Jaffa is a place for beginnings; Jonah’s journey, Tabitha’s restoration to life, and Peter’s conversion of Gentiles all began here. Thus, Jaffa boasts bountiful biblical history, along with charming lanes, antiquities, quiet churches, galleries, and a picturesque fishing port.
In Jaffa, Peter was divinely led to “think out of the box”. Acts 10:5-23, finds Peter on the rooftop of the House of Simon the Tanner, where he had his famous vision (Acts 10:12-13), which led him to preach the Gospel to the gentiles at Caesarea. Peter's resurrection of the righteous Tabitha (Acts 9:36-42), is marked at the Russian Orthodox Church of Tabitha.
Jaffa’s landmark Church of St. Peter is off Kedumim Square, where the visitor center proudly boasts the city’s long and fascinating history. At the end of a lane leading through the artists’ colony to Summit Park, an archaeological dig reveals a fortress built by the “Pharaoh of the Exodus,” Ramses II.
The view of the sea reminds visitors that King Hiram of Tyre sent cedar logs for the Temple to Jaffa, where they were hauled ashore and trundled up to Jerusalem (2 Chron 2:16).
A plaque, on the beach north of Jaffa, honors the 157 American Christians from Jonesport, Maine, who landed here on the Nellie Chapin in September 1866, bringing the wood with them to build their houses. The story of the American Colony is told at one of the colony’s restored houses in Jaffa, the Maine Friendship House.
FROM THE SCRIPTURES
Acts 10:5-23 (ESV)
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.
The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven. Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon's house, stood at the gate and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” And Peter went down to the men and said, “I am the one you are looking for. What is the reason for your coming?” And they said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and to hear what you have to say.” So he invited them in to be his guests. The next day he rose and went away with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him.
Dorcas Restored to Life
Acts 9:36-42 (ESV)
Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them. But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then, calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.
2 Chronicles 2:16 (ESV)
And we will cut whatever timber you need from Lebanon and bring it to you in rafts by sea to Joppa, so that you may take it up to Jerusalem.”