Today, our journey through biblical locations brings us to Chey•fa, Haifa, the largest city in northern Israel, and the third largest city in the country. It is also home to the Bahai World Centre, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built on the slopes of Mount Carmel, the history of settlement at the site spans more than 3,000 years. The earliest known settlement in the vicinity was Tell Abu Hawam, a small port city established in the Late Bronze Age (14th century BC. In the 3rd century BCE, Haifa was known as a dye-making center. Over the centuries, the city has changed many hands; it has been conquered and ruled by the Phoenicians, Persians, Hasmoneans, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottomans, British, and the Israelis since 1948).
Much mystery surrounds the origin of the name Haifa. Despite its strategic location, the city is not mentioned in the Bible, although it’s obvious that it was an active city during the biblical era. Because it is not known when and by whom Haifa was founded, it is difficult to investigate the root of the name. One hypothesis is that the name relates to the Hebrew root, CHFA, which means “to cover, to hide” – perhaps because Mount Carmel covers the city. Another interpretation links the name with the word CHOF, beach, or “beautiful
beach.” Christian interpretation holds that since the Crusades, Haifa was named after the High Priest Caiaphas, according to Luke 3:2, and even after the name of the Apostle Peter, who was also called ‘Keyfa’.
“Now send men to Joppa, and get Simon, who is surnamed Peter [in Hebrew it says Keyfa]”