Dating Genesis, Madai & Japheth

Walter Mattfeld mattfeld at
Sun Dec 5 11:17:20 EST 1999

----- Original Message -----
From: <peter_kirk at>
To: Biblical Hebrew <b-hebrew at>
Sent: Monday, December 06, 1999 12:02 AM
Subject: Re: Dating Genesis, Madai & Japheth

A rebuttal to Peter Kirk's observations:

> Interesting idea, but I am not convinced. Note that Madai is not
> numbered among the sons of Javan (as one would expect on your theory)
> but as an elder brother - but not as the eldest brother, as one would
> expect if the intention of the change was to give greater honour to
> the Persian dynasty.

If one wants to give honor to the Medes (Persians) why have them as
descendants of Javan ? Why not of Japheth/Iapetos, father of "all mankind"
according to Greek myths ?
Does the order of names in Genesis automatically mean the first name is
always the first born or is this an assumption on your part ?

Apparently all of the peoples in the largely
> mountainous area to the north of Canaan, from Greece to Iran, were
> numbered as the descendants of Japheth,

Lud is generally understood to be Lydia (Neo-Assyrian Luddu), and it is
listed by Genesis as Semitic not Japhethic, so, not "all" nations in the
mountains were Japheth's descendants.

whereas the Hamites were
> mostly to the south and the Semites to the east, but not in the
> mountains.

Lud if Lydia, fails your equation that "all" mountain dwellers of the north
are Japhethic.

This geographical division is surely sufficient to explain
> the existing text without having to posit dependence on a Greek myth.

This is a common explanation given by scholars in bible commentaries to
account for Madai's Japhethic descent, as no one, to my knowledge, has
before showed the scholarly world that such a genealogical descent is
alluded to by Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus and Strabo. This genealogical
link-up was completely overlooked until now. We no longer need to fall back
on the generality that all northern mountain peoples must be Japhethic to
account for Madai's Japhethic descent.

> Also the Greek myth could have been dependent on forms of Genesis or
> something similar to it, which could have made their way to Athens at
> this time.

My research suggests that Genesis does indeed share certain motifs with
Homeric and Hesiodic myths (cf. my Smoking Guns paper, available as an
e-mail attachment). To say that the Greeks had to have had some kind of
knowledge of the bible, implying Genesis' influence on these people is not a
line of reasoning I can accept. I prefer to see Jews in the Medo-Persian
court, exposed to Greek ideas via Greek merchants, physicians, mercenaries,
Greek Satraps, ambassadors and spies, introducing court Jews like Ezra and
Nehemiah to Greek concepts.

So you have not demonstrated the dependence you claim.

That remains to be seen.
> Peter Kirk

All the best, Walter

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