Land of Israel

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Template:Israelis The Land of Israel (Hebrew: ארץ ישראל Eretz Yisrael) is the land that made up the ancient Jewish Kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The term has been used by Jews and Christians throughout history. Note that the term "State of Israel" in contrast denotes a particular modern day independent country within the region. See The Land of Israel and the State of Israel.

Biblical passages

The borders defined in God's covenant with the Israelites from Abraham on through Joshua is much larger than the current borders of the State of Israel. Several verses from the Torah and a verse from the Book of Joshua define the borders of the Promised Land. Verses include:

  • And I will set thy border from the Red Sea even unto the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness unto the River; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand; and thou shalt drive them out before thee.
  • And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying: ‘Command the children of Israel, and say unto them: When ye come into the land of Canaan, this shall be the land that shall fall unto you for an inheritance, even the land of Canaan according to the borders thereof. Thus your south side shall be from the wilderness of Zin close by the side of Edom, and your south border shall begin at the end of the Salt Sea eastward; and your border shall turn about southward of the ascent of Akrabbim, and pass along to Zin; and the goings out thereof shall be southward of Kadesh-barnea; and it shall go forth to Hazar-addar, and pass along to Azmon; and the border shall turn about from Azmon unto the Brook of Egypt, and the goings out thereof shall be at the Sea. And for the western border, ye shall have the Great Sea for a border; this shall be your west border. And this shall be your north border: from the Great Sea ye shall mark out your line unto mount Hor; from mount Hor ye shall mark out a line unto the entrance to Hamath; and the goings out of the border shall be at Zedad; and the border shall go forth to Ziphron, and the goings out thereof shall be at Hazar-enan; this shall be your north border. And ye shall mark out your line for the east border from Hazar-enan to Shepham; and the border shall go down from Shepham to Riblah, on the east side of Ain; and the border shall go down, and shall strike upon the slope of the sea of Chinnereth eastward; and the border shall go down to the Jordan, and the goings out thereof shall be at the Salt Sea; this shall be your land according to the borders thereof round about.’ And Moses commanded the children of Israel, saying: ‘This is the land wherein ye shall receive inheritance by lot, which the LORD hath commanded to give unto the nine tribes, and to the half-tribe; for the tribe of the children of Reuben according to their fathers’ houses, and the tribe of the children of Gad according to their fathers’ houses, have received, and the half-tribe of Manasseh have received, their inheritance; the two tribes and the half-tribe have received their inheritance beyond the Jordan at Jericho eastward, toward the sun-rising.’
  • The LORD our God spoke unto us in Horeb, saying: ‘Ye have dwelt long enough in this mountain; turn you, and take your journey, and go to the hill-country of the Amorites and unto all the places nigh thereunto, in the Arabah, in the hill-country, and in the Lowland, and in the South, and by the sea-shore; the land of the Canaanites, and Lebanon, as far as the great river, the river Euphrates. Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD swore unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.’
  • Every place whereon the sole of your foot shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness, and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the hinder sea shall be your border.
  • From the wilderness, and this Lebanon, even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your border.

A sequence from the Book of Ezekiel provides a vision of borders in end times of a smaller region allocated to the 12 tribes in equal divisions west of the Jordan.

  • Thus saith the Lord GOD: ‘This shall be the border, whereby ye shall divide the land for inheritance according to the twelve tribes of Israel, Joseph receiving two portions. And ye shall inherit it, one as well as another, concerning which I lifted up My hand to give it unto your fathers; and this land shall fall unto you for inheritance. And this shall be the border of the land: on the north side, from the Great Sea, by the way of Hethlon, unto the entrance of Zedad; Hamath, Berothah, Sibraim, which is between the border of Damascus and the border of Hamath; Hazer-hatticon, which is by the border of Hauran. And the border from the sea shall be Hazar-enon at the border of Damascus, and on the north northward is the border of Hamath. This is the north side. And the east side, between Hauran and Damascus and Gilead, and the land of Israel, by the Jordan, from the border unto the east sea shall ye measure. This is the east side. And the south side southward shall be from Tamar as far as the waters of Meriboth-kadesh, to the Brook, unto the Great Sea. This is the south side southward. And the west side shall be the Great Sea, from the border as far as over against the entrance of Hamath. This is the west side.

Dimensions of the Land of Israel

File:Early-Historical-Israel-Dan-Beersheba-Judea.png
Early ancient historical Israel — land in pink is the approximate area under direct central royal administration during the United Monarchy

The size of the Promised Land of the Tanakh (or Hebrew Bible referred to also as the "Old Testament" by Christians) encompasses a region that extends from the Nile to the Euphrates. Area known to be included are the modern states of Israel, Lebanon, most of modern-day Syria, and Yesha. Also in this region would be the Sinai Peninsula, which is widely believed to encompass the route of the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt.

The definition in Ezekiel, describes a much smaller area within the Land of Israel which according to Ezekiel's prophecy, would be allocated in equal portions to the 12 tribes in end times. It has the river Jordan as its eastern border and the Brook of Egypt in the West. It encompasses most of modern Israel, the territories, a small part of modern Egypt, southern Lebanon, and the southwestern tip of Syria.

Another point of debate for some religious scholars is the consistent reference to the inclusion of "the Land of the Hittites" within the borders. Some view the Hittites as one of the tribes that had settled in Canaan and was conquered by Joshua, while others refer to a greater empire that encompassed most of Central Turkey.

From Dan to Beersheba

The common Biblical phrase used to refer to the territories actually settled by Israelites (as opposed to theoretical promises) is "from Dan to Beersheba" (or its variant "from Beersheba to Dan"), which occurs in the Biblical verses Judges 20:1, 1 Samuel 3:20, 2 Samuel 3:10, 2 Samuel 17:11, 2 Samuel 24:2, 2 Samuel 24:15, 1 Kings 4:25, 1 Chronicles 21:2, and 2 Chronicles 30:5.


The Land of Israel and the State of Israel

During the British Mandate of Palestine, the name Eretz Yisrael (abbreviated א״י Aleph-Yod), was part of the official name of the territory, when written in Hebrew. That name was (פלשתינה א״י). The government of the British Mandate of Palestine wanted the name to be פלשתינה (Palestina) while the Yishuv wanted ארץ ישראל (Eretz Yisrael). The compromise eventually achieved was that the initials א"י would be written in brackets whenever פלשתינה is written. Consequently, in 20th century political usage, the term "Land of Israel" usually denotes only those parts of the land which came under the British mandate, i.e. the land currently controlled by the State of Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip, and sometimes also Transjordan (now the Kingdom of Jordan).

The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel commences by drawing a direct line from Biblical times to the present:

The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books.

After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom.
...
On the 29th November, 1947, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a Jewish State in Eretz-Israel; the General Assembly required the inhabitants of Eretz-Israel to take such steps as were necessary on their part for the implementation of that resolution. This recognition by the United Nations of the right of the Jewish people to establish their State is irrevocable.

The Land of Israel in Jewish law

According to Jewish law (halacha), several religious laws only apply to Jews living in the Land of Israel and not to Jews living elsewhere. These include agricultural laws and laws regarding taxation. Some of the laws which applied in ancient time are applied in modern Israel today; others have not been revived. (In particular, the Temple has not been rebuilt despite the state of Israel having been re-established and consequently the laws regarding the Temple are still not applied.)

See also

sr:Ерец Израел fr:Terre d'Israel