Jaffa – An ancient city

In the old district of Tel Aviv, the main economic center of Israel, a millenary city enshrines many stories as well as beauty that fills the eye.

Yafo in Hebrew is the name of the ancient city of Jaffa, whose seaport is considered the oldest in the world, where the cedar logs from Lebanon, used in the construction of the temple in Jerusalem in the days of King Solomon, were unloaded. In 1950 the city was under the administration of Tel Aviv.

Brother Angelo, a Franciscan friar from Jaffa’s monastery, is a pilgrims’ guide. From the tower of the Church of St. Peter, he shows us this privileged scene and tells us the details of this place.

The history of the ancient city of Jaffa began more than 4000 years ago. This place is mentioned in the Bible book of Joshua as belonging to the tribe of Dan, one of the tribes of Israel. And in addition to this particular one, there are many other biblical stories that took place here.

From this port, the prophet Jonah tried to flee from the mission received from God, who sent him to the city of Nineveh to announce its destruction. Terrified, Jonah boarded a ship bound for Tarshish, which was located on the opposite side.

St. Peter’s Church – Jaffa

“He began his journey from here. A storm broke out in the high seas. Jonah was thrown overboard and swallowed by a great fish. After being returned to the dry land, Jonah went to Nineveh, in present day Iraq.”

The people of Nineveh, after the announcement of the divine message, repented of their sins and experienced the mercy of God.

The Acts of the Apostles state that in Jaffa there was a community of Jews who believed in Jesus as the Messiah. They received the visit of Peter who resurrected the young Tabita in this place. In this ancient city there was also the home of Simon the tanner, where Peter had the vision of the sheet let down from heaven containing animals considered clean and unclean by the Jews.

“He was hungry and in his vision he received three times the order to kill and eat the animals. Peter said he could not eat the unclean ones, such as pigs, which were even more prohibited by Jewish law.”

The voice asked Peter to not call unclean what God had purified. From that moment on, the Apostle, head of the first Christians, realized that God makes no distinctions.

“Until that moment, the Jews believed they were the only ones who could be saved, but since then we, the ‘gentiles’ who did not have Jewish blood were included, too.”

After this episode Peter went to Caesarea to baptise the Roman centurion Cornelius, the first pagan converted, with all his family, to Christianity.

The Church of St. Peter, dedicated to these events, was built in the late nineteenth century, on the remains of the fortresses of the Middle Ages.

American Tourist

“This is nice, this is great! The history of this place and its continuity……the realization of how ancient this place is…is impressive. Coming from a place where everything is new, such as Los Angeles, this is very interesting.”

Besides being scene of biblical narratives, Jaffa is also privileged from a naturalistic point of view. The bright sun bathes the beaches almost every month of the year and, no matter what your swimsuit is, it is really worth enjoying the water.