When landing in Tel Aviv at Ben Gurion Airpot, you will see a sprawling metropolis of state-of-the-art buildings housing the start-ups that Israel is known for around the world. Nothing about what you see looks like something to be included in a Christian pilgrimage, and you won’t find the name of Tel Aviv in the Bible.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t there, however.
One of the first stops on most of our tours occurs right after you arrive, just moments from the airport… a tour of the port city of Jaffa, known in the Bible as Joppa.
Located at the southern most part of Tel Aviv, Jaffa was originally inhabited sometime around 7500BC. It is a natural harbor that has held great military and monetary significance since it’s inception, with a broad view of the coastline that allowed for easy departure and defense. The Egyptians even controlled the area for quite some time.
The Bible speaks of Jaffa many times, first in Joshua 19:46. It was the port used by Solomon to build the Temple (2 Chronicles 2:16) and where Jonah left for Tarshish (Jonah 1:3).
In the New Testament, Tabitha (Dorcas) was brought back to life by Peter in Joppa (Acts 9:36). Soon after, God gave Peter the vision of the unclean animals and commanded him to preach the Gospel to Gentiles and Jews alike (Acts 11:4-17).
Both of these events took place at the home of Simon the Tanner. Tourists walk to the house (or what is believed to be the site of the original house) every day. Catholics believe that the home was actually at the current site of St Peter’s Church. Wherever the actual site may be, it is amazing to think what happened in this area and how it changed the world as God made known that his Grace was for everyone!
Come take a walk (or drive) though Jaffa and wonder at God’s amazing story and grace, first to the Jew, and then to the Gentile!