Genesis 9:27

27 May God extend Japheth’s[a] territory; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.”

Genesis 9:27 in Other Translations

King James Version (KJV)
27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
English Standard Version (ESV)
27 May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant."
New Living Translation (NLT)
27 May God expand the territory of Japheth! May Japheth share the prosperity of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant.”
The Message Bible (MSG)
27 God prosper Japheth, living spaciously in the tents of Shem. But Canaan shall be his slave.
American Standard Version (ASV)
27 God enlarge Japheth, And let him dwell in the tents of Shem; And let Canaan be his servant.
GOD'S WORD Translation (GW)
27 May God expand the territory of Japheth. May he live in the tents of Shem. Canaan will be his slave."
Holman Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
27 God will extend Japheth; he will dwell in the tents of Shem; Canaan will be his slave.
New International Reader's Version (NIRV)
27 May God add land to Japheth's territory. May Japheth live in the tents of Shem. And may Canaan be their slave."

Genesis 9:27 Meaning and Commentary

Genesis 9:27

God shall enlarge Japheth
Or give him a large part of the earth, and large dominions in it, as his posterity have had; for, as Bochart F18 observes, to them belonged all Europe, and lesser Asia, Media, Iberia, Albania, part of Armenia, and all those vast countries to the north, which formerly the Scythians, and now the Tartars inhabit; not to say anything of the new world (America), into which the Scythians might pass through the straights of Anian;

and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem;
inhabit the countries belonging to the posterity of Shem: this was verified by the Medes, who were the descendants of Japheth, together with the Babylonians seizing upon the Assyrian empire and overthrowing that, for Ashur was of Shem; and in the Greeks and Romans, who sprung from Japheth, when they made conquests in Asia, in which were the tents of Shem's posterity; and who, according to the prophecy in ( Numbers 24:24 ) that ships from the coast of Chittim, Greece, or Italy, or both, should afflict Ashur and Eber, the Assyrians and the Hebrews, or those beyond the river Euphrates, who all belonged to Shem; and particularly this was fulfilled when the Romans, who are of Japheth, seized Judea, which had long been the seat of the children of Shem, the Jews; and at this day the Turks F19, who are also Japheth's sons, literally dwell in the tents of Shem, or inhabit Judea: the Targums understand this in a mystical sense. Onkelos thus:

``God shall cause his Shechinah or glorious Majesty to dwell in the tents of Shem;''

which was remarkably true, when Christ, the brightness of his Father's glory, the Word, was made flesh, and tabernacled in Judea: Jonathan Ben Uzziel thus;

``and his children shall be proselytes, and dwell in the school of Shem;''

and many Christian writers interpret them of the conversion of the Gentiles, and of their union and communion with the believing Jews in one Gospel church state, which was very evidently fulfilled in the first times of the Gospel: and they read these words in connection with the former clause thus, "God shall persuade Japheth F20, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem"; that is, God shall persuade the Gentiles, the posterity of Japheth, by the sweet alluring voice of his Gospel, and through the power of his grace accompanying it, to embrace and profess Christ and his Gospel, and join with his churches, and walk with them in all the commandments and ordinances of Christ; and at this day all the posterity of Japheth, excepting Magog, or the Turks, bear the name of Christians: the Talmudists F21 interpret the passage of the language of Japheth being spoken in the tents of Shem; which had its accomplishment when the apostles of Christ spoke and wrote in Greek, one of the languages of Japheth's sons. Some understand this of God himself, he shall dwell in the tents of Shem, or in Israel, as Jarchi, and was verified remarkably in the incarnation of the Son of God;

and Canaan shall be his servant;
the posterity of Canaan servants to the posterity of Japheth; as they were when Tyre, which was built by the Sidonians, and Sidon, which had its name from the eldest son of Canaan, fell into the hands of Alexander the Grecian, who sprung from Japheth; and when Carthage, a colony of the Phoenicians of Canaan's race, was taken and demolished by the Romans of the line of Japheth, which made Hannibal, a child of Canaan, say, "agnoscere se fortunam Carthaginis" F23, that he owned the fate of Carthage; and in which some have thought that he refers to this prophecy.


F18 Phaleg. l. 3. c. 1. col. 149.
F19 This was written about 1750. Ed.
F20 (tpy) "alliciet", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "persuadebit", Cocceius; so Ainsworth.
F21 T. Hieros. Megillah, fol. 71. 2. T. Bab. Megillah, fol. 9. 2. Bereshit Rabba, sect. 36. fol. 32. 1.
F23 Liv. Hist. l. 27. c. 51.

Genesis 9:27 In-Context

25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.”
26 He also said, “Praise be to the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem.
27 May God extend Japheth’s territory; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be the slave of Japheth.”
28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years.
29 Noah lived a total of 950 years, and then he died.

Cross References 2

  • 1. Genesis 10:2-5
  • 2. Ephesians 2:13-14; Ephesians 3:6

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. "Japheth" sounds like the Hebrew for "extend."
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