7 occurrences in 7 dictionaries

Reference: Tarshish


1. The second son of Javan, Ge 10:4.

2. Tartessus, an ancient city between two mouths of the Guadalquiver, in the south of Spain. It was a Phoenician colony, and was the most celebrated emporium in the west to which the Hebrews and Phoenicians traded. That Tarshish was situated in the west is evident from Ge 10:4, where it is joined with Elisha, Kittim, and Dodanim. See also Ps 72:10. According to Eze 38:13, it was an important place of trade; according to Jer 10:9, it exported silver, and according to Eze 27:12,25, silver, iron, tin, and lead to the Tyrian markets. They embarked for this place from Joppa, Jon 1:3-4. In Isa 23:1,6,10, it is evidently represented as an important Phoenician colony. It is named among other distant states, in Isa 66:19. All these notices agree with Tartessus.

In some of these passages, however, Tarshish may be used as a general expression, applicable to all the distant shores of Europe; and thus the custom may have arisen of designating as "ships of Tarshish" any large merchant ships bound on long voyages in any direction. The English term Indiaman is very similarly used. Whether the ships fitted out by Solomon at Ezion-geber on the Red sea, sailed around Africa to Tarshish in Spain, or gave the name of Tarshish to some place in India of Ethiopia, as the discovers of America gave it the eastern names India and Indians, cannot now be determined, 1Ki 10:22; 22:48-49; 2Ch 9:21; 20:26; Isa 23:1,14; 60:9.

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a Sanscrit or Aryan word, meaning "the sea coast." (1.) One of the "sons" of Javan (Ge 10:4; 1Ch 1:7).

(2.) The name of a place which first comes into notice in the days of Solomon. The question as to the locality of Tarshish has given rise to not a little discussion. Some think there was a Tarshish in the East, on the Indian coast, seeing that "ships of Tarshish" sailed from Eziongeber, on the Red Sea (1Ki 9:26; 22:48; 2Ch 9:21). Some, again, argue that Carthage was the place so named. There can be little doubt, however, that this is the name of a Phoenician port in Spain, between the two mouths of the Guadalquivir (the name given to the river by the Arabs, and meaning "the great wady" or water-course). It was founded by a Carthaginian colony, and was the farthest western harbour of Tyrian sailors. It was to this port Jonah's ship was about to sail from Joppa. It has well been styled "the Peru of Tyrian adventure;" it abounded in gold and silver mines.

It appears that this name also is used without reference to any locality. "Ships of Tarshish" is an expression sometimes denoting simply ships intended for a long voyage (Isa 23:1,14), ships of a large size (sea-going ships), whatever might be the port to which they sailed. Solomon's ships were so styled (1Ki 10:22; 22:49).

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Tartessus (as Asshur became Athur, Bashan, Batanoea), a Phoenician city S. of Spain; the portion of Spain known to the Hebrew (Ps 72:10). "The kings of Tarshish ... kings of Sheba," i.e. the wealthy Tarshish in the far W. and Sheba in the S.E. Tarshish was a dependency of Phoenician Tyre. Isa 23:6,10 ("pass through thy land as a river, O daughter of Tarshish," i.e. Tartessus and its inhabitants would now that Tyre's strength was disabled pour forth as waters, no longer kept working mines for the parent city), 14,18; Eze 26:15,18; 27:12. "Tarshish was thy (Tyre's) merchant ... with silver, iron, tin, and lead, they traded in thy fairs."

Tarshish was famed for various metals exported to Tyre; most of them were drawn from Spain and Portugal, tin possibly from Cornwall or from Lusitania or Portugal. "Ships of Tarshish" are mentioned often: Ps 48:7, "Thou brakest the ships of Tarshish with an east wind," alluding with undesigned coincidence to the event recorded 2Ch 20:36-37; "Jehoshaphat joined himself with Ahaziah king of Israel to make ships to go to Tarshish ... in Ezion Gaber ... because ... the Lord hath broken thy works," i.e. wrecked thy ships. The ships of Tarshish built at Ezion Geber on the Elanitic gulf of the Red Sea (1Ki 22:48) were intended by Jehoshaphat to trade with Africa and India; but a copyist in 2Ch 20:36 makes them go to Tarshish.

It is possible they were carried across the land to the Mediterranean, but more likely that "ships of Tarshish" mean large vessels, as our phrase "East Indiamen" does not imply the destination but the size; the copyist mistook the phrase for the destination. So in 1Ki 9:26; 10:22; 2Ch 9:21; the "peacocks" point to India, for southern Asia and the isles of the eastern archipelago are their native home. The names too are of Sanskrit etymology, tukki, related to Tamil Iota, "the tailed bird," i.e. peacock. So "apes," kaph, related to Sanskrit kapi. The Greeks received the peacock from Persia, as the Greek taos is the Persian tans. Strabo makes the Boetis or Guadalquivir (great stream) be called Tartessus. An island, a town, and a region bore the name. (On Ge 10:4, which Rawlinson refers to Tarsus, at the close.) (See TARSUS.)

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1. See following article. 2. A Benjamite family (1Ch 7:10). 3. One of the seven princes who had the right of access to the royal presence (Es 1:14). 4. The name of a precious stone (Ex 28:20; 39:13; Eze 1:10; 10:9; 28:16; Song 5:14; Da 10:6). See Jewels and Precious Stones.

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1. Son of Javan, a descendant of Japheth, Ge 10:4; 1Ch 1:7.

2. A prince of Persia who saw the kings face. Es 1:14.

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1. Probably Tartessus, a city and emporium of the Phoenicians in the south of Spain, represented as one of the sons of Javan.

Ge 10:4; 1Ki 10:22; 1Ch 1:7; Ps 48:7; Isa 2:16; Jer 10:9; Eze 27:12,25; Jon 1:3; 4:2

The identity of the two places is rendered highly probable by the following circumstances: 1st. There is a very close similarity of name between them, Tartessus being merely Tarshish in the Aramaic form. 2nd. There seems to have been a special relation between Tarshish and Tyre, as there was at one time between Tartessus and Phoenicians. 3rd. The articles which Tarshish is stated by the prophet Ezekiel,

Eze 27:12

to have supplied to Tyre are precisely such as we know, through classical writers, to have been productions of the Spanish peninsula. In regard to tin, the trade of Tarshish in this metal is peculiarly significant, and, taken in conjunction with similarity of name and other circumstances already mentioned, is reasonably conclusive as to its identity with Tartessus. For even not when countries in Europe or on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea where tin is found are very few; and in reference to ancient times, it would be difficult to name any such countries except Iberia or Spain, Lusitania, which was somewhat less in extent than Portugal, and Cornwall in Great Britain. In the absence of positive proof, we may acquiesce in the statement of Strabo, that the river Baetis (now the Guadalquivir) was formerly called Tartessus, that the city Tartessus was situated between the two arms by which the river flowed into the sea, and that the adjoining country was called Tartessis.

2. From the book of Chronicles there would seem to have been a Tarshish accessible from the Red Sea, in addition to the Tarshish of the south of Spain. Thus, with regard to the ships of Tarshish, which Jehoshaphat caused to be constructed at Ezion-geber on the Elanitic Gulf of the Red Sea,

1Ki 22:48

it is said in the Chronicles,

2Ch 20:36

that they were made to go to Tarshish; and in like manner the navy of ships, which Solomon had previously made in Ezion-geber,

1Ki 9:26

is said in the Chronicles,

2Ch 9:21

to have gone to Tarshish with the servants of Hiram. It is not to be supposed that the author of these passages in the Chronicles contemplated a voyage to Tarshish in the south of Spain by going round what has since been called the Cape of Good Hope. The expression "ships of Tarshish" originally meant ships destined to go to Tarshish; and then probably came to signify large Phoenician ships, of a particular size the description, destined for long voyages, just as in English "East Indiaman" was a general name given to vessels, some of which were not intended to go to India at all. Hence we may infer that the word Tarshish was also used to signify any distant place, and in this case would be applied to one in the Indian Ocean. This is shown by the nature of the imports with which the fleet returned, which are specified as "gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks."

1Ki 10:22

The gold might possibly have been obtained form Africa, or from Ophir in Arabia, and the ivory and the apes might likewise have been imported from Africa; but the peacocks point conclusively, not to Africa, but to India. There are only two species known: both inhabit the mainland and islands of India; so that the mention of the peacock seems to exclude the possibility of the voyage having been to Africa.

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TARSHISH, a country of this name, whither Solomon sent his fleets, 1Ki 10:22; 2Ch 9:11. There is a multitude of different opinions concerning this country. Josephus, and the Chaldee and Arabic paraphrasts, explain it of Tarsus, a city of Cilicia; the Septuagint, St. Jerom, and Theodoret, understand it of Carthage. The Arabian geographer will have it to be Tunis in Africa. Bochart makes it to be Tartessus, an island in the Straits of Gades. By Tarshish, M. Le Clerc understands Thassus, an island and city in the AEgean sea. Grotius thinks that the whole ocean was called Tarshish, because of the famous city of Tartessus, now mentioned. Sanctius believes the sea in general to be called Tarshish, and that the ships of Tarshish were those that are employed in voyages at sea, in opposition to the small vessels that are used only in most navigable rivers. The LXX translate Tarshish sometimes by "the sea;" and the Scripture gives the names of ships of Tarshish to those that were fitted out at Ezion-Geber, on the Red Sea, and which sailed upon the ocean, as well as to those that were fitted out at Joppa, and in the ports of the Mediterranean. Therefore, when we see ships fitted out upon the Red Sea, or at Ezion-Geber, in order to go to Tarshish, we must conclude one of these two things, either that there were two countries called Tarshish, one upon the ocean, and another upon the Mediterranean, or that ships of Tarshish in general signifies nothing else but ships able to bear a long voyage; large merchant ships, in opposition to the small craft intended for a home trade in navigable rivers.

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