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Pursuing the borders of Israel in Scripture

(Still under construction)

There are individuals who contend that biblical boundaries cannot be used to demarcate the area of the land the Jews are entitled to, since there are a number of accounts that differ from each other. That is really similar to "throwing out the baby with the bath water!"

From the analysis of the factors involved when it comes to the eventual size of Israel, the God of Israel's inheritance, it must be clear that the safest approach to determining Israels borders in scrupture, would be to accept "biggest" sizes and not an average of values or indicators. We can now procede to discuss scripture references to the size of the promised land.

We find the first reference to a territorial entity for a Jewish nation in the promise to Abram when he first arrived in the land of Canaan?

Genesis 12:5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. 6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.
Canaan as promised to Abram - The map of Canaan, found in Atlas of the Bible, Carta, Jerusalem ISBN 965 220 345 9.

The boundaries of this territory of Canaan corresponds closely to those given to Moses in Numbers 34: 3 "`Your southern side will include some of the Desert of Zin along the border of Edom. On the east, your southern boundary will start from the end of the Salt Sea, 4 cross south of Scorpion Pass, continue on to Zin and go south of Kadesh Barnea. Then it will go to Hazar Addar and over to Azmon, 5 where it will turn, join the Wadi of Egypt and end at the Sea. 6 "`Your western boundary will be the coast of the Great Sea. This will be your boundary on the west. 7 "`For your northern boundary, run a line from the Great Sea to Mount Hor 8 and from Mount Hor to Lebo Hamath. Then the boundary will go to Zedad, 9 continue to Ziphron and end at

Hazar Enan. This will be your boundary on the north. 10 "`For your eastern boundary, run a line from Hazar Enan to Shepham. 11 The boundary will go down from Shepham to Riblah on the east side of Ain and continue along the slopes east of the Sea of Kinnereth. 12 Then the boundary will go down along the Jordan and end at the Salt Sea.

Note that territory on the east bank of the Jordan isn't included in this demarcation.

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2 Kings 14:25 Jeroboam II recovered the lost territories of Israel between Hamath and the Dead Sea, just as the Lord God of Israel had predicted through Jonah (son of Amittai) the prophet from Gathhepher. 26 For the Lord saw the bitter plight of Israel-she had no one to help her. 27 And he had not said that he would blot out the name of Israel, so he used King Jeroboam II to save her. TLB

The next time God spoke to Abram about the land meant for his descendants, was after he had moved north from the Negev to a place between Bethel and Aiin, a mountainous area (later of Judea). It was here that God said to Abram, "Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever (Genesis 13:14-15).

Since Abram's vantage point was a high area, he must have been able to look well over the Jordan River on the east, claiming the area by being able to see it. It did, in fact later become the tribal areas of Gad, Reuben and Manasseh.

Note that  Aroer, referred to for destruction in Isaiah 17:2, is included in Reuben's territory (Jordan today). Consequently, this area will revert back to Israel after the fulfillment of Isaiah 17. It might the fulfillment of Balaam's prophesy in Numbers 24:15: Then he uttered his oracle: "...17 A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the sons of Sheth. 18 Edom will be conquered; Seir, his enemy, will be conquered, but Israel will grow strong. 19 A ruler will come out of Jacob and destroy the survivors of the city."

Zechariah 10:10 gives an indication of how far the Promised Land will to the north and north east. "I will bring them back from Egypt and gather them from Assyria. I will bring them to Gilead and Lebanon, and there will not be room enough for them. 11 They will pass through the sea of trouble; the surging sea will be subdued and all the depths of the Nile will dry up. Assyria's pride will be brought down and Egypt's scepter will pass away. 12 I will strengthen them in the LORD and in his name they will walk," declares the LORD.  11:1 Open your doors, O Lebanon, so that fire may devour your cedars."

Lebanon actually seems not to have been as well defined as it is today. This fact is also reflected by Deutoronomy 1:7 "Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites; go to all the neighboring peoples in the Arabah, in the mountains, in the western foothills, in the Negev and along the coast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates. 8 See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land that the LORD swore he would give to your fathers--to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob--and to their descendants after them."

From this reference to Lebanon, it is clear that the country Lebanon, will eventually disappear and will become Israeli territory.

So far, the Sinai isn't included

Let's get ahead of ourselves, and mention that the eventual territorial area of Israel will roughly comprise the areas occupied by the 10 nations mentioned in Genesis 15:19-21: ...the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.

The best indication of the eventual area of Israel can be determined if one could demarcate to areas of the above ten nations. This demarcation will be done in the table below that is divided into blocks representing areas east and west of the Jordan River.

Lebanon Hittites and of the Arameans.
2 Chronicles 1:16
Kenites: Numbers 24:" 21

Gen. 25:9 Hittites,

Genesis 13:7 Canaanites
and Perizzites

The Kenites: Numbers 24:" 21 Then he saw the Kenites and uttered his oracle: "Your dwelling place is secure, your nest is set in a rock; 22 yet you Kenites will be destroyed when Asshur takes you captive."

Asshur is one one of the sons of Shem, and according to Genesis 10:30, the region where they lived stretched from Mesha toward Sephar, in the eastern hill country - bordering the Tigris river. It shows how far Israel will stretch to the north-east, actually beyond the Euphrates River

In the Israelite era, we come across them in Saul's war with the Amalekites:
1 Sam 15:4 So Saul mobilized his army at Telaim. There were two hundred thousand troops in addition to ten thousand men from Judah. 5 The Amalekites were camped in the valley below them. 6 Saul sent a message to the Kenites, telling them to get out from among the Amalekites or else die with them. "For you were kind to the people of Israel when they came out of the land of Egypt," he explained. So the Kenites packed up and left. 7 Then Saul butchered the Amalekites from Havilah all the way to Shur, east of Egypt. 8 He captured Agag, the king of the Amalekites, but killed everyone else. TLB

As we'll see below, the Amalakites lived in the Judean mountains and in the wilderness areas further south. Above we saw that Saul "butchered the Amalekites from Havilah all the way to Shur, east of Egypt." Havilah probably was in Arabia (today Saudi Arabia because that is where Ishmael ended up. His sons  "...lived from Havilah to Shur, which is facing Egypt as you come toward Assyria; Gen 25:18. See also Scripture Keywords

The Hittite country stretching north from Damascus The Hittites: The lived in the Hebron area at the time of Abraham: Genesis 25:9 His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, 10 the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah.

Later, however, they were shown to live an the area stretching from Damascus, northwards; Turkey today. This can be seen in the map below.

2 Chronicles 1:16 Solomon's horses were imported from Egypt and from Kue--the royal merchants purchased them from Kue. 17 They imported a chariot from Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse for a hundred and fifty. They also exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and of the Arameans.

Map from "Understanding the Old Testament. Baruch Sarel
ISBN 965-220-364-5

The Canaanites and Perizzites are mentioned together as if they were sharing the same territory, apparently in the area around Bethel and Ai (Ephraim) - Genesis 13:3

Genesis 13:7 And quarreling arose between Abram's herdsmen and the herdsmen of Lot. The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time.

16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure."  

From ...7...The Canaanites and Perizzites were also living in the land at that time. 14 after Lot had parted from him,

Kenizzites Genesis 15:19-21 Kadmonites (Just mentions names)

Deuteronomy 7:1 When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations--the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you-- 2 and when the LORD your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.

1 Kings 9:20 All the people left from the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites (these peoples were not Israelites), 21 that is, their descendants remaining in the land, whom the Israelites could not exterminate--these Solomon conscripted for his slave labor force, as it is to this day.

The Amalekites
The Amalekites were not mentioned among the nations whose land was to become part of Israel, but they were among the nations Israel had to fight for land. We will see from the discussion below that that they were associated with the mountains of Judea north (Ephraim) & west of the Dead Sea and areas further south of the Wadi-el-Arish and west towards Egypt in the Wilderness of Shur, that indicates flexibility concerning Israel's southern boundary.

That they lived as far north as the mountains of Ephraim, is claer from the following:
Judg 12:13 Next was Abdon (son of Hillel) from Pirathon. 14 He had forty sons and thirty grandsons, who rode on seventy donkeys. He was Israel's judge for eight years. 15 Then he died and was buried in Pirathon, in Ephraim, in the hill country of the Amalekites. TLB

Wilderness area

The first mention of the Amalekites was at the time Ched-or-laomer, king of Elam and some allies were the strong men, dominating the area, including Sodom where Abraham's nephew, Lot, lived (Gen 14:1-6). It was stated that "war filled the land" and a lot of tribes/kingdoms/clans were overrun, including the Amalekites (Gen 14:7 )

The Amalekites again feature strongly in the report of the ten spies (of little faith, compared to the other two, Joshua & Caleb) and their recommendation that Israel didn't have a chance against these people - of whom some were "giants." The Israelites' acceptance of their report led to God's sending them back into the desert:
Num 13:29 The Amalekites live in the south, while in the hill country there are the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites; down along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and in the Jordan River valley are the Canaanites." TLB
Num 14:25 But now, since the people of Israel are so afraid of the Amalekites and the Canaanites living in the valleys, tomorrow you must turn back into the wilderness in the direction of the Red Sea." TLB

Another indication of the southern boundary of the Promised Land is the location from where the spies were sent, namely the wilderness of Paran (roughly between the top ends of the Red Sea fork - the one extending towards Egypt and the one ending in Aqaba:
Num 13:1 Jehovah now instructed Moses, 2 "Send spies into the land of Canaan-the land I am giving to Israel;"  ...3 (The Israelis were camped in the wilderness of Paran at the time.) TLB

AIt is also of interest to note that the mountains of Paran are the source of the "River of Egypt"  (Wadi-el-Arish) - Adam Clarke's Commentary.

Judg 10:11-12

But the Lord replied, "Didn't I save you from the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, 12 the Sidonians, the Amalekites, and the Maonites? Has there ever been a time when you cried out to me that I haven't rescued you?


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