Jaffa - Hebrew: יָפוֹ, Yāfō (help·info); Latin: Jóppe; also Japho, Joppa (transliteration
from the Greek "Ιόππη") is a southern, oldest part of Tel Aviv - Jaffa municipality
(since 1950), an ancient port city (closed as a port in 1965). Jaffa is famous for
its association with the biblical story of the prophet Jonah.
Tel Yafo (Jaffa Hill) rises to a height of 40 meters (130 ft) and offers a commanding
view of the coastline; hence its strategic importance in military history. The accumulation
of debris and landfill over the centuries made the hill even higher. Archaeological
evidence shows that Jaffa was inhabited some 7,500 years BCE. Jaffa's natural harbor
has been in use since the Bronze Age.
Jaffa is mentioned four times in the Hebrew Bible, as one of the cities given to
the Hebrew Tribe of Dan (Book of Joshua 19:46), as port-of-entry for the cedars of
Lebanon for Solomon's Temple (2 Chronicles 2:15), as the place whence the prophet
Jonah embarked for Tarshish (Book of Jonah 1:3) and as port-of-entry for the cedars
of Lebanon for the Second Temple of Jerusalem (Book of Ezra 3:7). Jaffa is mentioned
in the Book of Joshua as the territorial border of the Tribe of Dan, hence the modern
term "Gush Dan" for the center of the coastal plain. Many descendants of Dan lived
along the coast and earned their living from ship-making and sailing. In the "Song
of Deborah" the prophetess asks: "דן למה יגור אוניות": "Why doth Dan dwell in ships?"
After the Canaanite and Philistean domination, King David and his son King Solomon
conquered Jaffa and used its port to bring the cedars used in the construction of
the First Temple from Tyre. The city remained often in Jewish hands even after the
split of the Kingdom of Israel. In 701 BCE, in the days of King Hezekiah (חזקיהו),
Sennacherib, king of Assyria, invaded the region from Jaffa.
The New Testament account of St. Peter's resurrection of the widow Tabitha (Dorcas,
Gr.) written in Acts 9:36-42 takes place in Jaffa. Acts 10:10-23 relates that while
Peter was in Jaffa, he had a vision of a large sheet filled with "clean" and "unclean"
animals being lowered from heaven, together with a message from the Holy Spirit to
accompany several messengers to Cornelius in Caesaria.