Tabitha (also called Dorcas, meaning “gazelle”) lived in the city of Joppa, approximately thirty-four miles from Jerusalem, where she was a follower of Jesus. The first mention of her is in Acts, which states that Tabithawas a woman “…full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died…” (9:36–37). Many widows cried over the loss of the woman who, among other things, made cloaks for the poor.
Her body was placed in an upper room, so that it might be washed with water and smeared with aromatic oil in preparation for burial. Some of the disciples of Jesus in Joppa knew that Peter was nearby, in the city of Lydda. They sent two men to entreat him to come to Joppa. It's unclear whether the disciples thought Peter might attend Tabitha's funeral, or if he might perform a miracle upon the lifeless body.
Joppa was located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It served as an ancient Palestinian seaport for the holy city of Jerusalem, which was only thirty-four miles away. Lydda was roughly eleven or twelve miles southeast and inland.
Peter went to Joppa. Perhaps he heard the widows wailing through the windows of the upper room. Perhaps they were wearing some of the clothing Tabitha had sewn. Some sources say she was noted for making not only cloaks, but undergarments and outer garments as well. The widows showed Peter the cloaks. How could he not be moved by the loving work this woman had done for the poor in her community?
Peter, just as Jesus had done when he raised Jairus's daughter from the dead, asked everyone to leave the room. He knelt and prayed. Then, using the words that Jesus had used with the child of Jairus, Peter said, “Tabitha, arise” (Acts 9:40), and she opened her eyes. Finally, as Jesus had also done, Peter gave the woman his hand and lifted her up. He called the people in the house and presented Tabitha to them…alive.