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Simon The Tanner
by Wayne Blank
Simon the tanner was a believer who lived in Joppa (shown in the photograph, see also Bible Places), an ancient city on the Mediterranean Sea coast that was made famous centuries before as the port from which Jonah departed (Jonah 1:3). Today, it's a part of one of modern Israel's largest cities, Tel Aviv. Peter stayed there with Simon after the miracle of raising Tabitha, or Dorcas, from the dead:
"So Peter rose and went with them. And when he had come, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping, and showing tunics and other garments which Dorcas made while she was with them. But Peter put them all outside and knelt down and prayed; then turning to the body he said, "Tabitha, rise." And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and lifted her up. Then calling the saints and widows he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner." (Acts 9:39-43 RSV)
It was while he was staying at Simon the tanner's house (Acts 10:5-6) that God gave Peter a vision of "unclean" animals:
"Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour [i.e. noon, as reckoned from 12 hours of daylight]. And he became hungry and desired something to eat; but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heaven opened, and something descending, like a great sheet, let down by four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him, "Rise, Peter; kill and eat."
It was made known to Peter however that the vision was not about the Clean and Unclean Israelite dietary laws, but about people. God accepts anyone who repents and obeys Him, as Peter explained to a large crowd a few days later:
"And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered; and he said to them, "You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit any one of another nation; but God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean." (Acts 10:27-28 RSV)
Fact Finder: Is it true that "there is neither Jew [i.e. Israelite] nor Greek [i.e. Gentile], there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female" when it comes to who God will accept, if they truly have faith by obeying Him?