We have often spoken of the latter day Tarshish on the Bible in the News program, discussing the relationships between Britain, America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Israel. The cause of our attention comes from passages such as Ezekiel 38:13 where there is a notable presence of the Tarshish powers, friendly to Israel in the time of the end:
“Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?” (Ezekiel 38:13)
It is another subject, but Tarshish is identified with the ancient trade in tin and led identified by Ezekiel 37:12:
“Tarshish was thy merchant by reason of the multitude of all kind of riches; with silver, iron, tin, and lead, they traded in thy fairs.” (Ezekiel 27:12)
Tarshish is identified as a western lying nation because Tarshish is identified with the nation of Tyre on the coasts of Lebanon, and Jonah left from Joppa to take a ship to Tarshish heading west.
Ancient authorities such as Herodotus and Julius Caesar identify an island beyond the straights of Gibraltar and off the coast of Europe as being the source of tin. More current authorities such as Encyclopedia Britannica, and Barbara Tuchman in her book "The Bible and Sword" identify Britain as this ancient source. (See Bible Magazine Volume 26 #4, “Bronze Age Sea Traders” and Volume 20 #2, “The Merchants of Tarshish” for more on this).
The Eastern Tarshish
The people of Tarshish have roots that go way back in history. It is interesting that Herodotus, writing about 100 years after Ezekiel, identifies the Phoenicians (who are associated in the Bible with Tarshish), as originating from an Eastern direction, and migrating into the west via their naval prowess. Herodotus tells us:
These people originally came from the coasts of the Indian Ocean; and as soon as they penetrated into the Mediterranean and settled in that part of the country where they are today, they took to making long trading voyages. (Herodotus Histories, Book 1, page 1)
Solomon entered into a joint project with Hiram king of Tyre to built ships to go to Tarshish:
“And king Solomon made a navy of ships in Ezion-geber, which is beside Eloth (Elat), on the shore of the Red sea, in the land of Edom. And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon. And they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to king Solomon.” (1 Kings 9:26–28)
Years later Jehoshaphat decided to follow Solomon’s example, he made an alliance with Ahaziah of Israel, however he failed in his exploits:
“And after this did Jehoshaphat king of Judah join himself with Ahaziah king of Israel, who did very wickedly: And he joined himself with him to make ships to go to Tarshish: and they made the ships in Ezion-geber. Then Eliezer the son of Dodavah of Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat, saying, Because thou hast joined thyself with Ahaziah, the LORD hath broken thy works. And the ships were broken, that they were not able to go to Tarshish.” (2 Chronicles 20:35–37)
Note where Jehoshaphat’s ships were destroyed, Ezion Geber. We are told this in the Kings record too:
“Jehoshaphat made ships of Tharshish to go to Ophir for gold: but they went not; for the ships were broken at Ezion-geber.” (1 Kings 22:48)
Both Solomon and Jehoshaphat’s navy’s were built in Elat, in on the northern tip of the Red sea and were destined for an eastern “Tarshish”.
Eusebius, who wrote an Onomasticon, or a directory of place names, where he identified Ailam, also known as Ailath during Roman times as
“the extremity of Palestine between the southern desert and the Red Sea where cargo was transported by ship from both Egypt and India”
John Thomas identified India
with the Eastern Tarshish in
Elpis Israel, 1848
John Thomas, reflecting on these Bible passages, and writing in Elpis Israel in 1849 had the following to say:
As to Tarshish, there were two countries of that name in the geography of the ancients. Jehoshaphat built ships at Ezion-geber, a port of the Red Sea, that they might sail thence to Tarshish. Now, it will be seen by the map that they could only sail southward towards the straits of Bab-el-Mandeb, from which they might then steer east, or north, for India. As they did not sail by compass in those days, but coastwise, they would creep round the coast of Arabia, and so make for Hindostan. They might have sailed southward again along the coast of Africa instead of to India; but it is not likely they did, as the commerce of the time was with the civilized world, and not the savage. The voyage occupied them three years. In the days of Solomon the trade was shared between Israel and the Tyrians; for “he had at sea a navy of Tarshish with the navy of Hiram; once in three years came the navy of Tarshish bringing gold and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.” These products point to India as the Eastern Tarshish—a country which has always conferred maritime ascendancy on the power which has possessed its trade and been its carrier to the nations…. The merchandise of the northern Tarshish, and of the eastern, identifies Britain and India with the two countries of that name; and Sheba and Tarshish in the prophecy of Gogue are manifestly indicative of the Lion-power of the AngloIndian empire.
Now since the days of John Thomas the British East India company has long since dissolved, with India having gained its independence in 1947 shortly before the state of Israel was established. Both nations threw of the yoke of British colonialism at about the same time. However, the scriptures indicate that the powers associated with Tarshish, her “young lions” would remain friendly to the newly reborn Israel in the time of the end.
So we can look for events that will see friendly relations between India (who answers to one of the Ancient names of Tarshish) and Israel in the time of the end, as well as Britain.
India Strengthens Relations with Israel
These prophecies were brought to the front this week when relationships between India and Israel were highlighted in the news. The Times of Israel, in an article entitled “Defense minister to pay first state visit to India” stated,
“Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is reportedly slated to visit India on February 17 in the first state visit by an Israeli defense minister, as the countries seek to foster deeper security ties. Ya’alon is expected to hold a number of high-level meetings with Indian officials and visit a large arms factory in the southern Indian city of Bangalore.”
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh on November 6th in Israel, he stated:
“Israel and India are at the cusp of a new era of increased cooperation in a wide variety of fields.”
This includes both economic and military cooperation. The same Times of Israel article reported,
“In October, India reportedly agreed to a $525 million deal to buy Israel’s guided Spike missiles, which were widely used during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge.”
The Times of India carried an article February 1, 2015, under the headline “India, Israel to restart free trade agreement talks” which stated,
India and Israel will resume negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) next week, government sources confirmed, in another indication of deepening ties between the two countries since the Narendra Modi-led NDA government came to power….
…annual trade with Israel peaked at $5.1 billion in 2011, it tapered to $4.39 billion two years later because of global recession. India and Israel are both confident though that their annual trade volume will double once the FTA is signed….
With Modi coming to power, both countries seem more open to engaging publicly, including in defence and security cooperation, a clear departure from the past.
David Cohen, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior under the government of President George W. Bush, posted an article on The New Caller, carrying the headline “No Country Has More Friends Of Israel Than … India.” In his opinion piece he stated:
India, the country with the second-largest Muslim population in the world, a country with more Muslims than Egypt and Iran combined, a country whose government has consistently sided against Israel over the past six and a half decades … has more supporters of Israel than any other country in the world. More than the United States. More than Israel….
Affinity for Israel is strongest among core supporters of new Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won over 171 million votes in this year’s election….
Many Indians admire the cultural self-assurance of Israeli Jews, and their willingness to fight to defend Israel and Judaism….
Many Modi supporters see India as a necessary refuge for Hinduism, and empathize with the Jews’ need to defend, in Israel, the world’s refuge for Judaism.
A Wall Street Journal article by Sadanand Dhume, an Indian writer and journalist based in Washington, under the title “Revealed: The India-Israel axis.” Dhume stated:
Even as pro-Palestinian protestors take to the streets of London and Paris, Israel’s ties with the world’s largest democracy are on the upswing. For the first time in a decade, New Delhi appears ready to suggest publicly what many officials already acknowledge privately: A burgeoning strategic partnership with Israel matters more to India than reflexive solidarity with the Palestinian cause.
In the news today, we see the clear support of Israel by India, and an affinity between the two countries that is growing stronger all the time, both militarily and economically.
We can expect this to continue right up to the time of the end, and past the Gogian invasion into the kingdom, for we read in Psalm 72 of Millenial relationships between the Tarshish nations and Israel, after Israel’s messiah has come and is established on his throne in Jerusalem:
“The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yeah, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.” (Psalm 72:10-11)
Bible prophecy has written the script of world history well in advance, and the actors on the world stage are taking their positions for the last act in the great battle of Armageddon.
So while the world prepares, so should we:
“…knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light….” (Romans 13:11-12)
This has been Jonathan Bowen joining you.