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Tharshish and Joppa

27-09-2011 - Posted by Andre Piet

And he is praying to Yahweh and saying, Oh Yahweh! Was not this my word while still I came to be on my own ground? Therefore I forestalled by running away to Tharshish, for I know that You are a gracious El, and compassionate, slow to anger and of much kindness, and regretting concerning the evil. Jonah 4:2

Tharshish or Tarsus When the fearful destruction did not happen to Nineveh, Jonah became very angry with God. He knew this in advance, he relates and even had said this much when he was still in Israel. It had become the reason for his flight to Tharshish. This Tharshish is not the place from where Paul came, in south-Turkey, but a port city near Gibraltar in Spain. Even though this Tharshish is not Paul’s birthplace, yet, due to the two name places sounding similarly in our ears, we are reminded of where Paul was born. And how remarkable is the parallel! Jonah did not want to be a prophet of the nations because he knew that his God is “gracious and compassionate”. That is why he went to Tharshish. And let it now precisely be happening that out of Tarsus came the man who would preach the message of God’s grace to the nations and Who, in saving compassion, will be merciful to all mankind. Japho – Jaffa – Joppa We read in Jonah 1:3 that Jonah went to Tharshish the port city of Japho. Japho means “beautiful”. It is the name we meet in the ‘New Testament’ as Joppa. It is the place not far from Caesarea, where a door was opened to the nations (Acts 10:23,24). Or should I say, where a portal was opened? For that is more fitting in connection with port cities. In other languages it is called: le port, porto, puerto, etc. It is a place from which one goes to sea (and vice versa); the sea symbolical representing the nations, the ‘sea of nations’. Caesarea was also the place where Paul of Tarsus for two years (!) was kept in jail and sailed from there to Rome (Acts 24:27; 25:4). The locations are directly connected with “the administration of the grace of God” among the nations, of which Paul was the administrator (Eph.3:1-2) . Tharshish and Japho (Joppa), in the history of Jonah, refer to this. Is that not beautiful !? ——————————— translation: Peter Feddema

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