Hebrew JAPHO, is one of the most ancient seaports in the world. It was a border town of the tribe of Dan, Joshua 19:46, on the coast of the Mediterranean sea, thirty miles south of Caesarea, and about thirty-five north-west of Jerusalem. Its harbor is shoal and unprotected from the winds; but on account of its convenience to Jerusalem, it became the principal port of Judea, and is still the great landing-place of pilgrims. Here the materials for building both the first and the second temple, sent from Lebanon and Tyre, were landed, 2 Chronicles 3:16 Ezra 3:7. Here Jonah embarked for Tarshish. Here, too, Peter raised Dorcas from the dead; and in the house of Simon the tanner, by the seaside, was taught by a heavenly vision that salvation was for Gentiles as well as Jews, Acts 9:1-11:30. Joppa was twice destroyed by the Romans. It was the seat of a Christian church for some centuries after Constantine. During the crusades it several times changed hands; and in modern times, 1799, it was stormed and sacked by the French, and twelve hundred Turkish prisoners, said to have broken their parole, were put to death.
The present town of Jaffa, or Yafa, is situated on a promontory jutting out into the sea, rising to the height of about one hundred and fifty feet, crowned with a fortress, and offering on all sides picturesque and varied prospects. Towards the west is extended the open sea; towards the south are spread the fertile plains of Philistia, reaching as far as Gaza; towards the north, as far as Carmel, the flowery meads of Sharon present themselves; and to the east, the hills of Ephraim and Judah raise their towering heads. The town is walled round on the south and east, towards the land, and partially so on the north and west, towards the sea. Its environs, away from the sand-hills of the shore, are full of gardens and orchards. From the sea, the town looks like a heap of buildings, crowded as closely as possible into a given space; and from the steepness of its site, they appear in some places to stand one on the other. The streets are very narrow, uneven, and dirty, and might rather be called alleys. The inhabitants are estimated at about fifteen thousand, of whom more than half are Turks and Arabs. There are several mosques; and the Latins, Greeks, and Armenians have each a church, and a small convent for the reception of pilgrims.