Mailbag Page 19

Israel, Palestine, and the Promised Land

"Bon Ami" writes: I was wondering if the Bible has anything to say about all the violence between Israel and the Palestinians in the Middle East.

Bible Bell's reply...

The Bible does not specifically mention "Palestine." The simple reason for this is that Palestine did not exist as a nation during Bible times.

Accordingly, Bible Bell will BRIEFLY discuss three topics that relate to Bon Ami's question...

  • 1) What does the Bible say about ownership of the land that is now being disputed by Israel and Palestine?
  • 2) Where did Palestine and the Palestinians come from?
  • 3) Does the Bible prophesy that there will ever be a Peace Treaty between Israel and the Arabs?

Topic #1 -- What does the Bible say about ownership of the land that is now being disputed
by Israel and Palestine?

In Bible times, the area now known as Israel was called the land of Canaan.

In Genesis chapter 12 God commanded Abraham (a.k.a. Abram) to move to Canaan. Abraham was then living in Ur of the Chaldeans. Ur was located in what today is southern Iraq.
  Now the Lord had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. Gen 12.1
Abraham obeyed God and moved to Canaan.   So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him... So they came to the land of Canaan. Gen 12.4a, 12.5d

In a Covenant, God GAVE Abraham the land of Canaan.

  • The Bible defines Canaan's southern border as "the river of Egypt." This is NOT the Nile River, but the Wadi el Arish, located in Egypt's Northeastern region.
  • The Northern border of Canaan is defined as the River Euphrates.
  • The Bible later gives a more precise definition of Canaan's borders. It is covered below in detail.
  On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: "To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt (the Wadi el Arish) to the great river, the River Euphrates" Gen 15.18
Abraham's son, Isaac, later became the heir of God's land covenant with Abraham.   (God told Isaac...) "Dwell in this land (Canaan), and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father." Gen 26.3

Still later, Isaac's son, Jacob, became the heir of God's land covenant with Abraham.

  • God told Jacob that He would give the land to Jacob and to Jacob's descendants.
  • The descendants of Jacob are the nation Israel.
  • Accordingly, God gave ultimate ownership of the land of Canaan to the nation Israel.
  (God told Jacob...) "I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Gen 28.13b
Following this, Jacob's descendants moved to Egypt, because of a drought in Canaan. They were later enslaved in Egypt.

Then God sent Moses to lead Jacob's descendants, out of slavery in Egypt, to
the "Promised Land" -- the land of Canaan that God had given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
  And the Lord said (to Moses): "I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. Exod 3.7-8
After Moses led Jacob's descendants out of Egypt, God told Moses the exact borders of the land He had given to the nation Israel.   Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Command the children of Israel, and say to them: `When you come into the land of Canaan, this is the land that shall fall to you as an inheritance -- the land of Canaan to its boundaries.' " Num 34.1-2

In the paragraphs that follow, Bible Bell will explain the Bible's specifications of the land that God gave to Israel.

  • In doing so, we will use current geographic names.
  • Our explanation is an APPROXIMATION because not all of the Biblical landmarks can be pin-pointed with absolute accuracy.
The Southern border of the Promised Land (Canaan) runs from the southern end of the Dead Sea (Salt Sea), to approximately the middle of the Negev desert. From there, it turns Northward toward Wadi el Arish (brook of Egypt) and ends at the Mediterranean Sea.   Your southern border shall be from the Wilderness of Zin along the border of Edom; then your southern border shall extend eastward to the end of the Salt Sea. Your border shall turn from the southern side of the Ascent of Akrabbim, continue to Zin, and be on the south of Kadesh Barnea; then it shall go on to Hazar Addar, and continue to Azmon. The border shall turn from Azmon to the Brook of Egypt, and it shall end at the Sea. Num 34.3-5
The Western border of the Promised Land (Canaan) is the Mediterranean Sea (Great Sea).   As for the western border, you shall have the Great Sea for a border; this shall be your western border. Num 34.6
The Northern border of the Promised Land (Canaan) extends from the Northern region of Lebanon at the Mediterranean Sea, to a region east of Damascus in modern day Syria.   And this shall be your northern border: From the Great Sea you shall mark out your border line to Mount Hor. From Mount Hor you shall mark out your border to the entrance of Hamath. Then the direction of the border shall be toward Zedad. The border shall proceed to Ziphron, and it shall end at Hazar Enan. This shall be your northern border. Num 34.7-9
The Eastern border of the Promised Land (Canaan) goes southward for about 50 miles, starting from a region east of Damascus. Then it turns West to the Southern end of the Sea of Galilee (Sea of Chinnereth). From there it follows the Jordan River, ending at the Dead Sea (Salt Sea).   You shall mark out your eastern border from Hazar Enan to Shepham. The border shall go down from Shepham to Riblah on the east side of Ain. The border shall go down and reach to the eastern side of the Sea of Chinnereth. The border shall go down along the Jordan, and it shall end at the Salt Sea. This shall be your land with its surrounding boundaries. Num 34.10-12

The verses alongside make it clear that God has the right to give land to whomever He wishes.

  • The Bible carefully states that God has given Canaan to Israel, and carefully defines the borders of that land.
  • By God's decree, the land of Canaan belongs to Israel, even though Israel does not now reside in the totality of it.
  • God forbids Israel to give up any portion of the land He gave them.
  The earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. Psalm 24.1

God commanded Israel...) "The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are strangers and sojourners with Me." Lev 25.23

Topic #2 -- Where did Palestine and the Palestinians come from?

Concerning the origin of the name "Palestine," I will quote several applicable segments of Israel's history as follows...

  • In 14 BC, Israel became a nation.
  • In circa 12 BC the Philistines invaded and occupied a strip of land by the Mediterranean Sea along the southwest coast of Israel.
  • In 61 BC, Israel was conquered by the Roman Empire.
  • For many years (including New Testament days) the Roman Empire allowed the Israelis to remain in Israel, as a subservient people.
  • In 70 AD the Roman Empire destroyed the temple in Jerusalem and dispersed all the Israeli people out of Israel.
  • Rome then renamed Israel as "Palestine" -- a name derived from the ancient name, "Philistines."
  The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. Mizraim begot Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, Pathrusim, and Casluhim (from whom came the Philistines and Caphtorim). Gen 10.6, 10.13-14

"Are you not like the people of Ethiopia to Me, O children of Israel?" says the LORD. "Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor (Crete & the Aegean Isles), and the Syrians from Kir?" Amos 9.7

In 1946 a portion of the land of Israel was returned to the Israeli people. Once again the land was known by the name "Israel."

  • In the Six-Day War in 1967, the Israelis captured Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem.
  • The Israelis captured those areas from Jordan, NOT from a nation known as Palestine.
  • In fact, Palestine has never existed as an autonomous people or nation.
  • Accordingly, "Palestinians" are simply Arabs, Philistines, and other immigrants who occupied Israel after Rome displaced the Israeli people from their homeland in 70 AD.

Topic #3 -- Does the Bible prophesy that there will ever be a Peace Treaty
between Israel and the Arabs?

In Bible Bell's OPINION...

  • The unfulfilled prophecy alongside indicates that the Antichrist will bring about a Peace Treaty with Israel at some future date.
  • It further indicates that the Antichrist will start war by breaking the Treaty and desecrating the Jewish temple and its sacrifices.
  • This Peace Treaty will be a main trigger that will lead to the pouring out of God's wrath -- "the Tribulation."

NOTE: In the verse alongside, the words in parentheses also are Bible Bell's OPINION.

  Then he (the Antichrist) shall confirm a covenant (treaty) with many (of Israel's leaders) for one week (7 years); but in the middle of the week (after 3 1/2 years) he (the Antichrist) shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation (God's wrath), which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.'' Dan 9.27

NOTE: The words in parentheses are Biblebell's OPINION, and are not part of the Bible's text.

In summary...

  • Yes, there will ultimately be THE Peace Treaty involving Israel (per Dan 9.27), and it will lead to war and The Tribulation.
  • This does NOT mean that any and every treaty that might be made with Israel will be THE treaty referred to by Daniel 9.27.
  • Neither does it mean that any person who causes or encourages Israel to sign a peace treaty is the Antichrist.
  • The events referred to in Daniel 9.27 might occur tomorrow, or hundreds of years from now. The Bible does not give a "due date" for this prophecy.
  • The events in Daniel 9.27 WILL occur. We just don't know when.


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