Intriguing Photos from Touring Old Jaffa, Historic Home of Simon the Tanner

our view, walking to Jaffa

For me, touring Israel was all about the history. I wanted to EXPERIENCE the Bible lands. Historic sites, ground that Jesus walked on, that was what we were after.

So on day 1, we crashed with jet lag and didn’t leave our hotel.

On day 2, we rushed off to Jerusalem, as fast as our tour bus could take us.

On day 3, Alan was working, and Julie and I were feeling out our surroundings, so we walked all over Tel Aviv, to see what we could find interesting. Day 3 was exhausting, and sweaty, extremely sweaty.

This whole trip was so sweaty, I needed 14 changes of clothes. I actually had to find a local store and buy more underwear because silly me, I’d anticipated 1 pair a day, not two.

Day 4 brought the excitement.

Day 4 was one of the highlights of the trip. For day 4, Julie and I were on a mission. Jaffa, also called Yafo, also referred to in the Bible as Joppa, is exactly 3 miles from Tel Aviv. You could see it from our hotel, and we decided to just walk there.

There’s a beach walk that connects Tel Aviv to Jaffa, so you couldn’t ask for a more pleasant walk…..well, unless it had been a shaded beach walk, but that’s a rare find indeed.

So off we went, down the beach to see Old Jaffa. Jaffa is where Jonah went to run from the Lord, sailing to Tarshish. Jaffa was also the home of the famous Simon the Tanner. I’ll tell you more about ol’ Simon in a minute here.

port of Jaffa

The port of Jaffa was also where Solomon shipped in the cedars of Lebanon, and after World War II, this port was where vast numbers of Jews arrived to return to the Promised Land.

It’s one of the most historic cities there is! And, according to archaeologists, Jaffa has been constantly inhabited since about 1900 BC, and perhaps even longer. (source 1)

view of Jaffa from the beach, by the port

This area is currently run by Arab Christians, according to locals, but just like the rest of Israel, it has fallen under many different countries’ rule over the year, to include the Turks.

Yafo/Jaffa is diverse.

I definitely saw more Muslim people in Yafo than I did in Tel Aviv.

There were loud prayer calls and women in full Islamic garb. That was the first time I had ever been walking around and suddenly heard the loud sounds of the Muslim call to prayer.

These are sounds my husband is extremely accustomed to, considering all of his time in the Middle East, but it was a new experience for me!

This plaque is on one of the Old Jaffa buildings.

Armenian Convent of St. Nicholas

I thought these blue doors and vents looked pretty against the sand color bricks.

 

More of these beautiful plants. Is it bougainvillea? Please let me know in the comments if you know what this plant is called! I loved it.

You go up these stairs, and you are suddenly in an extremely unique, ancient place. Even the ground is brick. If you ever go to Israel, be sure to see Old Jaffa!

This is the way to Simon the Tanner’s house! Up the stairs into Old Jaffa, and then keep turning corners and getting lost until you stumble upon it. Follow the light house.

 

view of Old Jaffa

We glanced at the map the first time around, not knowing what to look for.

After walking through Old Jaffa and not finding Simon the Tanner’s house, we decided to try again. The SECOND time around, we studied the map as hard as our eyeballs could stare, and then made another go of it.

beautiful Jaffa

It felt Medieval-ish to me. I don’t know how old it was. We missed the guided tour, so we were on our own.

 

Searching, searching, where is that Simon the Tanner’s house???

I bet Cornelius’s messenger in the Bible didn’t have this much trouble finding it…

By the 2nd time around, we knew if we could just find THIS lighthouse, we could find ol’ Simon’s house.

We got in a ton of steps and stair-climbs that day.

So all of a sudden, when we least expected it, we realized we were standing right in front of it!!! Ha!

Simon the Tanner’s house!

Want to know who Simon the Tanner is?

Well, after Jesus died and rose again and ascended to Heaven, the disciples kept up their work.

They were still going around teaching and preaching the good news of Jesus: Jesus died to pay the price for our sin. No need to make animal sacrifices. Instead of a Messiah to come, we now have faith in a Messiah that IS.

However, the disciples were only teaching this method to Jewish people, not Gentiles.

It was time for a change.

First of all, Peter was staying at the home of a tanner. That was considered an unclean trade (source 2), which fits this story perfectly.

As a Jew, there were many foods that were unclean, and Gentiles were unclean. Therefore, when Peter had a vision of a blanket of unclean food, with God telling him to eat it, he was perplexed.

The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour[b] to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth.

 

 

 

12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.   Acts 10:9-16

While Peter was still pondering the dream, a man came to fetch him to come tell Cornelius, a Gentile, who loved God, about Jesus, in the town of Caesesarea.

By the way, Israelites do NOT pronounce Caesarea the same way we do. Over there the C makes the k sound in that word, so it was confusing!

So Peter went to Cornelius’s house in Caesarea, and this is a snippet of what the Bible says about the meaning of the dream he’d had at Simon the Tanner’s house:

Tour of Jaffa in Pictures

 29 So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me.”    Acts 10: 28-29

That’s when Peter learns that Cornelius worships the Lord, along with his family, and God has sent Peter to tell this man and his family the gospel:

30 And Cornelius said, “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour,[d] and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God.

 

 

32 Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.”     Acts 10:30-33

For the full story, read Acts 10.

Ok. Now that we’ve had our one Bible lesson, let’s see a few more photos to round out the visit.

A tomb, maybe?

This used to be a government building. Only this front remains. The back was bombed out by one of their wars.

another view of the bombed out government building

whale fountain in Old Jaffa—perfect for the Jonah and the whale story

just an interesting building in the more modern part of the city

a church

I just liked the architecture.

Old Jaffa (beyond the parking lot)

view of Yafo

Jaffa

We found this at the port. I had never heard this story. Have you?

Hope you enjoyed the tour!! Want to see more? Here are a few more of my previous Israel tours:

Jerusalem: Mount of Olives and the Last Supper

Jerusalem: Via Dolorosa

Where Christ was Crucified

Tel Aviv 

Modern Tel Aviv

 

 

Sources:

  1.  The Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project website, Historical Overview, jaffa.nelc.ucla.edu/site.html#overview
  2. Acts 9:3 Peter and Simon the Tanner, readingacts.com,
  3. Acts 10, Bible Gateway Online, English Standard Version

 

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