Holy War

Holy War

Holy War


The topic of Holy War is not discussed much in our churches today. Pulled up a few articles to shine some light on the subject for you bible students.

“War, Holy. Warfare as described in the Book of Deuteronomy, especially in chapter 20. Not merely a human enterprise fought by kings with trained soldiers and military equipment, it is God’s war in which he himself is involved together with his covenant people who are selected to fight in his name. The size of the army is not important; indeed, often the numbers were pared down to dramatize the fact that the victory was gained, not by military superiority, but by the action of God against his enemies. When Israel lived in obedience to God as his covenant people and went into battle under his direction, war was within the will of God, commanded by him, and accomplished through trust in him. As already observed, God was known as “a man of war,” and it is declared that “the battle is the Lord’s” (1 Sm 17:47; cf. 18:17; 25:28). With this faith on the part of the Jews, it is easy to see how a concept of holy war developed, especially when they had the conviction that their enemies were God’s enemies and that they were the people through whom God would effect his saving purposes for the world.

Moses believed that God declares war and sends his people into battle (Ex 17:16; Nm 31:3). On several occasions, at crucial points in warfare, the “terror of the Lord” fell upon the enemy, enabling the numerically inferior army of Israel to gain an easy victory over vastly superior forces (Jos 10:10–14; Jgs 4:12–16; 2 Sm 5:24, 25). In a time of acute military crisis Elisha is enabled to see the heavenly army of Jehovah drawn up on the hills around Samaria ready to defeat the fierce invading armies of Syria. In response to Elisha’s prayer, the Syrian soldiers are struck with blindness and rendered helpless against the Israelites (2 Kgs 6:15–23). Various means were used to determine the will of God and to assure his active participation in war. In addition to the word of the prophet (1 Kgs 22:5–23), dreams, (Jgs 7:9–14), Urim and Thummim (Ex 28:30; Lv 8:8), the ephod (1 Sm 30:7), and the ark of the covenant were employed for this purpose. The leaders of God’s troops were constantly to seek his direction for military strategy during the progress of battle, for no step was to be taken without divine approval and guidance (2 Sm 5:19–23).

Since God gave Palestine to the Jews as his own people, the land was indeed the Promised Land; it belonged by divine covenant to Israel and was in that sense “the Holy Land.” Any defense of that land against foreign invasion was a holy war. The invading enemy was trespassing upon sacred territory that belonged to God’s people by immutable decree and thus incurred the divine wrath. From this perspective the complete destruction of Israel’s enemies is necessary, particularly when the enemy was pagan and morally corrupt. A characteristic Hebrew word used for this concept, ḥērem, originally meant “devoted” and came to mean “devoted to destruction” as something hostile to the rule of God (Jos 6:17, 18). Means which may seem drastic and extreme were demanded in order to assure the success of God’s holy, saving purposes for his chosen people and ultimately for the whole world. The divine plan must not be thwarted, obstructed, or aborted by any debasing idolatry or corrupting immorality (Dt 7:1–26). Enemy cities within the boundaries of the land promised to the Jews were to be utterly destroyed, a practice known as “the ban.” Only silver, gold, and vessels of bronze and iron were to be spared. They were to be placed in the treasury of the Lord as sacred to him (Jos 6:17–21; 1 Sm 15:3). The whole city, including all life, was regarded as a sacrifice to Jehovah, emphasizing the sacrificial character of holy war. Fruitbearing trees, however, were to be spared (Dt 20:19, 20) as an example of the limitations placed upon wanton destruction of natural resources, which are God’s gifts.

When Israel departed from God and forsook his holy ways, the Lord used its enemies to chastise and discipline, to bring it back to himself, and to bring to pass his sovereign purposes. Thus God used war as a punishment against his sinning people (Is 10; Jer 25; Ez 21; Hb 1). At such a time the false prophet prophesies peace and security (Jer 28).

The fact that holy war was never engaged by means of military power and genius alone is characteristic of God’s ways with his people. The commander and often his subordinates were viewed as elected by God and endowed by the Spirit of God with a special gift for their military roles (Jgs 6:34, 35; 11:29–33). If this divine gift were lost or forfeited for any reason, the authority to lead or to command was also lost (Jgs 16:20, 21; 1 Sm 16:14). Participation in holy war required complete surrender and dedication to the service of Jehovah. There was no place for the half-hearted, the fearful, or those distracted by other involvements or obligations (Dt 20:5–9). The presence of such persons in the army would affect the unity and singlemindedness of those who were wholly committed to the cause of the Lord.

The faithful soldier who offered himself willingly in response to the divine call was considered consecrated to God’s service and was in a sense a holy servant of the Lord (Is 13:3). God is said to “walk in the midst of the camp,” and therefore the camp should be holy “that he may not see anything indecent among you, and turn away from you” (Dt 23:14). Careful regulations were observed to guarantee the ritual cleanliness of the camp: any bodily contamination required a rite of purification and excrement was buried outside the camp (vv 9–13).

Victory in holy war was completely unrelated to military superiority, either with respect to armaments or numbers of soldiers (Jgs 7; 1 Sm 14:6–23), because “he who goes over before you as a devouring fire is the Lord your God; he will destroy them and subdue them before you; so you shall drive them out, and make them perish quickly, as the Lord has promised you” (Dt 9:3; cf. 20:4). God delivers the enemy into Israel’s hand (Jgs 3:28; 7:15). He also cautions the Israelites not to think that their righteousness brought down their enemies in defeat and won the land, but that by God’s own righteousness and judgment against the wickedness of the idolatrous nations he drove them out before the army of Israel. It was because of his faithfulness to the covenant which he swore to their fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Dt 9:4, 5). God reminds Israel of their unfaithfulness, stubbornness, and unrighteousness (vv 6–29), and exhorts them to fear the Lord their God and to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve him with all their heart, and to keep all his commandments in order that he may bless them and give them peace in the land which he promised to their fathers (10:1–22). The Jews had to be reminded that it was for their disobedience and lack of faith in not going directly into the Promised Land at Kadesh-barnea that they were punished with 40 years of wandering in the Sinai wilderness (Nm 14:1–12).

In sharp contrast to such unbelief and failure to obey the will of God is the heroic example of Jonathan in his singlehanded attack against the Philistine garrison in the pass between Michmash and Geba (1 Sm 14). Convinced that the Lord would give the Philistines into his hand, Jonathan said to the young man who bore his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the Lord will work for us; for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few” (v 6). Similarly, David’s willingness to fight unassisted against the giant Goliath shows his firm trust in God—“Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (17:26).

The idea of holy war was not exclusive to Israel. Other nations also believed that their gods fought for them in military conflicts, and usually the nation with the most powerful god won the battle. When the Philistines defeated the Israelites and captured the ark, they believed that they had won the conflict because their god Dagon was stronger than Israel’s Jehovah. The biblical writer carefully makes clear that this is not the case. He explicitly points out the dramatic incident of Dagon falling on his face and being broken into pieces before the captured ark of God. In addition to this, the people of Ashdod were so terrified and afflicted with tumors that they cried, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us; for his hand is heavy upon us and upon Dagon our god.” Their panic and affliction continued until arrangements were made to return the ark with a guilt offering to the Israelites at Beth-shemesh (1 Sm 4–6). In the days of Mesha, king of Moab, the defeat of his army at one time was attributed to the weakness of his god Chemosh (2 Kgs 3:21–26), but his victory over the Israelites at a later time was attributed by him to the power of Chemosh. Sometimes the victory was determined by the particular place of battle, because the god of that locality was a god either of the hills, the valleys, or the plain (1 Kgs 20:28; 2 Kgs 18:33–35).

The idea of holy war was probably most intense during the time of the judges. Its centrality in the thinking of the nation of Israel diminished during the time of the monarchy. The progression of spiritual decline and apostasy brought a corresponding loss of trust in and expectancy of divine initiative and involvement in warfare. Considerations of political expediency overshadowed the holy war ideology. In protesting this apostasy, the prophets viewed war as a divine judgment against the rebellious nation and also against the proud, defiant gentile powers. The tradition of holy war was preserved mostly among the ordinary, devout people rather than among the political and military leaders, and thus it survived throughout the time of the monarchy. For example, Uriah the Hittite seemed to be more faithful to the principles of holy war than King David, whose evil desires toward Bathsheba blinded him to divine regulations governing the affairs of war and even to the basic morality of the Decalogue (2 Sm 11).

There was a distinctly teleological aspect to the concept of holy war. It looked beyond the triumphs of God in specific battles to the conclusion of all hostilities and to a final time of peace which will vindicate the righteousness and sovereignty of God’s saving purposes and display his concern and goal for his own people. Holy war is the instrument of the God of the covenant who has promised deliverance and eschatological victory. The final consummation will be preceded by a massive holy war, after which the weapons of warfare will be transformed into implements of peace (Is 2:4; Mi 4:3) under the reign of the Messiah, the Prince of Peace (Is 9:6), who will subdue all the enemies of Jehovah in a triumphant Day of the Lord (Ps 110; Dn 7; Zec 14).”

Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). War, Holy. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, pp. 2130–2132). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

“WAR*, HOLY Warfare as described in the book of Deuteronomy, especially in chapter 20. Not merely a human enterprise fought by kings with trained soldiers and military equipment, it is God’s war in which he himself is involved together with his covenant people who are selected to fight in his name. The size of the army is not important; indeed, sometimes the numbers were pared down to dramatize the fact that the victory was gained, not by military superiority, but by the action of God against his enemies. When Israel lived in obedience to God as his covenant people and went into battle under his direction, war was within the will of God, commanded by him, and accomplished through trust in him. God was known as “a man of war,” and it is declared that “the battle is the Lord’s” (1 Sm 17:47; cf. 18:17; 25:28). With this faith on the part of the Jews, it is easy to see how a concept of holy war developed, especially when they had the conviction that their enemies were God’s enemies and that they were the people through whom God would carry out his saving purposes for the world.

Moses believed that God declared war and sent his people into battle (Ex 17:16; Nm 31:3). On several occasions, at crucial points in warfare, the “terror of the Lord” fell upon the enemy, enabling the numerically inferior army of Israel to gain an easy victory over vastly superior forces (Jos 10:10–14; Jgs 4:12–16; 2 Sm 5:24–25). In a time of acute military crisis, Elisha was enabled to see the heavenly army of Yahweh drawn up on the hills around Samaria, ready to defeat the fierce, invading armies of Syria. In response to Elisha’s prayer, the Syrian soldiers were struck with blindness and rendered helpless against the Israelites (2 Kgs 6:15–23). Various means were used to determine the will of God and to assure his active participation in war. In addition to the word of the prophet (1 Kgs 22:5–23), Urim and Thummim (Ex 28:30; Lv 8:8), the ephod (1 Sm 30:7), and the ark of the covenant were employed for this purpose. The leaders of God’s troops constantly sought his direction for military strategy during the progress of battle, for no step was to be taken without divine approval and guidance (2 Sm 5:19–23).

Since God gave Palestine to his own people, the Jews, the land was indeed the Promised Land; it belonged by divine covenant to Israel and was in that sense “the Holy Land.” Any defense of that land against foreign invasion was a holy war. The invading enemy was trespassing upon sacred territory that belonged to God’s people by immutable decree and thus incurred the divine wrath. From this perspective the complete destruction of Israel’s enemies was necessary, particularly when the enemy was pagan and morally corrupt. A characteristic Hebrew word used for this concept, herem, originally meant “devoted” and came to mean “devoted to destruction” as something hostile to the rule of God (Jos 6:17–18). The divine plan must not be thwarted, obstructed, or aborted by any debasing idolatry or corrupting immorality (Dt 7). Enemy cities within the boundaries of the land promised to the Jews were to be utterly destroyed—a practice known as “the ban.” Only silver, gold, and vessels of bronze and iron were to be spared. They were to be placed in the treasury of the Lord as sacred to him (Jos 6:17–21; 1 Sm 15:3).

There was a distinctly teleological aspect to the concept of holy war. It looked beyond the triumphs of God in specific battles to the conclusion of all hostilities and to a final time of peace that will vindicate the righteousness and sovereignty of God’s saving purposes and display his concern and goal for his own people. The final consummation will be preceded by a massive holy war, after which the weapons of warfare will be transformed into implements of peace (Is 2:4; Mi 4:3) under the reign of the Messiah, the Prince of Peace (Is 9:6), who will subdue all God’s enemies in a triumphant Day of the Lord (Ps 110; Dn 7; Zec 14).”

Elwell, W. A., & Comfort, P. W. (2001). In Tyndale Bible dictionary (pp. 1289–1290). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

“Despite the fact that many nations have used Scripture passages out of context to promote martial ventures, the Old Testament does not glorify or even recommend warfare as a solution to problems. Quite the opposite: Violence is thoroughly condemned.

Lamech and his song of vengeance is an aberration in the history of man (Gen. 4:23–24). The famous heroes of old, men of renown, are not presented in a context of approbation (Gen. 6:4). Violence that filled the earth with pain was one of the major causes of the flood (Gen. 6:11). Nimrod, the mighty warrior and the first military aggressor (10:8–11), is not part of the redemptive line. The land of Nimrod is destined to be ruled by the sword (Mic. 5:6).
Simon and Levi lose their rights among the firstborn because their swords are weapons of violence. Although their massacre (Gen. 34) was for an allegedly moral purpose, it caused them to be scattered in Israel (49:5–7). When Moses killed an Egyptian to help an Israelite, he found that this method only delayed God’s deliverance (Exod. 2:12).

David is associated with the successful expansion of his realm by warfare. He cannot, however, build God’s temple because he has fought many wars and shed much blood in God’s sight (1 Chron. 22:8). When David sought to carry out a census with a military purpose it very nearly cost him his kingdom (2 Sam. 24).

Wars in the Bible have been discouraged or even stopped by prophets. The prophet Shemaiah would not allow Rehoboam to put down the rebellion of the northern tribes by force of arms (1 Kings 12:22–23). Micaiah refused to be swayed by the unanimous clamor of the war prophets (1 Kings 22).
Israel’s leaders are rebuked by the prophet Oded for bringing Judean prisoners of war into the country (2 Chron. 28:11). Judah’s leaders are destined for wrath because they sought to expand their borders when Israel was weakened by Assyrian aggression in the north (Hos. 5:10). Their aggression is compared to unscrupulous landowners who move the boundary stones to increase the size of the property.

When war is inevitable, it must be carried out humanely. Nations are not allowed to go beyond the use of reasonable force necessary to achieve their objectives. In the first two chapters of Amos foreign nations are designed for judgment because of their war crimes both against Israelites and against each other. Jehu was authorized by Yahweh to end Ahab’s dynasty, but his violence went far beyond his objectives. Thus the house of Jehu is to be punished for the massacre at Jezreel (Hos. 1:4).

The Torah contained rules to ensure wars would be conducted as humanely as possible. Female captives could not be violated. If a man saw a prisoner he wished to marry, her rights and feelings must be respected. She must be given time to mourn her family. If he later grew tired of her, he could not abuse her or sell her for money (Deut. 21:10–14). Before a city was attacked the law required that terms of peace be offered. If peace was accepted the city was not to be destroyed (Deut. 20:11). There were even conservation laws governing destruction of trees in a siege (Deut. 20:19–20).

In the Old Testament era wars were often made unnecessary by miraculous or unusual circumstances. Exodus 14 presents a standard paradigm of biblical deliverance. Moses proclaims to the people, “Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today.” The Pharaoh’s elite chariot corps is destroyed by the waters of the sea without the use of a single human weapon.

Troops besieging Elisha’s house are smitten with blindness. The prophet leads them straight into Samaria. When their eyes are opened, the prophet will not allow the king to kill them. After they are fed, they are returned to their master (2 Kings 6:18–22). Later in 2 Kings 7:6 the Aramean armies retreat because Yahweh makes a loud noise. In Hezekiah’s time, the Assyrian siege is ended by the angel of death (2 Kings 19:35).

In Jonah 3:8 the Ninevites are not faulted for their idolatry but because of their violence. God makes it clear in Jonah 4 that it is his interest to save lives, not to take them. While it is true that Yahweh will one day punish the godless nations with a sword, it will be in his own good time. It will not be because he is overwhelmed by the anger of the moment. God is not slack concerning his promises but is willing for all to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). In Zechariah 1:12–13 even the angel of the Lord loses patience at this slowness and must be comforted.

The hope of the future for the people of God is not in war and conquest. It is when nations stream to the holy mountain to learn about God. It will be a time when weapons are turned into farm implements and war shall be no more (Isa. 2:1–4).”

Ferguson, P. (1996). War, Holy War. In Evangelical dictionary of biblical theology (electronic ed., pp. 807–808). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

“HOLY WAR The Hebrew word for “war” occurs more than 300 times in the OT. The strategic position of Palestine between Mesopotamia and Egypt made war a harsh reality for most of its inhabitants during biblical times. Israel gained a foothold in this land by means of a war of conquest, and thereafter, by frequently defensive actions against intruders and invaders. Unfortunately, the history of war in Israel also included several civil conflicts.For most of the ancient Near East, war was considered a sacred undertaking in which the honor and power of the national God was at stake. For Israel, however, war intimately involved the transcendent power of the God who created the heavens and the earth. The biblical writers refer to the conflicts Israel faced as the “Wars of the LORD” (Num. 21:14; 1 Sam. 18:17; 25:28). God is described as a “man of war” (Exod. 15:3; Isa. 42:13) and “mighty in battle” (Ps. 24:8). He is “the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel” (1 Sam. 17:45 NASB). It is God who leads them out and fights for them (Deut. 20:4; Josh. 10:14, 42; Judg. 4:14). God set the code of conduct in war (Deut. 20:10–18), and the spoils belong to Him (Josh. 6:19).

Before the armies of Israel went out to war, they offered a sacrifice to God (1 Sam. 7:9) and sought His guidance (2 Sam. 5:23–24). The warriors who marched into battle had to be pure and consecrated to God (Josh. 3:5). The presence of God in the arena of battle was symbolized by the ark of the covenant (1 Sam. 4:5–7). After the victory, praises were offered to God in a victory celebration (Exod. 15:1–3).

As the final act of battle, Israel was sometimes required to dedicate everything in a “ban” (herem), which meant that the people and possessions of an entire city would be set apart for God and destroyed (Deut. 7:2; 20:17; Josh. 8:2; 1 Sam. 15:3). Only the metal objects were saved (Josh. 6:18–24). Those who transgressed the ban faced dire consequences (Josh. 7).

Why would a loving God order the wholesale extermination of the nations living in the promised land? There is no simple answer to this difficult question. Three points, however, need to be remembered. First, the concept of the ban is also found among the nations surrounding Israel. In war, every living being and every piece of property was to be dedicated to the deity. Second, the rules for placing the spoils of war under the ban appear to apply only to the cities of the nations within the promised land that God had designated as inheritance for Israel (Deut. 20:16–18). In this context, it should be noted that the OT reports the use of the ban primarily at Arad (Num. 21:2–3), the cities of Sihon and Og (Deut. 2:24; 3:6), Jericho (Josh. 6:21), Ai (Josh. 8:26), the cities of southern Canaan (Josh. 10:28–43) and Hazor (Josh. 11:11). Finally, it must be remembered that Israel was only allowed to drive out the nations living in the promised land because of their sinful abominations (Deut. 9:4–5; 18:9–14; 20:16–18). In this sense, Israel served as the instrument of God’s judgment against these sinful nations. In like manner, God would later allow another nation to march against Judah in judgment (Hab. 1:6–11).
Stephen J. Andrews”

Andrews, S. J. (2003). Holy War. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (pp. 774–775). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

“holy war. The Bible does not present Israel as fighting to spread or defend its religious beliefs; “holy war” in that sense of the term is absent from biblical teaching or narrative. In another sense, however, the Bible often presents war as a means through which God acts as deliverer, protector, and judge of Israel, often fighting and slaying enemies on Israel’s behalf. Up to the time of the monarchy (tenth century BCE) all wars involving the Israelites could be called “wars of the LORD” (Num. 21:14). Throughout this period, the Bible consistently presents God as fighting for Israel. For example, in the biblical narrative of the exodus, the Egyptian army pursues Israel and is destroyed by God’s action (Exod. 14). Deut. 20 deals specifically with rules for conducting holy war (see also 21:10–14, which gives the protocol for taking a female captive from among the conquered population). This concept of holy war flourished during the settlement of the land when Israel encountered repeated foreign invasions of its territory, but the concept changed considerably under the monarchy, when it was the king who instigated wars to serve national policy. The prophets often criticized such wars, because they were not in keeping with the divine will, and Israel’s losses or suffering as a result of war were frequently attributed to Israel’s failure to obey God and keep the covenant. The notion of holy war became an increasingly eschatological concept, associated with a decisive struggle between good and evil that would take place at the end of time. This concept continues to inform apocalyptic sections of the NT (e.g., Rev. 19:11–15).”

Schaub, M. M. (2011). holy war. In M. A. Powell (Ed.), The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated) (Third Edition, p. 387). New York: HarperCollins.

Noah Son of Lamech

Bible Topic Noah 

NOAH nōʹə.
1. [Heb nō (a)ḥ; Gk Noē]; AV also NOE. The last of the antediluvian patriarchs and survivor of the Genesis Flood (Gen. 5:28–9:28).
I. Name

The etymology of nō (a)ḥ is uncertain. Many commentators relate it to Heb nwḥ, “to rest.” In Gen. 5:29 the name is mentioned in assonance with the verb nḥm (piel), “comfort” (AV and RV) or “bring relief” (RSV), but nwḥ is closer to the name Noah.
II. Genealogy and Longevity

Noah was the son of Lamech (Gen. 5:28f.; Lk. 3:36) and father of three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Gen. 5:32; 6:9; 9:18f.; 10:1), who were born before the Flood. The order preserved in these verses is not chronological. Ham was the youngest (9:24) and Japheth the second of Noah’s sons.
Noah lived 950 years. Reinterpretations of the longevity of the ANTEDILUVIAN PATRIARCHS, such as appealing to the concept of family or dynasty identification rather than individual, are fraught with unresolved difficulties.
III. Noah in a World Under Judgment

As a prelude to the story of the Flood, Gen. 6:1–7, 11f paints a portrait of the wickedness of mankind (on the difficulty of identifying the “sons of God” see SONS OF GOD [OT]). The importance of this passage is its statement of the progression of evil. The Creator’s response to a “corrupt” and “violent” civilization was one of grief and anger (6:5–7, 11–13). Judgment was imminent.
In the context of an already ruined civilization, Noah emerges as a man in step with God (6:9). He was righteous (ṣaddîq; cf. AV “just”); responding to events as yet unseen, he “became an heir of the righteousness which comes by faith” (He. 11:7). Noah was also blameless (tāmîm, cf. AV “perfect”) “among the people of his time” (NIV, preferable to AV “in his generations”). Tāmîm signifies perfection in the sense of completeness or wholeheartedness (see BDB, p. 1071). Later writers would recall the days of Noah (Isa. 54:9; Mt. 24:37f.; Lk. 17:26f) and would remember him as an exemplarily righteous man (Ezk. 14:14, 20; 2 Pet. 2:5).
IV. The Flood

Noah was informed of the impending destruction 120 years beforehand (Gen. 6:3, 13; cf. 1 Pet. 3:20). The agency of judgment would be a flood (Heb mabbûl, 6:17; 7:6, 7, 10, 17; see also Ps. 29:10). The LXX translates Heb mabbûl by kataklysmós, which the NT also uses to refer to the Flood (Mt. 24:38f.; Lk. 17:27; 2 Pet. 2:5). Noah, the one who “found favor in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:8), this “herald of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5), and his family would be spared. The agency of their salvation would be an ark (tēḇâ, Gen. 6:14).
Every facet of the Flood narrative has been scrutinized with a view to logical explanation, including questions for which the text speaks not a word. The Genesis Flood is but one of many biblical events whose import has been diminished, if not lost, in the need for thorough explanation and empirical verification. These lines of inquiry may be legitimate, though extravagances abound, but it is more important to seek the intended emphasis and allow the text to speak in its own terms. See also FLOOD (GENESIS); ARK OF NOAH.

A. Judgment The Flood bespeaks the certain judgment of a sovereign and righteous God on an ungodly world (see Kline, p. 89). This ordeal by water (2 Pet. 3:5f) was a mere token of judgment when compared with the greater judgment that awaits not only the earth but all creation (cf. 2 Pet. 3:7, 10). The emphasis of Jesus’ words in Mt. 24:36–41; Lk. 17:26–37, as He compared the days of Noah with those of the Son of man, was not on the sinfulness of Noah’s contemporaries, but rather on the unexpectedness of impending doom (cf. Mt. 24:44).

B. Salvation The Flood also bespeaks salvation to those who put their faith in God (He. 11:7). Although the parallel between the deliverance of Noah and his family and salvation through Christ is not precise at every point. Peter compares the waters of the Flood with those of baptism in which the water symbolizes God’s judgment on sin and deliverance into a new life (1 Pet. 3:20f.; see also BAPTISM VII.A). Peter emphasizes that the efficacy of baptism lies not in the outward symbolism of the “removal of dirt from the body” but in the inner response of faith to God.

The ark, at rest on Mt. Ararat, and the genealogical tree of Noah (see Gen. 10). From the AV (London, 1611) (Rare Books and Manuscripts Division; New York Public Library; Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations)
V. Noah’s Counterparts in Cuneiform Sources

Although archeology has not provided empirical data for the Genesis Flood, excavations have unearthed many texts and fragments which preserve the story of a great flood, widely known among the civilizations of the ancient Near East. It is mentioned in the Sumerian King List (ca 2000 B.C.;ANET, pp. 265f.; Kramer, pp. 328–331). A fragmentary Sumerian tablet from Nippur preserves the story of King Ziusudra, Noah’s counterpart, who was warned that the gods had decided to destroy mankind with a flood. A great boat would provide Ziusudra’s escape. The last extant lines of the text describe his deification (ANET, pp. 42–44).
The Epic of Atra-ḫasis (ca 17th cent. B.C. in the earliest surviving copies) describes a deluge sent by the gods to destroy mankind after earlier attempts through drought had failed to control the increasing number of people and their noise (W. G. Lambert and A. R. Millard, Atra-Ḫasīs: The Babylonian Story of the Flood [1969]). A small fragment of the Babylonian flood story referring to Atra-ḫasis was found at Râs Shamrah and dated to the 14th cent. B.C. (ibid., pp. 131–33).
Similar to the story of Atra-ḫasis is that preserved in the eleventh tablet of the Gilgamesh Epic (the best English translation with discussion of the biblical parallels is that of Heidel; see also ANET, pp. 72–99; S. N. Kramer, JAOS, 64 [1944], 7ff). The story is, in part, that of Gilgamesh’s quest for immortality which leads him to the island of Utnapishtim. This “Babylonian Noah” tells Gilgamesh the story of the flood which was prompted by Enlil’s insomnia, as in the Atra-ḫasis Epic. Utnapishtim narrates how he alone was warned of the impending destruction and instructed to build a boat by which he and his family would be spared. The story leads to the granting of immortality to Utnapishtim, an event which will never recur.
The similarities between the biblical and Mesopotamian flood stories are striking, as are the differences (see FLOOD [GENESIS] VI; Heidel, pp. 224–269, esp p. 269; T. Jacobsen, pp. 215–19). Opinions differ concerning the literary relationship between the biblical and Babylonian narratives. Many scholars consider the latter to comprise the raw materials from which the former was produced. Others contend that the two revert to an unknown common source. The similarities suggest a common recollection of an actual historical event. The differences bespeak the focus of divine inspiration. Genesis records the story of Noah in historical truth and imparts the theological significance of the Flood.
VI. Noahic Covenant

Noah emerges from the ark and builds an altar of sacrifice. He offers burnt offerings, tokens of dedication and atonement, which produce a “sweet savour” to the Lord (Gen. 8:21, AV). Contrast the imagery of the Babylonian version at this point:
The gods smelled the savor
The gods smelled the sweet savor
The gods gathered like flies over the sacrifice.

What God had once commanded Adam (Gen. 1:28), He now reiterates to Noah and his sons (9:1; see Kline, p. 90). This COVENANT (Gen. 6:18; 9:8–17) is remarkable for its breadth (9:10; 12–13; 15; 17) and permanence. It is an everlasting covenant (Heb berîṯ ʿôlām, 9:16), initiated by the beneficent Creator. He promised that never again would the world be destroyed by a flood (9:15). The rainbow (Heb qešeṯ, usually denoting the weapon) was the covenant sign, a seal of the promise to mankind and a reminder to God of His commitments.

Bibliography.—A. Heidel, Gilgamesh Epic and OT Parallels (2nd ed. 1949); T. Jacobsen, Treasures of Darkness (1976), pp. 195–219; M. G. Kline, “Genesis,” NBC (3rd ed. 1970); S. N. Kramer, Sumerians (1963); M. E. L. Mallowan, Iraq, 26 (1964), 62–82; A. R. Millard, Tyndale Bulletin, 18 (1967), 3–18; A. Parrot, The Flood and Noah’s Ark (Eng. tr. 1955); G. J. Wenham, VT, 28 (1978), 336–348.

Pratico, G. (1979–1988). Noah. In G. W. Bromiley (Ed.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Vol. 3, pp. 543–545). Wm. B. Eerdmans.

NOAH, SON OF LAMECH (נֹחַ, noach). Obeyed God’s command to build an ark to escape the great flood. A son of Lamech and father of Shem, Japheth, and Ham.

Noah, the son of Lamech, was the last of the ten antediluvian patriarchs listed in Gen 5:1–32. When God decided to destroy all people because of their corrupt nature (Gen 6:11–12), He recognized Noah’s righteousness and spared him. Under God’s supervision, Noah built an ark that allowed him and his family (including his wife and three sons, Shem, Japheth, and Ham), along with the animals, to escape the flood that possibly encompassed the entire planet and destroyed all human and animal life (Gen 6:17). Like Adam, Noah became the father of the human race. Noah lived 350 years after the flood, dying at the age of 950.

Preparation for the Flood
Noah was spared from the flood because, unlike the other wicked inhabitants of earth, he found “favor in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen 6:8 NIV) and was “found righteous” by God (Gen 7:1 NIV). He is also described as being “righteous” (צַדִּיק, tsaddiq), “blameless” (תָּמִים, tamim), and one who “walked with God” (Gen 6:9 NIV) like his ancestor Enoch (Gen 5:24). Based on Genesis 6:3, Noah may have been aware of the coming flood 120 years before it occurred. In obedience to the Lord, Noah built the ark and gathered the animals and food, doing “everything just as God commanded him” (Gen 6:22).

The Flood
The flood began on the 17th day of the second month of Noah’s 600th year (Gen 7:6). After Noah and his family had been in the ark for seven days, the rains began; springs also broke open, adding to the flooding. During the 40 days and 40 nights of rain (Gen 7:12), all the people, animals, and birds on earth were destroyed. Noah and his family remained in the ark for a total of 371 days. When the land dried, the Lord commanded Noah to bring his family and all the animals out of the ark.

Events After the Flood
Upon exiting the ark, Noah built an altar and offered “burnt offerings” (עֹלָה, olah) to the Lord (Gen 8:20). The Lord then commanded Noah to “be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth” (Gen 9:1 NIV), just as He had commanded Adam and Eve (Gen 1:28). The Lord also echoed the words He had spoken to Adam and Eve in Gen 1:29–30 by telling Noah that the plants and animals were subject to him and were provided for food (Gen 9:2–3). In Genesis 9:9–17, the Lord made a covenant (בְּרִית, berith) with Noah, promising never again to destroy the earth and its inhabitants through a flood and establishing the rainbow as a sign of this covenant.
The last event recorded in the account of Noah (Gen 9:19–27) resulted in the blessing and cursing of his sons. After Noah became drunk on wine made from grapes he had planted—an action that the biblical account neither condemns nor condones—he lay naked in his tent. His son, Ham, observed Noah and then told his brothers, Shem and Japheth, of their father’s condition. Shem and Japheth entered the tent and covered their father, taking care to avoid looking at his nakedness. When Noah discovered what Ham had done, he was outraged and pronounced a curse on Ham’s descendants through Ham’s son, Canaan.
Although numerous theories exist as to the nature of Ham’s crime, it seems most likely that it was a combination of Ham’s making light of his father’s nakedness and failing to honor his father, thus breaking the fifth commandment (Mathews, Genesis 1–11:26, 419–20). Noah blessed Shem and Japheth, who treated his condition respectfully.

Biblical References to Noah
Both the Old and New Testaments refer to the time of Noah, the “days of Noah,” and the person Noah. Old Testament references to Noah include the following:

• (Isa 54:9)—The Lord refers to the “days of Noah” to illustrate the certainty that He will keep His promises to the Jewish nation, just as He kept His promise never to destroy the earth by flood through His covenant with Noah.
• (Ezek 14:14, 20)—Noah is mentioned twice in Ezekiel to emphasize the gravity of God’s judgment of Israel at the hands of the Babylonians. Even a man as righteous as Noah could save only himself. He would not have been able to save even his family as he did in the ark.

There are more references to Noah in the New Testament than in the Old Testament, including these passages:

• (Matt 24:37–38; Luke 17:26–27)—Jesus compares the “days of Noah” to the coming of the Son of Man to illustrate that at the coming of the Son of Man, people will be unconcerned about spiritual matters and will be caught off guard by judgment.
• (Heb 11:7)—The writer of Hebrews identifies Noah as a man of faith, arguing that through his faith the world was condemned.
• (1 Pet 3:20)—Peter refers to the “days of Noah,” comparing the salvation that Noah and his family received from the flood to the waters of baptism that are a symbol of salvation.
• (2 Pet 2:5)—Peter mentions how God protected Noah from the flood to illustrate that God knows how to “rescue the godly and punish the righteous.”

Extrabiblical Characterizations of Noah
Flood accounts and Noah-type heroes are found in many cultures throughout the world, including those located in very remote places. Three Mesopotamian myths are particularly significant due to their geographic proximity to the land of the Bible and similarities to biblical events. In addition to containing many parallels to the biblical account, the three Mesopotamian myths are very similar to each other.

Eridu Genesis
The oldest Mesopotamian flood story is a Sumerian flood myth recorded on a tablet found in Nippur and known as the Eridu Genesis(Heidel, The Gilgamesh Epic, 102). Much of the tablet is missing, and the myth was previously known only through the writing of Berossus, a Babylonian priest who lived in the third century BC and wrote a history of Babylonia. In the Eridu Genesis, the god Enki revealed to Ziusudra, a king and priest, that the gods wanted to destroy the human race through a flood. Enki instructed Ziusudra to build a boat and fill it with animals. A storm flooded the earth for seven days and nights. It appears the first thing Ziusudra did upon exiting the boat was to offer sacrifices of animals and grain products, such as barley cakes. As a reward for his behavior, Ziusudra was awarded immortality.

Epic of Atrahasis
The Babylonian Epic of Atrahasis is the most complete flood story from Mesopotamia, although portions of the text are missing from the broken tablets on which it is written. In this epic, the god Enlil decided to destroy the human race through a flood because they were making so much noise that he couldn’t sleep. Atrahasis had a dream in which Enlil told him to destroy his house and use the material to build a boat to withstand an upcoming seven-day flood. Unlike Noah in the Genesis account, Atrahasis employed a variety of workers to build the boat, including carpenters, reed-workers, and the rich (or perhaps children) and poor, although it does not appear that they joined Atrahasis on the boat during the flood. As in the Genesis account, Atrahasis offered sacrifices upon leaving the boat after the flood.

Epic of Gilgamesh
The most well-known Mesopotamian flood narrative is the Gilgamesh Epic. The flood portion of the Gilgamesh Epic, written in Akkadian cuneiform, is located on Tablet XI and is dated to the seventh century BC (although the Gilgamesh Epic dates much earlier than this). In this account, Utnapishtim tells Gilgamesh (who is searching for immortality) how he was saved from a flood sent by gods. When the gods living in Shurappak decided to cause a flood, one of the gods, Ea, secretly warned Utnapishtim of the plan and advised him to tear down his house and use the material to build a boat. The epic continues by describing how Utnapishtim built the boat and survived the subsequent flood.
This flood epic holds many parallels to the Genesis account, including:

1. The boat rested on a mountain (Mount Nimush) as the flood subsided.
2. Utnapishtim released birds to determine whether the flood had subsided.
3. Utnapishtim offered a sacrifice after disembarking from the boat.

Despite the similarities, the accounts also differ. For example, the flood in the Epic of Gilgamesh lasted only six days and seven nights. Perhaps the greatest difference is that Utnapishtim and his wife were granted eternal life at the end of the story.

The name Noah may be related to the Hebrew word “to rest” (נוּחַ, nuach) or “comfort” (נָחַם, nacham). The pronunciation of “to rest” (נוּחַ, nuach) sounds more like Noah, but Noah’s father, Lamech, stated that his son would be one who “will comfort” (Gen 5:29 NIV).

Beale, G.K., and D.A. Carson, eds. Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007.
Hamilton, Victor P. The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1–17. New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990.
Heidel, Alexander. The Gilgamesh Epic and Old Testament Parallels. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1949.
Lambert, W.G., and A.R. Millard. Atra-ḫasis, The Babylonian Story of the Flood. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1999.
Mathews, Kenneth A. Genesis 1–11. New American Commentary 1A. Nashville: Broadman, 1996.
VanGemeren, Willem A, ed. New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997.
Wenham, Gordon J. Genesis 1–15. Word Biblical Commentary 1. Waco, Tex.: Word, 1987.


NO-AMON (נֹּא אָמוֹן, no’ amon). Also known as No (נֹא, no’). This Egyptian city is called Thebes in Greek; as such, the word נֹא (no’) is often translated as “Thebes” in English (Nah 3:8). No’s patron deity was the Egyptian god Amon. It was a city of chief importance on the Nile River and the capital of Upper Egypt in certain periods (Jer 46:25; Ezek 30:14–16). For more information, see this article: Thebes.

NOB (נֹב, nov; Νόμβα, Nomba). Levitical city in the tribal territory of Benjamin near Anathoth.

Biblical Relevance
Nob is the setting of an important story in the rise of David. After fleeing from Saul, David visits the village of Nob to gather supplies. Ahimelech the priest helps David, unaware that the king has threatened him. David takes five loaves of consecrated bread as well as Goliath’s sword (1 Sam 21:1–9). When Saul learns that Ahimelech unknowingly helped David escape, he orders his servants to kill the priests, but they refuse (1 Sam 22:9–17). However, Doeg the Edomite obeys Saul’s command, killing 85 priests and all of the inhabitants of Nob (1 Sam 22:18–19). The only survivor is Ahimelech’s son Abiathar, who reports the massacre to David (1 Sam 22:20–23). Based on this episode, it appears that the tabernacle was moved from Shiloh to Nob after Shiloh was destroyed (1 Sam 4:4–11; Jer 7:14).
The story of David taking the consecrated bread is mentioned in the New Testament, though Nob is not named (Matt 12:1–4; Mark 2:23–28; Luke 6:1–5).
Ishbibenob, the name of a giant in 2 Sam 21:16, might refer to the town of Nob.

The location of Nob remains uncertain. Because Isaiah 10:32 refers to the Assyrian king “halting at Nob and shaking his fist,” Nob is sometimes thought to be an somewhere on Mount Scopus, the first hill from which Jerusalem is visible from the north (Oswalt, Isaiah, 275). Nehemiah 11:32 lists Nob along with Anathoth as one of the towns repopulated by the tribe of Benjamin. Anathoth is usually associated with two sites about 2.8 miles northeast of Jerusalem, Anata and Ras el-Kharrubeh. Aharoni states that either location would support the village of ʿIsawiyeh on Mount Scopus as the location of Nob (Aharoni, Land, 393).
Some scholars identify a slope on Mount Scopus, Râs el-Mešârif, as Nob (Albright, “Recent,” 413; Rainey and Notley, Sacred Bridge, 235), although Quʿmeh is also a possibility (Blenkinsopp, Gibeon and Israel, 127 c. 59). Zissou recently suggested the area of the American Colony and the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah as possible locations for Nob, based on excavations at the Cave of Nahmanides (Zissou, “Excavations,” 67). None of these locations can be confirmed.

Aharoni, Y. The Land of the Bible. A Historical Geography. Philadelphia: Westminster John Knox, 1962.
Albright, W. F. “Recent Works on the Topography and Archaeology of Jerusalem.” Jewish Quarterly Review 22 (1932): 409–16.
Blenkinsopp, Joseph. Gibeon and Israel. Society for Old Testament Studies Monograph 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972.
Oswalt, John N. The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 1–39. New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986.
Rainey, Anson F. and R. Steven Notley. The Sacred Bridge: Carta’s Atlas of the Biblical World. Jerusalem: Carta, 2006.
Tsumura, David Toshio. The First Book of Samuel. New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007.
Zissu, Boaz. “Excavations near Nahmanides Cave in Jerusalem and the Question of the Identification of Biblical Nob”. Israel Exploration Journal 62 (2012): 54–71.

Major Contributors and Editors. (2016). No-Amon. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

NOAH. The last of the ten antediluvian Patriarchs and hero of the *FLOOD. He was the son of Lamech, who was 182 (Samaritan Pentateuch, 53; LXX, 188) years old when Noah was born (Gn. 5:28–29; Lk. 3:36).
a. Name

The etymology of the name, nōaḥ, is uncertain, though many commentators connect it with the root nwḥ, ‘to rest’. In Genesis (5:29) it is associated with the verb nḥm (translated ‘comfort’ in AV and RV; ‘bring relief’ in RSV), with which it is perhaps etymologically connected; though this is not necessarily required by the text. The element nḥm occurs in Amorite personal names and in the name Nah̬mizuli which figures in a Hurrian fragment of the Gilgamesh epic found at Boǧazköy, the Hittite capital in Asia Minor. The LXX gives the name as Nōe, in which form it appears in the NT (AV).
b. Life and character

Noah was a righteous man (Gn. 6:9, ṣaddîq), having the righteousness that comes of faith (Heb. 11:7, hē kata pistin dikaiosynē, lit. ‘the according to faith righteousness’), and had close communion with God, as is indicated by the expression he ‘walked with God’ (Gn. 6:9). He is also described as without fault among his contemporaries (Gn. 6:9; AV ‘perfect in his generations’) who had all sunk to a very low moral level (Gn. 6:1–5, 11–13; Mt. 24:37–38; Lk. 17:26–27), and to them he preached righteousness (2 Pet. 2:5), though without success, as subsequent events showed. Like the other early Patriarchs, Noah was blessed with great length of years. He was 500 years old when his first son was born (Gn. 5:32), 600 when the *FLOOD came (Gn. 7:11) and died at the age of 950 (Gn. 9:28–29). According to the most likely interpretation of Gn. 6:3, together with 1 Pet. 3:20, when Noah was 480 years old God informed him that he was going to destroy man from the earth but would allow a period of grace for 120 years, during which time Noah was to build an *ARK, in which he would save his immediate family and a representative selection of animals (Gn. 6:13–22). It was probably during this period that Noah preached, but there was no repentance, and the *FLOOD came and destroyed all but Noah, his three sons and their four wives (Gn. 7:7; 1 Pet. 3:20).
After the Flood Noah, who had probably been a farmer before it, planted a vineyard (Gn. 9:20; ‘And Noah, the husbandman, began and planted a vineyard … ‘, which is to be preferred to the EVV) and, becoming drunk, behaved in an unseemly way in his tent. *HAM, seeing his father naked, informed his two brothers, who covered him, but it is probable that Canaan, Ham’s son, did something disrespectful to his grandfather, for Noah placed a curse on him when he awoke (Gn. 9:20–27).
c. God’s covenant with Noah

The covenant implied in Gn. 6:18 might be interpreted as salvation for Noah conditional upon his building and entering the ark, which obligations he fulfilled (v. 22). On the other hand, it may be that this passage simply makes reference to the covenant which God made with Noah after the Flood, and which he sealed by conferring a new significance on the rainbow (Gn. 9:9–17; cf. Is. 54:9). The main features of this covenant were that it was entirely instituted by God, that it was universal in scope, applying not only to Noah and his seed after him but to every living creature, that it was unconditional, and that it was everlasting. In it God undertook from his own free lovingkindness never again to destroy all flesh with a flood.
d. Descendants

Noah had three sons, *SHEM, *HAM and *JAPHETH (Gn. 5:32; 9:18–19; 10:1), who were born before the Flood, and accompanied him in the ark. We are told that after the Flood, from them ‘was the whole earth (’ereṣ) overspread’, or ‘the whole (population of) the earth dispersed’ (Gn. 9:19). Their descendants later spread out over a wide area, and an account is given of some of them in the Table of the *NATIONS in Gn. 10.
e. Cuneiform parallels

In the *FLOOD accounts which have been preserved in Akkadian the name of the hero is Utanapishtim, which corresponds to the name Ziusuddu in a Sumerian account of the early 2nd millennium BC, which probably lies behind the Akkadian versions. Though in the principal version of the Sumerian king list only eight rulers are named before the Flood, of whom Ziusuddu is not one, other texts list ten rulers, the tenth being Ziusuddu, who is credited with a reign of 36,000 years. The same is found in a late account in Gk. by the Babylonian priest Berossos, whose flood hero Xisouthros is the tenth of his pre-flood rulers.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. J. Murray, The Covenant of Grace, 1954, pp. 12–16; E. A. Speiser, Mesopotamian Origins, 1930, pp. 160–161; H. B. Huffmon, Amorite Personal Names in the Mari Texts, 1965, pp. 237–239; E. Laroche, Les noms des Hittites, 1966, p. 125; T. Jacobsen, The Sumerian King List, 1939, pp. 76–77 and n. 34; F. F. Bruce, NIDNTT 2, pp. 681–683.
Mitchell, T. C. (1996). Noah. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., pp. 826–827). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Noah (or Noe). A son of Lamech, and tenth in descent from *Adam. Acc. to the story in *Genesis (6–9), Noah and his family alone were saved in an ark of gopher-wood, when the rest of mankind were destroyed in the *Flood. He took with him into the ark specimens of all kinds of living creatures whereby the species were providentially preserved. From Noah, therefore, the entire surviving human race descended, through his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. To Noah is also attributed the discovery of viticulture (Gen. 9:20).
Other races have traditions of a great flood in very early times. In Babylonian mythology the figure of Utnapishtim corresponds to Noah in the biblical account, while in classical literature the story of Noah is closely paralleled by the legend of Deucalion. See also GILGAMESH, EPICS OF.

J. Fink, Noe der Gerechte in der frühchristlichen Kunst (Beihefte zum Archiv für Kulturgeschichte, 4; 1955). J. P. Lewis, A Study of the Interpretation of Noah and the Flood in Jewish and Christian Literature (Leiden, 1968), esp. pp. 3–41, 121–55. L. R. Bailey, Noah: The Person and the Story in History and Tradition (Columbia, SC [1989]). P. Lundberg, La Typologie baptismale dans l’ancienne Église (Acta Seminarii Neotestamenticii Upsaliensis, 10; Leipzig and Uppsala, 1942), pp. 73–116; J. *Daniélou, SJ, Sacramentum Futuri: Études sur les origines de la typologie biblique (Études de Théologie Historique, 1950), pp. 55–94; Eng. tr. (1960), pp. 69–112. See also comm. to GENESIS cited s.v., and bibl. to ARK and FLOOD.”
Cross, F. L., & Livingstone, E. A. (Eds.). (2005). In The Oxford dictionary of the Christian Church (3rd ed. rev., p. 1165). Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.



Bible Topic Japheth 


“Japheth. One of Noah’s three sons (Gn 5:32; 7:13; 9:18, 23, 27; 10:1–5; 1 Chr 1:4–6) who, along with his wife, was among the eight human survivors of the great flood. Because Japheth and his brother Shem acted with respect and modesty in covering their father’s nakedness while he was in a drunken condition (Gn 9:20–23), they were both blessed in Noah’s prophetic pronouncement of Genesis 9:26, 27. Of Japheth, Noah said, “God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be his slave.” There are two common interpretations of the meaning of this prophecy. Some understand the “enlargement of Japheth” to be a reference to a great increase in numbers of descendants. “To dwell in the tents of Shem” is understood as Japheth’s sharing in the blessing of Shem. According to this view there is to be a time when God will work primarily with Shem (the people of Israel); but then at a later time Japheth will be brought into connection with the faith of Israel and share in its promises. In this view fulfillment is found in the opening of the gospel to the Gentiles at the inception of the NT church. Others understand the “enlargement of Japheth” to refer to territorial enlargement and the “dwelling in the tents of Shem” as the conquest of Shemite territory by Japhethites. In this view fulfillment is found in the Greek and Roman conquests of Palestine.
In the table of nations in Genesis 10, Japheth is listed as the father of Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras (vv 1–5). These are the ancestors of peoples who lived to the north and west of Israel, and who spoke what today are classified as Indo-European languages.”
Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Japheth. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, pp. 1095–1096). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

“JAPHETH (Heb. yep̱eṯ). One of the sons of Noah, usually mentioned last of the three (Gn. 5:32; 6:10; 7:13; 9:18, 23, 27; 1 Ch. 1:4), but his descendants are recorded first in Gn. 10 (and 1 Ch. 1:5–7). He was the ancestor of a number of tribes and peoples, most of whom had names which in historical times are associated with the regions to the N and W of the Middle East, especially Anatolia, and the Aegean (*NATIONS, TABLE OF). Japheth and his wife were among the eight people who escaped the Flood, and in a later incident he and Shem covered the nakedness of their father, Noah. In Noah’s prophetic declaration after this episode he prayed that God might enlarge Japheth, and that he might dwell in the tents of Shem, and have Canaan as a servant (Gn. 9:27). Many commentators take he to refer to God rather than Japheth, though either interpretation is possible.

If the latter alternative is followed the reference may be to the benefits of the gospel which, coming first to the descendants of Shem, were later extended to the N peoples. In the above verse the word used for ‘may he enlarge’ is yap̱t, but this is probably only a play on words and does not have anything else to do with the name Japheth (yep̱eṯ), which does not occur elsewhere in the Bible or in the ancient inscriptions. Some have connected Japheth, however, with the Gk. mythological figure Iapetos, a son of earth and heaven, who had many descendants. The name is not Gk., so may be a form of the biblical name.


BIBLIOGRAPHY. P. Dhorme, ‘Les Peuples issus de Japhet, d’aprés le Chapître X de la Genése’, Syria 13, 1932, pp. 28–49; D. J. Wiseman, ‘Genesis 10: Some Archaeological Considerations’, JTVI 87, 1955, pp. 14ff.; D. Neisman, ‘The Two Genealogies of Japheth’, in H. A. Hoffner (ed.), Orient & Occident, 1973, pp. 119ff.

Mitchell, T. C. (1996). Japheth. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., p. 543). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

“JAPHETH, SON OF NOAH (יֶפֶת, yepheth). One of Noah’s three sons who survived the flood of Gen 7 and helped repopulate the Earth; attributed as the ancestor of the Greeks and Persians in extrabiblical sources.


Japheth in the Old Testament
Japheth primarily appears in the flood account and subsequent events in Gen 6–10. He is listed as Noah’s third son (Gen 5:32; 1 Chr 1:4), but the exact birth order is unknown; Gen 10 lists Japheth’s genealogy first among Noah’s sons. After the flood, Japheth’s family helped populate the Earth along with Noah’s other sons, Shem and Ham. He receives God’s blessing in Gen 9:1 and Noah’s blessing in Gen 9:27, after he and Shem cover Noah’s nakedness.
Genesis 10:2–5 lists Japheth’s seven children and seven grandchildren. These descendants are seldom mentioned in the Old Testament outside of this genealogy, though there may be references to them in the books of Isaiah and Ezekiel (Isa 66:19; Ezek 27:13; 32:26; 38:2–3, 6; 39:1, 6). In contrast, Shem and Ham’s sons are mentioned numerous places in the Old Testament.


Japheth in Jewish Writings
Several works outside of the Old Testament briefly mention Japheth. While deuterocanonical literature makes genealogical references to him, the book of Jubilees gives him a more extensive treatment (particularly his land portion in Jubilees 8:25–30). Jubilees 7:15 may attribute the founding of Athens to Japheth. Additionally, Jewish tradition designates Japheth as the ancestor of the Greeks and therefore of Abraham’s wife Keturah, whose children were considered the “uncles” of Israel (Ginzburg, Legends, 154, 244n314).

Jewish legends hold that Japheth was responsible for caring for the reptiles in the ark, while Noah cared for the wild beasts, Ham the birds, and Shem the domestic animals (Ginzberg, Legends, 148n37). Jewish writings suggest that Japheth had a smaller role in covering Noah’s nakedness after the flood than Shem, assisting only after Shem had already begun covering their father. Because of this, Shem’s blessing was greater than Japheth’s, and Noah pronounced a blessing in which Japheth’s descendants would receive beautiful land but would be subjected to Shem’s descendants (Ginzberg, Legends, 154).
Jewish legend also identifies Japheth as the ancestor of the Persians. Thus Japheth’s Persian descendant Ahasuerus was worthy to marry Esther because Japheth had acted righteously toward Noah (Ginzberg, Legends, 1144n68). Furthermore, Tannaitic and Amoraitic teachers saw the rebuilding of the temple under Cyrus of Persia as the fulfillment of Noah’s pronouncement over Japheth in Gen 9:27. Other rabbinical sources, however, argue that Gen 9:27 actually refers to the law being taught in the Greek language.


Ginzberg, Louis. Legends of the Jews. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 2003.
Josephus. The New Complete Works of Josephus. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1999.


Franklin, J. C. (2016). Japheth, Son of Noah. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.


“JAPHETH (PERSON) [Heb yepet (יֶפֶת)]. The name of the third son of Noah. Japheth appears in the Hebrew Bible 11 times, in the primeval history and the Chronicler’s history (Gen 5:32; 6:10; 7:13; 9:18, 23, 27; 10:1, 2, 21; 1 Chr 1:4, 5).


A. The Name
The etymological origin and meaning of the name Japheth is uncertain. Some modern interpreters, following Saadia Gaon (9th century C.E.), take it to mean “fair, beautiful,” from yph “to be fair, beautiful.” According to some earlier Talmudic sages the beauty refers to the Greek language. However, this etymology was already correctly rejected by Abraham Ibn Ezra (12th century). Others suggest that the name is related to the Egyptian Keftiu (Crete) or to the name of the Greek mythological Titan Iapetos, father of Atlas, Prometheus, and Epimetheus. A possible meaning of Japheth is hinted at in the Hebrew pun yapt ʾĕlōhı̂m lĕyepet, “May God make wide for Japheth” (Gen 9:27). Thus the name may mean “spacious,” an allusion, at least in Genesis, to an expanded inheritance of land by Japheth. This possible interpretation is based in the name’s derivation from the root pty, “to be wide, spacious.”


B. Biblical Data
Japheth is the youngest of Noah’s 3 sons, the brother of Shem and Ham (Gen 5:32; 6:10). According to the genealogical table, Japheth comes first (10:1–5). Therefore, some modern scholars (as some Talmudic sages) consider him the eldest; but this is merely conjectural. Japheth, together with his brothers Shem and Ham and their wives, joined Noah in the Ark and escaped the Flood (6:9; 7:13–15; 9:1–18). He also shares together with his brothers the divine blessing and covenant (9:1, 17). Children were born to him, as to his other brothers, after the flood (10:1). In the story of Noah’s drunkenness (Gen 9:20–27), Japheth, after receiving the report of his father’s nakedness from his brother Ham, discreetly walked backward, together with his other brother Shem, and covered his father. As a result, he became the beneficiary of his father’s blessing. See also HAM.
Japheth had 7 sons (Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras) and 7 descendants (Gen 10:2–5; 1 Chr 1:5–7). Unlike the sons and descendants of Shem and Ham, who are mentioned in numerous places throughout the Hebrew Bible, the sons and descendants of Japheth are conspicuous by their absence from most of the biblical books. Outside the genealogical tables in Genesis and Chronicles, four of Japheth’s sons—Gomer, Javan, Tubal, and Meshech—are mentioned chiefly in two books: Isa 66:19 (Javan, Tubal, and Meshech) and Ezek 27:13; 32:26; 38:2, 3, 6; 39:1, 6 (Gomer and Tubal). Of Japheth’s descendants, the best known are two of Javan’s sons: Tarshish (mentioned about 29 times in the Hebrew Bible) and Kittim (mentioned 5 times). According to ethnographic conceptions informing the primeval history, Japheth is the ancestor of the peoples who inhabit the lands N of Canaan. According to later Jewish tradition he also occupies the far east (cf. Jdt 2:25, “east of Gog”; Jub. 8:29, “east … as far as the region of the waters”; cf. 9:7–13).


C. Jewish Tradition
Hardly any references are made to Japheth in the Apocrypha or Pseudepigrapha outside of the genealogical references to Noah’s family (2 En. 73:5; Apoc. Adam 4:1; T. Sim. 6:5; T. Isaac 3:15; L.A.B. 1:22; 4:1ff.). The most-extensive such reference to Japheth is in Jubilees: his birth (4:33), his role in the Noah story (7:9, 12), and his inheritance in the divine land distribution (8:10, 12, 25, 29; 9:7–13; 10:35, 36). Jubilees also gives the most detailed information about Japheth’s land portion, “The third part [of the earth] was assigned to Japheth, the land beyond the Tina river to the north of its mouth … the direction of the northeast, all the area of Gog and all the land east of it, all the way to the farthest north … towards the mountains of Qelt … towards the Ma’uk Sea … east of Gadir … west of Fereg … towards the Me’at Sea … toward Mount Rafa … five big islands and a huge land in the north …” (8:25–30). “The land given to Ham is hot, to Japheth cold, to Shem neither cold or hot” (ibid.). Josephus says that Phrygia belongs to Japheth. See Fig. GEO.05.
An interesting detail given in Jubilees about Japheth is that he became jealous of Ham and built a city named Adataneses (Athens?) after his wife (7:15). His granddaughter Melka, daughter of Madai (8:5), married Arphaxad, Shem’s son. In the quasi-Jewish Sibylline Oracles—in which the sons of Noah are given the names of Greek gods—Shem is identified with Cronos, Ham with Titan, and Japheth as Iapetus (3:110–15). Sethian Gnostic tractate Apocalypse of Adam (V,5 72:17; 73:14, 25; 74:11; 76:13–14) deals with the division of the world and empires among the sons of Noah.

Tannaitic and Amoraitic teachers considered Japheth the eldest of Noah’s sons. They held Shem to be Noah’s youngest son, and said that in the Bible he is mentioned first among the members of his family because he was the most righteous, wisest, and most-important son, not because he was the oldest (Sanh. 69b; Gen. Rab. 26:3; 37:7). Japheth assisted Shem in covering Noah’s nakedness and was blessed with a burial place for his sons Gog [Gomer?] (cf. Ezek 39:1) and Magog (Gen. Rab. 36; cf. Ezek 39:11). The sages propounded Gen 9:27 (see above) as referring to the rebuilding of the Temple by Cyrus, King of Persia, a descendant of Japheth (Yoma 10a). Another rabbi argued that Gen 9:27 refers to the teaching of the Law in the Greek language (Gen. Rab. 36: Deut. Rab. 1).


D. Christian and Islamic Literature
In the NT Japheth is mentioned, but his descendants Gog (see above) and Magog figure in the major international war of Revelation (20:8). In the early Christian literature, particularly in Irenaeus of Lyon, Lactantius, Hyppolytus of Rome, Clement, Origen, Epiphanius, and Eusebius, the sons of Noah and their generations are often alluded to but without much elaboration.
Isaac, E. (1992). Japheth (Person). In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 3, pp. 641–642). New York: Doubleday.



“JAVAN (PERSON) [Heb yāwān (יָוָן)]. One of 7 sons of Japheth and a grandson of Noah according to the Table of Nations (Gen 10:2) and the parallel genealogy in 1 Chr 1:5. The former text presents him as the ancestor of maritime peoples (“islands of the nations,” Gen 10:5). This refers to the area of the Aegean and E Mediterranean seas, as is shown by the inclusion of Elishah (Alashiya, Crete) and Kittim (Cyprus; Gen 10:4; 1 Chr 1:7) in the list. Maritime trade of Javan is highlighted in Ezek 27:13, 19, while their distance from Palestine is the point of Isa 66:19. This distance explains the severity of the wrong inflicted on the Judeans by the Tyrians and Sidonians, who sold them into captivity even as far away as Javan (Joel 4:6).
Javan is to be identified with Ionia, an area of Greek settlement in SW Asia Minor from at least the 1st millennium B.C., and possibly several centuries earlier. Cities in the area included Smyrna and Ephesus (cf. Rev 2:1–11). Contact between the Greeks and the Assyrians as early as the reign of Sargon II (8th century B.C.) is shown from Akkadian records, which call the area Jawan or Jaman (Parpola 1970: 186–87). Under Cyrus (late 6th century B.C.), this coastal area of Asia Minor became the satrapy of Ionia. Later the name was expanded to describe the entire Greek population on both sides of the Aegean—an example of the whole being identified by one of its parts, as in our use of the name Russia. Because of the territorial expansion of the Greeks under Alexander the Great (4th century B.C.), the related term Javana is known even in the Sanskrit of India.
The extended usage of the name is evident in the book of Daniel. Here the empire of the Persians will be replaced by that of Javan and its king, referring to Alexander (Dan 8:21; 10:20; 11:2). This, yet another foreign domination, will not satisfy Israel. Rather they will rise against their Greek overlords (Zech 9:13), possibly a prophetic allusion to the period of the Maccabees (mid-2d century B.C.).
A second identification of a more limited use of the name Javan associates it with Gaza (Berger). Some have proposed this based on the collocation of Javan with the Danites (Ezek 27:19), a tribe which has early S ties. The LXX and several other Greek and Persian texts also support this identification. This interpretation cannot be valid for most of the uses of Javan, however, because of its much more northerly association in most texts.

Berger, P.-R. 1982. Ellasar, Tarschisch und Jawan, Gn 14 und 10. WO 13: 68–73.
Parpola, S. 1970. Neo-Assyrian Toponyms. AOAT 6. Neukirchen-Vluyn.
Baker, D. W. (1992). Javan (Person). In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 3, p. 650). New York: Doubleday.

“JAVAN (Heb. yāwān; Gk. Iōván)
The fourth son of Noah’s son Japheth and the father of Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Rodanim according to the Table of Nations (Gen. 10:2–4) and its parallel genealogy (1 Chr. 1:5–7). The land of Javan is to be identified originally with Ionia, an area of Greek settlement in southwest Asia Minor. Later the name was expanded to describe the entire Greek population on both sides of the Aegean Sea.
Isa. 66:19 highlights Javan as one of the distant nations that would witness a future manifestation of Yahweh’s glory. In an oracle against Tyre (Ezek. 27:13) Javan is mentioned with reference to its involvement in slave traffic and other commercial activities. The Javanites are referred to in Joel 3:6 [MT 4:6) as slave traders who purchased Jewish captives from the Philistines and Phoenicians. Finally, the empire of Javan was forecast to replace that of Persia (Dan. 8:21; 10:20; 11:2).
Hostetter, E. C. (2000). Javan. In D. N. Freedman, A. C. Myers, & A. B. Beck (Eds.), Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible (p. 675). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.
“JAVAN. One of the sons of Japheth (Gn. 10:2; 1 Ch. 1:5) and father of a group of peoples, *ELISHAH, *TARSHISH, *KITTIM and *DODANIM (Gn. 10:4; 1 Ch. 1:7), whose associations are with the regions to the N and W of the Middle East. It is generally accepted that this name (Heb. yāwān) is to be identified with Gk. Iōnes, which occurs as Iaones, probably for Iawones, in Homer (Iliad 13. 685), and refers to the people who later gave their name to Ionia. The name also occurs in Assyr. and Achaemenian inscriptions (Iâmanu and Yauna respectively). Isaiah mentions the descendants of Javan (LXX Hellas) beside Tubal as one of the nations (gôyîm) inhabiting distant islands and coastlands (’iyyîm, Is. 66:19). In the time of Ezekiel the descendants of Javan (LXX Hellas) were known as traders in men, bronze vessels and yarn, with Tyre (Ezk. 27:13, 19; in v. 19 RSV prefers to read mēûzā, ‘from Uzal’, for meûzzāl, ‘that which is spun, yarn’). The name Javan (EVV Greece) is used in the prophecies of Daniel to refer to the kingdom of Alexander of Macedon, and in Zc. 9:13 the term (EVV Greece, LXX Hellēnes) is probably used of the Seleucid Greeks.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. P. Dhorme, Syria 13, 1932, pp. 35–36; W. Brandenstein and M. Mayrhofer, Handbuch des Altpersischen, 1964, p. 156.
Mitchell, T. C. (1996). Javan. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., p. 544). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

“Javan.—Fourth son of Japhet and father of the Ionians or Greeks. He had four sons: Elisa, Tharsis, Cethim, and Dodanim or Rhodanim, who peopled Elida, Cilicia, Macedonia, and the countries of Rhodes”

Thein, J. (1900). In Ecclesiastical Dictionary: Containing, in Concise Form, Information upon Ecclesiastical, Biblical, Archæological, and Historical Subjects (p. 375). New York; Cincinnati; Chicago: Benziger Brothers.

“Javan—Greece (Ionia)

Son of Japheth
Gen. 10:2, 4
Descendants of, to receive good news
Is. 66:19, 20
Trade with Tyre
Ezek. 27:13, 19
King of, in Daniel’s visions
Dan. 8:21
Conflict with
Zech. 9:13″
Thomas Nelson Publishers. (1996). Nelson’s quick reference topical Bible index (p. 333). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.



“KITTIM [Heb kittı̂m (כִּתִּים)]. In the Table of Nations, the word refers to the descendants of Javan (Gen 10:4; cf. 1 Chr 1:7), but in other passages, the word refers to a place (cf. Num 24:24; Dan 11:30; 1 Macc 1:1).
The Kittim are descendants of Javan, grandson of Noah through Japheth, according to the Table of Nations (Gen 10:4; and the parallel genealogy in 1 Chr 1:7). They are associated with peoples from the region of the Aegean and the E Mediterranean. Balaam notes this maritime link in his fourth oracle (Num 24:24), where he predicts that ships from Kittim will cause difficulties for Assur, apparently the Assyrians, and Eber, possibly ancestors of the Hebrews (see Gen 10:21–25). This likely refers to the incursion of the Sea Peoples into the Levant during the 13th century B.C. Daniel 11:30 also mentions ships of the Kittim, and Jer 2:10 and Ezek 27:6 refer to its maritime setting. In the last text, their area is a source of wood used in the construction of Phoenician ships. It is also to be the source of the news of the destruction of the main Phoenician city, Tyre, according to Isa 23:1. Its distance from Phoenicia is stressed in Isa 23:12, since even flight to that far place will not provide refuge. Distance is also stressed in Jer 2:10.
The Heb term is apparently derived from the name of the town of Kition (Phoen kt or kty; Eg ktn; cf. Josephus Ant 1.28), which is near modern Larnaca on the south-central coast of Cyprus. It was a site of major importance from at least the Bronze Age (Barnett 1975: 370, 376). Some of the OT references could refer to the city itself, but the term seems to have expanded its scope to cover the entire area (Num 24:24; Isa 23:1; Ezek 27:6).
Even further expansion of the term is evident in some of the early versions of the OT and in the Apocrypha. 1 Macc 1:1 refers to Kittim as the birthplace of Alexander the Great, who is identified in that verse as “Alexander of Macedonia.” The term has thus expanded its usage westward to signify the Greek peninsula. It is even further extended by the Targum Onkelos in its reading of Kittim in Num 24:24 as Rome. The Vulgate reads this verse as Italy, as it also does Ezek 27:6 and Dan 11:30. It seems that the term might have become proverbial, referring to a location or people far distant from Israel’s customary purview, much as Timbuktu is used in American English. This would well fit the context of Num 24:24, Isa 23:12, Jer 2:10, and Dan 11:30. The Syriac Peshitta also stressed the geographical distance of Kittim by reading it as China (Cathay).
In the ostraca from the late 7th century B.C. found at Arad in the Judean desert, mention is made of Kittim with Greek names (Aharoni 1968: 11). This could point to the existence of Greek, if not Cypriot, soldiers in the service of the Israelite king, Josiah.
The Midrash Pesher of Habakkuk reflects the historical and socioreligious context of its Essene authors during the Roman occupation of Palestine. The Pesher interprets the Chaldeans who will oppress Israel according to the canonical Habakkuk text (1:6) as the Kittim (2.12). In the Pesher, these Kittim have dominion over an Israel which is apostate in the eyes of the separatist Qumran community. These Kittim will come from far coastlands to inflict atrocities on all peoples (3.9–11), and their power will cause universal fear (3.4). Their distant maritime homeland and their apparent domination of Israel at the time of the Pesher itself support the interpretation of the Kittim as the Romans. Some propose a Syrian identification, but this locale does not appear to be sufficiently distant to fit the context (Brownlee 1979: 70).
Kittim are also mentioned in Jub 24:28–29, where they seem to be an archetypical, ultimate enemy who will confront the Philistines as the result of a curse upon them. No clear understanding of their identity, however, is possible from the context.

Aharoni, Y. 1968. Arad: Its Inscriptions and Temple. BA 31: 2–32.
Barnett, R. D. 1975. Sea Peoples. CAH2 3:359–78.
Brownlee, W. H. 1979. The Midrash Pesher of Habakkuk. Chico, CA.
Baker, D. W. (1992). Kittim. In D. N. Freedman (Ed.), The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (Vol. 4, p. 93). New York: Doubleday.

“Kittim. Ancient Hebrew name for the island of Cyprus (Gn 10:4; Dn 11:30)”

Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Kittim. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, p. 1291). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

KITTIM (Heb. kittɩ̂m, kittɩ̂yɩ̂m)
According to the Table of Nations (Gen. 10:1–32), a people descended from Japheth through Javan, thus the Ionians or Greeks (v. 4; cf. 1 Chr. 1:7). The name probably derived from the city the Phoenicians called Kitti (kty) and the Greeks Kition, located near modern Larnaka on the south-central coast of Cyprus. Elsewhere in the OT Kittim designated an ever-widening geographic area.
In Num. 24:24 the oracles of Balaam conclude with a reference to ships from Kittim (presumably Cyprus), which will afflict both Asshur (Assyria) and Eber (Hebrews), before coming to an end themselves. In Isa. 23:1, 12 the term refers to Cyprus as a trading partner of Tyre (cf. Ezek. 27:6), and in Jer. 2:10 its inhabitants are said to have been more faithful to their false gods than Israel has been to Yahweh. 1 Macc. 1:1; 8:5 report that Alexander the Great came from Kittim, thus identifying Greece—or at least Macedonia—with the place name Kittim. Dan. 11:30 alludes to the ships from Kittim in Num. 24:24, but applies the phrase to Roman intervention against Antiochus Epiphanes during his invasion of Egypt in 168 B.C.E. Thus Kittim came to refer to Rome too. The verse implies the further identification of the Seleucids with Asshur and Eber with the Hebrews.
In the Dead Sea Scrolls the Kittim are the eschatological foe (cf. 1QpHab). Descriptions of them often apply to either Syria or to Rome, but the commentary on Nahum (4QpNah) and the War Scroll (1QM) refer unmistakably to Rome.
Redditt, P. L. (2000). Kittim. In D. N. Freedman, A. C. Myers, & A. B. Beck (Eds.), Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible (pp. 776–777). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.
“Kittim (kit´im).
1 The descendant of Javan, the fourth son of Japheth who was a son of Noah, and Elishah’s brother (Gen. 10:4; 1 Chron. 1:7).
2 An island in the Mediterranean Sea, possibly Cyprus. Both Num. 24:24 and Dan. 11:30 refer to “ships from Kittim.” The first-century CE historian Josephus (Antiquities 1.28) identifies Kittim with Kition, or Kitti, a Phoenician city on the island of Cyprus, later known as Larnaka. It is possible that the biblical texts use the word for this city or for the entire island of Cyprus, or even as a generic reference to all islands of the Aegean Sea. In Jer. 2:10 and Ezek. 27:6, the NRSV simply translates Kittim as Cyprus. First Maccabees, however, says that Philip of Macedon was from Kittim (1:1), indicating the name might refer to Greece (or at least to Macedonia).
3 A people mentioned briefly in the pseudepigraphical books Testament of Simeon (6:3) and Jubilees (24:28).
4 A people who are described in the Dead Sea Scrolls as the last Gentile world power to oppress the people of God. In the Habakkuk commentary (1QpHab) the “Chaldeans,” sent by God to execute divine judgment, were understood to be the Kittim. In a fragmentary commentary on Isaiah (4Q161–165) the downfall of the Assyrians was interpreted as the war of the Kittim. The war of the Kittim is described in the War Scroll; the children of light take the field against the enemy of Israel, the Kittim, “those who deal wickedly against the covenant” (1QM 1:2; 15:2). The author of the scroll believed that Isaiah’s prophecy against Assyria (31:8) would be fulfilled after the victory over the Kittim. Many scholars identify the Kittim in these passages with the Syrians, but others associate them with the Romans.
Gitay, Y. (2011). Kittim. In M. A. Powell (Ed.), The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Revised and Updated) (Third Edition, p. 521). New York: HarperCollins.
KITTIM (Kītʹ tĭm) Tribal name for the island of Cyprus, sometimes spelled Chittim. This name was derived from Kition, a city-state on the southeastern side of the island. Long associated with maritime lore, the island was ruled first by Greece, then the Assyrians, and finally Rome. Genesis 10:4 traces the people’s roots to Noah’s son Japheth. Jeremiah and Ezekiel both mention it in their prophecies (Jer. 2:10; Ezek. 27:6; cp. Isa. 23:1, 12).
Kittim is used in intertestamental writings as denoting all of the land west of Cyprus. First Maccabees credits it as being the land of Alexander the Great (1:1; 8:5). The writer of Daniel understood it to be a part of the Roman Empire (11:30) used to threaten Antiochus Epiphanes. The Dead Sea Scrolls contain several references to Kittim, the most notable being the defeat of her people (Romans) at the hands of God’s people. See Cyprus.”
Brand, C., Draper, C., England, A., Bond, S., Clendenen, E. R., & Butler, T. C. (Eds.). (2003). Kittim. In Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 998). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
KITTIM (כִּתִּים, kittim; כִּתִּיִּים, kittiyyim). The descendants of Javan (Gen 10:4; 1 Chr 1:7) or the land belonging to them.

The Table of Nations in Gen 10 identifies the Kittim as the descendants of Noah’s son Japheth through his son, Javan (Gen 10:4; 1 Chr 1:7). The term can also refer to the land belonging to the Kittim, which is often equated with Cyprus (Num 24:24; Isa 23:1, 12; Jer 2:10; Ezek 27:6; Dan 11:30). The name Kittim is derived from the name of a Bronze Age Phoenician town named “Kition” (kt or kty) that was located in southern Cyprus (Barnett, “Sea Peoples,” 370, 376). Second Temple Jewish texts use the term Kittim to refer to the islands and lands around the northern rim of the Mediterranean and into the Aegean.
The meaning of the term Kittim evolved over time. In early biblical texts it refers to the people who descended from Javan and settled in Kition. Later biblical texts refer to people from Cyprus, Greeks in general, and sea peoples from the Mediterranean and Aegean as the Kittim. Eventually, the term Kittim became a general title for distant enemies or eschatological enemies, including the Babylonians, Assyrians, Romans, and the satanic forces of Belial.

Kittim in the Bible
In the Table of Nations in Gen 10, the Kittim are the descendants of Noah’s son Japheth through his son, Javan (Gen 10:4; 1 Chr 1:7). Most of the other references to Kittim or Cyprus are geographical references related to the region’s coasts (Jer 2:10), ships (Num 24:24; Dan 11:30), or timber (Ezek 27:6). Isaiah and Jeremiah refer to Cyprus as a land located far out at sea (Isa 23:1, 12; Jer 2:20). The Syriac Peshitta identifies it as Cathay (i.e., China). The term may have become an idiom for distant lands.
Several biblical prophecies contain references to Kittim:

• Balaam prophesied that “Ships shall come from Kittim” (Num 24:24). This likely envisions the Sea Peoples’ incursion into Canaan in the 13th century BC, which Jews of later periods linked with their own contemporary enemies (compare Num 24:24; the Vulgate uses the term Italia, and Targum Onkelos uses the term רומָאֵי, rwma’ey).
• In an oracle regarding Tyre, Isa 23 mentions Cyprus as a far-off place (Isa 23:1) and warns that people will not be able to escape judgment even if they flee there (Isa 23:12).
• Ezekiel mentions Cyprus in a lament over Tyre, listing lumber from Cyprus as an element of Tyre’s wide-ranging maritime trade (compare Vulgate, Italiae).
• Jeremiah refers to Cyprus in a criticism of Jerusalem’s apostasy: “Cross to the coasts of Cyprus and see … if there has been such a thing. Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit” (Jer 2:10–11 ESV).
• In a description of war between two future kings (likely the Ptolemies and Seleucids), Daniel predicts, “Ships of Kittim shall come against [the northern king], and he shall be afraid and withdraw” (Dan 11:30). This description aligns with Antiochus Epiphanes second failed attempt to campaign in Egypt (168 BC). The LXX renders “Kittim” (כִּתִּים, kittim) with the Greek term for “Romans” (Ῥομαῖοι, Rhomaioi; compare Theodotion’s version of Daniel, which reads Κίτιοι, Kitioi).

Extrabiblical Texts
In the Second Temple period, Kittim seems to have become a “general epithet for western nations” or for any people who “came to Israel by boat” (Eshel, “The Kittim,” 33). For example, 1 Maccabees associates the Kittim with the Macedonians (1 Maccabees 1:1; 8:5). Jubilees refers to inhabitants of various Greek islands as Kittim (Jubilees 24:28–29; 37:10). Wise, Abegg, and Cook note that in these texts, the referent had expanded beyond mere geography to take on the sense of “archetypical bad guys” (Wise, Abegg, and Cook, The Dead Sea Scrolls, 614).

The Arad Letters
The seventh-century BC Arad Letters speak of food supplies for “the Kittim,” who in this case seem to be mercenaries from the Aegean (Letter 1, lines 1–10; cited in Aharoni, Arad Inscriptions, 12–14). The text does not specify whether the local king of Judah (Aharoni, Arad Inscriptions, 11) or the Babylonian emperor (Aharoni et al., The Carta Bible Atlas, 265) had hired these mercenaries. It appears that the Kittim were responsible for patrolling the Babylonian Empire’s southern flank against Egyptians.

Deuterocanonical Literature
In two instances, 1 Maccabees connects the Kittim with the Macedonians:

1. First Maccabees 1:1 records that Alexander the Great defeated the Persian King Darius after he had come “from the land of Kittim (Χεττιμ, Chettim).”
2. First Maccabees 8:5 speaks of the Roman defeat of “Philip” and his son “Perseus king of the Kittim (Κιτεών, Kiteōn).”

The Qumran community identified the various Old Testament references to the Kittim with their own enemies, the forces of Belial or the Sons of Darkness, whom they expected to defeat in a final eschatological battle. Their enemies were likely either the Hellenistic kingdom of the Seleucids (and Ptolemies) or the Roman Empire (Pesher Nahum [4QpNah] 3–4.1.2–3; Pesher Habakkuk [1QpHab] 2.12, 14; 3.4, 9; 4.5, 10; 6.1, 10; 9.7; Pesher Psalms [1QpPs] 9–10.2, 3; Pesher Isaiah [4QpIsaa] 7–10.3, 7, 9, 11, 12; War Scroll [1QM] 1.2, 4, 6, 9, 12; 11.11; 15.2; 16.3, 6, 8, 9; 17.12, 14; 18.2, 4; 19.10, 13; 4QMa 10.2.2, 8, 9, 10, 12; 11.2.1, 5, 7, 8, 19, 20; 13.3, 5; 4QMb 1.9, 12; Sefer ha Milḥamah [4Q285] 5.6; [11Q14] 1.1.4, 6). For example:

• The New Jerusalem Text lists the eschatological Kittim along with Israel’s ancient foes, “Edom and Moab and the Ammonites” (4QNJa = 4Q554 3.3.14–21).
• Sefer ha-Milḣamah (4Q285) developed the idea that the Branch of David would defeat and judge the Kittim (lines 1–6).
• The War Scroll (1QM) describes a six-year war with the “Kittim of Asshur” (1QM 1.2) and the “Kittim in Egypt” (1.4). The identity of these forces is debated. Sukenik interpreted them as the two Hellenistic kingdoms of the second century BC, the Seleucids in Syria and the Ptolemies in Egypt (Sukenik, The Dead Sea Scrolls, 36n14; Rowley, “The Kittim”). Yigael Yadin interpreted these passages as referring to the Roman forces operating out of Syria and Egypt around the time that Pompey intervened to end the Jewish civil war (63 BC; Yadin, The Scroll of the War, 258).

Key Old Testament texts that contributed to this eschatological view of the Kittim are Num 24:24, Dan 11–12, and the books of Nahum and Habakkuk. Although neither Nahum nor Habakkuk uses the term Kittim, the Qumran community adapted their references to Israel’s enemies (Babylon in Habakkuk and Assyria in Nahum) for their own context. For example, the Pesher Habakkuk (1QpHab) interprets Habakkuk’s “Chaldeans” (כַּשְׂדִּים, kasdim) as the Kittim and identifies Roman imperial practices in individual texts from Habakkuk. Just as the Babylonians had been God’s agents for punishing Judah’s sins in Habakkuk’s time, the Qumran community saw the Roman invasion as punishment for the sins of the Jerusalem elite, like the “Wicked Priest” (i.e., Hyrcanus). The Pesher Nahum (4QpNah = 4Q169) also viewed the Kittim as the Romans but saw them as outright satanic agents to be defeated in final battle. Echoing this same theme, the Pesher Isaiah (4QpIsaa = 4Q161) spoke of a final battle where in the “Branch of David” would defeat “all the forces of Belial” and put to death the “king of the Kittim.”

Aharoni, Yohanan. Arad Inscriptions. Translated by Joseph Naveh Ben-Or. Revised by A. F. Rainey. Judean Desert Studies. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1981.
———. “Arad: Its Inscriptions and Its Temple.” Biblical Archaeologist 31 (1968): 2–32.
Aharoni, Yohanan, Michael Avi-Yonah, Anson F. Rainey, and Ze’ev Safrai, eds. The Carta Bible Atlas. 4th ed. Jerusalem: Carta, 2002.
Barnett, R. D. “Sea Peoples.” Pages 359–78 in vol. 3 of Cambridge Ancient History. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975.
Brooke, George J. “The Kittim in the Qumran Pesharim.” Pages 135–59 in Images of Empire. Edited by Alexander Loveday. JSOT Supplement 122. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1991.
Brownlee, William H. “Kittim.” Pages 45–46 in vol. 3 of International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. 4 vols. Edited by Geoffrey W. Bromiley. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986.
———. The Midrash Pesher of Habakkuk. Missoula, Mont.: Scholars Press, 1979.
Eshel, Hanan. “The Kittim in the War Scroll and in the Pesharim.” Pages 29–34 in Historical Perspectives: From the Hasmoneans to Bar Kokhba in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Proceedings of the Fourth International Symposium of the Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Associated Literature 37. Edited by David Goodblatt, Avital Pinnick, and Daniel R. Schwartz. Leiden: Brill, 1999.
Horgan, Maurya P. Pesharim: Qumran Interpretations of Biblical Books. Catholic Biblical Quarterly. Washington, D.C.: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1979.
Lim, Timothy H. Pesharim. Companion to the Qumran Scrolls. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2002.
Rowley, Harold Henry. “The Kittim and the Dead Sea Scrolls.” Palestine Exploration Quarterly 88, no. 2 (1956): 92–109.
Sukenik, E. L. The Dead Sea Scrolls of the Hebrew University. Jerusalem: Magnes, 1955.
VanderKam, James, and Peter Flint. The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls: Their Significance for Understanding the Bible, Judaism, Jesus, and Christianity. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2002.
Vermes, Geza. The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English. 4th ed. London: Penguin, 1998.
Wise, Michael O., Martin G. Abegg, Jr., and Edward M. Cook. The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2005.
Yadin, Yigael. The Scroll of the War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness. Translated by B. Rabin and C. Rabin. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962.

Brueggemann, D. A. (2016). Kittim. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

“CHITTIM—or Kittim, a plural form (Gen. 10:4), the name of a branch of the descendants of Javan, the “son” of Japheth. Balaam foretold (Num. 24:24) “that ships shall come from the coast of Chittim, and afflict Eber.” Daniel prophesied (11:30) that the ships of Chittim would come against the king of the north. It probably denotes Cyprus, whose ancient capital was called Kition by the Greeks.
The references elsewhere made to Chittim (Isa. 23:1, 12; Jer. 2:10; Ezek. 27:6) are to be explained on the ground that while the name originally designated the Phoenicians only, it came latterly to be used of all the islands and various settlements on the sea-coasts which they had occupied, and then of the people who succeeded them when the Phoenician power decayed. Hence it designates generally the islands and coasts of the Mediterranean and the races that inhabit them.”
Easton, M. G. (1893). In Easton’s Bible dictionary. New York: Harper & Brothers.
Javan (Gn. 10:4 = 1 Ch. 1:7; Heb. kittîm) whose descendants settled on the island of Cyprus where their name was given to the town of Kition, modern Larnaka, which is referred to in the Phoenician inscriptions as kt or kty. They engaged in sea trade (Nu. 24:24) and the name seems to have come to apply to the whole island of Cyprus (Is. 23:1, 12), and then in a more general way to the coastlands and islands of the E Mediterranean (’iyyê kittiyyîm: Je. 2:10; Ezk. 27:6). The ostraca of c. 600 BC from Arad refer to ktym, probably mercenaries, principally perhaps Greeks, from the islands and coastlands. In Daniel’s fourth vision, which probably deals with the period from Cyrus to Antiochus Epiphanes, the latter’s failure to conquer Egypt, due to the intervention of Rome, is probably referred to in 11:30, where ‘the ships of Kittim’ must be Rome. The author probably saw in Rome’s intervention the fulfilment of Nu. 24:24, where Vulg. translates Kittim by ‘Italy’ (so also in Dn. 11:30) and the Targum of Onkelos by ‘Romans’. The name occurs in the Dead Sea Scrolls, also probably with reference to Rome, being used, for instance, in the commentary on Habakkuk as an interpretation of the ‘Chaldeans’ of that prophet (Hab. 1:6).

BIBLIOGRAPHY. A. Lemaire, Inscriptions hibraïques, 1, 1977, p. 156; Y. Yadin, The Scroll of the War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness, 1962, pp. 22–26.
Mitchell, T. C. (1996). Kittim. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., p. 657). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

“KITTIM kitʹəm, ki-tēmʹ [Heb. kittîm, kittîyîm (Gen. 10:4; Nu. 24:24; 1 Ch. 1:7; Isa. 23:12; Jer. 2:10; Ezk. 27:6; Dnl. 11:30), DSS kittîʾîm—probably refers to nationals (Kittites or Kittians) of a place Kit or Kitti]; RSV also CYPRUS (Isa. 23:1, 12; Jer. 2:10; Ezk. 27:6); AV also CHITTIM; NEB also “the west” (Dnl. 11:30). A city on Cyprus, called by the Phoenicians KTY (= Kitti). Its Greek name was Kition, the name by which the Hebrews designated the island as a whole and then the Mediterranean peoples generally or even certain nations specifically, such as Macedonia and Rome. According to Josephus (Ant. i.6.1 [128]), “the name Chethim [was] given by the Hebrews to all islands and to most maritime countries” (cf. “the isles of Kittim” [Jer. 2:10]).

In Gen. 10:4 Kittim is one of the four sons of Javan (= Ionia, or Greece), the others being Elishah, Tarshish, and Rodanim (cf. 1 Ch. 1:7); Elishah may be another city-state of Cyprus. Ezk. 27:6f also differentiates Kittim from Elishah. Josephus seems to be wrong in identifying Elishah with the Aeolians and Kittim with the whole of Cyprus. The biblical derivation of these islands from Javan is historically correct, as shown by the vast migrations from the north in the second half of the 2nd millennium B.C. In these the aborigines of Greece and Ionia were displaced southward into the islands of the Mediterranean, where they in turn both displaced and mingled with the natives. See ANET, pp. 262f
The oracles of Balaam conclude with the prophecy (Nu. 24:23f):
“Sea-peoples shall gather from the north; and ships, from the district of Kittim.
I look, and they afflict Eber; but they too shall perish forever!”
(This reading follows [in part] W. F. Albright, who has shown that a more exact form of the original text can be obtained through a knowledge of ancient orthography; cf. JB). The final phase of the migrations of sea-peoples mentioned in v 23 was the coming of the Philistines to Palestine in the 12th cent. B.C. The eponym Eber is here employed as a poetic term for the Hebrews (so the versions) in their homeland. Dramatically, Balaam did at last please Balak by predicting Philistine oppression of the Hebrews, but his last statement gives them their freedom again through the destruction of the Philistines.
Later misreading of v 24b produced the traditional text:
And they shall afflict Asshur
and they shall afflict Eber;
but they too shall come to destruction.

Cyprus never did subdue Asshur (= Assyria); instead, the Assyrian king Sargon II placed his stele at Kition in 712 B.C. His successors Sennacherib and Esarhaddon strengthened Assyrian rule there, the latter claiming tribute from all the isles from Cyprus to Tarshish (ANET, p. 290). References to Kittim in Isa. 23:1, 12 (RSV Cyprus) probably relate to the Assyrian period (despite v 13). Verse 12 refers to Luli king of Sidon, who sought refuge in Cyprus from Sennacherib but there met his doom (ANET, p. 288). Kittim as mercenary soldiers of Judah appear on the ostraca of Arad (see ARAD III).

Hebrew ostracon from Arad (ca 600 B.C.) in which Eliashib is ordered to give wine and flour to the Kittim, who were apparently mercenaries in the Judean army (Israel Museum, Jerusalem)

Lacking any literal fulfillment, the Kittian oppression of Assyria and Eber became a mysterious prophecy of the future. Some Jews may have seen in the conquest by Alexander the Great a fulfillment of this prophecy, with Kittim denoting Macedonia (as in 1 Macc. 1:8; 8:5) and Asshur denoting the Persian empire. An even more intricate interpretation is implied by Dnl. 11:30: “For ships of Kittim shall come against him, and he shall be afraid and withdraw, and be enraged and take action against the holy covenant.” The setting of this verse is Antiochus Epiphanes’ invasion of Egypt in 168 B.C. Rome intervened by sending its commissioner Gaius Popilius Laenas, who (backed by the Roman navy) successfully demanded the withdrawal of the Syrians.
Cowed but resentful, Antiochus vented his rage on the Jews in a fearsome persecution. According to H. L. Ginsberg (Studies in Daniel [1948], p. 72), Daniel interpreted Nu. 24:24b to mean: “The Kittim (= Romans) shall afflict Asshur (= Syria); and they (the Syrians) shall afflict Eber (= Hebrews).”
In the Qumrân Scrolls, the Kittim are the great eschatological foe, the last great earthly empire to precede the messianic kingdom. Since these people have already arrived on the scene of history, the messianic age is not far off. Some scholars have identified these Kittim with Seleucid Syria. This identification fits well the book of Jubilees, a work found among the Qumrân fragments but probably of pre-Qumrânian composition. Jub 24:28f predicts punishment of the Philistines by both Kittim and Jews, with probable allusion to ravages of the Palestinian coastal towns by both Seleucids and Maccabees. The mention of Kittim in 37:10 may allude to Seleucid oppression of the Jews. Though some students of the DSS have seen allusions to the Seleucids and Ptolemies in the phrases “Kittim of Assyria” and “Kittim in Egypt” in the War Scroll (1 QM 1:2, 4), these are probably only geographic, not national, distinctions.
The Kittim are generally portrayed as world conquerors and oppressors but not specifically as persecutors of the sect of the Scrolls. According to 1QpHab 9:5ff the wealth of the “last priests of Jerusalem” (the persecutors of the sect) will in the last days be given up to the army of the Kittim. QpIsaa4 3:7f, however, explains Isa. 10:34 to mean: “They are the Kittim wh[o] will f[all] by the hand of Israel, when the oppressed of [Judah subdue] all the nations.” Probably this refers to the expected eschatological war, in which the Sons of Light will defeat the Kittim and all other nations. This “war of the Kittim” (3:11) is elaborately described in 1QM (the War Scroll).
Most descriptions of the Kittim in 1QpHab are general, applying equally well to the Seleucids and the Romans, although giving the impression of a world empire like Rome. Other depictions are clearly more apt for the Romans. “From afar they will fly as an eagle” (Hab. 1:8) is amplified: “From afar they will come, from remote shores of the sea, to devour all the peoples as an eagle” (1QpHab 13:10f.). The Hebrew lacks a word for “remote,” but the idea is implicit in the appositional relationship. The reference to the eagle may allude to the worship of military standards and insignia (including the eagle emblem) mentioned in 6:4f and well attested for the Roman legions but not for the Seleucids. Paleographic study places this MS more than a century earlier than the incident mentioned by Josephus (BJ vi.6.1 [316]). The Kittim have mōšelîm (rulers, governors, and commanders), but not melāḵîm (kings); but see below. The annual succession of provincial governors, appointed by the Roman senate (“their house of guilt”), is probably referred to in 4:10–13.
The most conclusive proof for the Roman identification is 4QpNah, which after noting the failure of “[Deme]trius, king of Greece … to enter Jerusalem” states that God had never given the city “into the power of the kings of Greece from the time of Antiochus until the rulers of the Kittim arose.” The clear chronological distinction placing the rise of the “rulers of the Kittim” after the time of the “kings of Greece” (Syria) points conclusively to the Romans as the Kittim. Yet after 44 B.C., when Caesar became a virtual king, one could speak of “the king of the Kittim” (1QM 15:2).
The identification of the Kittim with the Romans in late Jewish thought is well supported by the versions: Nu. 24:24 (Onk, Vulg); Ezk. 27:6 (Tg Jonathan, Vulg); Dnl. 11:30 (LXX, Tg Jonathan, Vulg).

Bibliography.—Y. Aharoni, IEJ, 16 (1966), 1–7; W. F. Albright, JBL, 63 (1944), 207–233; G. R. Driver, The Judaean Scrolls (1965) (Zealot hypothesis, Kittim = Romans); A. Dupont-Sommer, The Jewish Sect of Qumran and the Essenes (1954), pp. 14–37 (Kittim = Romans); R. Goossens, Nouvelle Clio, 4 (1952), 137–170 (Kittim = Romans); M. P. Horgan, Pesharim: Qumran Interpretations of Biblical Books (1979); H. H. Rowley, PEQ, 88 (1956). 92–109 (Kittim = Seleucids); E. Stauffer, TLZ, 76 (1951), 667–674 (Kittim = Seleucids); G. Vermes, Discovery in the Judean Desert (1956), pp. 81–85 (Kittim = Romans); Y. Yadin, Scroll of the War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness (1962) (Kittim = Romans).

Brownlee, W. H. (1979–1988). Kittim. In G. W. Bromiley (Ed.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Vol. 3, pp. 45–46). Wm. B. Eerdmans.



The Ordo Salutis

The Ordo Salutis

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“The Ordo Salutis
1. What is understood under the ordo salutis, the “order of salvation”?

The series of acts and steps in which the salvation obtained by Christ is subjectively appropriated by the elect. In Scripture σωτηρία, salus, has a double meaning, one more subjective and one more objective, according to whether it includes the act of saving or of being saved. In the first sense it naturally extends much farther than in the subjective appropriation of salvation. Christ is called σωτηρία not merely because He applies His merits but because He has likewise obtained them. His satisfaction was the principal act of salvation. In the second sense it is narrower in scope and in fact covers what one understands under the designation “soteriology.”

2. What is further contained in the term ordo salutis, “order of salvation”?

That the subjective application of the salvation obtained by Christ does not occur at once or arbitrarily. In the abstract, it would be possible for God to take hold of and relocate each one of the elect into the heaven of glory at a single point in time. He has His good reasons that He did not do this. There are a multiplicity of relationships and conditions to which all the operations of grace have a certain connection. If the change came about all at once, then not a single one of these would enter into the consciousness of the believer, but everything would be thrown together in a chaotic revolution. None of the acts or steps would throw light on the others; the base could not be distinguished from the top or the top from the base. The fullness of God’s works of grace and the rich variety of His acts of salvation would not be prized and appreciated.

The opposite of all this is true. There is order and regularity in the application of salvation as well as in every other area of creation. The acts and operations each have their own fixed place, from which they cannot be uprooted. They are connected to each other from what follows and from what precedes; they have their basis and their result. Consequently, the Scripture gives us an ordered sequence (e.g., Rom 8:28–30). At the same time, this order shows us that even in what is most subjective the purpose of God may not be limited to the satisfaction of the creature’s longing for blessedness. If this were so, then the order that is slow and in many respects tests the patience of the children of God would be lost. But here, too, God works first of all to glorify Himself according to the principles of an eternal order and an immanent propriety.

3. Does unanimity rule among the theologians in the identification of the different steps that belong to the order of salvation?

No, a great variety rules in sequence as well as in completeness. All do not enumerate the same steps. When they all have the same things, they are given in a different sequence. Different terms are used for one and the same thing.

4. Enumerate some points of difference that are important for proper differentiation.

a) An important point is the varying and unclear definition of the concept of regeneration. For many theologians the locus on regeneration is completely lacking, although many federalists are an exception here. At the same time these theologians do of course know of regeneration, and its specific character has not escaped them entirely.

1. Some identify “regeneration” (regeneratio) with “conversion” (conversio). This is quite customary with the dogmaticians of the 17th century. The Canons of Dort teach in chapters 3 and 4, article 11: “Furthermore, when God accomplishes His good pleasure in the elect or works true conversion in them … He not only powerfully illumines their mind by the Holy Spirit … but by the effective power of the same regenerating Spirit, He penetrates to the inmost parts of the man, opens the closed heart … infuses new qualities into the will, and makes the dead living … (article 12) and this is that—so often proclaimed in the Holy Scriptures—regeneration, new creation, resurrection from the dead and making alive, which God, without us, works in us.”1 Owen also expresses himself in a similar way.
Some, however, sought to avoid the lack of clarity that may originate from this usage by a more precise distinction between two kinds of conversion. So Turretin makes mention of a double conversio. The first is habitual and passive. It consists in producing a habit or disposition of the soul: “Habitual or passive conversion occurs through the infusion of supernatural habits by the Holy Spirit.” The second conversion is called active and effective conversion. It is the exercising in faith and repentance of the already implanted habitus: “Active or effective conversion occurs through the exercise of those good habits by which the acts of faith and of repentance are both given by God and elicited in man.” He then adds, however, that it is better to call the first kind of conversion “regeneration,” because it refers to the new birth by which man is renewed according to the image of his Maker, and to limit the term “conversion” to the second kind, since in it the activity of man is not excluded.

2. The majority by far summarize regeneration and conversion under the concept of internal calling. Wollebius says, “Particular calling is termed: (a) new creation, (b) regeneration, etc.” In the schools it is called (a) effectual election, (b) effectual calling, (c) internal calling. Accordingly, some speak first about calling, then about faith, then about conversion, so that calling apparently takes the place of regeneration (e.g., the Leiden Synopsis). Calling is often enough described as an implanting into Christ, a union with Christ, an indissoluble joining of the person of the elect with the person of the Mediator, all of them concepts that bring regeneration to mind clearly enough.

3. Others take the concept of regeneration in a very wide sense, as almost completely synonymous with sanctificatio, “sanctification,” and under that notion understand the entire process by which the old nature of man is transformed into a new nature resembling the image of God. Calvin says (Institutes, 3.3.9), “Therefore, in a word, I describe poenitentia [repentance] as regeneration, of which the goal is none other than that the image of God, defiled and nearly wiped out in us by the transgression of Adam, is restored in us.… And this restoration is not completed in one moment or in one day or one year; but with continual, yes, even slow steps God removes corruption from his elect.” Later we will see why this wider use of the term has a certain right.

b) Another important point that lacks clarity lies in the concept of calling. While for this concept some still have all the emphasis fall on the immediacy of the action and thus identify internal calling with regeneration, others hold to the obvious thought that calling already presupposes a life and the capacity to hear, and so must be distinguished from the initial begetting of life.

c) Also, the concept of poenitentia, “repentance,” is not always clearly distinguished. Sometimes this word is taken to mean long processes that accompany the whole of life here on earth, sometimes for instantaneous actions at a critical moment.”

As seen above, Calvin identifies poenitentia, regeneratio, sanctificatio.”
Vos, G. (2012–2016). Reformed Dogmatics. (R. B. Gaffin, Ed., A. Godbehere, R. van Ijken, D. van der Kraan, H. Boonstra, J. Pater, A. Janssen, … K. Batteau, Trans.) (Vol. 4, pp. 1–4). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.