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.
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)
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 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.
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.
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…
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!
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:
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.
Hope you enjoyed the tour!! Want to see more? Here are a few more of my previous Israel tours:
- The Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project website, Historical Overview, jaffa.nelc.ucla.edu/site.html#overview
- Acts 9:3 Peter and Simon the Tanner, readingacts.com,
- Acts 10, Bible Gateway Online, English Standard Version