1. Question: Where was Tarshish?
In Biblical terms the name "Tarshish" can refer to one of two places:
a. Tarsis in Cilicia (Southeast Turkey)
b. Tarshish (or Tartessus) in Spain.
There are however other candidates:
(1. The Septuagent, the Greek version of the Old Testament, translated Tarshish as "Carthage" though at that time "Carthage" (in Tunis, North Africa) also ruled over the former areas of Tarshish in Spain;
(2 Julius Africanus thought "Tarshish" was another name for the islands of Rhodes or for Cyprus;
(3 There is a city in Sicily named Tarsus.
(4. A Phoenician inscription in Sardinia mentions Tarshish but exactly in what context is not clear.
(5. The name "Tarshish" was once explained as connoting "furnace" in Akkadian and Phoenician and therefore as possibly applicable to nearly any Phoenician colony specializing in metallurgy. Similarly William F. Albright and several others with him, suggested that it referred to mines for precious ores and was applied to certain countries which produced them.
(6. Cyrus Gordon related the name "Tarshish" to a Semitic root also found in the Greek "Thalasos" meaning sea. This explanation is close to that of the Talmud which however seems to connect Tarshish to the Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean in particular.
"C. Gordon attempts to interpret the name Tarshish with the wine-dark sea of Homer" Journal of Near-Eastern Studies 37 (1978), pp. 51-52. "
"Attic thalatta, meaning sea, becomes thalassa in Doric".
Cyris Gordon has also been quoted as identifying Tarshish with America.
(7. The Biblical expression "Ships of Tarshish" is often explained as a general term for ships sailing on long-distance voyages. There is however no proof for this supposition. In our opinion "Ships of Tarshish" means "Ships from (the Place) Tarshish" or from the direction of Tarshish. This is the simple meaning of the Hebrew text.
(8. Immanuel Velikovsky thought Tarshish was Crete, or its chief city Knossos.
Ages in Chaos, vol. I, section Troglodytes or Carians?, n. 17
(9. Some former British-Israel writings identified Tarshish with the British Isles. They claimed (without providing any references as far as we are aware) that the name "Tarshish" is to be found applied to Britain on "old maps". D'Arbois de Jubainville, a foremost French scholar, believed that at one time Tarshish had ruled over all of Spain and most of Gaul. There could be something to this. Tarshish was a trading emporium with imperial pretensions dealing with metals mined in both Spain and the British Isles. It was later taken over by the Phoenicians who also had outposts in Britain. It may be that this whole complex was included under the term "Tarshish".
10. In Assyrian Terms Tarshish was somewhere towards the Western Mediterranean.
The annals of the Assyrian king Esarhaddon (681-669 BCE):
"All the kingdoms from (the islands) amidst the sea from the country of Iadanan and Jaman as far as Tarshishi bowed to my feet and I received heavy tribute."
Iadanan ("Isle of Dan") is Cyprus and Iaman is the Ionian coast of Asia Minor;
"Tarshishi" has the determinative "m" for country in front of it, as do Idanana, or Cyprus and Iaman, or Ionia.
The accepted impression is Tarshishi as described was
"a kingdom amidst the sea, apparently somewhat farther removed from Assyria than either Cyprus or Ionia."
The Assyrian inscriptions are compatible with our belief that Tarshish referred to Tartessos on the Southern Spanish coast by the straits of Gibraltar.
11. We idenitify Tarshish as Tartessos but some believe Tartessos to have been a mere remnant of a much lareger entity
known as "Atlantis". The decription of Atlantis given by Plato does fit a possible region near Tartessos that was submerged under the sea.
See more on this subject below.
12. Some claim Tarshish to have been somewhere to the east in the Indian Ocean or beyond it. Alternately there is the notion that two places named "Tarshish" existed both reached by ship, one in the east, the other in the west. The names of products brought back by the Ships of Tarshish are said to be derived from the Tamil language of Southern India and Ceylon. See more on this below under the heading:
The Eastern Solution?.
1.(b) Answer: Tarshish in the Bible
(13. Tarshish (sometimes spelt as "Tharshish") as a thing: The term "Tarshish" in the Bible is also:
14. Tarshish as a People or Place.
The name of a precious stone in the breastplate of the High Priest (Exodus 28:20 translated in the King James as "Beryl"). This stone is usually considered to be that of the Tribe of Asher. It has been identified as aquamarine though other candidates exist. The identification of "Tarshish" as the Stone of the Tribe of Asher is interesting since out of all the Israelite Tribes Asher was probably the most "Phoenician" in character and environment.
The Tribe of Asher received its territory in the Phoenician-Cananaite area including the regions of Sidon ("Zidon") and Tyre (Joshua 19:28-29) which were the major Phoenician cities.
See our Commentary to Joshua 19:28.
The Tribe of Asher settled amongst the Phoenicians and intermixed with them.
[Judges 1:31] NEITHER DID ASHER DRIVE OUT THE INHABITANTS OF ACCHO, NOR THE INHABITANTS OF ZIDON, NOR OF AHLAB, NOR OF ACHZIB, NOR OF HELBAH, NOR OF APHIK, NOR OF REHOB:
[Judges 1:32] BUT THE ASHERITES DWELT AMONG THE CANAANITES, THE INHABITANTS OF THE LAND: FOR THEY DID NOT DRIVE THEM OUT.
The Phoenicians were destined to conquer Tarshish in Spain and establish settlements in its domain including the forced resettlement of Israelite Exiles. It may not be coincidence that one of the symbols of the Tribe of Asher was the "Tarshish" stone.
A grandson of JEDIAEL son of Benjamin.
[1-Chronicles 7:6] THE SONS OF BENJAMIN; BELA, AND BECHER, AND JEDIAEL, THREE.
[1-Chronicles 7:10] THE SONS ALSO OF JEDIAEL; BILHAN: AND THE SONS OF BILHAN; JEUSH, AND BENJAMIN, AND EHUD, AND CHENAANAH, AND ZETHAN, AND THARSHISH, AND AHISHAHAR.
Some Commentators identify JEDIAEL with Ashbel son of Benjamin (Numbers 26:38).
c. A Minister of Ahaseurus the King of Persia (Esther 1:14).
d. A grandson of Japhet (Genesis 10:4) and son of Javan (Greece):
"AND THE SONS OF JAVAN; ELISHAH, AND TARSHISH, KITTIM, AND DODANIM" [Genesis 10:4].
Tarshish son of Javan [Ionia, Greece] gave rise to the settlement of Tarsis in Cilicia (Southeast Turkey). This area was conquered and ruled by enclaves from Dan and Judah. The nearby island of Cyprus was also associated with Dan and referred to as 'Ydnnana" ("Isle of Dan") by the Assyrians. Tartessos (Tarshish) in Spain had originally been founded by a group related to the Greeks and the peoples of Anatolia but it was later taken over by the Phoenicians. Tarsis in Anatolia also fell under the influence of the Phoenicians. There may have been an ethnic link between "Tarsis" (Cilicia) and Tartessos.
In Genesis 10Tarshish is linked with Javan (Greece, Ionia in Western Anatolia= Modern Turkey), possibly Cyprus (Kittim), and other such entities.
We would say that Tarshish gave rise to Tarsis in Cilicia (Southeast Turkey) and to Tartessos in Southwest Spain which in Phoenician terms would also have been referred to as Tarshish.
Herodotus (1:163) speaks of Tartessos in Spain and relates how they welcomed the people of Phocia in Ionia (Greek Anatolia), sent money back to Phocia to help them rebuild the city walls, and requested that Phocia send them immigrants.
The capital of Lydia, Sardis (in Anatolia neighboring Ionia), was also known as "Sepharad" and this name was later applied to Spain. Jews from Spain are known as "Sepharadim" meaning that Spanish" just as Jews from Europe are called "Ashkenazim" meaning "German".
The Greek term "Hesperides" was also once a term applied to Sardis but later became applied to Spain or Britain.
The people of Tubal son of Japhet were also in Anatolia but later moved to Spain where their descendants are known as the Basques.
Tartessos was also connected with the Greek colony of Mainake in Spain. The name Tartesssos has the suffix "-essos" which is common in Anatolia and the Middle East including areas of Greek settlement.
Tarshish in Spain
e. "Tarshish" was the name of at least two different places according to the context as explained from
a Brit-Am Biblical-Historical point of view:
Tarshish can refer to either Tarsis in Cilicia (Southeast Turkey)
or to Tarshish (Tartessos to the Greeks) in Southwest Spain.
Other candidates for the name "Tarshish" in Biblical-Prophetic terms exist include America as discussed below.
In this feature, unless otherwise indicated, we use the term "Tarshish" as synonymous with Tartessos
The Bible and Tarshish
[Genesis 10:4] AND THE SONS OF JAVAN; ELISHAH, AND TARSHISH, KITTIM, AND DODANIM.
From the above we see that "Tarshish" could be applied to either "Tarsis" or "Tartessos" according to the context.
Kings and Chronicles
King Solomon of Israel together with Hiram the King of Tyre (chief city of Phoenicia) maintained "ships of Tarshish".
[1-Kings 10:22] FOR THE KING [Solomon] HAD AT SEA A NAVY OF THARSHISH WITH THE NAVY OF HIRAM: ONCE IN THREE YEARS CAME THE NAVY OF THARSHISH, BRINGING GOLD, AND SILVER, IVORY, AND APES, AND PEACOCKS.
<<A NAVY OF THARSHISH>>: In the Hebrew Bible it says "Oni-Tarshish" meaning "Ships of Tarshish".
This is repeated in Chronicles:
[2-Chronicles 9:21] FOR THE KING'S SHIPS WENT TO TARSHISH WITH THE SERVANTS OF HURAM: EVERY THREE YEARS ONCE CAME THE SHIPS OF TARSHISH BRINGING GOLD, AND SILVER, IVORY, AND APES, AND PEACOCKS.
The word translated as "peacocks" in "Tuciim" which in Modern Hebrew would be understood to mean "Parrots".
Why did the ships of Solomon and Huram (i.e. the ships of Tarshish) need to take three years to make the trip?
The Greek historian Herodotus (484 - ca . 425 BCE) supplies an answer.
Herodotus explains that Phoenician ships would leave from a Red Sea port, sail down the east coast of Africa circumvent Africa and return to the eastern Mediterranean via the Straits of Gibraltar. On the way they would stop, sow corn, reap it, and continue. Archaeological findings (discussed below) indicate the presence of Phoenicians in both East and Western Africa.
4;42: "As for Libya [in Classical terms "Libya" meant the entire Continent of Africa] we know it to be washed on all sides by the sea, except where it is attached to Asia. This discovery was first made by Necos, the Egyptian king, who on desisting from the canal which he had between the Nile and the Arabian Gulf, sent to sea a number of ships manned by Phoenicians, with orders to make for the Pillars of Hercules [Straits of Gibraltar], and to return to Egypt through them, and by the Mediterranean. The Phoenicians took their departure from Egypt by way of the Erythraean Sea [Red Sea], and so sailed into the southern ocean. When autumn came, they went ashore, wherever they might be, and having sown a tract of land with corn, waited until the grain fit to cut. Having reaped it, they again set sail; and thus it came to pass that two whole years went by, and it was not until the third year that they doubled the Pillars of Hercules, and made good their voyage home. On their return they declared - I for my part do not believe them - that in sailing round Libya they had the sun upon their right hand. In this way was the extent of Libya first discovered.
After Solomon Jehoshapat (four generations later) of Judah together with Ahaziah, the King of Northern Israel, attempted to send a joint group of Ships of Tarshish to go to Ophir for gold.
4;43. "Next to these Phoenicians the Carthaginians, according to their own accounts made the voyage..."
[1-Kings 22:48] JEHOSHAPHAT MADE SHIPS OF THARSHISH TO GO TO OPHIR FOR GOLD: BUT THEY WENT NOT; FOR THE SHIPS WERE BROKEN AT EZIONGEBER.
[2-Chronicles 20:35] AND AFTER THIS DID JEHOSHAPHAT KING OF JUDAH JOIN HIMSELF WITH AHAZIAH KING OF ISRAEL, WHO DID VERY WICKEDLY:
[2-Chronicles 20:36] AND HE JOINED HIMSELF WITH HIM TO MAKE SHIPS TO GO TO TARSHISH: AND THEY MADE THE SHIPS IN EZIONGABER.
It is often claimed that "Ships of Tarshish" were a type of ship this has not been proven we have additional evidence must be considered as mere speculation.
"Ships of Tarshish" means ships sailing to Tarshish.
"Ophir" probably means Darkest Africa since the root "Afer" in Hebrew means "ash". Other solutions have also been proposed.
[Isaiah 2:16] AND UPON ALL THE SHIPS OF TARSHISH, AND UPON ALL PLEASANT PICTURES.
Here the "Ships of Tarshish" are parties to a general worldwide destruction. There is nothing to give a specific identification but see our Commentary to Isaiah and how the US dollar sign represents the two pillars of Hercules at Gibraltar and thus by extension "Tarshish".
[Isaiah 23:1] THE BURDEN OF TYRE. HOWL, YE SHIPS OF TARSHISH; FOR IT IS LAID WASTE, SO THAT THERE IS NO HOUSE, NO ENTERING IN: FROM THE LAND OF CHITTIM IT IS REVEALED TO THEM.
Isaiah in Chapter 23 describes the coming fall of Tyre and how refugees from Tyre would flee overseas eventually reaching Tarshish and attempting to re-establish themselves there. Archaeological findings show that in the south of Spain in the late 700s BCE (just after the fall of Tyre) there was an influx of colonist of Phoenician culture. They were however overtaken by Assyria as predicted by Isaiah, forced to work for Assyria, and participated in the transportation of and resettlement of Exiles from Israel as predicted by Amos (1:9 4:1-3). Not only the Phoenicians but also the Philistines participated in the forced relocation of Israelites (Amos 1:6). The political and economic rationale underlying the Phoenicians and Philistines being co-opted as agents by Assyria is given in part by Mitch Allen ("POWER IS IN THE DETAILS. Administrative Technology and the Growth of Ancient Near Eastern Cores", USA, 2002) who discusses the importance of silver mining in Spain and luxury goods imported by sea but however neglects to discuss Phoenician control of tin mining in Galatia (Northwest Spain) and Britain.
[Isaiah 23:2] BE STILL, YE INHABITANTS OF THE ISLE; THOU WHOM THE MERCHANTS OF ZIDON, THAT PASS OVER THE SEA, HAVE REPLENISHED.
Here Isaiah is addressing the Phoenician rulers of Tyre as well as those of Sidon. For a description of Tyre see our Commentary to
[Isaiah 23:10] PASS THROUGH THY LAND AS A RIVER, O DAUGHTER OF TARSHISH: THERE IS NO MORE STRENGTH.
Tarshish will be overwhelmed with refugees from Phoenicia like the waters of a river overflowing its banks.
[Isaiah 23:11] HE STRETCHED OUT HIS HAND OVER THE SEA, HE SHOOK THE KINGDOMS: THE LORD HATH GIVEN A COMMANDMENT AGAINST THE MERCHANT CITY, TO DESTROY THE STRONG HOLDS THEREOF.
[Isaiah 23:12] AND HE SAID, THOU SHALT NO MORE REJOICE, O THOU OPPRESSED VIRGIN, DAUGHTER OF ZIDON: ARISE, PASS OVER TO CHITTIM; THERE ALSO SHALT THOU HAVE NO REST.
The refugees from Tyre were to move to Italy (Chittim) but to continue onwards from there to Tarshish in Spain.
[Isaiah 23:14] HOWL, YE SHIPS OF TARSHISH: FOR YOUR STRENGTH IS LAID WASTE.
The Ships of Tarshish were connected with Phoenicia and received their livelihood through Phoenician enterprise. The fall of Phoenician Tyre would have spelt economic disaster for the Ships of Tarshish.
[Isaiah 60:9] SURELY THE ISLES SHALL WAIT FOR ME, AND THE SHIPS OF TARSHISH FIRST, TO BRING THY SONS FROM FAR, THEIR SILVER AND THEIR GOLD WITH THEM, UNTO THE NAME OF THE LORD THY GOD, AND TO THE HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL, BECAUSE HE HATH GLORIFIED THEE.
THE SHIPS OF TARSHISH FIRST: Ships that plough the Atlantic Ocean bringing people back from America, Britain, and Western Europe.
[Isaiah 66:19] AND I WILL SET A SIGN AMONG THEM, AND I WILL SEND THOSE THAT ESCAPE OF THEM UNTO THE NATIONS, TO TARSHISH, PUL, AND LUD, THAT DRAW THE BOW, TO TUBAL, AND JAVAN, TO THE ISLES AFAR OFF, THAT HAVE NOT HEARD MY FAME, NEITHER HAVE SEEN MY GLORY; AND THEY SHALL DECLARE MY GLORY AMONG THE GENTILES.
See the Brit-Am Commentary to this verse for more details.
See the Brit-Am Commentary where it is explained that it refers to descendants of Israel in the End Times.
[Ezekiel 27:12] TARSHISH WAS THY MERCHANT BY REASON OF THE MULTITUDE OF ALL KIND OF RICHES; WITH SILVER, IRON, TIN, AND LEAD, THEY TRADED IN THY FAIRS.
Ezekiel predicts the fall of Phoenician Tyre. He describes the greatness and riches of Tyre and recalls Tarshish that supplied Tyre with silver, iron, tin, lead. Tin was needed in the production of Bronze and Bronze was the chief metal in use in that era which in History is even named "The Bronze Age".
[Ezekiel 27:25] THE SHIPS OF TARSHISH DID SING OF THEE IN THY MARKET: AND THOU WAST REPLENISHED, AND MADE VERY GLORIOUS IN THE MIDST OF THE SEAS.
Later Ezekiel speaks of Tarshish in a future time with the Merchants of Tarshish apparently anxious to partake of the future spoliation of Israel in the time of Gog and Magog.
[Ezekiel 38:13] SHEBA, AND DEDAN, AND THE MERCHANTS OF TARSHISH, WITH ALL THE YOUNG LIONS THEREOF, SHALL SAY UNTO THEE, ART THOU COME TO TAKE A SPOIL? HAST THOU GATHERED THY COMPANY TO TAKE A PREY? TO CARRY AWAY SILVER AND GOLD, TO TAKE AWAY CATTLE AND GOODS, TO TAKE A GREAT SPOIL?
In the Psalms Tarshish is described as being broken by an east wind. This would place Tarshish in the west since an "east wind: blows from east to west.
[Psalms 48:7] THOU BREAKEST THE SHIPS OF TARSHISH WITH AN EAST WIND.
Jeremiah ridicules the heathen who make idols and decorate them using, amongst other things, silver from Tarshish.
[Jeremiah 10:9] SILVER SPREAD INTO PLATES IS BROUGHT FROM TARSHISH, AND GOLD FROM UPHAZ, THE WORK OF THE WORKMAN, AND OF THE HANDS OF THE FOUNDER: BLUE AND PURPLE IS THEIR CLOTHING: THEY ARE ALL THE WORK OF CUNNING MEN.
Silver from Tarshish in Spain. The Phoenicians had great silver mines there. It was once fabulously rich in silver production.
Jonah 1:3 - BUT JONAH ROSE UP TO FLEE UNTO TARSHISH FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD, AND WENT DOWN TO JOPPA; AND HE FOUND A SHIP GOING TO TARSHISH: SO HE PAID THE FARE THEREOF, AND WENT DOWN INTO IT, TO GO WITH THEM UNTO TARSHISH FROM THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD.
Jonah sought to flee from before the Almighty taking a ship from the port of Joppa headed for Tarshish.
"Tarshish" in this case could mean either "Tarsis" in Cilicia or Tartessos in Spain but Spain was probably the desired destination here intended.
JAPAN IN HISTORY AND PROPHECY by Craig White
We identify Tarshish primarily with Tartessos in Spain since:
Three Candidates have been proposed for Biblical Tarshish:
The names are similar and in the light of Phoenician contact apparently identical.
The sea trip to Tarshish is the same as that of the Phoenicians around Africa and returning via Tartessos in Spain.
The Products obtained by the Ships of Tarshish are those that would be obtainable from Tartessos and probably nowhere else.
Isaiah 23 describes the people of Tyre fleeing to Tarshish and attempting to re-establish themselves there. This is what the Phoenicians did in Tartessos.
a. Tarsis in Cilicia (southeast Turkey).
b. Somewhere in the east, e.g. India, Indonesia, Japan?
c. Tartessos in Spain
We accept answer (c) identifying Tarshish with Tartessos.
1. "Navy of Tarshish" (1-Kings 10:22), "Ships of Tarshish" ( Isaiah 23:14): It has been claimed that a type of ship is being spoken of similar to the expression "East Indiamen" applied to a type of ship once used by the British.
This is speculation. Until there is evidence to the contrary the term "Tarshish" applied to ships must be taken as its primary level to mean ships going to Tarshish.
2. These ships brought "gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks"(1-Kings 10:22) . Gold, and silver, came from Spain. "Ivory, and apes, and peacocks [parrots?]" were available in Africa but could just as easily been obtained from Spain especially from Tarshish which adjoins the straits of Gibraltar connecting Spain with North Africa.
(Steven A. Arts "Looking For A Lost City").
3. "Ships of Tharshish to go to Ophir for gold that were broken at Ezion Geber" (1-Kings 22:48) on the Red Sea coast.
Herodotus (4:42-43) tells us of Phoenicians sailing from the Red Sea around the coast of Africa and returning via the straits of Gibraltar (i.e. via Tarshish which adjoined the straits).
They took three years to make this journey since they stopped off on the way, sowed crops, and harvested them before continuing.
The ships of Tarshish used by Solomon also took three years to make the journey (1-Kings 10:22).
Africa (Uganda) was also a source of tin:
"Central Africa as a Source of Tin" by John E. Dayton item #163
"Recent lead isotope analysis of lead ingots found in Haifa in 1982 have thrown new light on possible sources of Bronze Age tin. The analyses of Bergernanli show that some of the Haifa tin came from the extensive tin fields of Central Africa".
"From the Red to the Med" by Harry Bourne, 2003:
" John Taylor (Oxford Journal of Archaeology 1988) noted the closeness of dates for the Voyage of Hanno and that for the oldest workings for Nigerian tin. Both Dayton and Taylor attribute this tin-trade to Phoenicians. "
Bourne gives additional evidence for the presence of Phoenicians in East Africa.
This includes Phoenician shipwrecks reportedly found in Mozambique and Tanzania. Phoenician type dogs and cats are found in Madagascar. Phoenician jewellery was depicted by Egyptians on the leg of the African King of Punt. Phoenician shipbuilders and sailors were in Egyptian service along the African coast. The Old-Egyptian word for sea ("ym") is of Phoenician origin. The Egyptian contacts with East Africa were dependent on Phoenician seafaring. The originally-Phoenician trident-symbol of Poseidon is noted in East and West Africa and other signs of Phoenician influence exist. The Carthaginians who were of Phoenician descent also maintained contacts with West Africa.
We see from here that the Phoenicians had a presence in both East and West Africa. This ties in with the account of the Bible and of Herodotus. The Phoenicians set out from the Red Sea area to go to Tarshish went down the East Coast of Africa, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and continued northward along the West Coast of Africa re-entering the Mediterranean via the Straits of Gibraltar in the Tarshish area.
4. Silver from Tarshish (Jeremiah 10:9) means silver from Spain. The Phoenicians supplied the Assyrians with silver causing the Assyrian economy to be more "capitalist" in nature with silver replacing copper as the unit of currency.
5. Silver, iron, tin, and lead (Ezekiel 27:12): Silver was obtainable from Tarshish in Southwest Spain. Tin and lead were obtainable from Galatia in Northwest Spain and from Britain but Tarshish traded with these two areas and served as an emporium for their transit to the east.
The Eastern Solution: When the Spanish came into contact with Japan they sought similarities between themselves and the Japanese. They claimed kinship by stating that the Japanese were an eastern branch of Tarshish son Javan while Spain was a western one.
Craig White says:
There are a number of things to consider:
Firstly, it appears that 'Tarshish' refers to a geographical location and a type of ship (cp, Isaiah 2:16, the primary interpretation of the latter case); A nineteenth century example is the "East Indiaman...<a>...large sailing vessel built for the trade between Europe and southern Asia" (Encyclopedia Britannica, CD '99, East Indiaman).
Secondly, Tarshish appears to be a place of gold and silver;
Thirdly, it would seem to be impractical and uneconomical to sail from Ezion-Geber, around Africa to a 'western' Tarshish close to the Mediterranean and return by the same route. It would be more expedient to make the around trip and dock in Tyre, if it indeed followed this route;
Fourthly, the Hebrew for 'apes' and 'peacocks' are foreign loan words. Bullinger noted that 'the Hebrew for these are Indian words (Tamil)'. [E.W. Bullinger, Companion Bible, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986), p.466]. It may have been more likely to obtain apes and peacocks from India than via Africa or Spain, though not necessarily;
Fifthly, if Tarshish was one of the 'remotest nations', and that the ships had to be specially commissioned for the journey, it would seem to imply that Tarshish was not necessarily on a regular sea/trade route. When Jonah departed for 'western' Tarshish it seems that he did not have too much difficulty in procuring a passage on a merchant vessel; and
Sixthly, it appears that the specific ships of and for Tarshish were large merchant vessels designed to carry ore and other types of cargo and capable of travelling very long distances.
And who are the Japanese?
The Jesuit and Spanish writer Colin, one of the pioneers in the Philippine missions, considered that:
"...the principle settler of these archipelagoes was Tharsis, son of Japheth together with his brothers, as were Ophir and Hevilath of India.17 Colin, "Native races & their customs", E. H. Blair & J.A. Robertson editors, The Philippines 1493-1898.
The Spaniard Fray Gasper de San Agustin, who had spent forty years among the Filipinos, in a letter to a friend in Espana, who had asked him about the nature and characteristics of the Indian natives of the Philippine Islands, noted as an aside that 'the Japanese (who are, as Gracian learnedly remarked, the Spaniards of Asia').18 Colin, "Native races & their customs", E. H. Blair & J.A. Robertson editors, The Philippines 1493-1898.
Brit-Am Replies to the "Eastern Solution"
There may well be descendants of Tarshish son of Javan son of Japhet amongst peoples of the east. We are concerned with the identity of Tarshish as the place to which Israelite ships sailed as mentioned by the Bible... The above claims by Craig White have been mostly answered already. Ships of Tarshish mean ships sailing to Tarshish, gold and silver were available from Tarshish in Spain, the three year trip was the routine journey for Phoenicians sailing around Africa to Spain. The only point the "Eastern Solution" has in its favor are the Tamil (Ceylon, Southern India) loan words for apes and peacocks. There were strong trading contacts between India, Madagascar, and the East Coast of Africa. The population of Madagascar is considered by ancestry to be half African and half "Malay" of the type found in Borneo. If the Hebrew author of the Book of Kings used Tamil words for apes and peacocks it may well be that Indian merchants had first introduced them to the Hebrews but the animals themselves could just as easily have been obtained from Africa as from the east.
The Western Solution identifying Tarshish with Tartessos fits all the needed criteria: silver, gold, lead, tin, apes, peacocks (parrots), Phoenician partnership, the three-year Phoenician route around Africa, Phoenicians fleeing to Tarshish, an Atlantic Ocean connection.
The Tarsis (Anatolian) Suggestion?
Let us consider the claims concerning Tarsis in Cilicia:
"Tarshish (Josephus' Tarsus Reconsidered)", 2002,
by Walter Reinhold Warttig Mattfeld y de la Torre, M.A. Ed.
<<The location of biblical Tarshish remains a mystery. Various proposals from the 1st century CE to modern times still have not settled the question. Some scholars favor Josephus' understanding that Tarsus in Cilicia (modern Turkey) is Tarshish while others favor a more remote location preserved in Greek sources as Tartessos in Spain (on the west coast, above ancient Gades/Gadir, modern Cadiz).
<<Josephus, a Jewish historian of the 1st century CE made the Tarsus-Tarshish association on the basis of etymology, that is, the words possess the same consonants, ancient Hebrew not using vowels, rendering "t-r-s-s."
"...Tharsus to the Tharsians, for so was Cilicia of old called; the sign of which is this, that the nobelest city they have, and a metropolis also is Tarsus..."(Josephus. Antiquities of the Jews. 6.1.127)
<<Josephus, citing from the Hebrew Bible, notes that Tarshish is a descendant of Japheth (Greek Iapetos/Japetus) and Javan (Hebrew Iawan), associated with the Greek Ionia, a province in modern western Turkey. The ancient Greek historian Athendorus, a citizen of Tarsus, gives a descent from Japetus, the ancestor of Javan, for Tarsus:
<<"Athendorus, the Tarsian, said that the city was originally called Parthenia, from Parthenius, son of Cydnus, the grandson of Anchiale, daughter of Japetus..." (p.686, Vol.4, "Tarsus," James hastings. A Dictionary of the Bible. Peabody, Mass. Hendrickson Publications  1988 reprint)
<<Against Tartessos, etymologically speaking, is the second "t" and third "s", in "t-r-t-s-s-s."
Walter Mattfield is saying that Tartessos in Spain cannot be Tarshish since the name "Tartessos" is spelt differently from the name "Tarshish".
<<Professor Whiting as advised me that Shalmaneser III rendered Tarsus as alternately Tarzi and Tarzu, while Sennacherib rendered it as Tarsisu.
We would answer that "Tartessos" is a Greek or Anatolian name and that the Hebrews (and presumably also the Phoenicians who spoke a dialect of Hebrew) were accustomed to Hebraicize foreign names.
We also have a good deal of evidence placing Tarshish in the Tartessos area.
<<According to Whiting, Haider favors the identification of Tarshish/Tarsisi with Tarsus (cf. P. W. Haider, "Griechen im Vordern Orient und in ypten bis ca. 590 v. Chr.," in Ch. Ulf (Hrsg.) Wege zur Genese griechischer Identit die Bedeutung der frharchaischen Zeit, Berlin 1996, pp. 86-88 and n. 151).
<<My research has concentrated on clues found in the Hebrew Bible regarding Tarshish. It was reached by ship; it was a trading partner with Tyre (the Phoenicians); its trade items were precious metals. Among the metals noted is Silver and TIN, which caused several scholars to suggest Spain..
<<Recent research however, since 1990, has found a pit mine and an associated site with slag and crucibles, revealing that in the Early Bronze Age, TIN was being mined within a hundred miles, just to the north of Tarsus, in the Taurus mountains !
<<Silver heads the list of precious metals associated with Tarshish, and ancient Assyrian sources noted that the Taurus mountains above Tarsus were referred to as the Silver mountians...
Ezekiel 27:12 (RSV)
"...Tarshish was they merchant by reason of the multitude of all kind of riches: with silver, iron, tin and lead, they traded in thy fairs..."
Jeremiah 10:9 (RSV)
"...Silver beaten into plates is brought from Tarshish..."
"Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia...The city was built on the banks of the swift Cydnus river, 10 miles from the Mediterranean and 30 miles south of the Taurus ("Silver") mountains, which were veined with lead and silver." (p.727, "Tarsus," Madeleine S. Miller. The New Harper's Bible Dictionary. New York. Harper & Row. 1973)
Mattfield goes on adducing "evidence" that tin and silver were available in the region of Tarsis in Cilicia. He quotes from Hodges who assumed that the Assyrians wanted the tin of Anatolia but apparently there is no proof that such tin was still available in Neo-Assyrian times which is the period we are dealing with.
<<Hodges notes that the Assyrians were interested in controlling the TIN resources of Eastern Anatolia (Turkey)-
"There can be little doubt that Sargon's chief concern in this enterprise was to attempt to control the sources of supply of his raw materials, and one is tempted, therefore, to suppose that MUCH OF THE TIN required for bronze making came from the mountains of Syria and Turkey..." (p.108, Henry Hodges. Technology in the Ancient World. Baltimore, Maryland. Penguin Books. 1971)
<<No later than Early Bronze Age times, Anatolian bronze objects were utilizing tin as an alloy-
<<"...it seems certain that bronze and bronze working originated in the Middle East, where ANATOLIA and Armenia were mining regions...between 2300-2000 BC...the quantity of the bronze with an already remarkably high TIN CONTENT is impressive." (pp.166-175, "The Appearance and Spread of Metal," The Larousse Encyclopedia of Prehistoric and Ancient Art. London. Hamlyn Publishers. 1970)
Notice the date given above "between 2300-2000 BC".
<<Pfeiffer on the Phoenicians in Cilicia-
The Phoenicians only became important from around 1200 BCE.
This is an important point. It is now claimed that the tin reserves of Anatolia had been worked out long before the Phoenicians appeared on the scene.
<<"The fact that old Phoenician was used as one of the languages at Karatepe gives a clue to the linguistic history of the area. By the following century Aramaic replaced PHOENICIAN AS THE LANGUAGE OF CILICIA..." (p.336, "Karatepe," Charles F. Pfeiffer, Editor. The Biblical World, A Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology. Nashville, Tennessee. 1966)
<<The Greeks have preserved in their myths, the Phoenician presence in Cilicia. Agenor, a Phoenician king, sends his son Cilix, to hunt for his abducted daughter called Europa. Cilix eventually settles in Anatolia and calls it Cilicia after his name (cf. p.174, "Cilix," p.256, "Europa," William Smith. A Classical Dictionary of Biography, Mythology and Geography. London. John Murray. 1875)
<<Etymologically, Tarsus makes better sense for Tarshish than Tartessos. Assyrian records from the reign of Esarhaddon (ca. 681-669 BCE) call Tarsus, Tarsisi, which preserves the Hebrew "t-r-s-s." Before Esarhaddon, the city was rendered in Assyrian as Tarzi.
Reply to Walter Mattfield: Tartessos could just as feasibly be rendered Tarshish in Hebrew.
Tarshish was also equated with Tartessos by Hippolytus of Rome (3rd c. CE), and Eusebius of Caesarea (3rd c. CE)
We only have "Tartessos" through a Greek source and cannot even be sure that the original was not "Tarshish". Tartessos or an area near it does seem to have been named "Tarshish".
"Tarshish was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of all kinds of riches; with silver, iron, tin, and lead, they traded in thy fairs" (Ezekiel 27:12).
Regarding Tarsis of Cilicia (Anatolia) there were no rich deposits of iron, tin, and lead there (Moshe Elat p.149 ff).
The silver of Assyria DID come from Spain whether secondary sources existed in Anatolia or not.
In a footnote Mattfield himself appears to concede this possibility:
<<Archaeological excavations in Southwestern Spain on the Rio Tinto River have revealed Silver Mines in use in the course of the 8th-6th centuries BCE. Phoenician wares have been found in this area and it is speculated by some scholars that this is Tartessos, fabled land of Silver, mentioned by Classical authors. >>
The tin of Assyria did come from Tarshish or via Tarshish through Phoenician intermediaries.
All this took place AFTER the Phoenicians of Tyre had been told by Isaiah (ch. 23) to flee to Tarshish and re-establish a base there which they did, in Spain, in Tartessos, which experienced a Phoenician cultural takeover and an influx of immigrants bearing Phoenician culture as proven by archaeological findings.
The Western solution of Tartessos fits all the needed criteria: silver, gold, lead, tin, apes, peacocks, Phoenician partnership, the three-year Phoenician route around Africa, Phoenicians fleeing to Tarshish, an Atlantic Ocean connection.
The only equation that accords with both Biblical and secular sources regarding the idenitiy of Tarshish in those Bible
passages recalling the ships of Tarshish and Phoenician-Israelite interaction with Tarshish is the equation of Tarshish
with that region of Spain otherwise known as Tartessos.
#3. Article on Tartessos
Tarshish possessed "gold, and silver, ivory, apes and peacocks." Tarshish
was in a perfect geographical position to obtain gold and silver from the
nearby Sierra Morena mountains in southern Spain, if that is indeed where
it was located. Ivory, apes and peacocks could have come from the nearby
northern and western African coasts.
Doing research into the lost city of Tartessus or Tarshish, the
conclusion is that the city was formerly located in southwestern Spain,
very near the modern city of Cadiz, which was called Gades in ancient
times. The ships of Tarshish were said to be located on the Atlantic side
of the Pillars of Hercules, this last being identified with modern
Gibraltar. Gades was later the most important Phoenician city on the
II Kings 10:22 says: "For the king had at sea a navy of Tharshish
with the navy of Hiram: once in three years came the navy of Tharshish,
bringing gold, and silver, ivory and apes, and peacocks." Again the
references to African natural products. Tharshish is just a variant
spelling of Tarshish in the Bible.
2. Question: Was Atlantis Tarshish?
Answer: Atlantis does seem to have existed and does appear to have been somewhere in the Atlantic coastal area. Tarshish is a good candidate or at the least would have had had some contact with Atlantis.
#3. Atlantis in Tarshish?
#1. Was Atlantis Tarshish?
#4. Was Tartessos, off the Coast of Gibraltar, part of Atlantis?
Satellite photos indicate former Islands of the coast of Cadiz (Gades) similar to those described by
Plato concerning Atlantis.
"This is the only place that seems to fit [Plato's] description,"
"Plato also wrote that Atlantis is rich in copper and other metals. Copper
is found in abundance in the mines of the Sierra Morena," Dr Kuehne explained.
This dating would equate the city and society of Atlantis with either the
Iron Age Tartessos culture of southern Spain or another, unknown, Bronze
Age culture. A link between Atlantis and Tartessos was first proposed in
the early 20th Century.
Plato's depiction of a land of fabulous wealth, advanced civilisation and
natural beauty has spurred many adventurers to seek out its location.
#6. Atlantis and Tarshish
3. Question: What do archaeological Finds tell us about Tarshish?
Answer: They confirm what we know from other sources, i.e. Tarshish originally was a settlement in Southern Spain of people related to the Ancient Greeks. Tarshish was close connected with the Phoenicians and Ancient Israelites. At some stage (probably ca. 700 BCE) it was taken over by a Phoenician group and Phoenician influence became dominant.
Archaeology Question 2: Tarshish
"Brit-Am Now"-189 #5: Tarshish
#3. Excavations at Tartessos
"a mysterious structure at
Cancho Roano, deep in the heart of south-central Spain. The structure at
Cancho Roano is sometimes called a palace-sanctuary because of its
monumentality. But it was not a palace at all; it was simply a Tartessian
sanctuary, which over time became influenced by Phoenician culture"
"Recent archaeological work suggests that Tartessos included a number of
small proto-urban settlements largely dependent on agricultural and mineral
(particularly silver) exploitation. This is probably what attracted the
Phoenicians and formed the basis of Tartessian wealth.
"Exactly when the Phoenicians arrived remains in question. According to
ancient sources, such as Strabo (c. 60 B.C.-21 A.D.) and Pliny (23-79
A.D.), they arrived in the late 12th century B.C. and laid the foundations
of sites such as Cadiz (Gadir) and Utica. But archaeological excavations at
these sites have not uncovered remains earlier than the eighth century B.C.
The first-century B.C. historian Diodorus Siculus (Diodorus of Sicily)
writes that the Phoenicians arrived on the peninsula while searching for
silver but only settled there much later (Library of History 5.35.1-5,
"Some scholars identify biblical Tarshish with Iberian Tartessos. The
prophet Isaiah, who lived in the latter part of the eighth century B.C.,
may refer to the Phoenicians sailing to the Iberian peninsula and reaching
The Lord poised his arm over the sea And made kingdoms quake; It was he
decreed destruction for Phoenicias strongholds ... Howl, O ships of
Tarshish, For your stronghold is destroyed. (Isaiah 23:11-15)
"Although the location of biblical Tarshish is much debated, an inscription
of the Assyrian king Esarhaddon (680-669 B.C.) suggests that it was located
on the Mediterranean coast: All the kings from (the islands) amidst the sea
from the country Iadanana [Cyprus], as far as Tarsisi [Tarshish], bowed to
my feet and I received heavy tribute (from them). Many scholars have
connected Tarshish to Iberian Tartessos".
"The core area of Tartessian civilization comprised the modern Spanish
provinces of Cadiz, Seville, Huelva and the Algarve in modern Portugal.
After the seventh century B.C., Tartessian influence expanded, reaching the
Guadiana Valley (where Cancho Roano is located) and a considerable portion
of the southeastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula".
"Surprisingly, we have
also found skeletons of what at first appeared to be horses or donkeys.
Later analysis showed that these were the bones of a now-extinct equid not
known anywhere else in the world one smaller than a horse but taller than
a donkey or a pony. Study of the bones revealed that the animals had not
been used for hard labor or transportation. Stranger still, they were all
beheaded and buried in the western moat the bones of their bodies at one
end of the moat and their skulls at the other. We have found nearly 30 of
"One especially intriguing find from a perimeter room on the west side is an
8-inch-long bronze horse (opposite) of Tartessian type, showing a mixture
of indigenous and eastern Mediterranean elements (probably transported to
the western Mediterranean by the Phoenicians). Although the horse was very
likely manufactured locally, some of its features such as the way in which
its parts were assembled and the decoration of the harness resemble Cypriot
4. Question: What Connection did the "Iberians" have with Tarshish?
Answer: "Iberi" means Hebrew. Israelite exiles were taken to the Tarshish area. They moved northwards through Spain and eventually emigrated to Gaul and the British Isles. Due to their presence all early inhabitants of Spain came to be mistkaenly referred to as "Iberians" by foreigners.
The Individuality of Portugal by Dan Stanislawski
"In the earliest Greek texts the term "Iberian" is found, referring to peoples at the extreme southwest of present Spain, the region of Huelva. (12) Yet in later texts of the Greeks the term is applied to all peoples of the Mediterranean area of present  Spain. (13) Still later all non-Celtic peoples of the interior and north were called Iberians, and ultimately the name became generalized for the peninsula. (14) Originally the term had cultural and perhaps ethnic meaning, but this was lost in its later use."
12. Garciy Bellido, La Pen?ula Ib?ca, pp. 45-47.
13. Ibid., p. 51. Mart?z Santa-Olalla and Almagro have been inclined to deny the existence of an ethnically distinct group to be called Iberians (Pericot, Las Raices de Espa??p. 54), but as time goes on this anti-Iberian position is becoming more and more difficult to maintain. Almagro himself in his later publications has altered his earlier view (Ibid., p. 56).
14. Bosch Gimpera, "Los Iberos," Cuadernos de Historia de Espa?? name="n_15_">, IX, 6.
#5. Question on Celtic Hebrews
The term "Iberi" means "HEBREW". This name or variations
of it (e.g. Ebero) in Spain derived originally from the people driven out
by the Carthaginians and North Africans. The original "Iberi" (or Hiberi)
had from Spain passed into Gaul and the British Isles and the root "Eber"
(or "Iber" or "Heber") is frequently found in the "Celtic" nomenclature of
those areas. The overwhelming majority of places bearing the name IBER and
its cognates are Celtic (FREDERIC DE ROUGEMONT, "L'Age de Bronze, ou
Les Semites en Occident", Paris, 1866, p.102) and everywhere the name is
found was due to Celtic presence at some time or other.
A group known as "Iberians" in earlier times were also to be found in South-East Gaul (Provence).
#1. Jay: Cadiz in Spain, Gad and Dan?
5. Question: Is Britain Tarshish?
Answer: Britain in Ancient Times was connected with Tarshish in Spainand may have been considered part of it. Britain also faces the Atlantic Ocean with which "Tarshish" was identified.
#7. Is Britain Tarshish?
was a polity based on southwest Spain
that had connections with France and Britain and possibly ruled over
in those countries.
Ezekiel 27 mentions mineral ores supplied by Tarshish to Tyre in
Phoenicia. The metals concerned were available from Britain.
6. Question: Is America Tarshish?
Answer: Tarshish in future Prophecy could indicate North America.
In Biblical exegesis Tarshish came to represent the whole Atlantic Ocean
area and in a future sense North America.
The Heraldric sign of the Spanish Royalfamily represented the two pillars of Hercules at Gibraltar, i.e. The Symbol of Tarshish.
This symbol of Tarshish evolved into the Dollar sign which is now representative of the US.
Isaiah 60:9 forsaw the exiles of Israel returning by airplanes and in Ships of Tarshish.
[Isaiah 60:9] SURELY THE ISLES SHALL WAIT FOR ME, AND THE SHIPS OF TARSHISH FIRST, TO BRING THY SONS FROM FAR, THEIR SILVER AND THEIR GOLD WITH THEM, UNTO THE NAME OF THE LORD THY GOD, AND TO THE HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL, BECAUSE HE HATH GLORIFIED THEE.
The Prophet says THE SHIPS OF TARSHISH FIRST: This
apparently means Ships that plough the Atlantic Ocean bringing people back from America, Britain, and Western Europe.
It could have a specific application to North America as indicated by the dollar sign being derived from what was in effect a
representation of Tarshish.
Sources on Tarshish and Spain
#2. Yair Davidiy: SPAIN AND THE JEWS
#2. Basque and Jewish Origins?
#3. Excavations at Tartessos
#3. America = Tarshish?
#4. Phoenician Finds in Spain
#1. The Phoenicians in Portugal
#1. Question on Spanish
#2. Latinos with traditions of Spanish Jewish ancestry
#5. Galicia and Castile
#2. Hispanic Jews: Spain and the Jews
#3. More on Latinos of Jewish Origin
#7. Quotation Concerning Spain and the Phoenicians
#1. Jay: Cadiz in Spain, Gad and Dan?
#1. Phoenician type script via Khazars influenced early Hungarian writing?
#2. Ancient Tin Supplies from the Iberian Peninsula and from Britain
#3. Tin and Bronze From Cornwall
#1. Is Spain Moab?
#2. Ashton Lemonius: Is Moab also Latin America?
#3. Gomer Place-Names in France and Spain
#4. The Return by Aeroplane and Atlantic Ocean Lner
#1. Michael Smith: Phoenicians in Spain
#8. Spain and Scotland: Ancient Connections
#3. Silver from Tarshish
#7. Question about the Basques of Spain
#1. Tim Murray: Basques Deserve Reconsideration
#1. Sinikka Tarvainen: Tarshish (Tartessos) in Seville (Southern Spain)?
#3. The Phoenicians of Gades-Tarshish in the East
#2. THE LOST CITY OF TARTESSUS
#1. Maximus Taylor: Jews in Spain
#1. Inverness: Jews in Spain
#3. Jews in Spain and Brit-Am Reference to Tartessos
#1. Phoenician Cadiz, 'Europe's oldest city' is found
#2. Captive Jews from Spain in USA?
#4. Arutz Sheva News Thursday
FIRST OF THE SPANISH HIDDEN-JEWS ARRIVES IN ISRAEL
CATHOLIC FRIENDS OF ISRAEL
#1. Jewish Roots in Spain
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