top of page

Great St Mary's Church, Cambridge, east window.

The text on the upper five panes is "The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents ... Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him." (Ps.72:10-11). Keith Edkins / Great St Mary's Church, east window

Great Britain is Tarshish

New evidence supports the identification of Britain as Tarshish in bible prophecy.

Scroll down for The Significance of the British Empire

Great Britain is Tarshish Video.

There has long been a theory that when Tarshish is mentioned prophetically in the bible it refers to modern day Great Britain. I first heard this theory in the 1990s and have a book, published in 1941 entitled “Is Great Britain Tarshish?” by Rev. W. Lamb, which also promotes the theory.


There have been other places identified as Tarshish and I was not sure whether to believe this interpretation or not but recent archeological finds in Israel have convinced me that Tarshish is indeed Great Britain.


The Prophet Ezekiel

Ezekiel chapter 38 tells us of ancient nations that unite under a leader called “Gog”. You can see one interpretation of who these nations are on the website page about Hal Lindsey. These nations, (possibly a combination of Russia, Turkey and Iran along with some European and African nations) will band together and move to attack Israel at a time just before the return of Christ. 


There is however another group of nations that stand aside from the invasion and protest about it.


[Eze 38:13 KJV] 13 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?


Sheba could refer to the Sabbeans who lived in what are now the Arab Gulf states. Dedan is located in the area we now know as saudi Arabia. Who is Tarshish?


 Phoenician ship Carved on the face of a sarcophagus. 2nd century AD.Via Wikimedia Commons.

“Tarshish” is referred to in several places in the bible. The ships of Tarshish are described as belonging to the proud and lofty in Isaiah chapter 2 and the inference is that they will be brought low. Isaiah 60 refers to a time when the nations shall bring their offerings to the Holy One of Israel. 


[Isa 60:9 KJV] 9 Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the LORD thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee.


This is clearly a reference to the Millennial age when Jesus rules on Earth. We see more of this in Isaiah 66 and it seems to indicate that those who have come through the Tribulation period will declare God’s glory in various nations including Tarshish. Psalm 72:10 tells us that Tarshish will be among the nations that bring gifts to the king’s son (Jesus) in this period.


So we can see that as well as being a nation in Ezekiel’s time it is also a nation that exists in the millennial period. There are several clues regarding the identity of Tarshish.


Jonah and the whale. Carlo Antonio Tavella, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A Maritime Power.


The term “ships of Tarshish” occurs seven times in the King James Version of the bible. Consequently we can see that Tarshish is a nation that is associated with ships and the sea. Solomon’s ships went to Tarshish and traded in goods. 


[2Ch 9:21 KJV] 21 For the king's ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram: every three years once came the ships of Tarshish bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.


The products mentioned here are associated with India and Africa. One theory is that there was an Eastern Tarshish in the Indian region. However Herodotus mentions that Egyptian ships manned by Phoenicians took three years to sail from the Arabian gulf and return to Egypt round the coast of Africa and via the straits of Gibraltar, which means Tarshish could be anywhere on this route. Clearly it was very distant as it was the place Jonah wanted to escape to, to be as far as he could from Israel.


Old tin mine in Cornwall. Caitriana Nicholson via 

Wikimedia Commons 



Tarshish was a source of precious metals.


[Eze 27:12 KJV] 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.


Tin in particular was a rare commodity that was used in the making of bronze.


Ezekiel 38


This chapter gives us more information about Tarshish.


[Eze 38:13 KJV] 13 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?


Here we see that Tarshish is known for its merchants, it is a trading nation. Also “young lions” are referred to. This refers to the offspring of Tarshish. In other words its colonies.


Plan of Tyre 333-332 B.C. (William R. Shepherd).. Public Domain

So we see that Tarshish is a maritime power, a merchant power, a colonial power and a source of metals (silver, iron tin and lead). We also know from Genesis chapter 10 that the original man called Tarshish was a descendant of Japheth. The historian Josephus explains that Japheth’s descendants colonised what is now Europe. Ham’s went south to Africa and Shem’s stayed in the Middle East. Consequently the nation of Tarshish was a Japhetic people, not Semitic or Hamitic. 




Another point is that the original great trading nation in the ancient world was Tyre. At one point Tyre was a friend to Israel but after the fall of Israel and Jerusalem to their enemies, Tyre was glad because it thought it would benefit from the fall of Jerusalem. This was probably because the ruin of a trade rival meant more wealth for Tyre.


[Eze 26:2 KJV] 2 Son of man, because that Tyrus hath said against Jerusalem, Aha, she is broken [that was] the gates of the people: she is turned unto me: I shall be replenished, [now] she is laid waste:


However this gloating by Tyre brought on God’s wrath and the rest of Ezekiel chapter 26 is a judgement on Tyre. Eventually Tyre was completely destroyed by Alexander the Great. The point of interest to us here is what happened to Tyre after its destruction. There is another prophecy against Tyre in Isaiah 23 and we read the following in verses 5, 6 and 7:


[Isa 23:5-7 KJV] 5 As at the report concerning Egypt, [so] shall they be sorely pained at the report of Tyre. 6 Pass ye over to Tarshish; howl, ye inhabitants of the isle. 7 [Is] this your joyous [city], whose antiquity [is] of ancient days? her own feet shall carry her afar off to sojourn.


So prophetically speaking the influence of Tyre was to take root again, sojourn, in Tarshish. The arguments, over the years, have been about where this prophetic Tarshish is located. What nation has all the attributes of Tarshish?

Portrait of Alexander the Great. Marble, Hellenistic artwork, 2nd-1st century BC. Said to be from Alexandria, Egypt. British Museum via Wikimedia Commons.

Cornish Mining Map.jpg
Cornish mining map legend 1.jpg

The characteristics of Tarshish are as follows: -


  • Source of tin, silver iron and lead.

  • A Japhetic nation.

  • A merchant nation.

  • A maritime nation.

  • A nation with colonies.


Great Britain has been suggested as fitting the bill but so have Spain and some other places. Many of the arguments have been about which nation or region could have supplied the metals. One thing that started me thinking that it could have been Britain, specifically Devon and Cornwall, was when I saw a map of the old mines on the border of Devon and Cornwall. The legend to the map lists tin,silver and lead among the metals. Iron is also found throughout Devon and Cornwall.

What finally convinced me is that in 2019 there were headlines in the media showing that analysis of bronze (an alloy of copper and tin) artefacts from 13th and 12th century BCE Israel proved that the tin came from Cornwall. These are the headlines from The Times of Israel 22nd September 2019: -


"Groundbreaking study: Ancient tin ingots found in Israel were mined in England

Enigma of origins of Bronze Age Levant’s tin supply solved through isotope and chemical composition analysis that shows 13th–12th century BCE tin bars likely came from Cornwall"

We are talking about tin from at least 3,000 years ago. The era of King David and Solomon.

Tin from Israel.jpg

Map showing route of tin from Cornwall to Israel


So for me there is enough evidence that Tarshish is in fact Great Britain. A place far enough away from Israel to be the place that Job was trying to get to, when he was trying to escape from the presence of God.


This brings me back to the original interpretation of the “young lions” of Tarshish, of Ezekiel 38, being the colonies of Tarshish.. Britain’s emblem has always been a lion and the young lions would be her colonies which have now grown up and become independent nations. In fact in the First World War the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee produced posters, such as this one, with just this imagery.


The destiny of Great Britain and her ex colonies is intrinsically connected with bible prophecy. These nations are separate from the European Union and other great power blocks in the world and have a different role and purpose in God’s plans.

Arthur Wardle, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


The Significance of the British Empire

Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

British Empire Video


The British Empire in 1938. Furfur, via Wikimedia Commons

The British Empire does not exist anymore but it left its mark on world history. God used it to spread important principles around the world. Principles that were underpinned by Protestant Christianity.


Some of the most important of these principles were as follows:


  • Freedom of Religion

  • Freedom of Speech

  • The Rule of Law

  • Access to Education

  • Access to Health Care

  • The Right to own Property

  • Democracy


These basic things are the underpinnings of a free society and are still denied to the majority of people in the world.


FDR 1944 Color Portrait. Presidential Library & Museum, via Wikimedia Commons

It is interesting to examine the legacy that the British Empire left. After the Second World War it was clear that Britain could no longer maintain an empire. Apart from the cost of it there was general agreement that the time for empires was over. People want to live in their own sovereign countries. Not in colonies.


Today there are various indexes that measure the level of freedom that different countries enjoy. For example there is a Democracy Index, a Corruption Index and a Freedom Index. It might be helpful to bear in mind the Four Freedoms articulated by Franklin D Roosevelt in 1941 when freedom was under attack all over the world.


  • Freedom of Speech

  • Freedom of Worship

  • Freedom from Want

  • Freedom from Fear


I have reproduced maps that illustrate some of the freedom indexes.


Country ratings from Freedom House's Freedom in the World 2021 survey. Countries in green have a higher level of freedom.

By Sinus46 - Own work, via wikimedia commons


2021 Index of Economic Freedom. Source: Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal. Countries in green have a higher level of Economic Freedom

Asus2004,via Wikimedia Commons


Press freedom in 2022 according to Reporters Without Borders. Blue countries have a higher level of press freedom.

Karte: NordNordWest, Lizenz: Creative Commons , via Wikimedia Commons


Democracy Index map in 2020 according to The Economist Intelligence Unit. Green countries have functioning democracies.

JackintheBox,via Wikimedia Commons


This is a map of member states of the Commonwealth in 2022. There are many more freedom indexes and there is quite a high degree of correlation between high levels of freedom and Commonwealth countries. If you collate all the information you will find the highest levels of freedom are in the Commonwealth nations, the USA and Europe.

Member states of the Commonwealth, via Wikimedia Commons

The USA got many of its founding principles from its British heritage. Principles going back to the Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus and British Common Law. Europe only has its freedom because of a strong America and its Commonwealth allies.


Without the legacy of the British Empire ask yourself how much real freedom there would be in the world. This website page “Great Britain is Tarshish” explains where Britain is in bible prophecy. The “young lions” of Tarshish are all the nations which have sprung from the British Empire, including the United States. These are the nations in the world where people actually want to live. Where people have the freedom to live out their destiny.


WW1 Poster 1914-1918, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

bottom of page