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Jaffa

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A titular see in the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The city of Jaffa is very ancient. Even before the arrival of Josue in Palestine it is mentioned on the pylons of Karnak and the cuneiform tablets of Tell-el-Amarna. Several Greek authors, relying on native legends, traced its foundation to Jopes (Cassiopeia), daughter of Aeolus, and made it the scene of the fable of Andromeda exposed on a rock and delivered by Perseus. Assigned to the tribe of Dan (Joshua 19:46), Japho, or Jaffa, seems not to have belonged to the Jews before the reign of David, who conquered the maritime region (Judges 1:34; 18:1; 2 Samuel 8:1; Sirach 47:8). In the time of Solomon it served as the port of landing for the cedars sent by Hiram for the construction of the Temple of Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 2:16). After the death of Solomon it probably recovered its independence or fell into the power of the kings of Israel. The Prophet Jonas took ship there for Tharsis (Jonah 1:3), and King Ezechias brought it once more under the power of the Kingdom of Juda (2 Kings 18:8). In this condition it is several times mentioned in the inscriptions of the kings of Assyria, whose domination passed later to the Chaldeans and Persians. In the reign of Cyrus Jaffa again served as a landing-port for the materials destined for the reconstruction of the Temple (Ezra 3:7). After the expedition of Alexander the Great (333 B.C.) the city passed into the power alternately of Syria and Egypt. In consequence of violent wrong done the Jewish population, Judas Machabeus attacked the harbour at night and burned all the vessels (2 Maccabees 12:3-7). Shortly afterwards (about 142 B.C.) his brothers Jonathas and Simon Machabeus took final possession of the city (1 Maccabees 10:74-6). Pompey captured it from the Jews in 63 B.C., and during the period of more than a century, until it became entirely Roman, the city changed masters several times.

Jaffa, which had now become Joppe, soon counted Christians among its inhabitants. It was there that St. Peter raised to life the widow Tabitha, a name interpreted Dorcas (Acts 9:36-42), whose tomb is still the object of a popular pilgrimage; there, too, in the house of Simon the Tanner, he had the symbolical vision of the unclean animals (Acts 10:1-23). At the time of the great Jewish revolt against the Romans, Joppe was taken by Cestius Gallus, Governor of Syria, and its inhabitants slaughtered to the number of 8400. The fugitives from the city and vicinity afterwards reassembled there, and turned to piracy, which brought about a second intervention of the Romans and the violent death of 4200 persons. The city was then razed to the ground. Being without importance during the first centuries of Christianity, Joppe did not possess a bishop until the fifth century (Le Quien, "Oriens Christianus," III, 627); a very small number of its Greek or Latin bishops are known (ibid., III, 625-30, 1291; Eubel "Hierarchia catholica medii aevi," Munich, I, 297; II, 186). After the Arab conquest and the destruction of Caesarea Maritima in the seventh century, Jaffa acquired some importance and became the chief seaport of Palestine. Captured by the crusaders, it became, under Godfrey of Bouillon, the County of Jaffa and Ascalon, feudatory to the King of Jerusalem. One of its counts, John of Ibelin, wrote the principal book of the Assizes of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Retaken by Saladin in 1187, and surrendered to Richard Coeur de Lion in 1192, Jaffa was reconquered in 1197 by the Sultan Melek-el-Adel, who had 20,000 Christians massacred there. In 1204 it fell once more into the power of the Christians, who held it until 1268, when Sultan Bibars of Egypt took possession of it and completely destroyed it. Bonaparte took it by assault in 1799, and was accused, perhaps wrongfully, of having poisoned the Ottoman garrison and his own soldiers infected with the pest. Ibrahim Pasha, the son of Mehemet Ali, captured the city in 1831, and seven years later it was destroyed by earthquake.

Jaffa is connected by railroad with Jerusalem; its harbour, which is difficult of access, received 1789 steam or sailing vessels in 1907, and transacted business to the extent of 28 million francs ($5,600,000) — 17,000,000 imports and 11,000,000 exports. The city is surrounded by magnificent orange groves, and has now entirely recovered from all its misfortunes, the census of 1905 crediting it with a population of more than 40,000 souls. Among these are 5000 Jews, 1000 Protestants (mostly foreigners), 3550 Orthodox Greeks, 100 schismatic Armenians, 1770 Catholics (of whom 1010 are Latins, 215 Maronites, 510 Melchites, and 35 Syrians). The remainder of the population (about 30,000) is Mussulman. Franciscan Fathers direct the parish church and a school for boys. The Brothers of the Christian Schools have a boarding-school, two day-schools, and a commercial school. Italian Catholics also have a school for boys. The Sisters of St. Joseph and the Franciscan Sisters have each a boarding and a day school. There is also a French hospital conducted by nuns. The other (non-Catholic) Christian communities, especially the Protestants, also have schools, hospitals, and orphanages.


Sources

VIGOUROUX, Joppe in Dict. de la Bible; MEISTERMANN, Nouveau Guide de Terre Sainte (Paris, 1907), 19-27; GUERIN, Description de la Palestine. Judee, I, 1-22.

About this page

APA citation. Vailhé, S. (1910). Jaffa. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08268a.htm

MLA citation. Vailhé, Siméon. "Jaffa." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08268a.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by John Fobian. In memory of Robert John Fobian.

Ecclesiastical approbation. Nihil Obstat. October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York.

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