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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
(Heb. Yapho', יָפוֹ , Joshua 19:46; 2 Chronicles 2:16; Jonah 1:3, or יָפוֹא, Ezra 3:7; beauty; Sept., N.T., and Josephus Ι᾿όππη, other Greek writers Ι᾿ώππη, Ι᾿ώπη, or Ι᾿όπη; Vulgate Joppe; Auth. Vers. "Japho," except in Jonah; usually "Joppe" in the Apocrypha), a town on the southwest coast of Palestine, the port of Jerusalem in the days of Solomon, as it has been ever since.
1. Legends. — The etymology of the name is variously explained; Rabbinical writers deriving it from Japhet, but classical geographers from Iopa (Ι᾿όπη ), daughter of AEolus and wife of Cepheus, Andromeda's father, its reputed founder; others interpreting it "the watchtower of joy," and so forth (Reland, Paloest. p. 864). The fact is, that, from its being a seaport, it had a profane as well as a sacred history. Pliny, following Mela (De situ Orb. 1, 12), says that it was of antediluvian antiquity (Hist. Nat. 5, 14); and even Sir John Maundeville, in the 14th century, bears witness — though, it must be confessed, a clumsy one — to that tradition (Early Travels in P. p. 142). According to Josephus, it originally belonged to the Phoenicians (Ant. 13, 15, 4). Here, writes Strabo, some say Andromeda was exposed to the whale (Geograph. 16, p. 759; comp. Mü ller's Hist. Groec. Fragm. 4, 325, and his Geograph. Groec. Min. 1, 79), and he appeals to its elevated position in behalf of those who laid the scene there; though, in order to do so consistently, he had already shown that it would be necessary to transport Ethiopia into Phoenicia (Strabo, 1, 43). However, in Pliny's age — and Josephus had just before affirmed the same (War, 3, 9, 3) — they still showed the chains by which Andromeda was bound; and not only so, but M. Scaurus the younger, the same that was so much employed in Judaea by Pompey (War, 1, 6, 2 sq.), had the bones of the monster transported to Rome from Joppa, where till then they had been exhibited (Mela, ibid.), and displayed them there during his aedileship to the public amongst other prodigies. Nor would they have been uninteresting to the modern geologist, if his report be correct; for they measured forty feet in length, the span of the ribs exceeding that of the Indian elephant, and the thickness of the spine or vertebra being one foot and a half ("sesquipedalis," i.e. in circumference — when Solinus says "semipedalis," he means in diameter, see Pliny, Hist. Nat. 9, 5 and the note, Delphin ed.). Reland would trace the adventures of Jonah in this legendary guise, (See JONAH); but it is far more probable that it symbolizes the first interchange of commerce between the Greeks, personified in their errant hero Perseus, and the Phoenicians, whose lovely, but till then unexplored clime may be shadowed forth in the fair virgin Andromeda. Perseus in the tale, is said to have plunged his dagger into the right shoulder of the monster. Possibly he may have discovered or improved the harbor, the roar from whose foaming reefs on the north could scarcely have been surpassed by the barkings of Scylla or Charybdis. Even the chains shown there may have been those by which his ship was attached to the shore. Rings used by the Romans for mooring their vessels are still to be seen near Terracina, in the south angle of the ancient port (Murray's Handbk. for S. Italy, p. 10, 2d ed.).
2. History. — We find that Japho or Joppa was situated in the portion of Dan (Joshua 19:46), on the coast towards the south, and on a hill so high, says Strabo, that people affirmed (but incorrectly) that Jerusalem was visible from its summit. Having a harbor attached to it — though always, as still, a dangerous one — it became the port of Jerusalem, when Jerusalem became metropolis of the kingdom of the house of David; and certainly never did port and metropolis more strikingly resemble each other in difficulty of approach both by sea and land. Hence, except in journeys to and from Jerusalem, it was not much used. Accordingly, after the above incidental notice, the place is not mentioned till the times of Solomon, when, as being almost the only available seaport, Joppa was the place fixed upon for the cedar and pine wood from Mount Lebanon to be landed by the servants of Hiram, king of Tyre, thence to be conveyed to Jerusalem by the servants of Solomon for the erection of the first "house of habitation" ever made with hands for the invisible Jehovah. It was by way of Joppa similarly that like materials were conveyed from the same locality, by permission of Cyrus, for the rebuilding of the second Temple under Zerubbabel (1 Kings 5:9; 2 Chronicles 2:16; Ezra 3:7). Here Jonah, whenever and wherever he may have lived (2 Kings 14:25, certainly does not clear up the first of these points), "took ship to flee from the presence of his Maker" (Jonah 1:3), and accomplished that singular history which our Lord has appropriated as a type of one of the principal scenes in the great drama of his own (Matthew 12:40).
After the close of O.T. history Joppa rose in importance. The sea was then beginning to be the highway of nations. Greece, Egypt, Persia, and some of the little kingdoms of Asia Minor had their fleets for commerce and war. Until the construction of Caesarea by Herod, Joppa was the only port in Palestine proper at which foreign ships could touch; it was thus not only the shipping capital, but the key of the whole country on the seaboard. During the wars of the Maccabees it was one of the principal strongholds of Palestine (1 Maccabees 10:75; 1 Maccabees 14:5; 1 Maccabees 14:34; Josephus, Ant. 13, 15, 1). It would seem that Jews then constituted only a minority of the population, and the foreign residents — Greeks, Egyptians, and Syrians — were so rich and powerful, and so aided by the fleets of their own nations, as to be able to rule the city. During this period, therefore, Joppa experienced many vicissitudes. It had sided with Apollonius, and was attacked and captured by Jonathan Maccabaeus (1 Maccabees 10:76). It witnessed the meeting between the latter and Ptolemy (ibid. 11:6). Simon had his suspicions of its inhabitants, and set a garrison there (ibid. 12:34), which he afterwards strengthened considerably (ibid. 13:11). But when peace was restored, he reestablished it once more as a haven (ibid. 14:5). He likewise rebuilt the fortifications (ibid. 5:34). This occupation of Joppa was one of the grounds of complaint urged by Antiochus, son of Demetrius, against Simon; but the latter alleged in excuse the mischief which had been done by its inhabitants to his fellow citizens (ibid. 15:30 and 35). It would appear that Judas Maccabaeus had burned their haven some time back for a gross act of barbarity (2 Maccabees 12:6). Tribute was subsequently exacted for its possession from Hyrcanus by Antiochus Sidetes. By Pompey it was once more made independent, and comprehended under Syria (Josephus, Ant. 14, 4, 4); but by Caesar it was not only restored to the Jews, but its revenues — whether from land or from export duties — were bestowed upon the 2d Hyrcanus and his heirs (14, 10, 6). When Herod the Great commenced operations, it was seized by him, lest he should leave a hostile stronghold in his rear when he marched upon Jerusalem (14, 15, 1), and Augustus confirmed him in its possession (15, 7, 4). It was afterwards assigned to Archelaus when constituted ethnarch (17, 11,4), and passed with Syria under Cyrenius when Archelaus had been deposed (17, 12, 5). Under Cestius (i.e. Gessius Florus) it was destroyed amidst great slaughter of its inhabitants (War, 2, 18, 8, 10); and such a nest of pirates had it become when Vespasian arrived in those parts that it underwent a second and entire destruction, together with the adjacent villages, at his hands (3, 9, 3). Thus it appears that this port had already begun to be the den of robbers and outcasts which it was in Strabo's time (Geograph. 16, 759), while the district around it was so populous that from Jamnia, a neighboring town. and its vicinity, 40,000 armed men could be collected (ibid.). There was a vast plain around it, as we learn from Josephus (Ant. 13, 4, 4); it lay between Jamnia and Caesarea — the latter of which might be reached "on the morrow" from it (Acts 10:9; Acts 10:24) — not far from Lydda (Acts 9:38), and distant from Antipatris 150 stadia (Joseph. Ant. 13, 15, 1).
It was at Joppa, on the house top of Simon the tanner, "by the seaside" — with the view therefore circumscribed on the east by the high ground on which the town stood, but commanding a boundless prospect over the western waters — that the apostle Peter had his "vision of tolerance," as it has been happily designated, and went forth like a second Perseus — but from the east to emancipate, from still worse thralldom, the virgin daughter of the west. The Christian poet Arator has not failed to discover a mystical connection between the raising to life of the aged Tabitha — the occasion of Peter's visit to Joppa — and the baptism of the first Gentile household (De Act. Apostol. 1. 840, ap. Migne, Patrol. Curs. Compl. 68, 164).
In the 4th century Eusebius calls Joppa a city (Onomast. s.v.); and it was then made the seat of a bishopric, an honor which it retained till the conquest of the country by the Saracens (Reland, p. 868; S. Paul, Geogr. Sac. p. 305); the subscriptions of its prelates are preserved in the acts of various synods of the 5th and 6th centuries (Le Quien, Oriens Christian. 3, 629). Joppa has been the landing place of pilgrims going to Jerusalem for more than a thousand years, from Arculf in the 7th century to his royal highness the prince of Wales in the 19th, and it is mentioned in almost all the itineraries and books of travel in the Holy Land which have appeared in different languages (Early Travels in Pal. p. 10, 34, 142, 286). None of the early travelers, however, give any explicit description of the place. During the Crusades Joppa was several times taken and retaken by Franks and Saracens.
It had been taken possession of by the forces of Godfrey de Bouillon previously to the capture of Jerusalem. The town had been deserted. and was allowed to fall into ruin, the Crusaders contenting themselves with possession of the citadel (William of Tyre, Hist. 8, 9); and it was in part assigned subsequently for the support of the Church of the Resurrection (ibid. 9, 16), though there seem to have been bishops of Joppa (perhaps only titular after all) between A.D. 1253 and 1363 (Le Quien, 1291; compare p. 1241). Saladin, in A.D. 1188, destroyed its fortifications (Sanut. Secret. Fid. Crucis, lib. 3, part 10, c. 5); but Richard of England, who was confined here by sickness, rebuilt them (ibid., and Richard of Devizes in Bohn's Ant. Lib. p. 61). Its last occupation by Christians was that of St. Louis, A.D. 1253, and when he came it was still a city and governed by a count. "Of the immense sums," says Joinville, "which it cost the king to enclose Jaffa, it does not become me to speak, for they were countless. He enclosed the town from one side of the sea to the other; and there were twenty-four towers, including small and great. The ditches were well scoured, and kept clean, both within and without. There were three gates" (Chronicles of Crus. p. 495, Bohn). So restored, it fell into the hands of the sultans of Egypt, together with the rest of Palestine, by whom it was once more laid in ruins; so much so that Bertrand de la Brocquiere, visiting it about the middle of the 15th century, states that it then consisted only of a few tents covered with reeds, having been a strong place under the Christians. Guides, accredited by the sultan, here met the pilgrims and received the customary tribute from them; and here the papal indulgences offered to pilgrims commenced (Early Travels, p. 286). Finally, Jaffa fell under the Turks, in whose hands it still is, exhibiting the usual decrepitude of the cities possessed by them, and depending on Christian commerce for its feeble existence. During the period of their rule it has been three times sacked — by the Arabs in, 1722, by the Mamelukes in 1775, and lastly by Napoleon I in 1799, when a body of 4000 Albanians, who held a strong position in the town, surrendered on promise of having their lives spared. Yet the whole 4000 were afterwards pinioned and shot on the strand! When Napoleon was compelled to retreat to Egypt, between 400 and 500 French soldiers lay ill of the plague in the hospitals of Joppa. They could not be removed, and Napoleon ordered them to be poisoned! (Porter, Handbook for S. and P. p. 288).
3. Description. — Yafa is the modern name of Joppa, and is identical with the old Hebrew Japho. It contains about 5000 inhabitants, of whom 1000 are Christians, about 150 Jews, and the rest Moslems. It is beautifully situated on a little rounded hill, dipping on the west into the waves of the Mediterranean, and on the land side encompassed by orchards of orange, lemon, apricot, and other trees, which for luxuriance and beauty are not surpassed in the world. They extend for several miles across the great plain. Like most Oriental towns, however, it looks best in the distance. The houses are huddled together without order; the streets are narrow, crooked, and filthy; the town is so crowded along the steep sides of the hill that the rickety dwellings in the upper part seem to be toppling over on the flat roofs of those below. The most prominent features of the architecture from without are the flattened domes by which most of the buildings are surmounted, and the appearance of arched vaults. But the aspect of the whole is mean and gloomy, and inside the place has all the appearance of a poor though large village. From the steepness of the site many of the streets are connected by flights of steps, and the one that runs along the seawall is the most clean and regular of the whole. There are three mosques in Joppa, and Latin, Greek, and Armenian convents. The former is that in which European pilgrims and travelers usually lodge.
The bazaars are worth a visit. The chief manufacture is soap. It has no port, and it is only under favorable circumstances of wind and weather that vessels can ride at anchor a mile or so from the shore. There is a place on the shore which is called "the harbor." It consists of a strip of water from fifteen to twenty yards wide and two or three deep, enclosed on the sea side by a ridge of low and partially sunken rocks. It may afford a little shelter to boats, but it is worse than useless so far as commerce is concerned. The town is defended by a wall, on which a few old guns are mounted. With the exception of a few broken columns scattered about the streets, and through the gardens on the southern slope of the hill, and the large stones in the foundations of the castle, Joppa has no remains of antiquity; and none of its modern buildings, not even the reputed "house of Simon the tanner," which the monks show, are worthy of note, although the locality of the last is not badly chosen (Stanley, S. and P. p. 263, 274; and see Seddon's Memoir, p. 86, 185). The town has still a considerable trade as the port of Jerusalem. The oranges of Jaffa are the finest in all Palestine and Syria; its pomegranates and watermelons are likewise in high repute, and its gardens and orange and citron groves deliciously fragrant and fertile. But among its population are fugitives and vagabonds from all countries; and Europeans have little security, whether of life or property, to induce a permanent abode there. A British consul is now resident in the place, and a railroad has been projected to Jerusalem.
See Raumer's Palä stina; Volney, 1, 136 sq.; Chateaubriand, 2, 103; Clarke, 4, 438 sq.; Buckingham, 1, 227 sq.; Richter, p. 12; Richardsun, 2, 16; Skinner, 1, 175-184; Robinson, 1, 18; Stent, 2, 27; M'Culloch's Gazetteer; Reland, p. 864; Cellar. Not. 2, 524;. Hamelsveld, 1, 442; 2, 229, Hasselquist, p. 137; Niebuhr, 3, 41; Joliffe, p. 243; Light, p. 125; Ritter, Erdk. 2, 400; Schwarz, p. 142, 373, 375; Thomson, Land and Book 2, 273.
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Joppa'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/j/joppa.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.