Japheth, in the Abrahamic tradition, is one of the sons of Noah. Genesis 6: 9 refers to him as “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations” (Genesis, 6:9) When God decided to exterminate all the wicked by sending a vast flood, He ordered Noah to build the Ark and hide himself and his family, animals and birds in it. After saving Noah from the flood, God “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful , and multiply , and replenish the earth” (Genesis, 6:9) Thus, Japheth became the father of mankind, renewed after the Deluge. According to medieval concepts, Japheth was the progenitor of the peoples of Europe.
Together with his father and brothers Japheth made a covenant with God.“Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you… Never again will all life be destroyed by the waters of a flood; I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” (Genesis 9: 8-13).
There is one more Old Testament story about Japheth. When Noah drank some wine, he “lay uncovered inside his tent” (Genesis 9:20). Shem and Japheth “took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body (Genesis 9:23). For this Japheth and his descendant got the blessing from Noah. Japheth is therefore considered as an example of modesty and sonly virtue.
In the Russian art the icons portraying Japheth were placed in the forefathers’ tier of the high iconostasis.
The feast day of Japheth is celebrated in the Week of Holy Forefathers.
1. Петров А. Е. Иафет. // Православная энциклопедия. Том XX. — М.: Церковно-научный центр «Православная энциклопедия», 2009. — С. 598–599.