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JAVAN (jā'văn, Heb. yāwān, Ionian)

JAVAN jă’ vən (יָוָ֣ן, LXX ̓Ιωυαν, meaning uncertain). Fourth son of Japheth, father of Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim and Rodanim (KJV Dodanim) (Gen 10:2, 4; 1 Chron 1:5, 7).

1. The name corresponds etymologically to Ionia (old Gr. ̓Ιαλων). As such it is used in the prophets to denote the descendants of Javan in Ionia proper (W coast of Asia Minor) but also in Greece and Macedonia.

In Isaiah 66:19 Javan, in conjunction with Tarshish, Lud, Put and Tubal is spoken of as one of the far-off nations to whom messengers will be dispatched to tell of Yahweh’s glory and the restoration of Jerusalem. The nations mentioned seem to represent the far western edge of the known world in the OT.

Ezekiel 27:13 alludes to Javan as one of the contributors to the wealth of Tyre. It is grouped with Tubal and Meshech as traders of slaves and bronze. In the same vein, Tyre is condemned (Joel 3:6) because she sold citizens of Judah and Jerusalem to Javan as slaves.

Daniel 8:21; 10:20; 11:2 identify Javan with Alexander’s Greco-Macedonian empire. (RSV trs. “Greece” in all three places.) Thus 8:21 interprets the he-goat from the W as the king of Javan. Daniel 10:20 tells of the angel whose task was to fight the prince of Persia and afterward the prince of Javan. And 11:2 refers to the strong king of Persia who would stir up opposition to the kingdom of Javan.

Zechariah 9:13, speaking of God’s triumph over the nations, relates that He will brandish the sons of Zion, Judah and Ephraim, over the sons of Javan. Since the theme is God’s superiority over war and warlike nations, Greece is prob. singled out for attention here because of the fearsome reputation of Gr. mercenary soldiers in the ancient Near E, rather than any special enmity between Jews and Greeks at the time of the writing of Zechariah (c. 520 b.c.).

2. Javan occurs in the Heb. text of Ezekiel 27:19 (cf. Ezek 27:13 above). However, the context seems to demand a location in Arabia, rather than in the W. The problem is further complicated by the LXX which reads “wine.” This apparently represents the Heb. word יַ֫יִן, H3516, vs. יָוָ֣ן. Whether “wine” represents an interpretation of the difficult Heb. yawan or a real textual variant is not certain. Those who adhere to the Heb. text suggest that a Gr. trading colony in Arabia is meant.


B. Stade, Das Volk Javan (1880); D. D. Luckenbill, “Jadanan and Javan,” Zeit-Schrift fur Assyrologie, 28 (1913), 92-99.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(yawan, meaning unknown):

(2) Place (Eze 27:19); the name is missing in Septuagint.