Monday, December 03, 2007

Yaffo 1: Yaffo in the Bible

Our journey to Yaffo began at night. Driving from the Jerusalem hills, descending to the coastal plain, the warm ocean air is a nice change of pace from chilly Jerusalem.

Yaffo, known as Jaffa in English, is one of the handful of settlements in the Land of Israel which was inhabited for centuries prior to the Zionist revival of the land. at which it was a largely Turkish and Arab city.
An old postcard from Turkish Yaffo
In biblical times the region of Jaffa, being on the coastline which was always on the fringes of Jewish control. The Philistines, a Greek seafaring people, settled the rim of the Mediterranean sea, and with their mastery of blacksmithing were able to keep the Jews most concentrated in the mountain regions of what is today Judea and Samaria (aka the West Bank.)

A map displaying Philistia in relation to the areas of Jewish settlement in the times of King David.

As can be seen in the map above, the yellow coastal strip controlled by the Philistines including Gaza, Ashkelon, and Ashdod stretched north to the area Jaffa area. When the Land of Israel was divided amongst the twelve tribes upon entering the Land of Israel, this region was assigned to the tribe of Dan. To this day, the cities of Tel Aviv-Yaffo and its surrounding suburbs are known as "Gush Dan."

As a matter of fact, as is detailed in the book of Shoftim (Judges,) Dan never actually made it here because of the Philistine presence. Instead, they wandered far, far to the north to find open land. Their inability and lack of determination to conquer their portion of the Land of Israel, as did several other tribes, is considered one of the major lapse by many religious commentators.

The area allotted to Dan in the map above is labelled "Original Land Given to Dan." We can see where they actually ended up, in the far, far north of the land, in what is today Lebanon/Syria.

Jutting out from the Coast, the topography formed a natural harbor, and Yaffo became the port of entry to the Land of Israel for the first pioneers.

The night view of Tel Aviv, standing in Yaffo.

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