JAVAN (Heb. יָוָן), fourth of the seven sons of Japheth, son of Noah and father of Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim (or Rodanim; Gen. 10:2, 4; 1 Chron. 1:5, 7). The name Javan reflects the Greek heroic name Ion, the legendary ancestor of the Ionians, a section of the Greek people. They are mentioned only once in Homer but became important later after colonizing the central part of the west coast of Asia Minor to which they gave their name, Ionia (Ἰωνἰα). The rise to power of the Ionians in the mid-eighth century has implications for dating the Genesis passages. Assyrian sources of the eighth century b.c.e. call the area Jawan and Jaman. Egyptian, and Persian sources also mention the Ionians.
Through the Near East Javan came to refer to all Greece. The biblical sources mention Javanites as merchants in trade with the Phoenicians of Tyre (Ezek. 27:13, cf. 19) and as slave traders who bought Judean captives from Phoenicians and Philistines (Joel 4:6). The Javanites are also mentioned among the far-off nations who are destined to witness God's glorious deeds (Isa. 66:19). Other biblical texts seem to reflect the tensions and hopes of the Hellenistic period in which Judah and Ephraim are to take revenge on the Javanites (Zech 9:13). The Book of Daniel, which certainly refers to this period, contains an odious reference to the king of Javan (Dan. 8:23) and alludes to the power struggles of the period of the Greco-Macedonian Empire (10:20, 11:2). Javan has continued to be the Hebrew for *Greece.
J. Skinner, Genesis (icc, 1930), 196–200; C.F. Lehman-Haupt, in: Klio, 27 (1934), 74–83, 286–99; Albright, Arch, 143; C.H. Gordon, in: huca, 26 (1955), 43–108. add. bibliography: D. Baker, in: abd, 3:650; E. Kearns, in: ocd, 763; A. Birley and S. Hornblower, ibid., 764–65.
[Michael Fishbane /
S. David Sperling (2nd ed.)]