Tiras was, according to Genesis 10 and Chronicles 1, the last-named son of Japheth who is otherwise unmentioned in the Hebrew Bible. The name is sometimes associated by scholars with the Teresh or Tursha, one of the groups which made up the Sea Peoples, a naval confederacy which terrorized Egypt and other Mediterranean around 1200 BCE. This Sea People is referred as "Tursha" in an inscription of Ramesses III, and as "Teresh of the Sea" on the Merneptah Stele.
Some other scholars associate Tiras with Thrace or the Etruscans. In 1838, the German scholar Johann Christian Friedrich Tuch suggested identifying Tiras with the Etruscans — who, according to Greek and Roman sources such as Herodotus (I, 94), had been living in Lydia as the Tyrsenoi before emigrating to Italy as early as the 8th century BC.
Ancient and Medieval Identifications
According to the Book of Jubilees, the inheritance of Tiras consisted of four large islands in the ocean.
Josephus wrote that Tiras became ancestor of the "Thirasians" (Thracians) — a "flame-haired" (red or blond haired) people according to Xenophanes (Antiquities of the Jews, I, 6). Tiras or Tyras in antiquity was also the name of the Dniester river, and of a Greek colony situated near its mouth; the native inhabitants of the surrounding region Tyragetae. The Getae were one of the major components of the Thracians (Herodotus 4.93, 5.3), who the Greeks held to descend from the eponymous Thrax.
The Greek geographer and philosopher Strabo (63 BC – AD 24) enumerated twenty-two ethnical groups in all the Thrace. Histories of Herodotus noticed Crobyzian Thracians (Hist. IV, 49), the Dolonci (VI, 34), the "Brygi a tribe of Thracians” (VI, 45), the Sinties of Lemnos (VII, 45), and others placed in the Nestus and Strymin Valley (VII, 110): Paeti, Cicones, Bistones, Sapaei, Dersaei, Edoni, and Satrae.
Movses Khorenatsi, 5th century Armenian historian, attributed the founder of Armenian nation, Hayk, to being a grandson of Tiras. According to tractate Yoma, in the Talmud, Tiras is the ancestor of Persia.
The Persian historian Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari (c. 915) recounts a tradition that Tiras had a son named Batawil, whose daughters Qarnabil, Bakht, and Arsal became the wives of Cush, Put, and Canaan, respectively.
The mediaeval Hebrew compilation, the Chronicles of Jerahmeel, aside from quoting Yosippon as above, also provides a separate tradition of Tiras' sons elsewhere, naming them as Maakh, Tabel, Bal’anah, Shampla, Meah, and Elash. This material was ultimately derived from Pseudo-Philo (ca. 75 AD), extant copies of which list Tiras' sons as Maac, Tabel, Ballana, Samplameac, and Elaz.
Another medieval rabbinic text Book of Jasher (7:9) records the sons of Tiras as Benib, Gera, Lupirion, and Gilak, and in 10:14, it asserts that Rushash, Cushni, and Ongolis are among his descendants. An earlier (950 AD) rabbinic compilation, the Yosippon, similarly claims Tiras' descendants to be the Rossi of Kiv, i.e. Kievan Rus, listing them together with his brother Meshech's supposed descendants as "the Rossi; the Saqsni and the Iglesusi".
English theologian John Gill (1697-1771) about Tiras affirmed that "[intepreted] better the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem, and so a Jewish chronologer, by Thracia; for the descendants of Thiras, as Josephus observes, the Greeks call Thracians; and in Thrace was a river called Atyras, which has in it a trace of this man's name; and Odrysus, whom the Thracians worshipped, is the same with Tiras, which god sometimes goes by the name of Thuras; and is one of the names of Mars, the god of the Thracians.".
Tiras was also worshipped by his descendants as Thuras (Thor), the god of war, while the river Athyras was also named after him, and the ancient city of Troy (Troi, Troia, the Trojans) perpetuates his name, as also does the Taurus mountain range..
By virtue of Greek documents, the descendants of Tiras has been identified with the Thyrsenoi, "who raided throughout the Aegean sea"; and by Tursha (Turusha or Teresh) by Egyptian records at the time of pharaons Merneptah and Ramses II. There exist also a possible concern with the Hittite language Taruisa, old city of Troy.
- Eliezer D. Oren (9 October 2013). The Sea Peoples and Their World: A Reassessment. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 76. ISBN 1-934536-43-1.
- The Bible for Home and School Macmillan, 1909 p. 90
- International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1995) p. 859
- Bruce K. Waltke (22 November 2016). Genesis: A Commentary. Zondervan. p. 170. ISBN 978-0-310-53102-9.
- Kommentar Über die Genesis, pp. 216-217 216-217.
- Hamilton H. Claude; Falconer William. Fragment 47 (Book VII) of The Geography of Strabo. archive.org. London: H. G. Bohn. p. 515.
- "Herodotus, The Histories (Book VII, 111.1-2)". Project Perseus. Translated by A. D. Godley. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1920. Archived from the original on Nov 17, 2011.
- John Gill. A Commentary On The Book Of Genesis. issuu.com. Bierton Particular Baptist. pp. 114–115., based on the King James Bible, with ending footnotes
- "Thracians: Ancestors of the Swedes". Archived from the original on Feb 6, 2018. Retrieved Aug 26, 2018.
Merenptah of Egypt, who reigned during the 13th century BC, provides us with what is so far our earliest reference to the people of Tiras, recording their name as the Tursha (or Tarusha), and referring to them as invaiders from the north.
- Geoffrey W. Bromiley (1988). "Lemma "Tiras", in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". William B. Eerdmands Publishing Comoany. p. 859. ISBN 0-8028-3784-0. Retrieved Aug 26, 2018.
- "Sons of Japheth: Part VIII-Tiras". ccg.org. Archived from the original on March 27, 2015.
Tiras is apparently of foreign derivation and means desire, and Troas, Troia, Troy, Taurus, Turkey, Tyrrhena, Tuscan, and Etruscan are all said to derive from this name. [...] The Trojans were referred to by the Mediterranean Greeks in the Iliad asKeltoi or Celts. The Abbe MacGeoghegan in the History of Ireland confirms that the ancestors of Western Europe were Gomerites.