Tarshish [N] [E] [H]
- Probably Tartessus, a city and emporium of the Phoenicians in the south of Spain, represented as one of the sons of Javan. ( Genesis 10:4 ; 1 Kings 10:22 ; 1 Chronicles 1:7 ; Psalms 48:7 ; Isaiah 2:16 ; Jeremiah 10:9 ; Ezekiel 27:12 Ezekiel 27:25 ; Jonah 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, ( Ezekiel 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.
- 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, ( 1 Kings 22:48 ) it is said in the Chronicles, ( 2 Chronicles 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, ( 1 Kings 9:26 ) is said in the Chronicles, ( 2 Chronicles 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 ." ( 1 Kings 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.
[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
[H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names
Bibliography InformationSmith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Tarshish'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". . 1901.