The LAND OF ISRAEL (Hebrew : אֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל, Modern
_Eretz Yisrael_, Tiberian _ʼÉreṣ Yiśrāʼēl_) is the
traditional Jewish name for an area of indefinite geographical
extension in the
Southern Levant . Related biblical, religious and
historical English terms include the
Land of Canaan , the Promised
Land , the
Holy Land , and Palestine (see also
). The definitions of the limits of this territory vary between
passages in the
Hebrew Bible , with specific mentions in Genesis 15,
Exodus 23, Numbers 34 and
Ezekiel 47. Nine times elsewhere in the
Bible, the settled land is referred as "from Dan to
Beersheba , and
three times it is referred as "from the entrance of Hamath unto the
brook of Egypt” (1 Kings 8:65, 1 Chronicles 13:5 and 2 Chronicles
These biblical limits for the land differ from the borders of
established historical Israelite and later Jewish kingdoms; over time
these have included the United Kingdom of
Israel , the two separated
Israel (Samaria) and Judah , the
Hasmonean Kingdom , and
Herodian Kingdom , which at their heights ruled lands with similar
but not identical boundaries.
The Jewish religious belief defining the land as where Jewish
religious law prevailed and excluding territory where it was not
applied, holds that the area is a God-given inheritance of the Jewish
people based on the
Torah , particularly the books of Genesis and
Exodus , as well as on the later Prophets . According to the Book of
Genesis, the land was first promised by God to the descendants of
Abram ; the text is explicit that this is a covenant between God and
Abram for his descendants. Abram's name was later changed to Abraham,
with the promise refined to pass through his son
Isaac and to the
Israelites , descendants of
Jacob , Abraham's grandson. This belief is
not shared by most adherents of replacement theology (or
supersessionism ), who hold the view that the Old Testament prophecies
were superseded by the coming of Jesus, a view often repudiated by
Christian Zionists as a theological error. Evangelical Zionists
variously claim that
Israel has title to the land by divine right, or
by a theological, historical and moral grounding of attachment to the
land unique to
Jews (James Parkes ), The idea that ancient religious
texts can be warrant or divine right for a modern claim has often been
challenged, and Israeli courts have rejected land claims based on
During the mandatory period (1920-1948) the term "Eretz Yisrael" or
the "Land of Israel" was part of the official Hebrew name of Mandatory
Palestine . Official Hebrew documents used the Hebrew transliteration
of the word “Palestine” פלשתינה (Palestina) followed always
by the two initial letters of "Eretz Yisrael", א״י Aleph-Yod.
The Land of
Israel concept has been evoked by the founders of the
Israel . It often surfaces in political debates on the status
West Bank , which is referred to in official Israeli discourse
Samaria , from the names of the two historical Jewish
* 1 Etymology and biblical roots
* 2 Biblical interpretations of the borders
* 2.1 Genesis 15
* 2.2 Exodus 23
* 2.3 Numbers 34
* 2.4 Deuteronomy 19
From Dan to Beersheba
* 2.7 Division of Tribes
* 3 Jewish beliefs
* 3.1 Rabbinic laws in the Land of
* 3.2 Inheritance of the promise
* 3.3 Modern Jewish debates on the Land of
* 4 Christian beliefs
* 4.1 Inheritance of the promise
* 5 History
* 5.1 Ottoman era
* 5.2 British Mandate
* 5.3 Israeli period
* 6 Modern usage
* 6.1 Usage in Israeli politics
* 6.2 Palestinian viewpoints
* 7 See also
* 8 Notes
* 9 Further reading
* 10 External links
ETYMOLOGY AND BIBLICAL ROOTS
1916 map of the Fertile Crescent by
James Henry Breasted . The
names used for the land are "Canaan" "Judah" "Palestine" and "Israel"
Map of Eretz
Israel in 1695 Amsterdam
Haggada by Abraham
The term "Land of Israel" is a direct translation of the Hebrew
phrase ארץ ישראל (_Eretz Yisrael_), which occurs
occasionally in the Bible, and is first mentioned in the
Tanakh at 1
Samuel 13:19, following the Exodus , when the Israelite tribes were
already in the
Land of Canaan . The words are used sparsely in the
David is ordered to gather 'strangers to the land of
Israel'(_hag-gêrîm ’ăšer, bə’ereṣ yiśrā’êl_) for
building purposes (1 Chronicles 22:2), and the same phrasing is used
in reference to
King Solomon 's census of all of the 'strangers in the
Land of Israel' (2 Chronicles 2:17).
Ezekiel , though generally
preferring the phrase 'soil of Israel' (_’admat yiśrā’êl_),
employs _eretz israel_ twice, respectively at
Ezekiel 40:2 and Ezekiel
Martin Noth , the term is not an "authentic and original
name for this land", but instead serves as "a somewhat flexible
description of the area which the Israelite tribes had their
settlements". According to
Anita Shapira , the term "Eretz Yisrael"
was a holy term, vague as far as the exact boundaries of the
territories are concerned but clearly defining ownership. The
sanctity of the land (_kedushat ha-aretz_) developed rich associations
in rabbinical thought, where it assumes a highly symbolic and
mythological status infused with promise, though always connected to a
Nur Masalha argues that the biblical
boundaries are "entirely fictitious", and bore simply religious
connotations in Diaspora Judaism, with the term only coming into
ascendency with the rise of
Hebrew Bible provides three specific sets of borders for the
Promised Land ", each with a different purpose. Neither of the terms
"Promised Land" (Ha'Aretz HaMuvtahat) or "Land of Israel" are used in
these passages: Genesis 15:13–21, Genesis 17:8 and Ezekiel
47:13–20 use the term "the land" (ha'aretz), as does Deuteronomy 1:8
in which it is promised explicitly to "Abraham,
Isaac and Jacob... and
to their descendants after them," whilst Numbers 34:1–15 describes
the "Land of Canaan" (Eretz Kna'an) which is allocated to nine and
half of the twelve Israelite tribes after the Exodus . The expression
"Land of Israel" is first used in a later book, 1 Samuel 13:19. It is
defined in detail in the exilic Book of
Ezekiel as a land where both
the twelve tribes and the "strangers in (their) midst", can claim
inheritance. The name "Israel" first appears in the
Hebrew Bible as
the name given by God to the patriarch
Jacob (Genesis 32:28). Deriving
from the name "Israel", other designations that came to be associated
with the Jewish people have included the "
Children of Israel " or
The term 'Land of Israel' (γῆ Ἰσραήλ) occurs in one episode
New Testament (Matthew 2:20–21 ), where, according to Shlomo
Sand , it bears the unusual sense of 'the area surrounding Jerusalem'.
The section in which it appears was written as a parallel to the
Book of Exodus .
BIBLICAL INTERPRETATIONS OF THE BORDERS
Genesis 15 (describing "this land") Num. 34 ("
text-align:left;background-color:transparent">Interpretations of the
borders of the
Promised Land , based on scriptural verses
Genesis 15:18–21 describes what are known as "Borders of the Land"
(_Gevulot Ha-aretz_), which in Jewish tradition defines the extent of
the land promised to the descendants of Abraham, through his son Isaac
and grandson Jacob. The passage describes the area as the land of the
ten named ancient peoples then living there.
More precise geographical borders are given Exodus 23:31 which
describes borders as marked by the
Red Sea (see debate below), the
"Sea of the Philistines" _i.e._, the
Mediterranean , and the "River",
Euphrates ), the traditional furthest extent of the Kingdom of
Genesis gives the border with
Egypt as _Nahar Mitzrayim_ – _nahar_
in Hebrew denotes a large river, never a wadi.
A slightly more detailed definition is given in Exodus 23:31, which
describes the borders as "from the sea of reeds (Red Sea) to the Sea
of the Philistines (
Mediterranean sea) and from the desert to the
Euphrates River", though the Hebrew text of the Bible uses the name,
"the River", to refer to the Euphrates.
Only the "Red Sea" (Exodus 23:31) and the
Euphrates are mentioned to
define the southern and eastern borders of the full land promised to
the Israelites. The "Red Sea" corresponding to Hebrew _Yam Suf_ was
understood in ancient times to be the
Erythraean Sea , as reflected in
Septuagint translation. Although the English name "Red Sea" is
derived from this name ("Erythraean" derives from the Greek for red),
the term denoted all the waters surrounding Arabia—including the
Indian Ocean and the
Persian Gulf , not merely the sea lying to the
west of Arabia bearing this name in modern English. Thus, the entire
Arabian peninsula lies within the borders described. Modern maps
depicting the region take a reticent view and often leave the southern
and eastern borders vaguely defined. The borders of the land to be
conquered given in Numbers have a precisely defined eastern border
which included the
Arabah and Jordan.
Tribal allotments of Israel
Numbers 34:1–15 describes the land allocated to the Israelite
tribes after the Exodus. The tribes of Reuben , Gad and half of
Manasseh received land east of the
Jordan as explained in Numbers
34:14–15. Numbers 34:1–13 provides a detailed description of the
borders of the land to be conquered west of the
Jordan for the
remaining tribes. The region is called "the
Land of Canaan " (_Eretz
Kna'an_) in Numbers 34:2 and the borders are known in Jewish tradition
as the "borders for those coming out of Egypt". These borders are
again mentioned in Deuteronomy 1:6–8, 11:24 and Joshua 1:4.
According to the Hebrew Bible,
Canaan was the son of Ham who with his
descendents had seized the land from the descendents of
Book of Jubilees . Jewish tradition thus refers to the region
Canaan during the period between the Flood and the Israelite
Eliezer Schweid sees
Canaan as a geographical name, and
Israel the spiritual name of the land. He writes: _The uniqueness of
the Land of
Israel is thus "geo-theological" and not merely climatic.
This is the land which faces the entrance of the spiritual world, that
sphere of existence that lies beyond the physical world known to us
through our senses. This is the key to the land's unique status with
regard to prophecy and prayer, and also with regard to the
commandments_. Thus, the renaming of this landmarks a change in
religious status, the origin of the
Holy Land concept. Numbers
34:1–13 uses the term
Canaan strictly for the land west of the
Jordan, but Land of
Israel is used in Jewish tradition to denote the
entire land of the Israelites. The English expression "
Promised Land "
can denote either the land promised to Abraham in Genesis or the land
of Canaan, although the latter meaning is more common.
The border with
Egypt is given as the _Nachal Mitzrayim_ (Brook of
Egypt ) in Numbers, as well as in Deuteronomy and Ezekiel. Jewish
tradition (as expressed in the commentaries of
Rashi and Yehuda Halevi
, as well as the Aramaic Targums ) understand this as referring to the
Nile ; more precisely the Pelusian branch of the
Nile Delta according
to Halevi—a view supported by Egyptian and Assyrian texts. Saadia
Gaon identified it as the "
Wadi of El-Arish", referring to the
Kaftor Vaferech placed it in the same
region, which approximates the location of the former Pelusian branch
of the Nile. 19th century Bible commentaries understood the
identification as a reference to the
Wadi of the coastal locality
El-Arish . Easton's, however, notes a local tradition that the
course of the river had changed and there was once a branch of the
Nile where today there is a wadi. Biblical minimalists have suggested
Besor is intended.
Deuteronomy 19:8 indicates a certain fluidity of the borders of the
promised land when it refers to the possibility that God would
"enlarge your borders." This expansion of territory means that Israel
would receive "all the land he promised to give to your fathers",
which implies that the settlement actually fell short of what was
promised. According to
Jacob Milgrom , Deuteronomy refers to a more
utopian map of the promised land, whose eastern border is the
wilderness rather than the
Paul R. Williamson notes that a "close examination of the relevant
promissory texts" supports a "wider interpretation of the promised
land" in which it is not "restricted absolutely to one geographical
locale." He argues that "the map of the promised land was never seen
permanently fixed, but was subject to at least some degree of
expansion and redefinition."
Ezekiel 47:13–20 provides a definition of borders of land in which
the twelve tribes of
Israel will live during the final redemption, at
the end of days. The borders of the land described by the text in
Ezekiel include the northern border of modern
Lebanon , eastwards (the
way of Hethlon) to
Hazar-enan in modern
Syria ; south by
southwest to the area of
Busra on the Syrian border (area of Hauran in
Ezekiel); follows the
Jordan River between the
West Bank and the land
Gilead to Tamar (
Ein Gedi ) on the western shore of the Dead Sea;
From Tamar to Meribah Kadesh (
Kadesh Barnea ), then along the Brook of
Egypt (see debate below) to the
Mediterranean Sea. The territory
defined by these borders is divided into twelve strips, one for each
of the twelve tribes.
Hence, Numbers 34 and
Ezekiel 47 define different but similar borders
which include the whole of contemporary
Lebanon , both the West Bank
Gaza Strip and
Israel , except for the South
Small parts of
Syria are also included.
FROM DAN TO BEERSHEBA
From Dan to Beersheba
The common biblical phrase used to refer to the territories actually
settled by the
Israelites (as opposed to military conquests) is "from
Beersheba " (or its variant "from
Beersheba to Dan"), which
occurs many times in the Bible. It is found 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
DIVISION OF TRIBES
The 12 tribes of
Israel are divided in 1 Kings 11. In the chapter,
King Solomon 's sins lead to
Israelites forfeiting 10 of the 12
30 and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it
into twelve pieces. 31 Then he said to
Jeroboam , “Take ten pieces
for yourself, for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says:
‘See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon’s hand and
give you ten tribes. 32 But for the sake of my servant
David and the
city of Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of
Israel, he will have one tribe. 33 I will do this because they have
forsaken me and worshiped
Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians,
Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and
Molek the god of the Ammonites,
and have not walked in obedience to me, nor done what is right in my
eyes, nor kept my decrees and laws as David, Solomon’s father,
did.34 “‘But I will not take the whole kingdom out of Solomon’s
hand; I have made him ruler all the days of his life for the sake of
David my servant, whom I chose and who obeyed my commands and decrees.
35 I will take the kingdom from his son’s hands and give you ten
tribes. 36 I will give one tribe to his son so that
David my servant
may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I chose
to put my Name. — Kings 1, 11:30-11:36
PART OF A SERIES ON THE
HISTORY OF ISRAEL
ANCIENT ISRAEL AND JUDAH
* United monarchy
* Northern Kingdom
Kingdom of Judah
* Babylonian rule
SECOND TEMPLE PERIOD (530 BC–AD 70)
* Persian rule
* Hellenistic period
MIDDLE AGES (70–1517)
* Roman Palaestina
* Byzantine Palaestina
* Revolt against Heraclius
* Mamluk Sultanate
MODERN HISTORY (1517–1948)
* Ottoman rule
* British mandate
STATE OF ISRAEL (1948–PRESENT)
HISTORY OF THE LAND OF ISRAEL BY TOPIC
* Jewish leaders
* Jewish warfare
RABBINIC LAWS IN THE LAND OF ISRAEL
Main article: Laws and customs of the Land of
Menachem Lorberbaum ,
In Rabbinic tradition, the land of
Israel consecrated by the
returning exiles was significantly different in it(s?) boundaries from
both the prescribed biblical borders and the actual borders of the
pre-Exilic kingdoms. It ranged roughly from Acre in the north to
Ashkelon in the south along the Mediterranean, and included Galilee
and the Golan. Yet there was no settlement in Samaria.
According to Jewish religious law (halakha ), some laws only apply to
Jews living in the Land of
Israel and some areas in
Jordan , Lebanon,
Syria (which are thought to be part of biblical Israel). These
include agricultural laws such as the
Shmita (Sabbatical year);
tithing laws such as the
Maaser Rishon (
Levite Tithe ),
Maaser sheni ,
Maaser ani (poor tithe); charitable practices during farming, such
as pe\'ah ; and laws regarding taxation. One popular source lists 26
of the 613 mitzvot as contingent upon the Land of Israel.
Many of the religious laws which applied in ancient times are applied
in the modern State of Israel; others have not been revived, since the
Israel does not adhere to traditional Jewish law . However,
certain parts of the current territory of the State of Israel, such as
Arabah , are considered by some religious authorities to be
outside the Land of
Israel for purposes of Jewish law. According to
these authorities, the religious laws do not apply there.
According to some Jewish religious authorities , every Jew has an
obligation to dwell in the Land of
Israel and may not leave except for
specifically permitted reasons (e.g., to get married).
There are also many laws dealing with how to treat the land. The laws
apply to all Jews, and the giving of the land itself in the covenant,
applies to all Jews, including converts.
INHERITANCE OF THE PROMISE
Traditional religious Jewish interpretation, and that of most
Christian commentators, define Abraham's descendants only as Abraham's
seed through his son
Isaac and his grandson
Jacob . Johann
Friedrich Karl Keil is less clear, as he states that the covenant is
through Isaac, but also notes that
Ishmael 's descendants, generally
Arabs , have held much of that land through time.
MODERN JEWISH DEBATES ON THE LAND OF ISRAEL
The Land of
Israel concept has been evoked by the founders of the
Israel . It often surfaces in political debates on the status
West Bank , which is referred to in official Israeli discourse
Samaria , from the names of the two historical Israelite
and Judean kingdoms . These debates frequently invoke religious
principles, despite the little weight these principles typically carry
in Israeli secular politics.
Ideas about the need for Jewish control of the land of
been propounded by figures such as
Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg, who has
written about the historical entitlement that
Jews have to the whole
Land of Israel. Ginsburgh's ideas about the need for Jewish control
over the land has some popularity within contemporary West Bank
settlements. However, there are also strong backlashes from the
Jewish community regarding these ideas.
The Satmar Hasidic community in particular denounces any geographic
or political establishment of Israel, deeming this establishment has
directly interfering with God's plan for Jewish redemption. Joel
Teitelbaum was a foremost figure in this denouncement, calling the
Land and State of
Israel a vehicle for idol worship, as well as a
smokescreen for Satan's workings.
Divisions within the Jewish community concerning
Israel speak to how
Israel not only represents an international point of contention, but
also a continuous ideological and internal introspection and
negotiation specific to the Jewish community and its larger history.
INHERITANCE OF THE PROMISE
During the early 5th century, Saint
Augustine of Hippo argued in his
_City of God _ that the earthly or "carnal" kingdom of
its peak during the reigns of
David and his son Solomon. He goes on
to say however, that this possession was conditional: "...the Hebrew
nation should remain in the same land by the succession of posterity
in an unshaken state even to the end of this mortal age, if it obeyed
the laws of the Lord its God."
He goes on to say that the failure of the Hebrew nation to adhere to
this condition resulted in its revocation and the making of a second
covenant and cites Jeremiah 31:31–32: "Behold, the days come, says
the Lord, that I will make for the house of Israel, and for the house
of Judah, a new testament: not according to the testament that I
settled for their fathers in the day when I laid hold of their hand to
lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my
testament, and I regarded them not, says the Lord."
Augustine concludes that this other promise, revealed in the New
Testament, was about to be fulfilled through the incarnation of
Christ: "I will give my laws in their mind, and will write them upon
their hearts, and I will see to them; and I will be to them a God, and
they shall be to me a people". Notwithstanding this doctrine stated by
Augustine and also by the Apostle Paul in his Epistle to the Romans
(Ch. 11), the phenomenon of Christian
Zionism is widely noted today,
especially among evangelical Protestants. Other Protestant groups and
churches reject Christian
Zionism on various grounds .
Jewish religious tradition does not distinguish clearly between
religious, national, racial, or ethnic identities. Nonetheless,
during two millennia of exile and with a continuous yet small Jewish
presence in the land, a strong sense of bondedness exists throughout
this tradition, expressed in terms of people-hood; from the very
beginning, this concept was identified with that ancestral biblical
land or, to use the traditional religious and modern Hebrew term,
_Eretz Yisrael_. Religiously and culturally the area was seen broadly
as a land of destiny, and always with hope for some form of redemption
and return. It was later seen as a national home and refuge,
intimately related to that traditional sense of people-hood, and meant
to show continuity that this land was always seen as central to Jewish
life, in theory if not in practice.
Main articles: Ottoman
Having already used another religious term of great importance, Zion
(Jerusalem), to coin the name of their movement, being associated with
the return to Zion. The term was considered appropriate for the
secular Jewish political movement of
Zionism to adopt at the turn of
the 20th century; it was used to refer to their proposed national
homeland in the area then controlled by the
Ottoman Empire . As
originally stated, "The aim of
Zionism is to create for the Jewish
people a home in Palestine secured by law." Different geographic and
political definitions for the "Land of Israel" later developed among
Zionist ideologies during their nationalist struggle. These
differences relate to the importance of the idea and its land, as well
as the internationally recognized borders of the State of
the Jewish State's secure and democratic existence. Many current
governments, politicians and commentators question these differences.
Three proposals for the post World War I administration of
Palestine. The red line is the "International Administration" proposed
in the 1916
Sykes–Picot Agreement , the dashed blue line is the 1919
Zionist Organization proposal at the Paris Peace Conference , and the
thin blue line refers to the final borders of the 1923–48 Mandatory
Palestine . This 1920 stamp, issued by the Egyptian
Expeditionary Force , set a precedent for the wording of subsequent
Mandate stamps .
The Biblical concept of Eretz Israel, and its re-establishment as a
state in the modern era, was a basic tenet of the original Zionist
program. This program however, saw little success until the British
acceptance of "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for
the Jewish people" in the
Balfour Declaration of 1917 . Chaim Weizmann
, as leader of the
Zionist delegation, at the 1919 Paris Peace
Conference presented a
Zionist Statement on 3 February. Among other
things, he presented a plan for development together with a map of the
proposed homeland. The statement noted the Jewish historical
connection with "Palestine ". It also declared the Zionists' proposed
borders and resources "essential for the necessary economic foundation
of the country" including "the control of its rivers and their
headwaters". These borders included present day
Israel and the
occupied territories , western Jordan, southwestern
Syria and southern
Lebanon "in the vicinity south of Sidon". The subsequent British
occupation and British acceptance of the July 1922 League of Nations
Mandate for Palestine, advanced the
Early in the deliberations toward British civilian administration,
two fundamental decisions were taken, which bear upon the status of
Jews as a nation; the first was the recognition of Hebrew as an
official language, along with English and Arabic, and the second
concerned the Hebrew name of the country.
In 1920, the Jewish members of the first High Commissioner 's
advisory council objected to the Hebrew transliteration of the word
“Palestine” פלשתינה (_Palestina_) on the ground that the
traditional name was ארץ ישראל (_Eretz Yisrael_), but the Arab
members would not agree to this designation, which in their view, had
political significance. The High Commissioner
Herbert Samuel , himself
Zionist , decided that the Hebrew transliteration should be used,
followed always by the two initial letters of "Eretz Yisrael,”
He was aware that there was no other name in the
Hebrew language for
this land except 'Eretz-Israel'. At the same time he thought that if
'Eretz-Israel' only were used, it might not be regarded by the outside
world as a correct rendering of the word 'Palestine', and in the case
of passports or certificates of nationality, it might perhaps give
rise to passports or certificates of nationality, it might perhaps
give rise to difficulties, so it was decided to print 'Palestine' in
Hebrew letters and to add after it the letters 'Aleph' 'Yod', which
constitute a recognised abbreviation of the Hebrew name. His
Excellency still thought that this was a good compromise. Dr. Salem
wanted to omit 'Aleph' 'Yod' and Mr. Yellin wanted to omit
'Palestine'. The right solution would be to retain both."
_—Minutes of the meeting on November 9, 1920._
The compromise was later noted as among Arab grievances before the
League's Permanent Mandate Commission. During the Mandate, the name
_Eretz Yisrael_ (abbreviated א״י _Aleph-Yod_), was part of the
official name for the territory, when written in Hebrew . These
official names for Palestine were minted on the Mandate coins and
early stamps (pictured) in English, Hebrew "(פלשתינה (א״י"
(_Palestina E"Y_) and Arabic "( فلسطين"). 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.
On 29 November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a
United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 (II))
recommending "to the United Kingdom, as the mandatory Power for
Palestine, and to all other Members of the United Nations the adoption
and implementation, with regard to the future government of Palestine,
of the Plan of Partition with Economic Union." The Resolution
contained a plan to partition Palestine into "Independent Arab and
Jewish States and the
Special International Regime for the City of
On May 14, 1948, the day the British Mandate over Palestine expired,
the Jewish People\'s Council gathered at the
Tel Aviv Museum, and
approved a proclamation , in which it declared "the establishment of a
Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel."
Israel was founded in 1948, the majority Labor leadership, which
governed for three decades after independence, accepted the partition
of the previous
British Mandate of Palestine into independent Jewish
and Arab states as a pragmatic solution to the political and
demographic issues of the territory, with the description Land of
Israel applying to the territory of the State of
Israel within the
Green Line . The then opposition revisionists , who evolved into
Likud party, however, regarded the rightful Land of
_Eretz Yisrael Ha-Shlema_ (literally, the whole Land of Israel), which
came to be referred to as Greater
Israel . Joel Greenberg, writing in
The New York Times _ relates subsequent events this way:
The seed was sown in 1977, when Menachem Begin of
Likud brought his
party to power for the first time in a stunning election victory over
Labor. A decade before, in the 1967 war, Israeli troops had in effect
undone the partition accepted in 1948 by overrunning the
West Bank and
Gaza Strip. Ever since, Mr. Begin had preached undying loyalty to what
West Bank lands) and promoted Jewish
settlement there. But he did not annex the
West Bank and Gaza to
Israel after he took office, reflecting a recognition that absorbing
the Palestinians could turn
Israel it into a binational state instead
of a Jewish one.
Six Day War in 1967, the 1977 elections and the Oslo
Accords , the term Eretz
Israel became increasingly associated with
right-wing expansionist groups who sought to conform the borders of
the State of
Israel with the biblical _Eretz Yisrael_.
USAGE IN ISRAELI POLITICS
Early government usage of the term, following Israel's establishment,
continued the historical link and possible
Zionist intentions. In
David Ben-Gurion wrote "Only now, after seventy years of
pioneer striving, have we reached the beginning of independence in a
part of our small country." Soon afterwards he wrote "It has already
been said that when the State was established it held only six percent
of the Jewish people remaining alive after the Nazi cataclysm. It must
now be said that it has been established in only a portion of the Land
of Israel. Even those who are dubious as to the restoration of the
historical frontiers, as fixed and crystallised and given from the
beginning of time, will hardly deny the anomaly of the boundaries of
the new State." The 1955 Israeli government year-book said, "It is
called the 'State of Israel' because it is part of the Land of Israel
and not merely a Jewish State. The creation of the new State by no
means derogates from the scope of historical Eretz Israel".
Gush Emunim were among the first Israeli political parties
basing their land policies on the Biblical narrative discussed above.
They attracted attention following the capture of additional territory
in the 1967
Six-Day War . They argue that the
West Bank should be
annexed permanently to
Israel for both ideological and religious
reasons. This position is in conflict with the basic "land for peace "
settlement formula included in UN242 . The
Likud party, in the
platform it maintained until prior to the 2013 elections , had
proclaimed its support for maintaining Jewish settlement communities
West Bank and Gaza , as the territory is considered part of the
historical land of Israel. In her 2009 bid for Prime Minister, Kadima
Tzipi Livni used the expression, noting, "we need to give up
parts of the Land of Israel", in exchange for peace with the
Palestinians and to maintain
Israel as a Jewish state; this drew a
clear distinction with the position of her
Likud rival and winner,
Benjamin Netanyahu . However, soon after winning the 2009 elections,
Netanyahu delivered an address at the Begin-Sadat Center for
Strategic Studies at
Bar-Ilan University that was broadcast live in
Israel and across parts of the
Arab world , on the topic of the Middle
East peace process . He endorsed for the first time the notion of a
Palestinian state alongside Israel, while asserting the right to a
sovereign state in
Israel arises from the land being "the homeland of
the Jewish people".
Jordan Treaty of Peace , signed on 1993, led to the
establishment of an agreed border between the two nations, and
subsequently the state of
Israel has no territorial claims in the
parts of the historic Land of
Israel lying east of the
According to Palestinian historian
Nur Masalha , _Eretz Israel_ was a
religious concept which was turned by Zionists into a political
doctrine in order to emphasize an exclusive Jewish right of possession
regardless of the Arab presence. Masalha wrote that the Zionist
movement has not given up on an expansive definition of the territory,
Jordan and more, even though political pragmatism has
engendered a focus on the region west of the
* For the history of the region:
History of Israel
History of Palestine
* History of the
Judaism in the Land of
History of ancient Israel and Judah
* List of Jewish leaders in the Land of
Mosaic of Rehob
* For related toponyms see:
* ^ Rachel Havelock, _River Jordan: The Mythology of a Dividing
Line,_ University of Chicago Press, 2011 p.210.
* ^ "Exodus 6:4 I also established my covenant with them to give
them the land of Canaan, where they resided as foreigners". Bible.cc.
* ^ "Gen 15:18–21; NIV; - On that day the LORD made a covenant".
Bible Gateway. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
* ^ Michael J. Vlach, _Has the Church Replaced Israel?: A
Theological Evaluation,_ B&H Publishing Group, 2010 pp.3-5.
* ^ Stephen Spector,_Evangelicals and Israel: The Story of American
Christian Zionism,_ Oxford University Press, 2009 p.21.
* ^ Donald E. Wagner, Walter T. Davis, _
Zionism and the Quest for
Justice in the Holy Land,_ The Lutterworth Press, 2014 p.161.
* ^ Anthony J. Kenny, _Catholics, Jews, and the State of Israel,_
Paulist Press, 1993 pp.75-78.
* ^ Michael Prior, _The Bible and Colonialism: A Moral Critique,_
A&C Black 1997 p.171: ‘As an agent of legitimacy in international
Zionist appeal to
Tanakh for legitimation of its claims to
Israel is not much more compelling than if the Portuguese and
Spanish Governments today presented to the UN the bulls off Nicholas V
and Alexander VI, which also claimed divine authority, in their bid to
reclaim the lands of the New World. p.171.
* ^ Ian Bickerton, _The Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Guide for the
Perplexed,_ A&C Black, 2012 p.13.
* ^ Eugene Cotran,
Chibli Mallat ,
David Stott, (eds.) _The
Arab-Israeli Accords: Legal Perspectives,_ BRILL, 1996 pp.11-12.
* ^ The
Holy Land in History and Thought: Papers Submitted to the
International conference edited by Moše Šārôn
Israel Cohen, A Short History of Zionism, p.96, London,
Frederick Muller Co., 1951
* ^ _A_ _B_ Emma Playfair (1992). _International Law and the
Administration of Occupied Territories: Two Decades of Israeli
Occupation of the
West Bank and Gaza Strip_. Oxford University Press.
p. 41. On 17 December 1967, the Israeli military government issued an
order stating that "the term '
Samaria region' shall be
identical in meaning for all purposes . .to the term 'the West Bank
Region'". This change in terminology, which has been followed in
Israeli official statements since that time, reflected a historic
attachment to these areas and rejection of a name that was seen as
implying Jordanian sovereignty over them.
* ^ _A_ _B_ Masalha 2007 , p. 32.
* ^ Keith W. Whitelam, _The Invention of Ancient Israel: The
Silencing of Palestinian History,_ (1996) Routledge 2013, page 43.
* ^ Joseph Blenkinsopp, Ezekiel, Westminster John Knox Press, 1990,
p.152: Quote: "It may be surprising to learn that the designation
“the land of Israel” (_’ereṣ yiśrā’êl_), in common use
today, occurs for the first time in
Ezekiel (40:2; 47:18) and very
rarely elsewhere (I Chron. 22:2; II Chron. 2:17), apart from the more
restrictive allusion to the Northern Kingdom. By preference, however,
Ezekiel speaks of the "soil of Israel" (_’admat yiśrā’êl_), a
phrase that occurs eighteen times in the book and nowhere else in the
Hebrew Bible. (The title “holy land," literally “holy soil”,
used preferentially by Christians, occurs only once, at Zech. 2:12.)"
* ^ Noth, Martin (1960). "The Land of Israel". _The history of
Israel_. Harper. p. 8. An authentic and original name for this land as
a whole has not come down to us from Old Testament times, and
presumably no such ever existed; since as a natural phenomenon it was
never a homogeneous, self-contained entity and was never occupied by a
homogeneous population, and it was hardly at any time the scene of a
political organisation which substantially coincided with its actual
area. So the expression 'the land of Israel' may serve as a somewhat
flexible description of the area which the Israelite tribes had their
* ^ Anita Shapira, 1992, _Land and Power_, ISBN 0-19-506104-7 , p.
* ^ Bradley Shavit Artson, 'Our Covenant with Stones: A Jewish
Ecology of Earth,' in _
Judaism and Envirobnmental Ehics: A
Reader,_Lexington Books, 2001 pp.161-171,p.162
* ^ Michael L. Satlow, _Creating Judaism: History, Tradition,
Practice,_ p.160, Columbia University Press, 2006.
* ^ _A_ _B_ Sand 2012 , p. 27.
* ^ Rachel Havrelock, _River Jordan: The Mythology of a Dividing
Line,_University of Chicago Press, 2011, p.21.
* ^ Goldberg 2001 , p. 147: The parallels between this narrative
and that of Exodus continue to be drawn. Like Pharaoh before him,
Herod, having been frustrated in his original efforts, now seeks to
achieve his objectives by implementing a program of infanticide. As a
result, here - as in Exodus - rescuing the hero’s life from the
clutches of the evil king necessitates a sudden flight to another
country. And finally, in perhaps the most vivid parallel of all, the
present narrative uses virtually the same words of the earlier one to
provide the information that the coast is clear for the herds safe
return: here, in Matthew 2:20, "go … for those who sought the
Child's life are dead"; there, in Exodus 4:19, "go back… for all the
men who sought your life are dead."
* ^ _Kol Torah_, vol. 13, no. 9,
Torah Academy of Bergen County, 8
* ^ _A_ _B_ See 6th and 7th portion commentaries by Rashi
* ^ Stuart, Douglas K., _Exodus_, B Philadelphia: JPS, 1990), 502.
* ^ Paul R. Williamson, "Promise and Fulfilment: The Territorial
Inheritance", in Philip Johnston and Peter Walker (eds.), _The Land of
Promise: Biblical, Theological and Contemporary Perspectives_
(Leicester: Apollos, 2000), 20–21.
* ^ "1 Kings 11 NIV - Solomon’s Wives - King Solomon". Bible
Gateway. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
* ^ Menachem Lorberbaum, ‘Making and Unmaking the Boundaries of
Holy Land,’ in Allen E. Buchanan, Margaret Moore (eds) _States,
nations, and borders: the ethics of making boundaries._ Cambridge
University Press, 2003 pp19-40 p.24
* ^ p.xxxv, R. Yisrael Meir haKohen (
Chofetz Chayim ), _The Concise
Book of Mitzvoth_. This version of the list was prepared in 1968.
* ^ Yeshivat Ohr Yerushalayim,
Shmita Archived 17 January 2008 at
Wayback Machine .
* ^ The Ramban 's addition to the
Rambam 's Sefer HaMitzvot.
Ezekiel 47:21 "You are to distribute this land among yourselves
according to the tribes of Israel. 22 You are to allot it as an
inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who have settled among
you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born
Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance
among the tribes of Israel. 23 In whatever tribe the alien settles,
there you are to give him his inheritance," declares the Sovereign
* ^ "Edersheim Bible History – Bk. 1, Ch. 10". Godrules.net. 19
December 2006. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
* ^ "Edersheim Bible History – Bk. 1, Ch. 13". Godrules.net. 19
December 2006. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
* ^ "Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible – Genesis 15".
Gotothebible.com. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
* ^ "Genesis – Chapter 15 – Verse 13 – The New John Gill
Exposition of the Entire Bible on". Studylight.org. Retrieved 13
* ^ "Parshah In-Depth – Lech-Lecha". Chabad.org. Retrieved 13
* ^ "Did God send the angel to save
Ishmael so that Islam could
exist since Moslems believe
Ishmael is the father of the Arabs?".
Bible.org. Archived from the original on 13 April 2009. Retrieved 13
* ^ "Reformed Answers:
Ishmael and Esau". Thirdmill.org. Retrieved
13 November 2011.
* ^ "The Promises to
Isaac and Ishmael".
Christianleadershipcenter.org. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
* ^ "God Calls
Abram Abraham". Washingtonubf.org. Retrieved 13
* ^ "Nigeriaworld Feature Article – The Abrahamic Covenant: Its
scope and significance – A commentary on Dr. Malcolm Fabiyi\'s
essay". Nigeriaworld.com. 17 March 2006. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
* ^ Keil, Carl Friedrich; Delitzsch, Franz (1866). "Biblical
commentary on the Old Testament".
* ^ Yitzhak Ginsburgh, Rectifying the State of
Israel (Israel: Gal
Einai Institute, 2002), 52.
* ^ _A_ _B_ "Pinḥas, the Quest for Purity, and the Dangers of
Tikkun Olam". _www.academia.edu_. Retrieved 2015-12-11.
* ^ Teitelbaum, Al Ha-Ge‘ulah ve-al Ha-Temurah (1967), pp. 7-9,
20, as translated in Ravitzky, Messianism, Zionism, and Jewish
Religious Radicalism, 75.
* ^ Augustine, _The City of God (Book XVII)_, Chapter II. "And it
was fulfilled through David, and Solomon his son, whose kingdom was
extended over the whole promised space; for they subdued all those
nations, and made them tributary. And thus, under those kings, the
seed of Abraham was established in the land of promise according to
the flesh, that is, in the land of Canaan..."
Solomon Zeitlin , _The Jews. Race, Nation, or Religion?_
Dropsie College Press, 1936). Cited in, Edelheit and
Edelheit, _History of Zionism: A Handbook and Dictionary_
* ^ Hershel Edelheit and Abraham J. Edelheit, _History of Zionism:
A Handbook and Dictionary_, Westview Press, 2000. p 3.
* ^ De Lange, Nicholas, _An Introduction to Judaism_, Cambridge
University Press (2000), p. 30. ISBN 0-521-46624-5 . The term
"Zionism" was derived from the word Zion, which is the other name for
Jerusalem, and is associated with the Return to
Zion and coined by
Nathan Birnbaum , in his journal _Selbstemanzipation_ (Self
Emancipation) in 1890.
* ^ Basel Program
* ^ 3 Feb 1919 Statement, quote "... recognize the historic title
of the Jewish people to Palestine and the right of
reconstitute in Palestine their National Home"
* ^ "
Zionist Organization Statement on Palestine, Paris Peace
Conference, (February 3, 1919)". Jewishvirtuallibrary.org. Retrieved
13 November 2011.
* ^ "League of Nations Mandate for Palestine". Israeli Ministry of
Foreign Affairs. 24 July 1922. Retrieved 4 July 2012.
Israel Cohen, A Short History of Zionism, p.96, London,
Frederick Muller Co., 1951,
* ^ Meeting on November 9, 1920, quoted in: Memorandum No. 33, "Use
of the Name Eretz-Israel’," in the Report by the Palestine Royal
Commission, 1937, Memoranda Prepared by the Government of Palestine,
C. O. No. 133.
* ^ League of Nations, Permanent Mandate Commission, Minutes of the
Ninth Session Archived 28 June 2011 at the
Wayback Machine . (Arab
Grievances), Held at Geneva from 8 to 25 June 1926
* ^ Israel's declaration of independence says "the British Mandate
over _Eretz Yisrael_, and the Israeli law uses the term _Eretz
Yisrael_ to denote the territory subject directly to the British
Mandate law, e.g. Article 11 of the "Government and Law Ordinance
1948" issued by Israel's Provisional State Council.
* ^ "UNITED NATIONS \'\'General Assembly: A/RES/181(II):29 November
1947Resolution 181 (II). Future government of Palestine\'\': Retrieved
24 April 2012". Domino.un.org. Archived from the original on 24 May
2012. Retrieved 2013-08-11.
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs: _THE DECLARATION OF THE
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL: May 14, 1948_: Retrieved 24
* ^ _A_ _B_ "The World: Pursuing Peace; Netanyahu and His Party
Turn Away from Greater Israel". _The New York Times_. 22 November
1998. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
* ^ Raffaella A. Del Sarto, Israel\'s Contested Identity and the
Mediterranean, The territorial-political axis: Eretz
Medinat Israel, p. 8 Archived 10 June 2010 at the
Wayback Machine .
Reflecting the traditional divisions within the
Zionist movement, this
axis invokes two concepts, namely Eretz Israel, i.e. the biblical
"Land of Israel", and Medinat Israel, i.e. the Jewish and democratic
State of Israel. While the concept of Medinat
Israel dominated the
first decades of statehood in accordance with the aspirations of
Labour Zionism, the 1967 conquest of land that was part of "biblical
Israel" provided a material basis for the ascent of the concept of
Eretz Israel. Expressing the perception of rightful Jewish claims on
"biblical land", the construction of Jewish settlements in the
conquered territories intensified after the 1977 elections, which
ended the dominance of the Labour Party. Yet as the first Intifada
made disturbingly visible, Israel's de facto rule over the Palestinian
population created a dilemma of democracy versus Jewish majority in
the long run. With the beginning of Oslo and the option of territorial
compromise, the rift between supporters of Eretz
Israel and Medinat
Israel deepened to an unprecedented degree, the assassination of Prime
Minister Rabin in November 1995 being the most dramatic evidence.
David Ben-Gurion, "The Call of Spirit in Israel", in State of
Israel, _Government Yearbook, 5712_ (1951/1952), page x.
David Ben-Gurion, "
Israel among the Nations", in State of
Israel, _Government Year-book, 5713_ (1952), page 15.
* ^ State of Israel, "Israel, the State and the Nation" in
_Government Year-book, 5716_ (1955), page 320.
* ^ _
Likud – Platform_, knesset.gov.il, archived from the
original on 2012-02-04, retrieved 4 September 2008
* ^ "Tzipi Livni: give up half of Land of Israel". _The Telegraph_.
2009-02-16. Retrieved 2015-04-23.
* ^ "Full text of Binyamin Netanyahu\'s Bar Ilan speech".
15 June 2009. Retrieved 15 June 2009.
* ^ Keinon, Herb (14 June 2009). "Netanyahu wants demilitarized PA
Jerusalem Post_. Retrieved 6 March 2013.
* ^ Masalha 2007 , p. 2-6.
* ^ Masalha 2007 , pp. 32–38.
* Davies, W. D. , The Territorial Dimension of