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Tarshish (Hebrew: תַּרְשִׁישׁ‎) occurs in the Hebrew Bible with several uncertain meanings. One of the most recurring is that Tarshish is a place, probably a city or country, that is far from the Land of Israel by sea where trade occurs with Israel and Phoenicia. The Septuagint, the Vulgate and the Targum of Jonathan render this as Carthage. But other biblical commentators read it as Tartessos in ancient Hispania (Iberian Peninsula).[1] W.F. Albright (1941) and F.M. Cross (1972) suggested Tarshish was Sardinia because of the discovery of the Nora Stone or Nora Fragment. The Phoenician inscription on the Nora Stone has been combined with metallic evidence from Phoenicia and ancient documentary sources (biblical, classical and Assyrian) to indicate that the Tarshish which the biblical tradition remembers as a supplier of silver to King Solomon, was a large island in the western Mediterranean Sea (Thompson and Skaggs 2013) - the biblical passages and commentaries that understand Tarshish as a location in Africa, at Tarsus or as far afield as the Tamilakkam in Southern India and Ceylon appear to be confused readings of the earlier textual sources. Tartessos in Spain was eventually equated with Tarshish in later antiquity, but Thompson and Skaggs show that Solomon's Tarshish was a large island (Sardinia), and not a hinterland (Tartessos).

Hebrew Bible[edit]

Tarshish also occurs 24 times in the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible with various meanings:

Other ancient and classical era sources[edit]

Identifications and interpretations[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Tarshish" in the Jewish Encyclopedia, by Isidore Singer and M. Seligsohn.
  2. ^ http://scriptures.lds.org/en/bd/p/14
  3. ^ Cecil Torr (1895). Ancient Ships. Cambridge University Press. pp. 1–3. Retrieved 18 February 2010. 
  4. ^ Charles F. Pfeiffer (1966). "Karatepe". The Biblical World, A Dictionary of Biblical Archaeology. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press. p. 336. 
  5. ^ Expository Times, Christian Charles Josias Bunsen and Sayce, 1902, p. 179
  6. ^ tarshish/beryl
  7. ^ William Parkin - 1837 "Festus Avinus says expressly that Cadiz was Tarshish. This agrees perfectly with the statement of Ibn Hankal, who no doubt reports the opinion of the Arabian geographers, that Phoenicia maintained a direct intercourse with Britain in later ..."
  8. ^ Metzger, Bruce M. and Roland E. Murphy, eds. (1991), New Oxford Annotated Bible, annotation on Jeremiah 10:9.
  9. ^ Richard Leslie Brohier (1934). Ancient irrigation works in Ceylon, Volumes 1-3. pp. 36
  10. ^ A dictionary of the Bible by Sir William Smith published in 1863 notes how the Hebrew word for peacock is Thukki, derived from the Classical Tamil for peacock Thogkai: Ramaswami, Sastri, The Tamils and their culture, Annamalai University, 1967, pp. 16, Gregory, James, Tamil lexicography, M. Niemeyer, 1991, pp. 10, Fernandes, Edna, The last Jews of Kerala, Portobello, 2008, pp. 98, Smith, William, A dictionary of the Bible, Hurd and Houghton, 1863 (1870), pp. 1441
  11. ^ Procedures of the Society for Biblical Archaeology, xvi. 104 et seq., Le Page Renouf
  12. ^ Orientalische Litteraturzeitung, iii. 151, Cheyne
  13. ^ J. P. Weethee The Eastern Question in Its Various Phases Page 293 "The expression is this — "the merchants of Tarshish, with the young lions of Tarshish." Assuming, what we have proved, that England was the ancient Tarshish, and that Great Britain is the Tarshish of Eze. xxxviii. 13, or the chief of both the ..."
  14. ^ Sacred Annals; Or, Researches Into the History and Religion of ... - Page 557 George Smith - 1856 "Heercn fully confirms this view ; shows from Strabo, that the Phenicians not only traded with Spain and Britain, but actually conducted mining operations in the former country ; and is so fully satisfied of the identity of Tarshish and Spain, that he ..."

Albright, W.F. 1941 'New light on the early history of Phoenician colonization', Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 83, 14-22. Cross, F.M. 1972 'An interpretation of the Nora Stone', Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 208, 13-19.

Further reading[edit]