Who Is Tabitha In The Bible

Some Bible students recognize the name Tabitha in the book of Acts as a shortened form of Aramaic Tabitha טַבִּיתָא. Actually this is not true. This is just a false assumption. The name Tabitha טַבִּיתָא is different than Tabitha in the Bible.

Tabitha is mentioned only three times in the Bible and all in the Acts of the Apostles. She may have been a Greek Christian from either a town named Bethany or from Cyrene. Tabitha is Greek for gazelle, which was an animal noted for its beauty and modesty in the Bible. It is said that she was very beautiful and associated with the apostles. More than 2000 years later she is still inspiring people, this time through her “beautiful” life story, parables and admonishments.

Check out this post if you want to learn more about Tabitha and the role she plays in the Bible. Tabitha’s story is an interesting one and since it contains so many fun facts, I thought I’d share some of them with you.

Remember when Tabitha was raised from the dead by none other than Apostle Peter? I do, it’s one of my favorite Bible stories. So many people overlook her and think she is not important. This article will help readers to learn more about Tabitha and consider her a great hero of the faith.

Who Is Tabitha In The Bible

Luke, the writer of Luke-Acts, tells the story of Tabitha, a disciple brought back to life after prayer from the apostle Peter. After she is washed and laid out in an upper room, Peter takes her hand and commands her to get up (Acts 9:36-42).

In seven verses, Luke presents Tabitha as much loved, and the miracle of her return to life leads many to believe (v. 42). Luke’s terse account contains praise, humor, honor, sadness, joy and insights on the faith of the early church. Tabitha is so beloved and so essential to the life of her believing community in Joppa, a port city near the heart of modern Tel Aviv, that others cannot imagine life without her. Tabitha simply cannot stay dead. Her faithful community will not permit it!


Throughout Luke’s story, Tabitha remains silent. Luke speaks for her. In what could be considered a humorous touch, her only living actions are opening her eyes, seeing Peter, sitting up, being helped up by him, and being presented alive to the believers and widows (vv. 40-41).

Who Is Tabitha In The Bible

The ancient biblical city of Joppa was the home of a Hebrew woman by the name of Tabitha, or Dorcas (her Greek name). Joppa was located on Israel’s western border on the Mediterranean coastline, about 35 miles to the west of Jerusalem. Today, it is incorporated into the greater city of Tel Aviv. It was a major port and trading center, and it also was strategically located on the Via Maris, a major ancient trading route that aided in the distribution of imported and exported merchandise. Jonah sailed from Joppa to escape from God’s presence (Jonah 1:3). Cedar wood was shipped to the port of Joppa and then taken to Jerusalem when “Solomon determined to build an house for the name of the Lord…” (2 Chronicles 2:1; 16).

And, the Apostle Peter visited and preached in Joppa (Acts 9:40–43).

Who was Tabitha, how did God use her to His purpose, and why is she such a good example for women?

There are few personal details about Tabitha. The Bible does not state whether she was single, married or widowed, rich or poor, or whether she had children; nor does the Bible mention her genealogy. However, one verse reveals some important information about Tabitha: “At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did.” To paraphrase, Tabitha was a Christian woman, or female pupil, who was thoroughly full of many good deeds and also charitable works for the poor, for whom she had active compassion and tender mercy. And, she personally performed  these charitable deeds.

Tabitha was well known by the widows for whom she sewed tunics and garments.  In those days, ordering and purchasing materials, cutting, assembling, fitting, altering and sewing garments, cloaks and robes by hand were tedious and labor intensive endeavors. She willingly gave of her time and effort to help others. It takes a very emotionally, physically and spiritually strong woman to consistently and personally see to the needs of others.

Understandably, the whole community felt a great loss when Tabitha became sick and died. After her body was washed and placed in an upper room, two men were dispatched to the nearby city of Lydda, where the Apostle Peter was staying, to ask him to immediately come to Joppa. When Peter arrived, he saw that the widows were very upset about Tabitha’s death. They showed Peter the garments that she had made for them and told him of her many good deeds. In response, Peter sent everyone out of the room and then knelt down and prayed to God. After his prayer he turned to Tabitha and said, “Tabitha, arise.” God miraculously restored her to life, and then Peter presented Tabitha alive to the saints and widows. Afterwards, “it became known throughout all Joppa and many believed on the Lord.”

What can Christian women learn from Tabitha’s example? Tabitha served the needs of the widows by sewing garments for them. She was especially compassionate and tender to their needs and actively and personally served them and others. Her example is an inspiration to women today to endeavor to serve others by whatever talents God has blessed them with, whether as a seamstress, or one who arranges flowers, is talented in gardening, baking, cooking, music, caring for the sick or teaching children. And, since Tabitha’s good works were known in Joppa, especially among the widows, God used her notoriety and the event of her death and restoration to life as a means for preaching the gospel and calling many others.

Was she a “woman after God’s own heart?” Although the Bible does not use those exact words, this is definitely one case wherein the power of an example definitely shows that she was—and the account of her life, death and resurrection was included as a very special example indeed!

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