April 16, 2024

Jaffa in Tel Aviv Marks the Ancient Seaport of Joppa

Old town of Jaffa over the sand beach bay on sunset, Tel Aviv, Israel Old town of Jaffa over the sand beach bay on sunset, Tel Aviv, Israel © Anton Petrus | Dreamstime.com

Joppa, known in modern times as Jaffa or Yafo,  was an ancient seaport mentioned in both the old and new testaments.


Joppa, or Jaffa, has enjoyed a prominent location along the mediterranean coast, and is one of the oldest seaports, once known in ancient times as the “Bride of the Sea”.   According to some traditions, it was built by, and named after, Japeth, one of Noah's sons, after the flood.  It is mentioned in an ancient Egyptian letter from approx 1440 BC, and was under Egyptian rule until the 8th century BC, where it was then captured by the Assyrians, then subsequently Babylonian, and Perisan rule.  Under the Persian empire, Joppa was governed by Phonecians from Tyre.  Alexandar the Great's troops were stationed in Joppa, and then after the Maccabee revolt, the port came under control of the Hasmonean dynasty, until Rome took over in the first century.

In modern times,  it serves as a fishing harbor, a yacht harbor, and as a tourism destination.


Biblical significance

Joppa was mentioned in the book of Acts as the city where Peter resurrected Tabitha (Dorcas) in Acts chapter 9, and subsequently stayed at the home of Simon the Tanner, when Cornelius had a vision from God and was told to seek out Simon Peter, and Peter was also given a vision that he was to no longer separate himself from Gentiles, but to go where God is calling him.  The result of which Peter went to the home of Cornelius and preached the gospel, and Cornelius and all his household were saved (Acts 9:43-10:48).

Peter stayed some time in Joppa with a certain tanner named Simon. (Acts 9:43)

 Joppa is also mentioned in the Old Testament, as the place where Jonah fled to and boarded a boat, when God had called him to preach to Ninevah.  

But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. (Jonah 1:3)

In 2 Chronicles 2:16, Joppa is mentioned as the port which would be used for transporting cedars of Lebanon, delivered by King Hiram of Tyre, to King Solomon, for the purpose of building the temple.  Again in Ezra 3:7, the same port was used for the same purpose, delivering lumber to rebuild the temple.


Main Biblical Attractions

House of Simon the Tanner

Although not open to the public, an ancient private house is belived to mark the location of the house of Simon the Tanner where Peter stayed in Acts chapter 10.

St. Peter's Church

A Russian Orthodox church, St Peter's church is located on the supposed site where Tabitha (Dorcas) was resurrected in Acts 9.

Old Jaffa Museum of Antiquities

Jaffa Hill is an excavation site that contains archaeological finds, including a restored Egyptian gate.  The Old Jaffa museum of antiquities displays artifacts from the many eras and governing empires that make up Jaffa's long history. 











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Last modified on Thursday, 07 July 2022 15:30
Nathan Gopen

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Nathan Gopen is a professional software engineer and MIT graduate. He is committed to using his skills in software, multimedia and graphic design to create inspiring and powerful new ways of comprehending and studying the vast riches of God's Word.

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