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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica


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less correctly Jaffa (Arab. Yafa), a seaport on the coast of Palestine. It is of great antiquity, being mentioned in the tribute lists of Tethmosis (Thothmes) III.; but as it never was in the territory of the pre-exilic Israelites it was to them a place of no importance. Its ascription to the tribe of Dan (Josh. xix. 46) is purely theoretical. According to the authors of Chronicles (2 Chron. ii. 16), Ezra (iii. 7) and Jonah (i. 3) it was a seaport for importation of the Lebanon timber floated down the coasts or for ships plying even to distant Tarshish. About 148 B.C. it was captured from the Syrians by Jonathan Maccabaeus (1 Macc. x. 75) and later it was retaken and garrisoned by Simon his brother (xii. 33, xiii. i 1). It was restored to the Syrians by Pompey (Jos., Ant. xiv. 4, 4) but again given back to the Jews (ib. xiv. 10, 6) with an exemption from tax. St Peter for a while lodged at Joppa, where he restored the benevolent widow Tabitha to life, and had the vision which taught him the universality of the plan of Christianity.

According to Strabo (xvi. ii.), who makes the strange mistake of saying that Jerusalem is visible from Joppa, the place was a resort of pirates. It was destroyed by Vespasian in the Jewish War (68). Tradition connects the story of Andromeda and the sea-monster with the sea-coast of Joppa, and in early times her chains were shown as well as the skeleton of the monster itself (Jos. Wars, iii. 9, 3). The site seems to have been shown even to some medieval pilgrims, and curious traces of it have been detected in modern Moslem legends.

In the 5th and 11th centuries we hear from time to time of bishops of Joppa, under the metropolitan of Jerusalem. In 1126 the district was captured by the knights of St John, but lost to Saladin in 1187. Richard Coeur de Lion retook it in 1191, but it was finally retaken by Malek el 'Adil in 1196. It languished for a time; in the 16th century it was an almost uninhabited ruin; but towards the end of the 17th century it began anew to develop as a seaport. In 1799 it was stormed by Napoleon; the fortifications were repaired and strengthened by the British.

The modern town of Joppa derives its importance, first, as a seaport for Jerusalem and the whole of southern Palestine, and secondly as a centre of the fruit-growing industry. During the latter part of the 19th century it greatly increased in size. The old city walls have been entirely removed. Its population is about 35,000 (Moslems 23,000, Christians 5000, Jews 7000; with the Christians are included the "Templars," a semi-religious, semi-agricultural German colony of about 320 souls). The town, which rises over a rounded hillock on the coast, about ioo ft. high, has a very picturesque appearance from the sea. The harbour (so-called) is one of the worst existing, being simply a natural breakwater formed by a ledge of reefs, safe enough for small Oriental craft, but very dangerous for large vessels, which can only make use of the seaport in calm weather; these never come nearer than about a mile from the shore. A railway and a bad carriage-road connect Joppa with Jerusalem. The water of the town is derived from wells, many of which have a brackish taste. The export trade of the town consists of soap of olive oil, sesame, barley, water melons, wine and especially oranges (commonly known as Jaffa oranges), grown in the famous and ever-increasing gardens that lie north and east of the town. The chief imports are timber, cotton and other textile goods, tiles, iron, rice, coffee, sugar and petroleum. The value of the exports in 1900 was estimated at £264,950, the imports £382,405. Over 10,000 pilgrims, chiefly Russians, and some three or four thousand tourists land annually at Joppa. The town is the seat of a kaimakam or lieutenant-governor, subordinate to the governor of Jerusalem, and contains viceconsulates of Great Britain, France, Germany, America and other powers. There are Latin, Greek, Armenian and Coptic monasteries; and hospitals and schools under British, French and German auspices. (R. A. S. M.)

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Joppa'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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