WHY SHOULD the men of the British Navy be known popularly as 'Jack Tars'? Apart from the assumption that "tar" is perhaps a diminutive of "tarpaulin", the recognised authorities are strangely unhelpful. It is therefore within the bounds of probability that the British sailor's affectionate nickname has its origin in God's vital, but sealed language of prophecy.
"The ships of Tarshish" (Tars-ish or Tar Men) are mentioned frequently in Scripture, and from the twenty-seventh chapter of Ezekiel we learn that their cargoes were silver, iron, tin and lead. These were vessels from British ports manned, possibly, by seagoing Israelites or, as so many historians call them, Phoenicians.
Again, in the great conflict to take place in the latter days,
"...the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof..." (EZEKIEL 38:13), is a description now generally agreed to refer to Great Britain and what were the former Dominions. Since Jack is a corruption of Jacobus, or Jacob, we may reasonably deduce that Jack Tar means a "seaman of the House of Jacob."
"...I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (HEBREWS 13:5).
by Reginald H. W. Cox
Source: 'Wake Up!' Magazine, November/December 1992