The drowning of Jews at Joppa (2 Macc 12:3-12:4)

“The people of Joppa did an ungodly deed. They invited the Jews who lived among them to embark, with their wives and children, on boats that they had provided, as though there were no ill will towards the Jews. This was done by public vote of the city. When they accepted, because they wished to live peaceably and suspected nothing, the people of Joppa took them out to sea. They then drowned them, at least two hundred.”

This is a strange incident. Joppa was an ancient seaport on the Mediterranean seacoast, about thirty miles south of Caesarea and thirty-five miles north-west of Jerusalem, being the principal port of Judea. It was mentioned in 1 Maccabees, chapters 11-14, where Simon, Judas’ brother, was active. It had been part of the original territory of Dan. However, it is not clear who these inhabitants were. However, they somehow voted to drown all the Jewish people living there. Nevertheless, there were only a couple of hundred Jews, and that included their families.

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