I can trace my Tarshish family line all the way back to Noah - albeit with a gap of several thousand yeas between 1810 when Meyer Tarshish was born and his biblical forbears.
After the great flood, the bible records that Noah's children Shem. Ham and Japeth all started their own families. Japeth's sons were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech and Tiras.
Javan, in turn, was the father of Elishah, Kittim, Tarshish and Dodanim.
That makes the first recorded Tarshish a great-grandson of Noah. Hah ! Beat that fellow genealogists !!!!
The bible then goes into great detail about the various lands settled by all the grandsons of Ham,Shem and Japeth. Broadly - Ham's family got Africa (Ham is Hebrew for hot - ie black-skinned), Shem's family got the Middle East (Shem means "name" and by implication God - hence the modern word Semitic) and Japeth's family got Europe and North Asia (from Yaffe meaning beautiful -ie fair-skinned .
Although there is much academic debate, it seems likely that Tarshish moved to Spain and founded Tartessos in the Bay of Gibraltar probably near the present-day location of Cadiz.
Some confusion has however been caused by later biblical references as the Old Testament speaks of ivory, apes, and peacocks being brought by the ships of Tarshish (2 Chronicles 9:21). Such creatures would not be expected from Spain. However, it is possible that the implication is merely that merchants from Tartessos, or Tarshish, traded in these items, which they perhaps picked up somewhere in Africa and sold elsewhere in the Middle East. In any event, Tarshish couldn't have settled in Africa as that was the land given to Ham.
In summary therefore, it seems likely that the first Tarshish, grandson of Japheth, settled in Spain and established a capital city (Tartessos)and a kingdom which later became a trading point much used by the Phoenicians, who stopped there on their way to the eastern Mediterranean ports, bringing wares picked up on the way.
What happened to Tartessos and its current day location is a mystery. Some even link Tartessos to the lost city of Atlantis. What we do know is that Tartessus existed until Iberia was invaded by the Carthaginians in BC 533 and was located near the Guadalquavir estuary in the Bay of Gibraltar - somewhere between Huelva and Cadiz. By the time of the Romans (Augustus), Tartessus had disappeared although what is now the Gulf of Cadiz was known as the Gulf of Tartessus.
click here for more information on the mystery of Tartessos
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