91. The (place) of Saint Jonah - (Nabi Yunis)
It is one of several memorial places recalling the prophet Jonah's being vomited unto dry land by the fish (Jonah 2:10). The most important ones are: an-Nabi Yunus near Sarafand southwest of ancient Sidon (Sayda); Tall Yunis, 5 km south of Yafa; an-Nabi Yunis, 4 km northeast of Minat asdud, the ancient harbour of Ashdod; Han Yunis southwest of Gaza. All of them are situated near the seashore. On the Madaba map , probably Tall Yunis near Yafa is meant, for it seems to be too far from Ashdod harbour. The connection of the prophet Jonah with Yafa might have been influenced by the famous myth of Perseus, Andromeda and the Monster whose bones were shown in the harbour of Yafa. The brownish round object in the sea beneath the santuary of Jonah, however, is hardly part of Jonah's fish - as often suggested -, but rather the bow or the stern of a ship.
Herbert Donner, The Mosaic Map of Madaba, Kempen 1992, 56
Michael Avi-Yonah (The Madaba Mosaic Map, Jerusalem 1954, 63)
The site is marked somewhat south of Jaffa, possibly at Tell Yunis. The connection between Jonah and Jaffa is obvious, and it is quite likely that the bones of Andromeda's monster shown at Jaffa were in Byzantine times transferred to Jonah's Whale. The identification of Jonah with this part of the coast went so far that some placed his birth-place at Geth near Diospolis, a suggestion categorically rejected by St. Jerome (Praef. in Jonam, Patr. Iat. 25, col. 1119). A brownish rounded object is visible in the sea near Jonah's sanctuary; it might be part of a ship or of a monster, either connected with a pictorial representation of the story of the prophet.
Leah Di Segni ("The Onomastikon of Eusebius and the Madaba Map", in The Madaba Map Centenary, Jerusalem 1999, 120)
The location of a sanctuary of St. Jonas here may reflect the tradition explicitly refuted by Jerome (In Ionam, Prologus [CCSL 76, 378]; cf. Avi-Yonah, MMM 63, no. 67), which located Jonas' birthplace near Diospolis. Both Eusebius and Jerome (On. 72, 25; In Ionam, cit.) located Jonas' birthplace and tomb at Geth Hefer, in Lower Galilee (see TIR, s.v.), following the tradition of the Vitae prophetarum: Th. Schermann, Prophetarum vitae fabulosae (Leipzig 1907), 105. (See also the complete article)
For more sources and bibliography see:
Tabula Imperii Romani. Iudaea - Palaestina (Jerusalem 1994) s.v. "Ionae, Ecclesia Sancti", 152; "Cariathmaus", 100.
Map Section 7 Place Sources