The harbor at old Jaffa (Joppa or Yafo) looks and smells like every other maritime waypoint. What makes this place different is its antiquity. The hill behind the waterfront is actually a ruin-mound or tell. It suggests that this Mediterranean hub has been in use since the Middle Bronze Age, nearly 4,000 years ago. Some even claim that Jaffa is the oldest port in the world and link its name to a notable sailor by the name of Yaphet (Japheth), one of the sons of Noah!
A more reasonable etymology connects the name of the place to the Hebrew jaffeh or "beautiful."
A rocky ridge extending into the sea created a natural deepwater to the west and north of the tell. Nearby freshwater sources offered strategic value for human habitation. This combination made Jaffa the best option for a seaport along the eastern Mediterranean coast between Dor and Ashkelon.
Interested in a Mediterranean port experience of your own? Join Mark and Vicki and other Bible Land Explorers for a cruise aboard the Celebrity Reflection in October, 2018. See the link here for details. We'll be visiting the ports of Rome, Malta, Rhodes, Santorini, and Athens among others. Hope you will join us for this maritime adventure!