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Jaffa

"we will cut all the logs from Lebanon that you need and will float them in rafts by sea down to Joppa. You can then take them up to Jerusalem."

“And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him, and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa. (Acts, 10: 6-8)

Referred to in the bible as Joppa, Jaffa is one of the oldest functioning harbors in the world. Jaffa is located 30 miles south of Caesarea. Now a part of bustling Tel Aviv, Jaffa was the country’s main port before Haifa and Ashdod were built. In fact, it is one of the oldest and most famous ports along the coast of Israel.

Joppa is referred to in the bible several times. In Jonah 2 we learn that the prophet Jonah, trying to escape from the command of God, sailed to Tarshish from here (2 Jonah, 1:1-31). And when Solomon was building the Temple, cedars were sent here from Phoenicia. After they landed here, they were sent on to Jerusalem (2 Chronicles, 2:16).

"Then they gave money to the masons and carpenters, and gave food and drink and oil to the people of Sidon and Tyre, so that they would bring cedar logs by sea from Lebanon to Joppa, as authorized by Cyrus king of Persia." (Ezra 3:7)

For Christians, Joppa is also very significant. Peter the Apostle came here from Lydda to raise the widow seamstress Tabitha (also known as Dorcas) from the dead (Acts 9:36-42). While Peter was here, he stayed in the house of Simon the Tanner. One day while praying on the roof, he had a vision of a large sheet filled with animals being lowered from heaven (Acts 9:43-10:23). Peter understood this as a sign that he should go with the messengers to Cornelius in Caesarea.

St. Peter’s Church was built on the site where Peter had this vision. Many chapels were built and destroyed here including a church from the times of the Crusaders. The gold and orange church that stands here today was built in the 18th century and is a popular stop for Christian pilgrims.

It is apt that Christians are still visiting Joppa. Many centuries ago, this was the port where the first pilgrims landed en route to visiting the sites of the Holy Land.


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