The Gentiles WhyProphets.com
Origins How Europe conquered the world Europe in slavery Jerusalem underfoot

A history of the Gentiles
(part 1):
from Javan to Byzantium

map: the descendants of Noah

Introduction

The Gentiles are descended from Japheth, son of Noah.

The center of the Gentile world was thus the lands between modern Turkey (Asia Minor) and Greece.

This region was the the birthplace of, and gateway to, Europe. It saw the center of the Minoan, Trojan and Byzantine civilisations. It gave rise to the legend of Atlantis and the prophecies concerning the Little Horn and Gog and Magog. Most of the New Testament books are written to this region, and Daniel and John take a special interest in it. We are now living in the tail end of "the times of the Gentiles", when western culture dominates the world. So we ought to pay attention!

What has this to do with the dated prophecies?

This page shows how the "little horn" prophecies of Daniel were fulfilled and "the times of the Gentiles" began. Specifically, it examines the origins of the smallest division of Alexander's empire, and how it went on to uproot three of the ten divisions of the Roman empire, then spend 1260 years as king of the world.

As we look at the history of the Gentiles, we see that it has its origins in the little horn - the area around Byzantium. The little horn prophecies of Daniel simply add detail to the wider story of the gentiles.

 

Japheth and the gentiles

 

Let's go back to the beginning (almost). When the world was divided between the sons of Noah (as recorded in Genesis chapters 9 and 10), it went like this:

Shem had the birthright, and fathered the S(h)emitic races of the middle east.

Ham was made a "servant" to Shem, and fathered the first great empire - that of Nimrod, centered at Babel. (Note: beware how you handle the idea of Ham being a servant. According to the Lord, those who are humble servants will get into heaven before their so-called "masters". Isaiah 53 describes Jesus himself as "a suffering servant".) Ham's descendants seem to have peopled the eastern and southern regions.

Japheth was the father of the European nations (see for example the Scofield Bible Commentary for which tribe went where). Referring to Japheth's seven sons, Genesis says, "By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands" (isles can also be translated "regions").

This is important. Although the word "gentile" can be applied to any non-believer, strictly speaking it refers to the descendants of Japheth.

The Gentiles

So the sons of Japheth, strictly speaking, are the Gentiles. And that means Europe. (And one of them is of course Magog). So when Noah said "God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem" (Genesis 9:27), this was literally fulfilled in the Dark Ages and modern period. Europe has grown to dominate the world, with a culture that developed from the Judeo-Christian tradition, and a special political interest in the Middle East. No wonder the centuries after the New Testament were referred to as "the times of the Gentiles". It was a time of the great triumph of the little horn, Europe.

Luke 21:24: "And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."

 

After the Flood: The Indo-Europeans

 

The Gentiles are equivalent to what scholars call the "Indo-European" family of nations. In the earliest times these were:

  1. The Hittites
  2. The Celts
  3. The Germanic nations
  4. The Greeks

The gentiles have always been a warlike group, attempting to conquer the world. And sometimes they succeed.


Are Gentile nations GOOD or BAD?

Certain conditions - such as the existence of evil - are necessary so that this life can be a choice. Other conditions - such as a certain amount of suffering - are necessary to help us become wise and strong.

The "times of the gentiles" can be seen as A Bad Thing (it treads down other nations). It is also a necessary thing, as it unites the world and allows the gospel to be spread. For example, even though Rome in New Testament times was described as a Satanic beast, at the same time the church could only flourish because of the "pax Romana" enforced by the Romans.

Similarly, in the last days, the world becomes a very small place, dominated by western civilisation. This is necessary, so that the gospel can be spread to every nation. And this same missionary work demands that the church exists inside Gentile nations, and so most of those who accept the gospel are originally Gentile. (For more about the blood of Israel, see the page on Britain and Israel).

But what about the Little Horn?

The little horn is evil, not because it is Gentile, but because it overcame the church (Daniel 7:25). By destroying the church, Europe took away choice. People could no longer choose to join the true church. That evil condition continued for 1260 years. That was the evil that sets the "horn" apart. Otherwise, Europe is not more evil than other nations.


 

2000BC: Gomer, Meshech and Magog

 

Few written records survive from the earliest periods of history. But we do know that, even a this early period, the gentiles were attempting to conquer the world. The tribes around the Black Sea were collectively known as "Aryans". They spread there influence to the east and south in the early second millenium BC. They are best known for destroying the Indus civilisation (in India) some time around 1760 BC.

 

1500BC: Javan and "Atlantis"

 

The next Gentile group to rise to prominence was probably descended from Javan, and had its base around Crete and the islands between Greece and Asia. Minoan civilisation, as it is called, reached its height at around 1550 BC.

Many scholars believe that the legend of Atlantis refers to the destruction of Minoan civilisation. There are actually very serious problems with this view, but this is not the place to go into them. If it the Crete/Atlantis theory is correct, then we have another example of a gentile nation attempting to dominate the known world by warfare, and finally destroyed (or at least weakened prior to destruction) by an act of God (the explosion of Thera). Just as in the days of Noah, and at the last days, God will allow such violence to go on for only so long. Then he destroys the wicked. Modern Gentiles, watch out!

 

1000 BC: Javan: Greece and Troy

 

When Moses wrote Genesis (circa 1200 BC), the great Gentile nations were the Hittites and the Greeks. The Hittite empire had long been in decline, but the language was used by the Achaian scribes, and so some of the culture passed to Troy. This is only a brief history, so let us bypass the Hittites and move on to that next great gentile center, Troy.

Greece and Troy

In the earliest times, the only significant European peoples were in Greece and Asia Minor. The role of Greece in modern culture is well known, but the role of Asia Minor is often forgotten. At the time that Moses wrote Genesis, the principle city of Asia Minor, and probably the greatest city of ancient Europe, was Troy. The world still remembers the epic of the Iliad (and its sequel the Odyssey), recording the wars between the Greeks and the Trojans. But what happened to Troy after that? And what about nearby Byzantium? Both are key to understanding the gentile domination of the last two thousand years.

 

300 BC: the origins of the little horn

 

The 4th Century BC

Alexander the Great (the "notable horn" of Daniel 8:5) has conquered most of the known world. But then he dies. His generals divide his empire into four (see Daniel 8:8). One of these kingdoms (or "horns"), "the small one" (Daniel 8:9, Jerusalem translation) was Byzantium and the regions round about.

A summary of the next thousand years

Later this became the capital of the eastern Roman empire. Rome itself was responsible for the north and west, and Byzantium (Constantinople) was responsible for the east, the south, and the Holy Land (see Daniel 8:9).

Later, especially after the year 570, it evolved into a power that controlled the whole of the European landmass. It made claims, based on religion, to be the rightful ruler of the world. Yet it colonised and trod on the world in a brutal manner (see Daniel 8:10). By claiming to represent Christ (through the medieval church which bound it together), it was in fact a false Christ. It ended the continuous line of authority of the true church, and removed any last hiding places of the true faith (see Daniel 8:11).

The true church really did not stand a chance. The European power was so strong and fierce, and people believed its claims that its ministers represented Jesus Christ. (See Daniel 8:23-24.) It prospered, un-challenged, for over a thousand years. But eventually it was to lose its power. Not by the invasion of an army, but by cultural and religious ideas. (See Daniel 8:12 and 8:25).

How did Byzantium evolve into Europe as we know it?

Europe differs from Rome in three main ways. It is:

  1. Nominally "Christian"
  2. Divided (despite similarities between nations, there is no one leader)
  3. Dominated by the northern European "barbarian" nations

In all of these, Europe has its roots in Byzantium.

"Christian" culture

Culturally, modern Europe has its roots in Byzantium. The emperor Constantine made Byzantium the capital of the Roman empire. He called it "Constantinople" and referred to it as "new Rome". He made the empire "Christian" and appointing church leaders and decided doctrine. He introduced thrones and costly robes for ministers. The later Byzantine empire was a complete fusion of church and state.

The Byzantine empire was not held together by strong emperors (most of them were weak) or shared tribal origins, but by this "Christian" heritage, and more importantly by political dealing. "Byzantine" has become a synonym for "large and bureaucratic".

Divisions:

"Byzantine" has become a word meaning colossal and bureaucratic. The Byzantine empire tried to be united, but without a strong central government. It tried to achieve unity by massive institutionalisation. But that just brings disunity, as nobody really believes in it. Although in theory the Byzantine empire was united, in practice local officials had their own little kingdoms. As detailed further down this page, under "Byzantium and the year 570", Byzantium was forever split. It tried to run its world as a Christian empire, but without apostles to lead the church, all it could hope for was division.

Geography

The point where Europe joins the rest of the landmass - where west meets east - is Byzantium. Its strategic position placed it at the heart of the transition from Rome to Europe. The book "Religion at the Crossroads - Byzantium [and] the Turks" (London: Cassell, 1980) calls Byzantium "the city on the Golden Horn", and describes its importance thus:

"Culturally, Byzantium acted as a bridge between Europe and Asia and between the Classical world and the world of the Renaissance".

Byzantium / Troy managed the transition by first taking over the church, and next by inviting in the northern "barbarians". To see how it all happened, let us go back to the beginning:

 

AD 1: Troy, Byzantium, and Rome

 

Byzantium and the early Roman empire

In the earliest times it was not part of the empire at all. In the first civil war, the "peace of Dardanus" gave this territory to Rome in 84 BC. In the years that follow, some maps show it as part of the empire, some do not. Probably it was just very unimportant. "Little", as Daniel says it.

Because of its barbarian links (it was surrounded by Thrace and Galatia, two Celtic - "barbarian" - regions), it does not seem to have had a steady place in the empire. In a map of the empire from the days of Augustus, it is the only conspicuous hole in the area that is shaded as "Roman"! (This is all based on the Penguin Atlas of World History, volume 1. London: Penguin books, 1974).

Troy and the early Roman empire

Most people are familiar with the lasting influence of Greece. The influence of Troy may have been just as great. It was possibly the most famous of all cities in Indo-European culture (Wood, p.15). In the quotations that follow, page numbers are from "In Search of the Trojan War" by Michael Wood (London: BBC, 1985).

Rome claimed to be a continuation of Troy

Julius Caesar claimed descent from Aeneas, the Trojan hero, and promised to rebuild Troy as the Roman capital. Virgil's Aeneid claims that all Romans are descended from Aeneas and the Trojans. (p.30)

The Celtic and Germanic tribes in New Testament times

The Greeks called the Celtic and Germanic tribes barbarians, or "keltoi" (hence the name "Celts"). The Romans called them "galli" (hence the term "Gaul").

The only "barbarian" kingdoms within the boundaries of the classical empires were in Thrace and Asia Minor, particularly the kingdom known as "Galatia" (from the word "galli"), well known to readers of the New Testament. Daniel refers to them as the smallest of the four horns of Greece.

 

AD 100: "The Seat of Satan"

 

The region round Byzantium in New Testament times

If the little horn began in the area round Byzantium, was this marked out as a source of future danger in New Testament times? Yes it was. Byzantium itself was not a major town in the first century, but the region to the north of Asia Minor had several important towns. Paul passed through this region on his second missionary journey. Paul had an important job to do - to preach the gospel to all the world, and especially to the gentiles. Yet the spirit told him specifically not to preach in that area. It was as if no good could come of it - as though the area was uniquely marked out for something else. See Acts 16:6-8 for details.

Somehow Christians did come to live in this region (perhaps by existing converts moving in?). Preaching to this area was reserved for the chief apostle, the president of the church. Peter's first epistle was to this region, and he frequently comments on the persecution the true saints will find there. He ends with a discussion of how a bishop should be (not proud, not a monarch - as the Byzantine leaders later became). He ends with a peculiar reference to Babylon, that scholars to this day do not understand. Then his second epistle is all about the coming antichrists.

The little horn region as "the seat of Satan"

For the clearest understanding of future events (from the New Testament perspective) we need to look at the Book of Revelation. The book, written by John (then the senior apostle), begins with instructions to seven churches in the region. The northern most church, the closest to Byzantium, is Pergamum. Its importance is clear - it is referred to as "the seat of Satan" and "where Satan dwells" (Revelation 2:13).

 

AD 300: Constantine

 

Byzantium to the third century AD

In AD 46 Byzantium was again established by Claudius as part of the province of Thrace. Now that it is firmly within the Roman empire, it begins to do its destructive work.

From the third century onward we have what is called "the crisis of the ancient world" - the constant threats from northern and eastern barbarians. More than any other region, Byzantium had links to these barbarians. When Byzantium ruled the Roman empire, it allowed the barbarians to come in and destroy Rome.

The early third century: Constantine and Troy

Constantine found Christianity a useful tool in uniting the empire. He wanted to found a "New Rome", based on his idea of Christianity, and found it on the site of Troy. He began building his new capital, Constantinople, on the Sigeum Ridge, the hills by the coast, south west of Troy. But the bay was silted up, making the area no longer suitable. So he had to look for the nearest good natural harbour (p.15, 31).

The city on the golden horn

The best natural harbour in the region was at Byzantium. The city could be said to have been founded on the harbour, known as "the golden horn", in confirmation of Daniel's prophecies regarding that region. When city life in Troy finally came to an end in the sixth century (page 16) it was because the nearby replacement for Troy had become the greatest city in the medieval world.

Medieval Christianity kept Troy alive

Julian the Apostate (reigned 354-355) wanted to remove Christianity - he saw it as the cause of the empire's decline (there was some truth in this!). He visited Troy, and expected to find that the Christians had destroyed the shrine and tomb of Achilles. But he was greatly relieved to find the shrine preserved, offerings still being made, and the fire kept burning - by the Christian bishop himself! So clearly this kind of "Christianity" had some links with the old gentile ways. As a footnote, that was the same year that the scholar Augustine was born...

 

the bottom line

Time after time, the gentiles - the people of the golden horn - have conquered the world.
Even today, so-called "western culture" is gentile culture.

 

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