating Hippotes) and recognitions and Medeia almost killing her son, which sounds very much like a tragedy in its own right (Fab 27). Here too Medos slays Perses (there is no mention of Aietes) and gives his name to the land of the Medes. Clearly the shift of parentage brings with it a narrative convenience, for if Medos is not the son of Iason, storytellers need not explain how he survived the events at Korinth. We should expect, however, that the more important reason was a desire on the part of the Athenians to link their race to that of Persia, though why is harder to say. Conceivably, Athenian mythographers added the stay in Athens to her list of adventures for just this purpose, before sending her on to Kolchis."
(pp. 372-373. Vol.1. "Medeia and Iason in Greece." Timothy Gantz. Early Greek Myth, A Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources. Johns Hopkins University Press. Baltimore & London. 1993. ISBN 0-8018-5360-5 [paperback])
My research, undertaken to establish the "earliest likely date" for the Medus myth has turned up the following observations:
First, the Greeks before they could make Medus the founder of Media, would have to be aware of that nation's existence. According to Assyrian annals, Asshurbanipal (669-627 B.C.) received captured "Gimmerai" prisoners (biblical Gomer) from Gyges of Lydia, who agreed to be his vassal in return for Assyrian help in fighting the Gimmerai (Greek: Cimmerians). The Greek city states of Ionia, adjacent to Lydia, would have contact with Athens, and through Ionia, the Athenians probably came to know of the Medes when Ionian mercenaries serving in Saitic Pharaohs' armies entered Canaan to occupy it in the course of Assyria's withdrawal from her western provinces ca. 640 B.C. (Gyges having later rebelled against Asshurbanipal and encouraging evidently Lydians, Ionians and Carians to serve in Egypt's forces, to set Egypt free of Assyrian control). These Ionian mercenaries would no doubt be aware that the Assyrian withdrawal was being occasioned by rebellion and skirmishes on the eastern frontier with Medes, Babylonians and Elamites. Genesis' Table of Nations mentions the "Ludim" in Egypt (Ge 10:13) which some scholars understand to be Lydian mercenaries of the 7th century B.C. Iawan or Ionia is listed as a son of Iapetos in Genesis' Table of Nations (Ge 10:4).
In 612 B.C. the Medes emerged as a world power, overthrowing Assyrian rule when Nineveh fell in that year. Cyaxares, the founder of the Median empire, went on to attack Alyattes of Lydia in 585 B.C. The hositilities ended in a draw when a solar eclipse occurred (viewed as a bad omen?). Alyattes married his daughter to Astyages, Cyaxares' son, cementing an alliance. Then Alyattes turned West against the Greeks of Ionia, capturing Smyrna, but failing to capture Clazomenae and Miletus. I am of the opinion that via either Ionian mercenaries serving the Pharaohs in Canaan ca. 640-610 B.C. or via Aylattes of Lydia (ca. 610-560 B.C.) the Greeks came to know of the Medes, and developed their first myths about Medus, son of Jason/Iason and Medea, becoming the founder of the Median empire. In other words, the myth cannot be any earlier than the 7th century B.C. So, between ca. 640-587 B.C. the Greeks in Athens, via their kindred in Ionia, that is the coast of Asia Minor, are aware of the existence of the Medes.
I am proposing here that the Jews in the Pre-Exilic period, 640-587 B.C. via their exposure to Greek mercenaries serving in Canaan and perhaps even in Judah, under the Saitic Pharaohs, came to learn of the Athenian Greek Medus myth and Medus' descent from Iapetos, thus the anonymous author of the Primary History (Genesis- 2 Kings) portrayed the Medes as descendants of Japheth/Iapetos; the Primary History's _last date_ is the freeing of the Judaean king Jehoiachin in 560 BCE by Evil-Merodach of Babylon who reigned 562-560 B.C. (2 Kings 25:27).
Stern has noted that in the course of the 8th and 7th centuries B.C. Greek pottery penetrated Judah, Edom, Moab and Ammon. Greek mercenaries served the Saite Pharaohs and were employed by them in reclaiming Palestine-Syria as an Egyptian sphere of influence as Assyrian power and influence waned during this period (cf. pp. 216-228. "The Greek Penetration." Ephraim Stern. Archaeology of the Land of the Bible, Vol. 2, The Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian Periods (732-332 BCE). New York. Doubleday. 2001. ISBN 0-385-42450-7).
Pottery shards at Tell Arad dated to the late 7th century B.C. mention the "Kittim" with Greek names drawing provisions. Perhaps Genesis' notion of Japheth being the ancestor of the Kittim and the Ionians (Iawan/Javan) is indebted to exchanges of information between Greek mercenaries serving in Judah and the Jews, Ionians being employed as Egyptian mercenaries? If so, then Genesis cannot be older than the 7th century B.C.
If I am correct in positing that the Primary History was written between 24 March and 13 August of 560 B.C. then we need to have a look at the political situation at the time of this history's composition. Noah is portrayed as predicting a day will come that Canaan will be ruled by Japheth and Shem (Ge 9:23-27). Most scholars understand Shem to be the Hebrews, due to Abraham's descendants being promised the land of Canaan. What powers in 560 BCE could possibly be Japheth? The Egyptians attempted to secure the Promised Land when they fought the Assyrians for control and lost. Egypt then held the land briefly with the help of Greek mercenaries, however Genesis' Table of Nations potrays the Egyptians as the descendants of Ham, not Japheth (Genesis 10:6). Babylonian forces defeated Egypt and secured the land for themselves. We are informed that Abraham is a descendant of Shem and of Ur of the Chaldees. As Babylonians are called Chaldeans, obviously the Babylonians can't be Japheth, they are descendants of Shem. Elam ceased to be a world power when she was conquered by the Assyrians, and Genesis makes that nation a descendant of Shem (Genesis 10:21). Lydia was a world power but she was far-removed from the shores of Canaan, and she is listed as a descendant of Shem (probably because Gyges assumed a vassal relationship with Assyria, and Assyrian courtly language called vassal kings "son" [cf. 2 Kings 16:7] ). That leaves only one nation with a superpower status with the possibility of taking control of the Promised Land ca. 560 B.C. --the Medes. They had destroyed the Assyrian capital of Nineveh in 612 B.C. with help from the Babylonians.
God's prophet, Jeremiah had prophecized that God would one day cause Babylon to be utterly destroyed by the Medes (Jeremiah 51:28). It stands to reason, that if God's hand was to be with the Medes in destroying Babylon, that the Medes as his instrument of revenge, might receive as a reward for their service to Yahweh, co-rule of the Promised Land, the Medes being envisioned by Jeremiah as allowing the Jews to return to Zion and reoccupy their lands (with the demise of Babylon, the Medes would be envisioned as taking over rule of the Babylonian Empire, which included Canaan). There is, however, a problem, I suspect that Jeremiah was unknown to the writer of the Primary History (Genesis-2 Kings). Jeremiah's name does not appear in this composition, and even more remarkable, is that the numbers of Jews taken into Exile by the Babylonians differ widely in Jeremiah's account vs. the statistics of 2 Kings' account. Jeremiah 52:30 notes approximately 4,600 Jews being carried off into Exile, whilst 2 Kings 24:14 suggests the number is 10,000 Jews. Evidently, when the Primary History was composed in the Exile, ca. 560 B.C., Jeremiah and his writings were unknown or unavailable to the Exilic author (Jeremiah had been carried off into exile to Tahpanes, Egypt by Jews who had slain the Babylonian Governor of Judah). This author is aware of Gedaliah's assassination ca. 582 B.C., and his assassins fleeing to Egypt, but he makes no mention of Jeremiah (2 Kings 25:24-26).
If the Exilic author was _unaware_ of Jeremiah and his writings, is it still posible that he identified the Medes with Japheth who would co-rule Canaan with Shem (Genesis 9:26-27)? The answer is yes.
Living in Babylonia in the Exile of ca. 560 B.C., the narrator would know of Babylon's _fear_ of the Medes. A great wall was constructed to the north of Babylon called today the "Median Wall," who's purpose was to keep out Medes who might change their minds and decide to take Babylon and her empire in the West for themselves (the Medes had gobbled up eastern Anatolia and almost succeeded in adding Lydia to their dominions). A later Babylonian king, Nabonindus, feared the Medes, he was a native of Haran and wanted to restore its temple but feared to enter Median lands to do this. An oracle assured him the Medes would be no threat, and that they would be destroyed by another power (Cyrus of Persia). He rebuilt the Haran temple.
If my above hunches are correct, Noah's prophecy was an "unfulfilled prophecy." In 550 B.C. the Medes were defeated by Cyrus of Persia and the Persians came to be the liberators of Jews in 539 B.C. Genesis' Table of Nations does not list the Persians, thus the Primary History was probably written before 550 B.C. Babylon peacefully surrendered to Cyrus and there was no destruction or abandonment of the city as had been hoped for by Jeremiah. Babylon was an inhabited city until the 1st century A.D. when It dwindled in size and importance due to economic neglect of the Greeks under Seleucus I who created a new city named in his honor to be Babylonia's "Greek capital" and the governing classes and artisans moved to it, causing Babylon's decline. As the author of the Primary History (Genesis-2 Kings) does not know of any Babylonian kings after Evil Merodach, who reigned betwen 562-560 B.C., the Japhethic Madai account was probably written between these dates. According to Professor Wiseman, the Jewish king Jehoiachin was released from prison by Evil-Merodach on 24 March 560 BCE, and before the year was out the Babylonian king was assassinated in a palace putsch, his successor on 13 August 560 BCE being Neriglissar, a son-in-law of Nebuchadrezzar, according to Barger.
If the research of Wiseman and Borger is correct, the Primary History (Genesis-2 Kings) was probably written between 24 March and early August of 560 B.C. in the reign of the Babylonian king Evil-Merodach (cf. 2 Kings 25:27), and endings in a national history date the composition.
Noah's prophecy about Japheth and Shem co-ruling Canaan is never alluded to within the Primary History as an accomplished event, ergo, I have posited it was a "hoped for event," to occur sometime in the future, after 560 B.C.
Genesis' Table of Nations provides us with a listing of Japheth's descendants, and by process of elimination, the choice falls upon the Madai or the Medes as the Japheth being blessed by Noah to co-rule Canaan with Shem (the Hebrews or Jews). I have attempted to argue that the Jews came to know of the Athenian Greek Medus myth which makes the Medes descendants of Iapetos (Hebrew Japheth) via their contact with Greek mercenaries (Ionians) serving in Canaan and perhaps even Judah in the Pre-Exilic period (ca. 640-587 B.C.), and that this knowledge is what is behind Genesis' portrayal of the Medes as descendants of Japheth.
I have posited that the Athenian Greek Medus myth could not have been formed before the Greeks had knowledge of the Medes. My investigations suggest that no earlier than the 7th century B.C. the Athenians came to know of the Medes via the Greek mercenaries serving in the Egyptian forces occupying Canaan or the Ionians in Asia Minor who would be aware of Lydia's dealings with the Medes (ca. 585 B.C.).
Although Jeremiah in 587-582 B.C. prophecized that God would use the Medes to destroy Babylon and set his people free, the author of the Primary History (562-560 B.C.) probably was unaware of this prophecy. Living in the Exile, in Babylonia, he would have first-hand knowledge of Babylon's fear of the Medes and understood that God would reward the Medes with the former Babylonian Empire which included Canaan and that the Medes would allow the Jews to resettle in Canaan and permit them to co-rule the area with them.
Hence, the reason that Genesis 9:23-27 made Japheth's descendant Madai a co-ruler with Shem's descendants the Hebrews or Jews.
21 June 2005 Update:
There remains "one other possible avenue" for Judah's knowledge about Iapetos' descendants surviving a flood (the Greek Deucalion Flood Myth) which was neglected in the above article, that the Judaean king Josiah may have hired Greek mercenaries to serve in his army, and that through these mercenaries' direct contact with Jews, and even the royal court (they possibly reporting directly to the king and his _priestly advisors_ ?), Iapetos/Japheth became a part of Genesis when composed in the Exile circa 560 B.C.
Below, several scholars on a fortress identified as being staffed by Judeans and Greek mercenaries in Josiah's reign (640-609 B.C.):
"Oren has mentioned that the ceramic typology of seventh-century Tel Sera` fits in well with the ceramic typology at another site, that of Mesad Hashavyahu. This site is north of Ashdod, near where the Nahal Sorek of Ekron and Timnah empties into the Mediterranean. He has also mentioned that the person who destroyed Tel Sera` late in the seventh century may have been King Josiah of Judah. Earlier, we linked this king to the destruction of the incense altars at Arad. This reformer king of 2 Kings 22-23 and 2 Chronicles 34-35 has also been linked to Mesad Hashavyahu. This site was occupied only in the last third of the seventh century B.C. In addition, it was a small settlement, covering only about one and one-half acres, with an L-shaped fortress enclosing a courtyard area of approximately one acre. Why include mention of this site in our study of the Philistines? At least two things make Mesad Hashavyahu significant -- the abundance of East Greek pottery found there and the presence of ostraca with Hebrew inscriptions.
King Manasseh (687-642) and his son Amon (642-640) were evidently vassals to Assyria, but by Josiah's time (640-609) Assyria was weak enough for Josiah to try to make Judah independent once again. (Nineveh, Assyria's capital, would fall to Babylon in 612 B.C.) This process of seeking independence may have started already in Josiah's father's time, and this may have been the reason for Amon's death. "The people of the land" (2 Kings 21:24) in turn killed Amon's assassins, perhaps because they felt that Judah was not yet ready for independence from Assyria (Bright 1981, 316). However, Josiah, Amon's son, felt strong enough in 628 B.C. to spread his religious reforms throughout Judah (2 Kings 23:15-20; 2 Chron. 34:1-7) and into what once was the land of Manasseh, Ephraim, and Naphtali. Perhaps Mesad Hashavyahu fits into the historical framework of this period.
Josiah appears to have taken over Samaria, Megiddo (2 Kings 23:30; 2 Chron. 35:22), and perhaps the northern coastal plain south to Mesad Hashavyahu (Aharoni 1982a, 270-71; Miller and Hayes 1986, 389). Mesad Hashavyahu is a fortress that was in existence only from approximately 630 to 609 B.C., within the years of Josiah's reign. From the abundance of Greek pottery found, as well as the Hebrew ostraca, it is generally assumed that Greeks were there as well as Josiah's men. The excavator, Joseph Naveh, believes that, since the structure was a fortress and since there was a workshop for producing iron, the Greek inhabitants were soldiers, not merchants. Some of the other scholars using Naveh's reports refer to the Greeks as mercenaries of Egypt (Miller and Hayes 1986, 389; Aharoni 1968, 11, 14), but Naveh points out that neither Egyptian pottery nor scarabs have been found at Mesad Hashavyahu. He also believes that the Greek soldiers were there first, and that Josiah's men then took the fortress at some point before 609 B.C., the year of Josiah's death. E. Stern believes that this fortress was Judean from its inception, with Josiah using the Greeks as mercenaries until his death in battle against the Egyptian army (Stern 1975, 37). The fortress, on Josiah's Judean border facing the Philistine city of Ashdod, was abandoned in 609 or shortly thereafter." ( http://www.phoenixdatasystems.com/goliath/c7/c7d.htm )
If Noah's "blessing for Japheth" to dwell in the tents of Shem is alluding to events in Josiah's reign, then it would be unlikely that the Japhethic Medes are being alluded to in Noah's blessing for Japheth.
Finkelstein and Silbermann have argued that the Primary History (Genesis-2 Kings) was probably "first framed" in Josiah's reign and later reworked in the Exile. This would align with Greek mercenaries as Japheth's descendants being blessed to live in the tents of Shem, bearing rule over Canaan. That is to say, the Saitic Pharoahs hired Greek mercenaries to help them throw off the Assyrian yoke and re-establish their independence. They also employed them in expanding and re-establishing Egypt's borders to the Euphrates.
Finkelstein and Silberman:
"We will see how much of the biblical narrative is a product of the hopes, fears, and ambitions of the kingdom of Judah, culminating in the reign of King Josiah at the end of the seventh century BCE. We will argue that the historical core of the Bible arose from clear political, social, and spiritual conditions and was shaped by the creativity and vision of extraordinary women and men. Much of what is commonly taken for granted as accurate histroy -the stories of the Patriarchs, the Exodus, the conquest of Canaan, and even the saga of the glorious united monarchy of David and Solomon- are, rather, the creative expressions of a powerful religious reform movement that flourished in the Kingdom of Judah in the Late Iron Age. Although these stories may have been based on certain historical kernels, they primarily reflect the ideology and the world-view of the writer. We will show how the narrative of the Bible was uniquely suited to further the religious reform and territorial ambitions of Judah during the momentuous concluding decades of the seventh century BCE." We will see how much of the biblical narrative is a product of the hopes, fears, and ambitions of the kingdom of Judah, culminating in the reign of King Josiah at the end of the seventh century BCE. We will argue that the historical core of the Bible arose from clear political, social, and spiritual conditions and was shaped by the creativity and vision of extraordinary women and men. Much of what is commonly taken for granted as accurate histroy -the stories of the Patriarchs, the Exodus, the conquest of Canaan, and even the saga of the glorious united monarchy of David and Solomon- are, rather, the creative expressions of a powerful religious reform movement that flourished in the Kingdom of Judah in the Late Iron Age. Although these stories may have been based on certain historical kernels, they primarily reflect the ideology and the world-view of the writer. We will show how the narrative of the Bible was uniquely suited to further the religious reform and territorial ambitions of Judah during the momentuous concluding decades of the seventh century BCE."
(pp. 22-23, "Introduction." Israel Finkelstein & Neil Asher Silberman. The Bible Unearthed, Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts. New York. The Free Press [Simon & Schuster Inc.]. 2001. ISBN 0-86912-8)
Perhaps Josiah had "the same vision" as the Pharaohs? He would use the Greek mercenaries to re-establish Israel's ancient borders, and he would set up, like the Pharaohs, Greek enclaves (like Egypt's Tahpanes, Naukratis, and Memphis), where these soldiers could be quickly called upon to defend Judah (Israel) from her national enemies, "the non-Jewish peoples" occupying Canaan? So Japheth or the Greek mercenaries are 'blessed' in that _their presence in a future Israel, "the tents of Shem,"_ under Judaean aegis _assures_ this state's continued existence and independence?
Under this latter paradigm, the "blessing for Japheth" by Noah originated before the Exile in Josiah's policies and "re-surfaced" in the 560 B.C. composition of the Exile.
J. M. Cook. The Persian Empire. New York. Barnes and Noble. , 1993.
Israel Finkelstein & Neil Asher Silberman. The Bible Unearthed, Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts. New York. The Free Press [Simon & Schuster Inc.]. 2001. ISBN 0-86912-8.
Timothy Gantz. pp. 372-3. Vol.1. "Medeia and Iason in Greece." Early Greek Myth, A Guide to Literary and Artistic Sources. Johns Hopkins University Press. Baltimore & London. 1993. ISBN 0-8018-5360-5.
Robert Graves and Raphael Patai. p.122, note #3. Hebrew Myths, The Book of Genesis. New York. Greenwich House. [1963-64], 1983.
Herodotus. Persian Wars. 7.62.
Richard S. Hess. p. 31. "The Origins of the Personal Names in Genesis 1-11." Studies in the Personal Names of Genesis 1-11. [Alter Orient und Altes Testament, band 234]. Verlag Butzon & Bercker Kevelaer. 1993. ISBN 3-7666-9869-9.
Ephraim Isaac. See p.642. Vol.3. "Japheth." David Noel Freedman, Editor. The Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York. Doubleday. 1992.
Gerhard Von Rad. p.138. "Noah's Curse and Blessing." Genesis, A Commentary. Philadelphia. Westminster Press. , 1973.
Diodorus Siculus. Loeb Classics #4. p. 97. Library of History. Book 10.27.
William Smith, A Classical Dictionary of Biography, Mythology, and Geography. London. John Murray. 1875.
Ephraim Stern. cf. pp.216-228. "The Greek Penetration." Archaeology of the Land of the Bible, Vol. 2, The Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian Periods (732-332 BCE). New York. Doubleday. 2001. ISBN 0-385-42450-7.
O. S. Wintermute. p.77. Vol. 2. "Jubilees," in James H. Charlesworth, Editor. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. New York. Doubleday. 1985.