Who Is Chittim?
Isaiah 23:1 has a prophecy about “the land of Chittim.” To which modern nation does this end-time prophecy apply? This biblical name refers to both the island of Cyprus and to the nation of China, whose progenitors first populated Cyprus and gave it its name.
As Herbert Armstrong taught throughout his ministry, Noah’s son Japheth married a woman of the yellow race, and went on to father the Mongoloid people. The Hebrew word Japheth means enlargement, and a glance at the modern world shows that the Oriental populations have been enlarged and multiplied to an unparalleled degree. The descendants of Japheth have long been the most populous people on Earth, with the bulk living in China, Southeast Asia and Japan.
The enlargement of Japheth began with the patriarch himself siring seven sons and an untold number of daughters. Obviously, these sons and daughters were a mix between the Caucasoid and Mongoloid races, the latter of which grew more definitive in subsequent generations. Soon after the tower of Babel, some of Japheth’s descendants, such as Magog, migrated through Central Asia to the lands they occupy now. Other Japhetic families took a longer migratory route.
Research by Dr. Herman Hoeh in his Compendium of World History shows that descendants of Japheth, such as the families of Gomer, Tubal and Togarmah, first settled in south and central Europe before they migrated east into Asia. Kittim was one such family, originally settling lands to the west of Mesopotamia before moving to the Far East.
Genesis 10:4 lists the sons of Japheth’s fourth-born son: “The sons of Javan were Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim” (New King James Version). Kittim is synonymous with the Chittim of Isaiah’s prophecy. Verse 5 mentions that these sons of Javan settled the isles, or the coasts, of the north Mediterranean; this occurred shortly after the dispersion of the tower of Babel. These tribes gave their names to various cities and islands, such as Cyprus and Rhodes.
The Mongoloid types of these families, including the Kittim, did not stay there, however. Over hundreds of years and many generations, some of these families migrated east into Asia where they are found today.
Thus, the descendants of Javan’s son Kittim came to Asia some time after many of their cousins had already settled there. After their migration through Central Asia, the Kittim made their appearance in modern-day northeastern China and Mongolia under the name of Khitan in the fourth century a.d., according to research by Dr. Ernest Martin of Ambassador College. In the 10th century, the Khitan people managed to create a dynasty that subjugated the peoples, including the Chinese, in modern-day northern China. Their territory stretched from what is now Korea to eastern Kazakhstan, including Beijing, the seat of government in China today.
During their reign, the Khitan, a fierce but poorer nomadic people, adopted the richer Chinese culture. After the collapse of their kingdom 200 years later, many remained in northeast China, where they were absorbed into the Chinese people. Some fled to Central Asia, where they created the Qara Khitan empire, which lasted for another hundred years before they were conquered by the Mongols in the 13th century.
Because the Khitans controlled the overland trade and communication route from China through Central Asia to Europe, China was called Cathay, after the Khitans. The designation first applied to north China, but later designated all of China. It is a name the Russians still use for China today.