The Promised Land
Written by Robbie Coleman
(Exert from The Israeli Palestinian Conflict, Master's thesis, 2011)
Palestine, once known as the land of Canaan is known to Jews as Eretz Yisrael. It is the “Promised Land.” One may also refer to this small, significant area of little more than eight thousand square miles as Israel, Zion, or the Holy Land. Outside of biblical context, many people refer to this area as Palestine. It is described in the Bible as the land “flowing with milk and honey.”
Israel is a small, narrow, semi-arid country on the southeastern coastline of the Mediterranean Sea with Lebanon to the north, Syria to the northeast, Jordan to the east and Egypt to the southwest; all of which are enemies to Jews.
Jewish history began four thousand years ago with the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Archeological finds, with inscriptions, date Israel in the land of Canaan as far back as the 13th century B.C. The great King David conquered the Canaanite city of Jebus, later called Jerusalem, in approximately 1000 B.C. and united the northern and southern territories into one kingdom as God intended. Since that time, Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital city. Being instructed by God, the Jews have always counted Israel as their native land even after their kingdom divided and fell. Jerusalem is mentioned over 800 times in the bible.
The Arab history of the land is more complicated with lineage that includes Esau, Ishmael, and the sons of Keturah (Abraham’s wife after the death of Sara). Canaanite origin is claimed by several. The Waqf, the Arab agency that controls the Temple Mount, printed a booklet called A Brief Guide to al-Haram al-Sharif – Temple Mount Guide by Supreme Muslim Council (1924) that instructs visitors concerning proper etiquette and attire while visiting the temple area, and even more importantly acknowledges twice that the site is holy because it is the place where the Holy Temple of Solomon stood. The reason these statements are so noteworthy is because the Arab clerics today teach that there is no evidence that the Jews ever had a presence in the area. The fact remains that history cannot be changed: the Jews have over 4000 years of recorded history on the Temple Mount.
Jerusalem is considered the most holy place for the Jew and the third most holy place for the Muslim. On Mount Zion stands the memory of where Solomon’s Temple once stood in grandeur before the Roman siege in 70 AD. Today, the sacred ground is home to the Al Aqsa Mosque. Within a rock’s throw, Jews gather at the base of the Western Wall, praying for the building of the final temple and the arrival of their Messiah.
Some may argue that the promise of this land is as much to the Arab as to the Jew. The first designation came in Gen. 15:18, “On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying. ‘To your descendants I have given this land. From the river of Egypt (Nile) as far as the great river, the river Euphrates.‘ As the generations passed, God was very careful to make sure the promise was kept in tact. One thousand years later as the life of Moses was nearing his end. The Lord took him to Mount Nebo and showed him afresh the Promised Land. In Deut. 34:1-4, God once again defined the boundaries of His covenant land. The way we know that God wanted this portion of land to go to the Jews and not the Arabs, or any other group, is found in Genesis 17:19. Abram asked God if he would remember to bless Ishmael with the aforementioned covenant land. God said, “No, but Sara your wife will bear you a son, and shall call his name Isaac; and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.” Please know that God did not show partiality; He loved Ishmael as much as Isaac. In this same chapter, verse 20, He says, “As for Ishmael, I have heard you: behold, I will bless him, and will make him fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall become the father of twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.” God loved them both very much and gave Ishmael much more land than Isaac. However, for God to accomplish the global plan to save and bring the world into covenant with Him, He appointed the Jews, through whom He carried out the mandate; therefore, the people and the headquarters were chosen by God. In Exodus 19:6, we read, “You shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation,” and tells them to be light to the nations: “I will also give thee for a light to the nations, that My salvation may be unto the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6). By recognizing and accepting God’s order, we include our self into His promises and participants of His blessings.
2 Chronicles 7:20 – (God displaced the Israelites because of sin and idolatry, but not forever! See also Isaiah 42:24.)
“Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations.”
“The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.”
“Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.”
“And they shall not sell of it, neither exchange, nor alienate the firstfruits of the land: for it is holy unto the LORD.”
“And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel.”
“Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people.”
“I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.”
|Zechariah 1:14-17, ESV
“And I am exceedingly angry with the nations that are at ease; for while I was angry but a little, they furthered the disaster.
|Therefore, thus says the LORD, I have returned to Jerusalem with mercy; my house shall be built in it, declares the LORD of hosts, and the measuring line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem.|
|Cry out again, Thus says the LORD of hosts: My cities shall again overflow with prosperity, and the LORD will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.’”|
“I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.”
Greg Gulbrandsen, “The Temple Mount: Is It Really Jewish?” Zion’s Fire 2009, 25.
[Alan M. Dershowitz, The Case for Israel (Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2003), 22.
Edited by Tommie Coleman for blog, 3.10.17