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Holman Bible Dictionary


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(tahr' sshihssh) Personal and place name of uncertain derivation, either meaning, “yellow jasper,” as in the Hebrew of Exodus 28:20 ; Ezekiel 28:13 , or else derived from an Akkadian term meaning, “smelting plant.” 1. Son of Javan (Genesis 10:4 ; 1 Chronicles 1:7 ) and ancestor of an Aegean people. 2. Benjaminite warrior (1 Chronicles 7:10 ). 3 . One of seven leading officials of King Ahasuerus of Persia (Esther 1:14 ). This name possibly means “greedy one” in Old Persian. 4. Geographic designation, most likely of Tartessus at the southern tip of Spain but possibly of Tarsus in Cilisia. Jonah sailed for Tarshish, the far limit of the western world from the Mediterranean port of Joppa in his futile attempt to escape God's call (Jonah 1:3 ). Tarshish traded in precious metals with Tyre, another Mediterranean port (Isaiah 23:1 ; Jeremiah 10:9 ; Ezekiel 27:12 ). 5 . References to Tarshish in 1Kings and 2Chronicles suggest a non-geographic meaning. Solomon's (1 Kings 10:22 ; 2 Chronicles 9:21 ) and Jehoshaphat's (1 Kings 22:48 ; 2 Chronicles 20:36 ) fleets were based at Ezion-Geber on the Red Sea. Solomon's cargo suggests east African trading partners. Thus “ships of Tarshish” may designate seagoing vessels like those of Tarshish or else ships bearing metal cargo like those of Tarshish (compare Isaiah 2:16 where ships of Tarshish parallels beautiful crafts).

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Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Tarshish'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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