June 23, 2011 DLS

What does Turkey mean?

I have been asking what the name Turk means.  Our kind hosts for our visit to a home near SultanBeyLi in Anatolia (Asia) – Metin and his wife and family and Fatih, an educator, Burhan and Neset, our wonderful friends and guides, suggested that the name Turk was among the Sons of Japeth, one of 3 of Noah’s sons:

from World ORT (2000).   Navigating the Bible II.  Retrieved from http://bible.ort.org/books/pentd2.asp?action=displayanchor&pentid=P236#P236

I reminded the group that Japeth meant beautiful and we had a discussion about whether Joseph was of a descendant of Japeth, for the Koran speaks of him being beautiful.

10:1 These are the chronicles of Noah’s sons, Shem,
Ham and Yefeth. Children were born to them after the flood.
10:2 The sons of Yefeth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Yavan, Tuval, Meshekh, and Tiras.
10:3 The sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah.
10:4 The sons of Yavan were Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim.
10:5 From these the isolated nations branched out into their lands. Each had its own language for its families in its
10:6 The sons of Ham were Cush, Mitzraim, Put, and Canaan.
10:7 The sons of Cush were S’bha, Havila, Sabhta, Raamah
and Sabht’ka.The sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan.
10:8 Cush was the father of Nimrod,
who was the first to amass power in the world.
10:9 He was a mighty trapper before God. There is thus a
saying, ‘Like Nimrod, a mighty trapper before God!’
10:10 The beginning of his kingdom was Babylon, along with Erekh, Akkad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.
10:11 Asshur left that land, and he
built Nineveh, Rechovoth Ir and Calach,
10:12 as well as Resen, between
Nineveh and Calach. [Nineveh] is a great
10:13 Mitzraim fathered the Ludim,
the Anamim, the Lehabhim, the Naftuchim,
10:14 the Pathrusim and the Casluchim (from whom the Philistines
descended) and the Caphtorim.

Descendants of Canaan
10:15 Canaan fathered Sidon (his
firstborn) and Heth,
10:16 as well as the Jebusites, the
Amorites, the Girgashites,
10:17 the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites,
10:18 the Arvadites, the Tzemarites, and the Chamathites. Later the
families of the Canaanites became scattered.
10:19 The Canaanite borders extended from Sidon toward Gerar until Gaza, and toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Tzevoyim, until Lasha.
10:20 These are the descendants of Ham, according to
their families and languages, by their lands and nations.

Descendants of Shem
10:21 Sons were also born to Shem. He was the ancestor of
the Hebrews, [and] the brother of Yefeth, the eldest.
10:22 The sons of Shem were Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram.
10:23 The sons of Aram were Utz, Chul, Gether, and Mash.
10:24 Arpachshad had a son Shelach. Shelach had a son Eber.
10:25 Eber had two sons. The name of the first was Peleg,
because the world became divided in his days. His brother’s
name was Yoktan.
10:26 Yoktan was the father of Almodad, Shelef, Chatzarmaveth, Yerach,
10:27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah,
10:28 Obhal, Abhimael, Sh’bha,
10:29 Ophir, Havilah, and Yovav. All these were the sons
of Yoktan.
10:30 Their settlements extended from
Meshah toward Sepher, the eastern mountain.
10:31 These are the descendants of Shem, according to their families and languages, by their lands
and nations.
10:32 Such were the families of Noah’s sons, according to
their chronicles in their nations. From these, the nations
spread over the earth after the flood.

from Wikipedia (2011).  Turkic Peoples. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkic_peoples#Origins_and_early_expansion.

“It is generally agreed that the first Turkic people lived in a region extending from Central Asia to Siberia with the majority of them living in China historically. The earliest separate Turkic peoples appeared on the peripheries of the late Xiongnu confederation (contemporaneous with the Chinese Han Dynasty).[21] Turkic people may be related to the Xiongnu, Dingling and Tiele people. According to the Book of Wei, the Tiele people were the remaining of the Chidi (赤狄), the red Di people competing with the Jin (state) in the Spring and Autumn Period.[22] Turkic tribes, such as Khazars and Pechenegs, probably lived as nomads for many years before establishing the Göktürk Empire in the 6th century. These were Chinese herdsmen and nobles who were searching for new pastures and wealth. The first mention of Turks was in a Chinese text that mentioned trade of Turk tribes with the Sogdians along the Silk Road.[23] The first recorded use of “Turk” as a political name is a 6th-century reference to the word pronounced in Modern Chinese as Tujue. The Ashina clan migrated from Li-jien (modern Zhelai Zhai) to the Juan Juan seeking inclusion in their confederacy and protection from the prevalent dynasty. The tribe were famed metal smiths and was granted land near a mountain quarry which looked like a helmet, from which they were said to have gotten their name 突厥 (tūjué). A century later, their power had increased such that they conquered the Juan Juan and established the Gök Empire.[24]”

I will ask Dr. Lin to consult on this.

Another funny story about the names of turkey may be found at

The Straight Dope (November 27, 2001).  Is turkey (the bird) named after Turkey (the country) or vice versa?  Retrieved from http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1972/is-turkey-the-bird-named-after-turkey -the-country-or-vice-versa .

The people here call our Thanksgiving bird – indu – after India to the east where the birds might have come.  The French call our bird – dindon – also probably after India.


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