Show Summary Details

Page of

Printed from Oxford Classical Dictionary. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 04 December 2020


  • Benjamin Isaac


The city of Joppe/Jaffa/Yafo on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, immediately south of modern Tel Aviv, has a long history of importance as an urban centre, from the Middle Bronze Age onward until the 20th century. It was one of the few sites along the Palestinian coast that had a usable anchorage. The present article focuses on the Hellenistic, Roman, and late Roman periods, giving a brief survey of the major events, the political, social, and administrative history, and the major sources of information.


Jaffa is situated on a headland about 45 m high, with steep slopes towards the sea (Figure 1). It therefore enjoys a strong tactical position. It has a good water supply from two springs to the northeast. An additional advantage of the location lies in the fertility of its territory. Jaffa itself has easy access to the good alluvial soils deposited by the Ayalon River and was famous for its orange groves. Across these lands runs the road to Lydda, which also lies on similar soil. A few kilometres south of Jaffa stretches a belt of sand dunes more than 6 km wide, which does not allow cultivation of profitable crops and makes communications difficult.

Figure 1. Map of western Palestine and the city of Jaffa. Palestine Exploration Fund, 1880. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Jaffa, therefore, is the southernmost point on the shore which has a good link with Jerusalem. This was an essential point in its favour when Jerusalem was the capital of the country, but it was not the only advantage of the site, for the town and its port prospered well before Jerusalem became an important destination, even though, as a port, it had very serious limitations.

The importance of Jaffa as the only natural anchorage (Figure 2) in antiquity along this part of the Mediterranean coast—before the construction of Caesarea-on-the-Sea by Herod—can be easily seen even today and is stated explicitly by Diodorus for the Hellenistic period1: “The voyage along the coast of this sea is exceedingly long, and any landing is especially difficult; for from Paraetonium in Libya as far as Jope in Coele-Syria, a voyage along the coast of some five thousand stades, there is not to be found a safe harbour except Pharos.”2

Figure 2. View of the port at Jaffa, Israel by Félix Bonfils, 1867–1870. The J. Paul Getty Museum. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

This is confirmed by Strabo, writing in the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius: “Then one comes to Jaffa, where the seaboard from Egypt, though at first stretching toward the east, makes a significant bend toward the north. Here it was, according to certain writers of myths, that Andromeda was exposed to the sea monster, for the place is situated at a rather high elevation—so high, it is said that Jerusalem, the metropolis of the Judaeans, is visible from it; and indeed the Judaeans have used this place as a seaport when they have gone down as far as the sea.”3 It is relevant here to note that Josephus clearly had Strabo’s Geography in mind in many instances, the references to Jaffa among them.4 It was generally regarded as Judaea’s chief outlet to the sea (Figure 3). Strabo, although writing after Herod’s death and while he was aware of this ruler’s having had the status of a king, did not know of the Herodian harbour at Caesarea. He only knew of the anchorage at Straton’s Tower, whereas, in his words, Jaffa had a port.5 The Strabo passage also emphasizes another feature for which Jaffa was known in Greek and Roman literature: its identification with the location of the Andromeda and Perseus legend.6

Figure 3. Jaffa as seen from the sea, c. 1911. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Josephus, unlike Diodorus and Strabo, would have been familiar with the place and also was familiar with Herod’s new harbour at Caesarea; he describes Jaffa as very dangerous for ships, “more perilous to sailors than the watery waste.”7 In fact, he denies that Jaffa had a natural harbour at all.8 He graphically describes the danger for ships in the vicinity during stormy weather.9 Like Strabo and others, Josephus mentions Andromeda, adding, as do Pliny and Jerome, that the impressions of her chains are still visible.10 Pliny has the additional information that “the skeleton of the monster to which Andromeda in the story was exposed was brought by Marcus Scaurus from the town of Joppe in Judaea and shown at Rome among the rest of the marvels during his aedileship.”11

A related aspect is the venerable antiquity of Jaffa. It was “said to have existed before the flood”12 according to Pliny the Elder and Pomponius Mela13 (Solinus 34.2.3, ed. Mommsen 1864). Since these are 1st-century Latin authors, the flood referred to is that associated with Deucalion. There is a similar Palestinian Talmudic tradition, from the middle of the 3rd century, Jer. Tal. Shekalim vi 50a (= Gen. Rabbah xxiii) about the Great Sea (= Mediterranean), that flowed twice—once in the generation of Seth (Gen. 4) up to Calabria and the rocks of Barbaria (possibly Morocco or Gibraltar), and the second time in the generation of “division” (Gen. 10), namely before and after the flood (Gen. 6–7); the second time it came “up to Yafo and as far as Acco.” All this, of course, reflects a genuinely long history of settlement on the site. The archaeological evidence shows the site to have been occupied in the Middle Bronze Age.14 In this connection it must be noted that the extensive and important excavations in and around Jaffa from 1948 onward have not been published in an adequate manner by the excavator, Jacob Kaplan.15

A siege of Joppa under Thutmose III (about 1490–1436 bce) is described in an Egyptian papyrus.16 In a satirical letter of the end of the 13th century bce, the town appears as a typical harbour city, with travellers in search of women, and criminals who exploit them.17 If Iapu, mentioned in the Amarna letter no. 365, is indeed Joppa, this shows that it was the centre of the Egyptian administration whence taxes were levied as far north as the Jezreel valley.18


At some stage in the Persian period or afterward, Sidon gained political supremacy over the Phoenician coast, replacing Tyre as the most important Phoenician city-state. Evidence from Jaffa includes two Phoenician inscriptions from this period.19 Relevant also is the statement in Ezra 3:7 that Lebanese cedar for the building of the Second Temple in 515 bce was delivered by Phoenicians to Jerusalem via the port of Jaffa.20 From there it would have been transported overland to Jerusalem, by either the Beth Horon road or the Abu Ghosh road. This is clear evidence that Jaffa served as the port for Jerusalem at the time. In this connection it may be mentioned that several biblical verses, especially from the early Second Temple period, prior to the Hasmonaean conquest, show clearly that Jaffa was not considered part of Judah/Judea. Another reference occurs on the well-known but undated sarcophagus of Eshmun‘azar, king of Sidon, who claims to have received “Dor and Joppa, the mighty lands of Dagon, which are in the Plain of Sharon” from the Lord of Kings (the Persian king).21 It is interesting to compare this with Ezra 3:7: “So they gave money to the masons and the carpenters, and food, drink, and oil to the Sidonians and the Tyrians to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant which they had from Cyrus king of Persia.” The story about the foundation of Solomon’s Temple in 1 Kings 5 does not mention Jaffa, but the “sea of Jaffa” is mentioned in the story of Solomon’s Temple as retold in 2 Chron. 2:10, which was composed during the Persian period (usually dated to the 4th century), the same era as the Book of Ezra. Dagon is a West-Semitic deity associated with wheat.22 So, while it is clear that the region was transferred to Sidonian rule at some stage under Persian rule, it is impossible to say when this happened and who ruled it before this event. We may note also that the story of Jonah and the whale is associated with the port of Jaffa. Archaeological remains from this period (5th–4th centuries) include a wall of dressed masonry and great quantities of Attic pottery, as reported by Kaplan. Recent excavations have uncovered large quantities of Persian pottery and remains of a massive building.23

A relatively early Greek source that appears to have mentioned the town is Pseudo-Scylax’s Periplus of the 4th century bce. Other cities referred to are Acre, Dor, and Ascalon. The text is in bad shape and has been restored as follows: “Doros (Dor) a city of Sidonioi, <Ioppe (Jaffa), a city;> they say it was here that Androm<eda> was < ex>posed <to the monster. Aska>lon, a city of Tyrioi and a royal seat. Her<e is the boundary of Koile> (Hollow) Syria.”24 Apparently the source lists the major cities on the Palestinian coast, apart from Gaza.

Some form of a Sidonian presence is attested elsewhere in Palestine under Seleucid rule in the 2nd century bce, notably in Jamnia-on-the-Sea, about 15 km south of Jaffa.25 It seems best to regard this as reflecting the presence of Hellenized people who called themselves “Sidonians” and who may therefore be considered to have been settlers, or the descendants of settlers. These, apparently, were present in Palestine in sufficient numbers to preserve a common identity for some time. When they arrived is impossible to say, but Pseudo-Scylax is among a few isolated pieces of evidence suggesting some Phoenician presence by the 4th century bce.26 The tradition continued of identifying various cities of Palestine with the Phoenicians, Sidonians, or Tyrians. It is difficult to say when this ceased to reflect reality altogether.27 Dionysius Periegetes (first half of the 2nd century ce) states: “[The Phoenicians] inhabit Jaffa and Gaza, as well as Elais and archaic Tyre and the lovely land of Berytus, Byblus near the shore and flowery Sidon.”28 Compare Stephanus Byzantius, referring to Iόπε29: “Jope is a city of Phoenicia near Jamnia, according to (Herennius) Philo (of Byblos), but according to Dionysius it belongs to Palaestina.” It is in itself not surprising that Philo of Byblos would incorporate Jaffa in Phoenicia, but this may also reflect the period under Persian rule when the Palestinian coast was part of the jurisdiction of the Sidonian king Eshmun‘azar. It may also reflect the reality of Phoenician settlement along the Palestinian coast.30

Hellenistic Jaffa

Jaffa is not mentioned in connection with the campaign of Alexander of Macedon along the Palestinian coast. However, in the Wars of the Diadochi, it was taken by Antigonus Monophthalmus (315 bce) as part of his campaign along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean. He conquered Jaffa and Gaza.31 Subsequently, in 312, Ptolemy Lagus razed it, together with Ake (Acco, Acre), Samaria, and Gaza, the most important strong points of the region.32

When the Ptolemies took over southern Syria, Jaffa cannot have been uninhabited for long, for one of the Ptolemaic mints was situated there in the 3rd century bce. Ioppe minted coins for Ptolemy II (263–247) and Ptolemy III (245–241),33 and possibly also for Ptolemy V.34 A dedication for Ptolemy IV has also been found.35

Archaeologically, this period, particularly the 3rd century bce, is further represented by a watchtower in Kaplan’s Area A. Many stamped amphora handles are reported to have been found. When are published, these may contribute a good deal of information concerning the chronology and economy of this period. The Hellenistic period is represented also in the Ganor Compound and the Flea Market.36

Jaffa also appears in some of the Zeno papyri (3rd century bce), such as PSI. no. 406, which deals with the trade in female slaves and mentions Ptolemais, Amman, Pegai (?), Jope, the Hauran, and the Nabataeans in this connection.37 P. Cairo Zen. 59011 from 250 bce mentions Jaffa, Bethanath, and Philadelphia, and refers to frankincense and myrrh. P. Cairo 59093 from 257 bce mentions a man named Krotos who “is waiting in Jaffa for an opportunity of exporting . . . and mattresses.” It also mentions Menekles of Tyre “who had brought some slaves and merchandise from Gaza to Tyre and landed them in Tyre for transshipment without notifying the customs officers and without having a permit to export the slaves,” which got Menekles in trouble. Clearly Gaza and Tyre were more important ports than Jaffa, but Jaffa may also have profited to some extent from such coastal trade.

The battle of Paneas (198 bce) resulted in the transfer of the entire region to Seleucid rule. Later the Hasmonaeans fought hard to gain possession of the city.38

The Hasmonaeans and Herod

Jaffa is mentioned next in connection with the revolt of the Maccabees, probably in 163–162 bce.39 The inhabitants of Joppa invited the Jews living among them to embark on boats which they provided. The Jews agreed unsuspectingly, and the people of Joppa then sank the boats, drowning hundreds of Jews. In revenge, Judas Maccabeus set the harbour of Joppa on fire, burnt the ships, and killed whomever he could. He apparently did not attempt to hold the city.40 The language of the passage makes it clear that the Jews were not citizens with full civic rights in the town at this time, but resident foreigners.41 As observed by Alla Kushnir-Stein, the use of psephisma in 2 Macc. 12:4 might allude to the place’s having the status of a polis.

In 147 or 146, Jonathan the Hasmonaean expelled the garrison of Demetrius II, but he did not conquer the city (1 Macc. 10:75–76). A few years afterward, in 143, Simon established a garrison there42; next he expelled the non-Jewish inhabitants from Jaffa (and those in Gazara) to prevent them from delivering their town to the Seleucid commander Tryphon,43 and fortified the city.44 Simon’s achievements are the subject of praise in verse form in the first book of Maccabees, and his capture of Jaffa is singled out there: “Among other remarkable achievements he took Joppe to use its port and opened up the communications with the lands overseas.”45

Jaffa resurfaces as an issue during the operations of Antiochus VII Sidetes in Judaea, when he demanded the surrender of the city (and of Gazara and the Akra in Jerusalem) or the payment of a large indemnity, Simon offered to pay a smaller amount.46 Eventually Antiochus settled for a tribute.47

Josephus lists the coastal cities held by the Jews under Alexander Jannaeus as follows: Straton’s Tower, Apollonia, Joppa, Jamneia, Azotus, Gaza, Anthedon, Raphia, and Rhinocorura.48

Archaeological material for this period (mid-2nd to 1st centuries bce) is relatively scarce. In spite of the importance of Jaffa as the port city of Jerusalem, only sporadic finds have been recorded, such as the remains of a wall in Area A, a few isolated tombs dating to the reign of Alexander Jannaeus (beginning of the 1st century bce),49 and a hoard of coins dating to some of Alexander’s successors.50 However, in recent years extensive salvage excavations carried out in the areas to the north, south, and east of the mound may contribute to an impression of urban expansion into a lower city, starting in the latest phase of the Iron Age, continuing under Persian rule, and culminating in Hellenistic times under Ptolemaic rule. Following a contraction under Seleucid rule and in the Roman period, renewed expansion may be observable in the lower town, later in the Roman and Byzantine periods.51 These conclusions are based, however, on scattered excavations in a difficult urban environment, in cramped and narrow trenches which complicate interpretation.

North of Jaffa and to the east, Jacob Kaplan claimed to have found remains of a line of defence presumably constructed by Alexander Jannaeus.52 The episode was part of the fighting among the five sons of Antiochus VIII in the early 1st century. The story told by Josephus is at least partly imaginary, and it is by no means clear that the two structures excavated were part of a line of defence.

Jaffa was detached from Judaea and annexed to Syria by Pompey,53 and subsequently restored to it by Caesar.54 In between these visits, Ioppe seems to have issued a coin.55 Josephus cites a decree stating “that the city of Joppa, which the Jews had held from ancient times when they made a treaty of friendship with the Romans, shall belong to them as at first.”56 This restored access to the sea to the Jews of Judaea through their traditional port. In 39 bce Herod captured Jaffa, which was loyal to his enemy, the last Hasmonaean, Antigonus.57 Whether or not he kept it is not quite clear. He certainly did not control it during the interval from 34 until 30, when it will have been one of all the coastal cities that Antony gave to Cleopatra in 37/36 bce.58 After the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra, Octavian returned to Herod the territory that had been taken from him, “adding . . . on the coast also Gaza, Anthedon, Joppa and Straton’s Tower.”59 If Jaffa and other cities were added, they apparently were not under Herod’s control before 34. After Herod’s death, Jaffa, Strato’s Tower (Caesarea), Sebaste, and Jerusalem were added to the part of Judaea ruled by Archelaus.60

Roman Rule

Thereafter, Jaffa belonged to Judaea, which was part of the province of Syria. Clearly the regional importance of Jaffa must have been greatly reduced by the construction of Herod’s far better harbour at Caesarea. Archaeological remains of this period are attested mainly in Area C, near the harbour.61 Remains of a house were uncovered with rich finds, including terra sigillata and a bread or cheese stamp bearing the name Ariston in Greek,62 as well as coins. The building was perhaps abandoned during the First Revolt.

The status of Jaffa within Roman Judaea is clear from Josephus’s description: “[Judaea] is divided into eleven klerouchiai of which Jerusalem is the capital. The other parts, after Jerusalem, are divided into toparchiai: Gophna is the second, then Acrabeta, Thamna, thereby Lydda, Emmaus, Pella, Idumaea, En-gedi, Herodion, and Jericho. Following these Jamnia and Jaffa administer the surrounding areas . . .”63 Josephus describes as toparchiai districts in which no settlement existed that had city status. Most of them are named after the most significant village or site in them.64 Hence Jaffa is mentioned separately. The phrase “to have jurisdiction over the surrounding districts” precisely refers to the city status which it had. It was therefore not a toparchia.

In this period the population of the city remained predominantly Jewish. Peter is recorded as having spent several days in the house of Simon the Tanner in Jaffa, after his visit to Lydda and before travelling to Caesarea.65 The harbour of Jaffa (nemelah shel Yafo) is mentioned in a Talmudic source referring to this period, which relates how Nikanor’s gates for the Temple in Jerusalem were brought from Alexandria and saved through a miracle during a storm at sea.66 In late antiquity it is mentioned by Cyril of Alexandria (d. 444) as “a port for goods to be shipped from Judaea mostly to cities in the East.”67

In the reign of Claudius, the senator L. Popillius Balbus may have been a patron of the city (CIIP III, no.2173).

Some of the events in the First Revolt clearly show the military significance of Jaffa’s harbour. In 66 Cestius Gallus, upon entering Judaea, immediately sent a detachment to Jaffa. Surprising the inhabitants, they killed large numbers of them and destroyed the city.68 It was soon reoccupied by Jews who had been expelled from various cities in the vicinity and proceeded to use it as a base for harassing the shipping between Egypt, Phoenicia, and Syria.69 It was conquered again by Vespasian, who left a garrison of cavalry and some infantry on the hill. The infantry was to remain on the spot and guard the camp; the cavalry ravaged the neighbourhood and destroyed the villages and small towns in the territory of Jaffa. So far no remains of a Roman military presence have been found in excavations, save, perhaps, a single stamped tile marked “X Fret.”70 However, all this definitely proves is that a tile produced by the legionary tilery was used or reused in a building in Jaffa.

Coins of the 3rd century ce give the name of the city as ΦΛΑΥ‎IΑ‎ IΟΠΠΗ‎.71 The least this could indicate is that the town received an honorary title in the Flavian period. However, since we know that many of its Jewish inhabitants were killed and much of the city was destroyed in the First Revolt, the name might be taken to imply some kind of formal refoundation, which could have taken place at the same time as the foundation of the new city of Flavia Neapolis (Shechem). Whatever happened, we need to take into account an explicit statement of Josephus that no new cities were founded in Judaea after the First Revolt.72 It might have been expected that following these events the population of the town was predominantly gentile, yet this does not seem to have been the case. There is no indication that Jews in Jaffa were disenfranchised. An inscribed mould for lead weights from the reign of Trajan mentions an agoranomos named Ioudas, dated 105–106 ce (CIIP III, no. 2259). This is almost certainly an indication that Jews functioned in local government in the early 2nd century. At a later stage the presence of a substantial Jewish population is clear from the discovery of a considerable number of Jewish epitaphs at Abu Kabir near Jaffa (CIIP III, nos. 2174–2254, with comments on pp. 36–38.). Their date has now been reliably established as 3rd–5th/6th centuries. Talmudic sources mention five scholars as coming originally from Jaffa or as being active there (this cannot be determined): R. Ada,73 R. Nahman,74 R. Tanhum,75 R. Pinhas,76 and R. Ami.77 Two of these can be dated: R. Ada lived in the late 3rd century, and R. Pinhas in the early 4th century.

Archaeological remains from the 2nd and 3rd centuries include houses in Area C, destroyed by fire.78 The Ganor Compound, east of Yefet Street, was not occupied and was used for some time as a burial area. However, reoccupation of the area as a domestic quarter started again in the Roman period.79

Christianity came relatively late to Jaffa.80 At the Council of Nicaea (325) it is not yet represented81; it is listed only at the Council of Ephesus (431).82 Conceivably the city was not prosperous and substantial in the earlier period. Jerome, in his translation of Eusebius’s Onomasticon, calls it an oppidum,83 which suggests something more modest than a civitas. Epiphanius, in about the same period, suggests that it was mostly in ruins.84 Jerome, in his description of Paula’s pilgrimage (382–383), mentions the association of Jaffa with Andromeda (duly apologizing for doing so); however, he places the miracle of Dorcas at Diospolis, not at Jaffa.85 The miracle and Jonah are both mentioned later by Theodosius (before 518): “From Diospolis it is twelve miles to Joppa, where Saint Peter raised Tabitha and where the whale cast up Iona. From Ioppe to Caesarea Palaestina it is thirty miles.”86 A bishop named Elias from Jaffa is recorded as having participated in a council in Jerusalem in 536.87 The existence of a tomb of Tabitha is implied by the Piacenza Pilgrim (ca. 570): “Leaving Jerusalem I went down to Joppa, where rests Saint Tabitha also named Dorcas.”88 There is a site known as “Tabitha’s Tomb” in modern Jaffa, which probably has nothing to do with the ancient Christian pilgrimage site. Jaffa is mentioned in the usual 6th- and 7th-century sources.89

The archaeological evidence shows this period to have been one of expansion. In Area C, three occupation levels were encountered from the 4th to the 7th centuries, containing substantial buildings with mosaics.90 The most significant feature of the time, however, is the cemetery already mentioned. The area east of Yefet Street appears to have been densely populated then and to have been a centre of various workshops (including wine presses); remains of a substantial public building probably represent a church.91 Pottery of this period has been found in most of the excavated areas in the city, including the southern harbour—clear evidence of the large extent of the city.


  • Ameling, Walter, Ecker, Avner, and Hoyland, Robert. Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae, vol. III, South Coast, 2161–2148 (pp. 19–146). Berlin: de Gruyter, 2014.
  • Avner-Levy, Rina, and Eshel, E. “A Juglet with a Phoenician Inscription from a Recent Excavation in Jaffa, Israel.” Transeuphratène 12 (1996): 59–63.
  • Baumgarten, Albert I. The Phoenician History of Philo of Byblos: A Commentary. Leiden: Brill, 1981.
  • Bringmann, Klaus. Hellenistische Reform und Religionsverfolgung in Judäa: Eine Untersuchung zur jüdisch-hellenistischen Geschichte (175–163 v. Chr.). Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1983.
  • Clermont-Ganneau, Charles. Archaeological Researches in Palestine. London: Palestine Exploration Fund, 1898.
  • Ecker, Avner. “The Coinage of Jaffa in the Roman Period.” Israel Numismatic Journal 17 (2010): 151–176.
  • Fischer, Moshe, Isaac, Benjamin, and Roll, Israel. Roman Roads in Judaea II: The Jaffa-Jerusalem Roads. Oxford: Tempus Reparatum, 1996.
  • Habicht, Christian. Jüdische Schriften aus hellenistisch-römischer Zeit, Band I, 3, 2: Makkabäerbuch. Gütersloh: Mohn, 1976. See 261 f.
  • Harvey, Paul B., Jr. “The Death of Mythology: The Case of Joppa.” Journal of Christian Studies 2.1 (1994): 1–14.
  • Herzog, Zeev, “Jaffa.” In New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, 5 (Supplementary Volume). Edited by Ephraim Stern, et al. (pp. 1791–1792). Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 2008.
  • Kark, Ruth. Jaffa: A City in Evolution, 1799–1917 (in Hebrew). Jerusalem: Yad-Izhak Ben-Zvi Press, 1984.
  • Kasher, Aryeh. Jewish Settlement in Judaea after Bar-Kochba War and until Arab Conquest (in Hebrew). Jerusalem: Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi, 1986.
  • Kasher, Aryeh. Jews and Hellenistic Cities in Eretz-Israel: Relations of the Jews in Eretz-Israel with the Hellenistic Cities during the Second Temple Period (332 BCE–70 CE). Tübingen, Germany: Mohr, 1990.
  • Kindler, Arie. “Coins of Ioppe” (in Hebrew). Bulletin Museum Haaretz 20–21 (1985–1986): 21–36.
  • Peilstöcker, Martin, and Burke, Aaron A., eds. The History and Archaeology of Jaffa. Vol. 1. Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, 2011.
  • Peilstöcker, Martin, and Sass, B. “A Hebrew Seal from Jaffa and the Hebrew Script in the Post-First Temple Period.” Atiqot 42 (2001): 199–210.
  • Schürer, Emil. The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ. 3 vols. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1973–1987.
  • Stern, Ephraim, ed. New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, 2 (pp. 655–659). Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1993.
  • Stern, Menahem. Greek and Latin Authors on Jews and Judaism. 3 vols. Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1974–1984.
  • Tolkowsky, Samuel. The Gateway of Palestine: A History of Jaffa. London: Routledge, 1924.


  • 1. Diodorus Siculus 1.31.2, trans. C. H. Oldfather (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1954); cf. Stern, 1, no. 56, p. 169–170: ἀπὸ γὰρ Παραιτονίου τῆς Λιβύης ἕως Ἰόπης τῆς ἐν τῇ Κοίλῃ Συρίᾳ, ὄντος τοῦ παράπλου σταδίων σχεδὸν πεντακισχιλίων, οὐκ ἔστιν εὑρεῖν ἀσφαλῆ λιμένα πλὴν τοῦ Φάρου‎.

  • 2. Martin Peilstöcker and Aaron A. Burke, eds., The History and Archaeology of Jaffa, vol. 1 (Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, 2011), chap. 7; Josette Elayi, “Studies in Phoenician Geography during the Persian Period,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 41 (1982): 83–110, at 97–104. As stated by G. A. Pierce, in Peilstöcker and Burke, 64: “The lack of other coastal settlements with continuous occupation from the MB II through the Iron Age between Dor and Yavneh-Yam supports the identification of Jaffa as the principal port along this stretch of coast.” For general historical surveys, see also Emil Schürer, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ (3 vols.; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1973–1987), 110–114; and the older work by Samuel Tolkowsky, The Gateway of Palestine: A History of Jaffa (London: Routledge, 1924). For references to sources and modern literature see TIR, 152–153. Peilstöcker and Burke’s work supersedes previous archaeological publications. Note also the brief survey by Ch. and J. Kaplan in New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, 2 (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1993), 655–659; and additional information by Z. Herzog in vol. 5 (Supplementary), 1791–1792. For the road from Jaffa to Jerusalem see Moshe Fischer, Benjamin Isaac, and Israel Roll, Roman Roads in Judaea II: The Jaffa-Jerusalem Roads. Oxford: Tempus Reparatum, 1996). For the inscriptions from the Hellenistic period until the Islamic conquest see Walter Ameling et al., Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae, vol. 3 (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2014), 19–146. For the modern period, see Ruth Kark, Jaffa: A City in Evolution, 1799–1917 (in Hebrew; Jerusalem, 1984).

  • 3. Strabo 16.2.28 (c. 759), The Geography of Strabo, trans. H. L. Jones (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005): Εἶτα Ἰόπη, καθ᾽ ἣν ἡ ἀπὸ τῆς Αἰγύπτου παραλία σημειωδῶς ἐπὶ τὴν ἄρκτον κάμπτεται, πρότερον ἐπὶ τὴν ἕω τεταμένη. ἐνταῦθα δὲ μυθεύουσί τινες τὴν Ἀνδρομέδαν ἐκτεθῆναι τῷ κήτει· ἐν ὕψει δέ ἐστιν ἱκανῶς τὸ χωρίον ὥστ᾽ ἀφορᾶσθαί φασιν ἀπ᾽ αὐτοῦ τὰ Ἱεροσόλυμα τὴν τῶν Ἰουδαίων μητρόπολιν· καὶ δὴ καὶ ἐπινείῳ τούτῳ κέχρηνται καταβάντες μέχρι θαλάττης οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι‎. The Letter of Aristeas 115, rather generously, praises the harbours of Ascalon, Jaffa, Gaza, and Ptolemais.

  • 4. For the hypothesis of a hidden dialogue between Josephus and Strabo, including the references to Jaffa, see Yuval Shahar, Josephus Geographicus: The Classical Context of Geography in Josephus (Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism 98; Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2004), 239–255; and Yuval Shahar, “Josephus’ Hidden Dialogue with Strabo,” in Strabo’s Cultural Geography: The Making of a Kolossourgia, eds. D. Dueck et al. (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 235–249.

  • 5. Strabo 16.2.29 still calls Caesarea “Straton’s Tower” and describes it merely as πρόσορμον ἔχων‎, i.e., having an anchorage, while Jaffa has an ἐπίνειον‎, a port. Herod is mentioned by Strabo in 16.46. For the geography in antiquity, see Peilstöcker and Burke, History and Archaeology, 63–64.

  • 6. In the extant literature this is found first in Pseudo-Scylax, see Graham Shipley, Pseudo-Skylax’s Periplous: The Circumnavigation of the Inhabited World, Text, Translation and Commentary (Exeter: Bristol Phoenix, 2011), and in Plin. HN 5.68, see Menahem Stern, Greek and Latin Authors on Jews and Judaism (Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1974–1984), no. 204); see also Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio 4.35.9, Stern, no. 354; Conon the Mythographer, Stern, no. 145 (late 1st century bce–beginning of 1st century ce). Strabo 1.2.35 (c. 43) is critical of the story, which, he says, “is surely not told in ignorance of its local setting, but rather in the guise of myth.”

  • 7. Flavius Josephus, BJ 3.9.3, trans. Henry St. J. Thackeray (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1926–1965), 421: τὸ κῦμα σφαλερώτερον ἐρημίας τὸν ὅρμον ἀπεργάζεται‎.

  • 8. Ibid., 3.419.

  • 9. Ibid., 421–427.

  • 10. Plin. HN 5.68 (Stern, Greek and Latin Authors, no. 204) and 5.128 (no. 205); Jerome, In Jonam 1.

  • 11. Plin. HN 9.11 (Stern, Greek and Latin Authors, no. 209).

  • 12. Plin. HN 5.69 (Stern, Greek and Latin Authors, no. 204): Iope Phoenicum, antiquior terrarum inundatione, ut ferunt.

  • 13. Pomponius Mela, Chronographia 1.11.64 (Stern, Greek and Latin Authors, no. 152): est Iope ante diluvium ut ferunt condita.

  • 14. Peilstöcker and Burke, (n. 2), 65–67: 18th cent. bce to first half of the 16th cent.: the first enclosure; fortifications with glacis.

  • 15. Peilstöcker and Burke, History and Archaeology. The excavations undertaken over decades by Haya and Jacob Kaplan were published only in brief articles and a short survey, cited in n. 1. A report on Kaplan’s excavations is currently in preparation: Orit Tsuf, ed., The Port Town of Ancient Jaffa during the Persian to Byzantine Periods: Kaplan Excavations (1955–1981). The first to provide information on the antiquities of the town was Charles Clermont-Ganneau, Archaeological Researches in Palestine 2 (London: Palestine Exploration Fund, 1898), 130–148.

  • 16. P. Harris 500, verso I–III; translation in James B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (= ANET) (3d ed. with suppl.; Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969), 22 f. See also T. E. Peet, Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 11 (1925): 225; and Shmuel Ahituv, Canaanite Toponyms in Ancient Egyptian Documents (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, Hebrew University, 1984), 121. Cf. Peilstöcker and Burke, History and Archaeology, 68–70. For Jaffa during the Iron Age, see Burke, ibid., 70–73, and W. Zwickel, ibid., chap. 7, “Jaffa in its Regional Context during the Late Bronze and Iron Ages.”

  • 17. P. Anastasi I (BM 10247); translation in ANET 478, mentioning a “fair maiden watching over the gardens.” Kaplan excavated a town gate from the reign of Ramses II.

  • 18. N. Na’aman, “Royal Estates in the Jezreel Valley in the Late Bronze Age,” Eretz Israel 15 (1981): 140–144, at 141 (in Hebrew).

  • 19. Rina Avner-Levy and E. Eshel, “A Juglet with a Phoenician Inscription from a Recent Excavation in Jaffa, Israel,” Transeuphratène 12 (1996): 59–63; and Martin Peilstöcker and B. Sass, “A Hebrew Seal from Jaffa and the Hebrew Script in the Post-First Temple Period,” Atiqot 42 (2001): 199–210.

  • 20. Cf. Peilstöcker and Burke, History and Archaeology, 74.

  • [21]. CIS i, 3, pp. 9–20, ll.18–20; translation in ANET 3, 662.

  • 22. Philo of Byblos fr. 809, 23, with comments by A. I. Baumgarten, The Phoenician History of Philo of Byblos, A Commentary (Leiden: Brill, 1981), 15, commentary on 190. Philo, reign of Hadrian. E. Dhorme, “Les Avatars du dieu Dagon,” Revue de l’Histoire des Religions 138 (1950): 129–144, esp. 132: a local god of Philistia; for West Semitic, Ulf Oldenburg, The Conflict between El and Baal (Leiden: Brill, 1969), 47–57; and I. Singer, “Toward an Identity of Dagon, the God of the Philistines,” Cathedra 54 (1989): 17–42 (in Hebrew).

  • 23. Peilstöcker and Burke, History and Archaeology, vol. 1, 179.

  • 24. Shipley, Pseudo-Skylax’s Periplous, 104.3: Δῶρος πόλις Σιδωνίων, κ[αὶ Ἰόππη πόλις· ἐκτε-]θῆναί φασιν ἐνταῦθα τὴν Ἀνδρομ[έδαν τῷ κήτει. Ἀσκά-]λων πόλις Τυρίων καὶ βασίλεια. ἐνταῦ[θα ὅρος ἐστὶ τῆς Κοίλης] Συρίας‎ see also Stern, vol. 3, no. 558; commentary, 10–12.

  • 25. Sidonians are attested at Jamnia-on-the-Sea, Shekhem/Sikhem and Marisa/Maresha; see Benjamin H. Isaac, “A Seleucid Inscription from Jamnia-on-the-Sea: Antiochus V Eupator and the Sidonians,” in The Near East under Roman Rule: Selected Papers, ed. Benjamin H. Isaac (Leiden: Brill, 1998), 3–20.

  • 26. Relevant may also be the original name of Caesarea, Straton’s Tower; cf. CIIP 2.17–18, indicating it was first established by one of the two Sidonian kings of that name.

  • 27. Strabo 1.2.35; Plin. HN 5.69: Iope Phoenicum. This tradition is still found in the 2nd century ce: Dionysius Periegetes, Orbis Descriptio 910 (first half of the 2nd century ce), in Stern, Greek and Latin Authors, no. 563.

  • 28. Dionysius Periegetes in Karl Müller, Geographi Graeci Minores (Paris: Firmin Didot, 1861), vol. 2, 160; Stern, Greek and Latin Authors, vol. 3, 32, no. 563, whose translation is quoted here.

  • 29. Stern, Greek and Latin Authors, vol. 2, no. 327, 143 f., with commentary. For Herennius Philo, see also Joseph Geiger, “Ptolemy of Ascalon,” Scripta Classica Israelica 31 (2012): 185–190, at 189–190.

  • 30. The twenty-four coins from Kaplan’s excavations that belong to the period before Alexander are all from Sidon; see Cecilia Meir, “Coins: The Historical Evidence of the Ancient City of Jaffa,” in XII. Internationaler Numismatischer Kongress (Berlin, 1997).Akten—Proceedings—Actes I, eds. Bernd Kluge and Bernhard Weisser (Berlin: Staatliche Museen, 2000), 127, table 1. The coins are from the 4th century bce, Straton I (23) and Straton III (1). The bulk is bronze.

  • 31. Diodorus 19.59.2.

  • 32. Diodorus 19.93.7

  • 33. Arie Kindler, “Coins of Ioppe,” Bulletin Museum Haaretz 20–21 (1985/1986): 21–36 (in Hebrew), at 21–23, nos. 1–5.

  • 34. Ibid., 21, 23, no. 6, but cf. (Catharine C. Lorber). Thanks are due to the late Alla Kushnir-Stein for explanation and references.

  • 35. For material remains from Jaffa from this period, see Jacob Kaplan, “The Archaeology and History of Tel-Aviv-Jaffa,” Biblical Archaeologist 35 (1972): 66–95, at 88. For the dedication for Ptolemy IV: CIIP III, no. 2172.

  • 36. Peilstöcker and Burke, History and Archaeology, vol. 1, 179.

  • 37. PSI 406: ἄλλην ἐξῆγον ἐξ Ἀμμώνων. ἀπέδοντο αὐτὴν ἐν Πτολεμαίδι κα̣ὶ ιερεα ἤδη τέταρτον εἰς Ἰόπην καταγήγοχεν καὶ εἰς Αὔρανα ἀπεδήμησεν σῶμα θηλυκὸν ἄγων καὶ ἔλαβεν (δραχμὰς‎) 150.

  • 38. There are two Hellenistic lead weights from Kaplan excavations that seem to date to the beginning of the 2nd century bce: CIIP III, nos. 2257 and 2258. Whether they were manufactured in the city itself is not clear.

  • 39. 2 Macc. 12:3–6.

  • 40. The chronology is not quite certain: Cf. Christian Habicht, Jüdische Schriften aus hellenistisch-römischer Zeit, Band I, 3, 2. Makkabäerbuch (Gutersloh: Mohn, 1976), 261 f.; Karl Bringmann, Hellenistische Reform und Religionsverfolgung in Judäa: eine Untersuchung zur jüdisch-hellenistischen Geschichte (175–163 v. Chr.) (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1983), 51–60, esp. 56 f. See also Isaac n. 24.

  • 41. 2 Macc. 12:3: τοὺς σὺν αὐτοῖς οἰκοῦντας Ἰουδαίους‎.

  • 42. 1 Macc. 12:33–34; Joseph. AJ 13.180.

  • 43. 1 Macc. 13:11; Joseph. AJ 13.202.

  • 44. 1 Macc. 14:33–34.

  • 45. 1 Macc. 14:5.

  • 46. Surrender: 1 Macc. 15:28–30; indemnity: ibid., 31. Simon’s reply: 35.

  • 47. Joseph. AJ 13. 246. Indirect confirmation of this is found in decrees of the senate cited by Joseph. AJ 13.261 and 14.250.

  • 48. Joseph. AJ 13.395–6, a list which also includes cities in the interior. For possible material remains from this period see Kaplan, “Archaeology and History,” 89.

  • 49. Kaplan, EJ 24 (1974), 137 f.

  • 50. A. Kindler, IEJ 4 (1954), 170–185.

  • 51. Y. Arbel, “The Hasmonean Conquest of Jaffa,” in Peilstöcker and Burke, History and Archaeology, chap. 16, 191.

  • 52. Joseph. AJ 13.389–91; BJ 1.99f. see J. Kaplan in Roman Frontier Studies 1967, ed. Shimon Applebaum (Tel Aviv: Students’ Organization of Tel Aviv University, 1971), 201–205.

  • 53. Together with numerous other towns, including all the coastal cities, listed by Joseph. AJ 14.75–6; BJ 1.156.

  • 54. Joseph. AJ 14.205.

  • 55. Avner Ecker, “The Coinage of Jaffa in the Roman Period,” Israel Numoismatic Journal 17 (2010): 151–176, at 157–158 and 167 (A). The reverse appears to show Andromeda sitting on a rock. The date is either “Year 4” or “Year 14.” The reading IOΠ‎H or IOΠΠ‎ is not entirely clear but fairly likely.

  • 56. See Schürer, History of the Jewish People, vol. 1, 273–275, for Caesar’s decrees concerning the Jews and in particular for the dates and matters of taxation. For older references see Stern, Greek and Latin Authors, vol. 2, 109.

  • 57. Joseph. AJ 14.396.

  • 58. Joseph. AJ 15.95; BJ 1.362: Jaffa is not mentioned by name, but must have been one of the “cities between the Eleutherus River and Egypt, save Tyre and Sidon.”

  • 59. Joseph. AJ 15.217; BJ 1.396.

  • 60. Joseph. AJ 17.320; BJ 2.97.

  • 61. Kaplan, New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations, vol. 2, 540.

  • 62. CIIP III, no. 2262.

  • 63. Joseph. BJ 3.54–6: μερίζεται δ᾽ εἰς ἕνδεκα κληρουχίας, ὧν ἄρχει μὲν βασίλειον τὰ Ἱεροσόλυμα . . . αἱ λοιπαὶ δὲ μετ᾽ αὐτὴν διῄρηνται τὰς τοπαρχίας. Γοφνὰ δευτέρα καὶ μετὰ ταύτην Ἀκραβετά, Θαμνὰ πρὸς ταύταις καὶ Λύδδα, Ἀμμαοῦς καὶ Πέλλη καὶ Ἰδουμαία καὶ Ἐνγαδδαὶ καὶ Ἡρώδειον καὶ Ἱεριχοῦς, μεθ᾽ ἃς Ἰάμνεια καὶ Ἰόππη τῶν περιοίκων ἀφηγοῦνται‎. In AJ 18.31 Josephus refers to Jamnia as a toparchy.

  • 64. Cf. Benjamin Isaac, The Near East under Roman Rule: Selected Papers (Leiden: Brill, 1998), 166–167. Plin. HN 5.70 has a slightly different list of ten (instead of eleven) toparchies that partly reflects the situation after 70 ce. There Jaffa is included among the toparchiai.

  • 65. Acts 9:36–43; 10:9–23. During his stay he was said to have resurrected the widow Tabitha, also known as Dorcas.

  • 66. Yoma iii 41a, col. 576. For the gates, Schürer, History of the Jewish People, vol. 2, 57 f. Also T. Yoma 2.4, ed. Lieberman, 230–231, referring to produce taken from a ship at Jaffa or Caesarea: M. Nedarim 3, 6, which mentions the journey from Acre to Jaffa by boat as a short trip. Note also the Nicanor ossuary, CIIP I.1, 98.

  • 67. Cyril of Alexandria, In Jonam 1.3 (PG 71.605C): ἐπίνειον δὲ τῶν ἐπιτηδείων ἐκ τῆς Ἰουδαίας ἐπὶ ναυτιλίαν ἰοῦσι καὶ εἰς πόλεις μάλιστα τὰς πρὸς ἠώ‎.

  • 68. Joseph. BJ 2.508.

  • 69. Joseph. BJ 3.414–430.

  • 70. Jacob Kaplan, “The Fifth Season of Excavation at Jaffa,” Jewish Quarterly Review 54 (1963): 110–114, at 113.

  • 71. BMC Palestine 44; cf. xxiv f.; Pl. v/7; cf. Arie Kindler, “Coins of Ioppe,” Bulletin Museum Haaretz 20–21 (1985/1986): 21–36 (in Hebrew) at 27–30. Note also Ecker, “Coinage of Jaffa,” 158–175, adding a few variants to the coins given by Kindler.

  • 72. Joseph. BJ 7.216–7; cf. Benjamin Isaac, “Judaea after ce 70,” in The Near East under Roman Rule, ed. Benjamin Isaac (Leiden: Brill, 1998), 112–121. The passage has been mistranslated and hence misinterpreted by R. Steven Notley in Peilstöcker and Burke, History and Archaeology, vol. 1, 105.

  • 73. bMeg 16b; BT. Ta’anit 16b. His son R. Hiya is mentioned in J.T. Megilah iii 74b; Moed Katan iii 83d; Leviticus Rabbah xxx 6, ed. Margolies, 764–765; Pesiqta deRav Kahana v, ed. Mandelbaum, 106.

  • 74. Genesis Rabbah 43d, ed. Theodor—Albeck, p. 557; Leviticus Rabba vi 10, ed. Margolies, p. 139; Pesiqta deRav Kahana xxvi, ed. Mandelbaum, p. 397.

  • 75. Pesiqta deRav Kahana vii, ed. Mandelbaum, 122.

  • 76. Leviticus Rabba xx 10, ed. Margolies, 467; J. T. Pesahim I 27c.

  • 77. Deut. Rabbah, va-Etḥanan, ed. Lieberman, p. 68 and n. 1.

  • 78. Kaplan, Archaeology 17/2, 1964, 276; IEJ 20, 1970, 225.

  • 79. Peilstöcker and Burke, History and Archaeology, vol. 1, 180.

  • 80. For Jaffa in late antiquity, see D. Foran, “Byzantine and Early Islamic Jaffa” (in Peilstöcker and Burke), History and Archaeology, vol. 1, chap. 9.

  • 81. Heinrich Gelzer et al., eds., Patrum Nicaenorum nomina (Leipzig: Teubner, 1898), 10, 12. Neighbouring Jamnia and Lydda, which also had a substantial Jewish population, are represented.

  • 82. As noted by Tolkowsky, Gateway of Palestine, 73, it is again not represented at Chalcedon (451), but reappears on the lists of the synods held at Jerusalem in 518 and 536; cf. F.-M. Abel, Géographie de la Palestine (3d ed.; Paris: J. Gabalda, 1967), vol. 2, 199 f.

  • 83. Eusebius, On. 110; Jerome, 111.

  • 84. J. E. Dean, ed., Epiphanius’ Treatise on Weights and Measures (the Syriac version), (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1935), 75 f. (composed in 392).

  • 85. Jer. Ep. 108: “to allude to the fables of the poets.”

  • 86. Theodosius, de situ Terrae Sanctae, 4, CCSL 175, p. 116.

  • 87. Tolkowsky, Gateway of Palestine, 74.

  • 88. Antonini Placentini Itinerarium 46, CCSL 175, 152.

  • 89. Hierocles, Synecdemus, 719.6, in Le Synekdemus d’Hierokles, et l’opuscule géographique de Georges de Chypre, edited with commentary by Ernst Honigmann (Brussels: Éditions de l’Institut de Philologie et d’Histoire Orientales et Slaves, 1939), 42; and Georgius Cyprius in the same volume, 1007.

  • 90. Kaplan, New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations, vol. 2, 540.

  • 91. Foran, “Byzantine and Early Islamic Jaffa,” 118, with references; chap. 14, 181.