Land of Israel

Land of Israel

Overview
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant
Southern Levant
The Levant is the geographical region bordering the Mediterranean, roughly between Egypt and Anatolia . The Southern Levant is roughly encompassed by Palestine, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, along with the modern sovereign states of Israel, Jordan and the southern part of Lebanon.Although the term...

, also known as Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

 and Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

, Promised Land
Promised land
The Promised Land is a term used to describe the land promised or given by God, according to the Hebrew Bible, to the Israelites, the descendants of Jacob. The promise is firstly made to Abraham and then renewed to his son Isaac, and to Isaac's son Jacob , Abraham's grandson...

 and Holy Land
Holy Land
The Holy Land is a term which in Judaism refers to the Kingdom of Israel as defined in the Tanakh. For Jews, the Land's identifiction of being Holy is defined in Judaism by its differentiation from other lands by virtue of the practice of Judaism often possible only in the Land of Israel...

. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

, especially the books of Genesis and Exodus, as well as the Prophets
Nevi'im
Nevi'im is the second of the three major sections in the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh. It falls between the Torah and Ketuvim .Nevi'im is traditionally divided into two parts:...

. According to the Book of Genesis, the land was promised by God
God in Judaism
The conception of God in Judaism is strictly monotheistic. God is an absolute one indivisible incomparable being who is the ultimate cause of all existence. Jewish tradition teaches that the true aspect of God is incomprehensible and unknowable, and that it is only God's revealed aspect that...

 to the descendants of Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

 through his son Isaac
Isaac
Isaac as described in the Hebrew Bible, was the only son Abraham had with his wife Sarah, and was the father of Jacob and Esau. Isaac was one of the three patriarchs of the Israelites...

 and to the Israelites, descendants of Jacob
Jacob
Jacob "heel" or "leg-puller"), also later known as Israel , as described in the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, the New Testament and the Qur'an was the third patriarch of the Hebrew people with whom God made a covenant, and ancestor of the tribes of Israel, which were named after his descendants.In the...

, Abraham's grandson.
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Encyclopedia
The Land of Israel is the Biblical name for the territory roughly corresponding to the area encompassed by the Southern Levant
Southern Levant
The Levant is the geographical region bordering the Mediterranean, roughly between Egypt and Anatolia . The Southern Levant is roughly encompassed by Palestine, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, along with the modern sovereign states of Israel, Jordan and the southern part of Lebanon.Although the term...

, also known as Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

 and Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

, Promised Land
Promised land
The Promised Land is a term used to describe the land promised or given by God, according to the Hebrew Bible, to the Israelites, the descendants of Jacob. The promise is firstly made to Abraham and then renewed to his son Isaac, and to Isaac's son Jacob , Abraham's grandson...

 and Holy Land
Holy Land
The Holy Land is a term which in Judaism refers to the Kingdom of Israel as defined in the Tanakh. For Jews, the Land's identifiction of being Holy is defined in Judaism by its differentiation from other lands by virtue of the practice of Judaism often possible only in the Land of Israel...

. The belief that the area is a God-given homeland of the Jewish people is based on the narrative of the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

, especially the books of Genesis and Exodus, as well as the Prophets
Nevi'im
Nevi'im is the second of the three major sections in the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh. It falls between the Torah and Ketuvim .Nevi'im is traditionally divided into two parts:...

. According to the Book of Genesis, the land was promised by God
God in Judaism
The conception of God in Judaism is strictly monotheistic. God is an absolute one indivisible incomparable being who is the ultimate cause of all existence. Jewish tradition teaches that the true aspect of God is incomprehensible and unknowable, and that it is only God's revealed aspect that...

 to the descendants of Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

 through his son Isaac
Isaac
Isaac as described in the Hebrew Bible, was the only son Abraham had with his wife Sarah, and was the father of Jacob and Esau. Isaac was one of the three patriarchs of the Israelites...

 and to the Israelites, descendants of Jacob
Jacob
Jacob "heel" or "leg-puller"), also later known as Israel , as described in the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, the New Testament and the Qur'an was the third patriarch of the Hebrew people with whom God made a covenant, and ancestor of the tribes of Israel, which were named after his descendants.In the...

, Abraham's grandson. A literal reading of the text suggests that the land promise is (or was at one time) one of the Biblical covenants between God and the Israelites.

The definition of the limits of this territory varies between Biblical passages, specifically Genesis 15, Exodus 23, Numbers 34 and Ezekiel 47. Elsewhere in the Bible, this land is often referred as "from Dan
Dan (ancient city)
Dan , is a city mentioned in the Bible, described as the northernmost city of the Kingdom of Israel, belonging to the Tribe of Dan. The city is identified with the tel known as Tel Dan , or Tel el-Qadi in...

 to Beersheba
Beersheba
Beersheba is the largest city in the Negev desert of southern Israel. Often referred to as the "Capital of the Negev", it is the seventh-largest city in Israel with a population of 194,300....

". The Land of Canaan
Land of Canaan
Land of Canaan is a Mystery-thriller film and is directed by Reginald LaFrance, it stars Christina Applegate, Robert Englund, Juliet Landau and Neve Campbell.-Plot:...

 is another Biblical name for this region. References to the land of Israel are also made in the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

, for example in .

The boundaries of the Land of Israel must be distinguished from the borders of historical Israelite kingdoms. The Hasmonean Kingdom, the Herodian dynasty
Herodian Dynasty
The Herodian Dynasty was a Jewish dynasty of Idumean descent, client Kings of Roman Judaea Province between 37 BCE and 92 CE.- Origin :During the time of the Hasmonean ruler John Hyrcanus 134-104 BCE, Israel conquered Edom and forced the Edomites to convert to Judaism.The Edomites were integrated...

 and possibly the Kingdom of Israel (united monarchy) ruled a land with comparable boundaries. They must also be distinguished from the borders of the current State of Israel.

The Land of Israel concept has been evoked by the founders of the State of Israel. It occasionally surfaces in political debates on the status of the Palestinian territories
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

.

Etymology and biblical roots


The term "Land of Israel" is a direct translation of the Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 phrase (Eretz Yisrael), found in the Five Books of Moses known as the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

. According to Anita Shapira
Anita Shapira
Anita Shapira is an Israeli historian. She is the founder of the Yitzhak Rabin Center for Israel Studies, a Ruben Merenfeld Professor of the Study of Zionism and head of the Weizmann Institute for the Study of Zionism at Tel Aviv University...

, 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 name "Israel" first appears in the Bible as the name given by God to the patriarch
Patriarchs (Bible)
The Patriarchs of the Bible, when narrowly defined, are Abraham, the ancestor of all the Abrahamic nations; his son Isaac, the ancestor of the nations surrounding Israel/Judah; and Isaac's son Jacob, also named Israel, the ancestor of the Israelites...

 Jacob
Jacob
Jacob "heel" or "leg-puller"), also later known as Israel , as described in the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, the New Testament and the Qur'an was the third patriarch of the Hebrew people with whom God made a covenant, and ancestor of the tribes of Israel, which were named after his descendants.In the...

 . From the name "Israel" other designations associated with the Jewish people have included the "Children of Israel" or "Israelite".

The first definition of the promised land
Promised land
The Promised Land is a term used to describe the land promised or given by God, according to the Hebrew Bible, to the Israelites, the descendants of Jacob. The promise is firstly made to Abraham and then renewed to his son Isaac, and to Isaac's son Jacob , Abraham's grandson...

 calls it "this land". In Genesis 15, this land is promised to Abraham's "descendants," notably Isaac, while in , it is promised explicitly to the Israelites.

A more detailed definition is given in for the land explicitly allocated to nine and half of the Israelite tribes after the Exodus
The Exodus
The Exodus is the story of the departure of the Israelites from ancient Egypt described in the Hebrew Bible.Narrowly defined, the term refers only to the departure from Egypt described in the Book of Exodus; more widely, it takes in the subsequent law-givings and wanderings in the wilderness...

. In this passage, the land is called "Land of Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

". The expression "Land of Israel" is first used in a later book, . It is used often in the Book of Ezekiel
Book of Ezekiel
The Book of Ezekiel is the third of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, following the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah and preceding the Book of the Twelve....

 and also by the Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

.

Biblical interpretations of the borders


The Hebrew Bible provides three somewhat more specific sets of borders, each with a different purpose. The passages where these are defined are , and .

Genesis 15


describes what are known as "Borders of the Land" (Gevulot Ha-aretz), which in Jewish tradition defines the extent of the land promised
Promised land
The Promised Land is a term used to describe the land promised or given by God, according to the Hebrew Bible, to the Israelites, the descendants of Jacob. The promise is firstly made to Abraham and then renewed to his son Isaac, and to Isaac's son Jacob , Abraham's grandson...

 to the descendants of Abraham, through his son Isaac and grandson Jacob. The passage describes the land in terms of the extent of territories of various ancient peoples.

More precise geographical borders are given which describes borders as marked by the Red Sea (see debate below), the "Sea of the Philistines" i.e., the Mediterranean, and the "River," the Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

), the traditional furthest extent of the Kingdom of David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

.

Exodus 23


A slightly more detailed definition is given in , 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
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

 River," though many versions of the Bible only indicate "river" and do not specify the "Euphrates."

Numbers 34



describes the land allocated to the Israelite tribes after the Exodus. The tribes of Reuben
Tribe of Reuben
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Reuben was one of the Tribes of Israel.From after the conquest of the land by Joshua until the formation of the first Kingdom of Israel in c. 1050 BC, the Tribe of Reuben was a part of a loose confederation of Israelite tribes. No central government...

, Gad
Tribe of Gad
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Gad was one of the Tribes of Israel.From after the conquest of the land by Joshua until the formation of the first Kingdom of Israel in c. 1050 BC, the Tribe of Gad was a part of a loose confederation of Israelite tribes. No central government existed,...

 and half of Manasseh
Tribe of Manasseh
According to the Hebrew Bible, the Tribe of Manasseh was one of the Tribes of Israel. Together with the Tribe of Ephraim, Manasseh also formed the House of Joseph....

 received land east
Transjordan (Bible)
The Transjordan is used to describe an area of land in the Southern Levant lying east of the Jordan River that is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. The area is said to form part of an ill-defined area known as the land of Israel...

 of the Jordan as explained in . 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
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

" (Eretz Kna'an) in and the borders are known in Jewish tradition as the "borders for those coming out of Egypt". These borders are again mentioned in , and .

As the Hebrew Scriptures explain, Canaan was the son of Ham who with his descendents had seized the land from the descendents of Shem
Shem
Shem was one of the sons of Noah in the Hebrew Bible as well as in Islamic literature. He is most popularly regarded as the eldest son, though some traditions regard him as the second son. Genesis 10:21 refers to relative ages of Shem and his brother Japheth, but with sufficient ambiguity in each...

 according to the Book of Jubilees. Jewish tradition thus refers to the region as Canaan during the period between the Flood
Noah's Ark
Noah's Ark is a vessel appearing in the Book of Genesis and the Quran . These narratives describe the construction of the ark by Noah at God's command to save himself, his family, and the world's animals from the worldwide deluge of the Great Flood.In the narrative of the ark, God sees the...

 and the Israelite settlement. Schweid sees Canaan as a geographical name, and Israel the spiritual name of the land: 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 re-naming of this land marks a change in religious status, the origin of the Holy Land
Holy Land
The Holy Land is a term which in Judaism refers to the Kingdom of Israel as defined in the Tanakh. For Jews, the Land's identifiction of being Holy is defined in Judaism by its differentiation from other lands by virtue of the practice of Judaism often possible only in the Land of Israel...

 concept. 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
Promised land
The Promised Land is a term used to describe the land promised or given by God, according to the Hebrew Bible, to the Israelites, the descendants of Jacob. The promise is firstly made to Abraham and then renewed to his son Isaac, and to Isaac's son Jacob , Abraham's grandson...

" can denote either the land promised to Abraham in Genesis or the land of Canaan, although the latter meaning is more common.

Ezekiel 47


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
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, eastwards (the way of Hethlon) to Zedad and Hazar-enan in modern Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

; 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 of Gilead
Gilead
In the Bible "Gilead" means hill of testimony or mound of witness, , a mountainous region east of the Jordan River, situated in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. It is also referred to by the Aramaic name Yegar-Sahadutha, which carries the same meaning as the Hebrew . From its mountainous character...

 to Tamar (Ein Gedi
Ein Gedi
Ein Gedi is an oasis in Israel, located west of the Dead Sea, near Masada and the caves of Qumran.-Etymology:The name En-gedi is composed of two Hebrew words: ein means spring and gdi means goat-kid. En Gedi thus means "Kid spring."...

) on the western shore of the Dead Sea; From Tamar to Meribah Kadesh (Kadesh Barnea), then along the Brook of Egypt
Brook of Egypt
The Brook of Egypt is the name used in some English translations of the Bible for the Hebrew Nachal Mitzrayim used for the river defining the westernmost border of the Land of Israel. Popular Bible commentaries identify it with Wadi El-Arish although the identification is problematic...

 (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
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

, both the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 and the Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

 and Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, except for the South Negev and Eilat. Small parts of Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 are also included.

From Dan to Beersheba


The common Biblical phrase used to refer to the territories actually settled by the Israelites (as opposed to military expansions) is "from Dan to Beersheba
Beersheba
Beersheba is the largest city in the Negev desert of southern Israel. Often referred to as the "Capital of the Negev", it is the seventh-largest city in Israel with a population of 194,300....

" (or its variant "from Beersheba to Dan"), which occurs many times in the Bible. It is found in the Biblical verses , , , , , , , , and .

Brook of Egypt


The border with Egypt is given as the Nachal Mitzrayim (Brook of Egypt
Brook of Egypt
The Brook of Egypt is the name used in some English translations of the Bible for the Hebrew Nachal Mitzrayim used for the river defining the westernmost border of the Land of Israel. Popular Bible commentaries identify it with Wadi El-Arish although the identification is problematic...

) in Numbers and Deuteronomy, as well as in Ezekiel. Jewish tradition (as expressed in the commentaries of Rashi
Rashi
Shlomo Yitzhaki , or in Latin Salomon Isaacides, and today generally known by the acronym Rashi , was a medieval French rabbi famed as the author of a comprehensive commentary on the Talmud, as well as a comprehensive commentary on the Tanakh...

 and Yehuda Halevi
Yehuda Halevi
Judah Halevi was a Spanish Jewish physician, poet and philosopher. He was born in Spain, either in Toledo or Tudela, in 1075 or 1086, and died shortly after arriving in Palestine in 1141...

, as well as the Aramaic Targum
Targum
Taekwondo is a Korean martial art and the national sport of South Korea. In Korean, tae means "to strike or break with foot"; kwon means "to strike or break with fist"; and do means "way", "method", or "path"...

s) understand this as referring to the Nile
Nile
The Nile is a major north-flowing river in North Africa, generally regarded as the longest river in the world. It is long. It runs through the ten countries of Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Egypt.The Nile has two major...

; more precisely the Pelusian branch of the Nile Delta according to Halevi—a view supported by Egyptian and Assyrian texts. Saadia Gaon
Saadia Gaon
Saʻadiah ben Yosef Gaon was a prominent rabbi, Jewish philosopher, and exegete of the Geonic period.The first important rabbinic figure to write extensively in Arabic, he is considered the founder of Judeo-Arabic literature...

 identified it as the "Wadi of El-Arish" referring to the Biblical Sukkot
Sukkot
Sukkot is a Biblical holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei . It is one of the three biblically mandated festivals Shalosh regalim on which Hebrews were commanded to make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem.The holiday lasts seven days...

 near Faiyum. 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
Wadi
Wadi is the Arabic term traditionally referring to a valley. In some cases, it may refer to a dry riverbed that contains water only during times of heavy rain or simply an intermittent stream.-Variant names:...

 of the coastal locality called El-Arish. Easton's however, notes a local tradition that the course of the river had changed and there was once a branch of Nile where today there is a wadi. Biblical minimalists have suggested that the Besor
Besor
HaBesor is a wadi in southern Israel. The stream begins at Mount Boker , and spills into the Mediterranean Sea near Deir al-Balah in the Gaza Strip, where it is called Wadi Gaza...

 is intended.

Genesis gives the border with Egypt as Nahar Miztrayim – nahar denotes a large river in Hebrew never a wadi.

Southern and eastern borders


Only the "Red Sea" (Exodus 23:31) and the Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

 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
Erythraean Sea
The Erythraean Sea is one of the names found in ancient cartography. This name may have derived from the seasonal blooms of the red-coloured Trichodesmium erythraeum near the water's surface, as the Greek "Ερυθρά" actually means "red".In the third century, Flavius Philostratus made this comment:...

, as reflected in the 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
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

, 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.

Variability of the boundaries


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
Jacob Milgrom
Jacob Milgrom was a prominent American Jewish Bible scholar and Conservative rabbi, best known for his comprehensive Torah commentaries and work on the Dead Sea Scrolls.-Biography:...

, Deuteronomy refers to a more utopian map of the promised land, whose eastern border is the wilderness rather than the Jordan.

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."

Historical kingdoms



Few, if any, archaeological remains of the Kingdom of David and Solomon have been uncovered to date that would accord with the huge conquests described in the Bible. It is more probable that the kingdom was smaller than described, encompassing only the areas settled by the Israelite tribes. The divided Kingdoms of Judah
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

 and Israel came into existence during the 8th century BC. While Israel encompassed the north of the country, including Samaria
Samaria
Samaria, or the Shomron is a term used for a mountainous region roughly corresponding to the northern part of the West Bank.- Etymology :...

 and the Galilee
Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

 as far as Dan
Dan (ancient city)
Dan , is a city mentioned in the Bible, described as the northernmost city of the Kingdom of Israel, belonging to the Tribe of Dan. The city is identified with the tel known as Tel Dan , or Tel el-Qadi in...

, Judah
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

 was restricted to a comparatively small area around Jerusalem, with a northern boundary near Mitzpah and a southern one around Hebron
Hebron
Hebron , is located in the southern West Bank, south of Jerusalem. Nestled in the Judean Mountains, it lies 930 meters above sea level. It is the largest city in the West Bank and home to around 165,000 Palestinians, and over 500 Jewish settlers concentrated in and around the old quarter...

, probably not projecting effective rule as far as Beersheva. The Hasmonean Kingdom and the Herodian dynasty
Herodian Dynasty
The Herodian Dynasty was a Jewish dynasty of Idumean descent, client Kings of Roman Judaea Province between 37 BCE and 92 CE.- Origin :During the time of the Hasmonean ruler John Hyrcanus 134-104 BCE, Israel conquered Edom and forced the Edomites to convert to Judaism.The Edomites were integrated...

 did rule a political unit that corresponds to the description, "From Dan to Beersheva."

Jewish law



According to Jewish law (halakha
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

), some religious laws only apply to Jews living in the Land of Israel and some areas in Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

, Lebanon, and Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

 (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
Maaser Rishon
The first tithe is a positive commandment in the Torah requiring the giving of one tenth of agricultural produce, after the giving of the standard terumah, to the Kohen...

 (Levite Tithe), Maaser sheni
Maaser Sheni
The second tithe is a tithe mentioned in the Hebrew Bible and continued in Orthodox Judaism. It is distinguished from the first tithe , the poor tithe, and the terumat ma'aser...

, and Maaser ani
Maaser Ani
The poor tithe reflects an obligation to set aside one tenth of produce grown in the third and sixth years of the seven-year sabbatical year agricultural cycle for the poor, in the days of the Temple in Jerusalem....

 (poor tithe); charitable practices during farming, such as pe'ah
Pe'ah
Pe'ah is the second tractate of Seder Zeraim of the Mishnah and of the Talmud. The tractate is a fitting continuation of Seder Zeraim. Following the initial subject of blessings and benedictions, instilling an attitude of reverence and gratitude, this tractate begins the discussion of the main...

; and laws regarding taxation. One popular source lists 26 of the 613 mitzvot as contingent upon the Land of Israel.

Many of the laws which applied in ancient times are applied in the modern State of Israel; others have not been revived, since the State of Israel does not adhere to traditional Jewish law
Mishpat Ivri
Mishpat Ivri In content, Mishpat Ivri refers to those aspects of Halakha that many in modern society generally consider relevant to "non-religious" or "secular" law...

. However, certain parts of the current territory of the State of Israel, such as the Arabah
Arabah
The Arabah , also known as Aravah, is a section of the Great Rift Valley running in a north-south orientation between the southern end of the Sea of Galilee down to the Dead Sea and continuing further south where it ends at the Gulf of Aqaba. It includes most of the border between Israel to the...

, are considered by some 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
Posek
Posek is the term in Jewish law for "decider"—a legal scholar who decides the Halakha in cases of law where previous authorities are inconclusive or in those situations where no halakhic precedent exists....

, 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.

Traditional Jewish interpretation, and that of most Christian commentators, define Abraham's descendants only as Abraham's seed through his son Isaac
Isaac
Isaac as described in the Hebrew Bible, was the only son Abraham had with his wife Sarah, and was the father of Jacob and Esau. Isaac was one of the three patriarchs of the Israelites...

 and his grandson Jacob
Jacob
Jacob "heel" or "leg-puller"), also later known as Israel , as described in the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, the New Testament and the Qur'an was the third patriarch of the Hebrew people with whom God made a covenant, and ancestor of the tribes of Israel, which were named after his descendants.In the...

. Johann Friedrich Karl Keil
Johann Friedrich Karl Keil
Johann Friedrich Karl Keil or Carl Friedrich Keil was a conservative German Lutheran Old Testament commentator...

 is less clear, as he states that the covenant is through Isaac, but notes that Ishmael
Ishmael
Ishmael is a figure in the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, and was Abraham's first born child according to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Ishmael was born of Abraham's marriage to Sarah's handmaiden Hagar...

's descendants have held much of that land through time.

From the Kingdom of Judah to the present


After the fall of the ancient Kingdom of Judah
Kingdom of Judah
The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

, political rule was held by the following powers:
  • 586–539 BC: Babylonian Empire
  • 539–332 BC: Persian Empire
  • 332–305 BC: Empire of Alexander the Great
  • 305–198 BC: Ptolemaics
    Ptolemaic dynasty
    The Ptolemaic dynasty, was a Macedonian Greek royal family which ruled the Ptolemaic Empire in Egypt during the Hellenistic period. Their rule lasted for 275 years, from 305 BC to 30 BC...

  • 198–141 BC: Seleucids
    Seleucid Empire
    The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

  • 141–37 BC: The Hasmonean kingdom in Israel established by the Maccabees, after 63 BC under Roman supremacy
    Roman Empire
    The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

  • 37 BC–70 AD: Herodian Dynasty
    Herodian Dynasty
    The Herodian Dynasty was a Jewish dynasty of Idumean descent, client Kings of Roman Judaea Province between 37 BCE and 92 CE.- Origin :During the time of the Hasmonean ruler John Hyrcanus 134-104 BCE, Israel conquered Edom and forced the Edomites to convert to Judaism.The Edomites were integrated...

     ruling Judea under Roman supremacy
    Roman Empire
    The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

     (37 BC–6 AD and 41–44 AD), interchanging with direct Roman rule (6–41 CE and 44–66 AD). This ended in the first Jewish Revolt of 66–73 AD, which saw the Temple destroyed in 70 AD.
  • 6 AD Census of Quirinius
    Census of Quirinius
    The Census of Quirinius refers to the enrollment of the Roman Provinces of Syria and Iudaea for tax purposes taken in the year 6/7 during the reign of Emperor Augustus , when Publius Sulpicius Quirinius was appointed governor of Syria, after the banishment of Herod Archelaus from the Tetrarchy of...

     and establishment of Roman Iudaea Province
    Iudaea Province
    Judaea or Iudaea are terms used by historians to refer to the Roman province that extended over parts of the former regions of the Hasmonean and Herodian kingdoms of Israel...

  • 70–395: province of Roman Empire
    Roman Empire
    The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

     first called Judea
    Judea
    Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

    , after 135 called Palaestina
    History of Palestine
    The Southern Levant is the southern portion of the geographical region bordering the Mediterranean between Egypt and Mesopotamia . A narrow definition would take in roughly the same area as the modern states of Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Jordan, while a wider definition would...

     by the Romans to spite the Jews following the Second Jewish Revolt (The Bar Kokhba
    Simon bar Kokhba
    Simon bar Kokhba was the Jewish leader of what is known as the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Roman Empire in 132 CE, establishing an independent Jewish state of Israel which he ruled for three years as Nasi...

     Revolt). In 395 the Roman Empire is split into a Western and an Eastern part.
  • 395–638: Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire
    Byzantine Empire
    The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

  • 638–1099: Arab Caliphate
    Caliphate
    The term caliphate, "dominion of a caliph " , refers to the first system of government established in Islam and represented the political unity of the Muslim Ummah...

    s and subject rulers
  • 1099–1187: Crusader states
    Crusader states
    The Crusader states were a number of mostly 12th- and 13th-century feudal states created by Western European crusaders in Asia Minor, Greece and the Holy Land , and during the Northern Crusades in the eastern Baltic area...

    , most notably the Kingdom of Jerusalem
    Kingdom of Jerusalem
    The Kingdom of Jerusalem was a Catholic kingdom established in the Levant in 1099 after the First Crusade. The kingdom lasted nearly two hundred years, from 1099 until 1291 when the last remaining possession, Acre, was destroyed by the Mamluks, but its history is divided into two distinct periods....

  • 1187–1260: dominated by the Ayyubids of Egypt and Damascus
    Ayyubid dynasty
    The Ayyubid dynasty was a Muslim dynasty of Kurdish origin, founded by Saladin and centered in Egypt. The dynasty ruled much of the Middle East during the 12th and 13th centuries CE. The Ayyubid family, under the brothers Ayyub and Shirkuh, originally served as soldiers for the Zengids until they...

  • 1260–1516: dominated by the Mamluks of Egypt
  • 1516–1917: Ottoman
    Ottoman Empire
    The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

     Turks
    Ottoman Turks
    The Ottoman Turks were the Turkish-speaking population of the Ottoman Empire who formed the base of the state's military and ruling classes. Reliable information about the early history of Ottoman Turks is scarce, but they take their Turkish name, Osmanlı , from the house of Osman I The Ottoman...

    , having previously conquered the Byzantine Empire in 1453
  • 1918–1948: British
    British Empire
    The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

     mandate of Palestine under, first, League of Nations
    League of Nations
    The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

    , then, successor United Nations; the Emirate of Trans-Jordan was separated from the rest of Palestine in 1922, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan became independent upon the expiration of the League of Nations Mandate in 1946.
  • May 1948 – June 1967: Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
    Jordan
    Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

    , for the Old City of Jerusalem and the larger part of the area; State of Israel for a smaller strip of land in the west
  • June 1967 to present: State of Israel
  • 1993 to present: State of Israel and Palestinian territories
    Palestinian territories
    The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...


Modern history


Jewish religious tradition does not distinguish clearly between religious, national, racial, or ethnic identities. Nonetheless, during two millennia of exile and with an almost continuous small settlement, 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
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 term, Eretz Yisrael. Religiously 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. Having already used another religious term of great importance, Zion
Zion
Zion is a place name often used as a synonym for Jerusalem. The word is first found in Samuel II, 5:7 dating to c.630-540 BCE...

, to coin the name of their movement, the term was considered appropriate for the secular Jewish political movement of Zionism
Zionism
Zionism is a Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, has supported the self-determination of the Jewish people in a sovereign Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to advocate on behalf of the Jewish state...

 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
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 and generally known as the Holy Land
Holy Land
The Holy Land is a term which in Judaism refers to the Kingdom of Israel as defined in the Tanakh. For Jews, the Land's identifiction of being Holy is defined in Judaism by its differentiation from other lands by virtue of the practice of Judaism often possible only in the Land of Israel...

 or Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

. Different geographic and political definitions for the ‘Land of Israel’ later developed among competing 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 Israel and the Jewish State’s secure and democratic existence. Many current governments, politicians and commentators question these differences.

When 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
Green Line (Israel)
Green Line refers to the demarcation lines set out in the 1949 Armistice Agreements between Israel and its neighbours after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War...

. The then opposition revisionists
Revisionist Zionism
Revisionist Zionism is a nationalist faction within the Zionist movement. It is the founding ideology of the non-religious right in Israel, and was the chief ideological competitor to the dominant socialist Labor Zionism...

, who evolved into today's Likud
Likud
Likud is the major center-right political party in Israel. It was founded in 1973 by Menachem Begin in an alliance with several right-wing and liberal parties. Likud's victory in the 1977 elections was a major turning point in the country's political history, marking the first time the left had...

 party, however, regarded the rightful Land of Israel as Eretz Yisrael Ha-Shlema (literally, the whole Land of Israel), which came to be referred to as Greater Israel
Greater Israel
Greater Israel is a controversial expression with several different Biblical and political meanings over time.Currently, the most common definition of the land encompassed by the term is the territory of the State of Israel together with the Palestinian territories...

. Joel Greenberg, writing in The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

 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 he called Judea and Samaria (the 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.


Following the Six Day War in 1967, the 1977 elections
Israeli legislative election, 1977
The Elections for the ninth Knesset were held on 17 May 1977. For the first time in Israeli political history, the right-wing, led by Likud, won the election, ending almost 30 years of rule by the left-wing Alignment and its predecessor, Mapai...

 and the Oslo Accords
Oslo Accords
The Oslo Accords, officially called the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements or Declaration of Principles , was an attempt to resolve the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict...

, 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. Nevertheless, it remains the standard term for referring to the region prior to the establishment of the state, and ultra-Orthodox
Haredim and Zionism
The relationship between Haredim and Zionism has always been a difficult one. Before the establishment of the State of Israel, the majority of Haredi Jewry was opposed to Zionism. However, after the de facto creation of the state, each individual movement within Orthodox Judaism charted its own...

 Jews who are opposed to the State of Israel still refer to the region as Eretz Yisrael.

British Mandate


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. The subsequent British occupation and acceptance of the British Mandate of Palestine by the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

, advanced the Zionist cause. Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Weizmann
Chaim Azriel Weizmann, , was a Zionist leader, President of the Zionist Organization, and the first President of the State of Israel. He was elected on 1 February 1949, and served until his death in 1952....

, as leader of the Zionist delegation, at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference presented the 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 Eretz Israel. It also declared the Zionist’s 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, the occupied territories
Israeli-occupied territories
The Israeli-occupied territories are the territories which have been designated as occupied territory by the United Nations and other international organizations, governments and others to refer to the territory seized by Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967 from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria...

, western Jordan, southwestern Syria and southern Lebanon "in the vicinity south of Sidon".

During the Mandate, the name Eretz Yisrael (abbreviated א״י Aleph-Yod), was part of the official name of the territory, when written in Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

. The official name "(פלשתינה (א״י" (Palestina E"Y) was also minted on the Mandate coins and early stamps (pictured). Some in the government of the British Mandate of Palestine wanted the name to be פלשתינה (Palestina) while the Yishuv
Yishuv
The Yishuv or Ha-Yishuv is the term referring to the body of Jewish residents in Palestine before the establishment of the State of Israel...

 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
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

, and the Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

, and sometimes also Transjordan
Transjordan
The Emirate of Transjordan was a former Ottoman territory in the Southern Levant that was part of the British Mandate of Palestine...

 (now the Kingdom of Jordan).

Declaration of Independence of Israel


The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel
Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel
The Israeli Declaration of Independence , made on 14 May 1948 , the day before the British Mandate was due to expire, was the announcement by David Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization and chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, that the new Jewish state named the...

 commences by drawing a direct line from Biblical times to the present:


On 29 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 laws of the State of Israel make it the homeland
Law of Return
The Law of Return is Israeli legislation, passed on 5 July 1950, that gives Jews the right of return and settlement in Israel and gain citizenship...

 of all people of Jewish ancestry.

Usage in Israeli politics


Early government usage of the term, following Israel's establishment, continued the historical link and possible Zionist intentions. Twice in official state documents David Ben Gurion, announced that the state was created "in a part of our small country" and "in only a portion of the Land of Israel." He later noted that "the creation of the new State by no means derogates from the scope of historic Eretz Israel."

Herut
Herut
Herut was the major right-wing political party in Israel from the 1940s until its formal merger into Likud in 1988, and an adherent of Revisionist Zionism.-History:...

 and Gush Emunim
Gush Emunim
Gush Emunim was an Israeli messianic and political movement committed to establishing Jewish settlements in the West Bank. While not formally established as an organization until 1974 in the wake of the Yom Kippur War, Gush Emunim sprang out of the conquests of the Six-Day War in 1967, encouraging...

 were amongst 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
Six-Day War
The Six-Day War , also known as the June War, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, or Third Arab-Israeli War, was fought between June 5 and 10, 1967, by Israel and the neighboring states of Egypt , Jordan, and Syria...

. 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
Land for peace
Land for peace is an interpretation of UN Security Council Resolution 242 which has formed the basis of subsequent Arab-Israeli peace making. The name Land for Peace is derived from the wording of the resolution's first operative paragraph which affirms that peace should include the application of...

” settlement formula included in UN242
United Nations Security Council Resolution 242
United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 was adopted unanimously by the UN Security Council on November 22, 1967, in the aftermath of the Six Day War. It was adopted under Chapter VIof the United Nations Charter...

. The Likud
Likud
Likud is the major center-right political party in Israel. It was founded in 1973 by Menachem Begin in an alliance with several right-wing and liberal parties. Likud's victory in the 1977 elections was a major turning point in the country's political history, marking the first time the left had...

 party, in its platform, supports maintaining Jewish settlement communities in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 and Gaza
Gaza
Gaza , also referred to as Gaza City, is a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip, with a population of about 450,000, making it the largest city in the Palestinian territories.Inhabited since at least the 15th century BC,...

 as the territory is considered part of the historical land of Israel. In her 2009 bid for Prime Minister, Kadimah leader Tzipi Livni
Tzipi Livni
Tzipporah Malkah "Tzipi" Livni is an Israeli lawyer and politician. She is the current Israeli Opposition Leader and leader of Kadima, the largest party in the Knesset. Raised an ardent nationalist, Livni has become one of her nation's leading voices for the two-state solution. In Israel she has...

 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
Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu is the current Prime Minister of Israel. He serves also as the Chairman of the Likud Party, as a Knesset member, as the Health Minister of Israel, as the Pensioner Affairs Minister of Israel and as the Economic Strategy Minister of Israel.Netanyahu is the first and, to...

.

Usage by Palestinians


In its 1988 charter, Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

 claims that After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. The same year, Yasser Arafat
Yasser Arafat
Mohammed Yasser Abdel Rahman Abdel Raouf Arafat al-Qudwa al-Husseini , popularly known as Yasser Arafat or by his kunya Abu Ammar , was a Palestinian leader and a Laureate of the Nobel Prize. He was Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization , President of the Palestinian National Authority...

 voiced the same accusation at the United Nations, the so-called 10 Agorot controversy
10 Agorot controversy
The ten agorot controversy was a conspiracy theory in 1988 in which Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat claimed that the obverse design of an Israeli coin worth ten agorot showed a map of "Greater Israel" that represented Zionist expansionist goals.The Bank of Israel ...

. About Arafat, Rubinstein writes: he used to repeat the claim that a map of Israel, extending from the Nile to the Euphrates, hangs on the Knesset wall. He even saw the blue stripes in the Israeli flag as a symbol that the Egyptian and Iraqi rivers are the borders for the Zionist state's expansionist aspirations.

See also

  • History of the Middle East
    History of the Middle East
    This article is a general overview of the history of the Middle East. For more detailed information, see articles on the histories of individual countries and regions...

  • History of Palestine
    History of Palestine
    The Southern Levant is the southern portion of the geographical region bordering the Mediterranean between Egypt and Mesopotamia . A narrow definition would take in roughly the same area as the modern states of Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Jordan, while a wider definition would...

  • History of Israel
    History of Israel
    The State of Israel declared independence on May 14, 1948 after almost two millennia of Jewish dispersal and persecution around the Mediterranean. From the late 19th century the Zionist movement worked towards the goal of recreating a homeland for the Jewish people...

  • History of the Jews in the Land of Israel
    History of the Jews in the Land of Israel
    The history of the Jews in the land of Israel can be traced from the first appearance of the name "Israel" in the historic record, an Egyptian inscription of c.1200 BCE where it refers to an ethnic group apparently located in the northern part of the central highlands between the Mediterranean and...

  • Holy Land
    Holy Land
    The Holy Land is a term which in Judaism refers to the Kingdom of Israel as defined in the Tanakh. For Jews, the Land's identifiction of being Holy is defined in Judaism by its differentiation from other lands by virtue of the practice of Judaism often possible only in the Land of Israel...

  • Promised land
    Promised land
    The Promised Land is a term used to describe the land promised or given by God, according to the Hebrew Bible, to the Israelites, the descendants of Jacob. The promise is firstly made to Abraham and then renewed to his son Isaac, and to Isaac's son Jacob , Abraham's grandson...

  • Canaan
    Canaan
    Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

  • Greater Israel
    Greater Israel
    Greater Israel is a controversial expression with several different Biblical and political meanings over time.Currently, the most common definition of the land encompassed by the term is the territory of the State of Israel together with the Palestinian territories...

  • Jewish history
    Jewish history
    Jewish history is the history of the Jews, their religion and culture, as it developed and interacted with other peoples, religions and cultures. Since Jewish history is over 4000 years long and includes hundreds of different populations, any treatment can only be provided in broad strokes...

  • Masoretic text
    Masoretic Text
    The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible and is regarded as Judaism's official version of the Tanakh. While the Masoretic Text defines the books of the Jewish canon, it also defines the precise letter-text of these biblical books, with their vocalization and...

  • List of Jewish leaders in the Land of Israel

Further reading

  • Keith, Alexander
    Alexander Keith
    Alexander Keith was a Scottish born-Canadian politician, Freemason and brewer. He was mayor of the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, a Conservative member of the provincial legislature, and the founder of the Alexander Keith's Nova Scotia Brewery.-Biography:Keith was born in Halkirk, Caithness,...

    . The Land of Israel: According to the Covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and Jacob, W. Whyte & Co, 1844.
  • Schweid, Eliezer. The Land of Israel: National Home Or Land of Destiny, translated by Deborah Greniman, Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 1985. ISBN 0-8386-3234-3
  • Sedykh, Andreĭ. This Land of Israel, Macmillan, 1967.
  • Stewart, Robert Laird. The Land of Israel, Revell, 1899.
  • John P. McTernan, As America Has Done to Israel, Whitaker House Publishers, 2008. ISBN 978-1-60374-038-8