Friday 27 September 2013

Jaffa - Joppa - Yafo

The museum is just under this piazza, near this lovely hotel next to St Peter's Church.
Jaffa - Joppa - Yafo. Some Muslim author decided to connect it with Japhet, one of the three sons of Noah - the other two being Shem of the Semites and Ham of the Africans. Then there was Japu, if I am not mistaken, of the Egyptians. Jaffa has always been the midpoint between Egypt and Akko / Tyre, along the Via Maris, the Way of the Sea.

And then the Andromeda story: wonderful in its imagination. And wonderful that somehow the Greek imagination managed to draw in even a part of the Holy Land....

And Jonah setting out from Jaffa, fleeing from the Lord... and being swallowed up by a huge fish, despite the fact that there are no whales in the Mediterranean, from what we are told.

And the European painters with their paintings of Jaffa, despite never having seen the place. Based on descriptions left by people who had been there.

And Jaffa, the Gate of Jerusalem. Jaffa has a Jerusalem Gate, and Jerusalem has a Jaffa Gate.

And the Jews in Jaffa: our young and enthusiastic guide, with his Medusa hair, told us that archaeology had proved the Greek and Roman historians wrong. They had told us that Jews were forbidden to live in Jerusalem and Jaffa after the destruction of the City by the Romans under Titus and Vespasian, but archaeologists had discovered a good house in the main street of Jaffa, and also an inscription telling us who it belonged to: someone called Judah Agronimus, someone who used a cup that could have been used only by the Kohanim, the high priests, and so ... And I was wondering: what if that Judah, from a priestly family perhaps, was not Jewish but Jewish-Christian? But that is mere speculation. 

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