Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New Series Introduction: Biblical Geography

What do you picture in your head when you read the Bible? Do you imagine the ancient Israelites living in a dry and dusty land or in lush greenery? Are they in the middle of a sandy desert or are there trees and grass around them? Do you picture them living in an environment that is something similar to the one you live in or something different?

If you've ever visited the land of Israel, then you know that it is very difficult to summarize what the land is like. Is it mountainous or flat? Well, it's some of both. Is it dry or humid? Again, it's some of both. Is it green and luscious or dry and dusty? Well, it depends on what time of the year you visit and where in the country you travel.

The land of Israel is a land of diverse climates and terrains. Yohanan Aharoni, one of the great historical geographers of the last century, referred to it as "The Land of Many Contrasts." (Yohanan Aharoni, The Land of the Bible: A Historical Geography, revised and enlarged, translated and edited by A. F. Rainey [Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1979], 21.)

There you will find pleasant coastlands that are fit for the most relaxing vacations ...
... and harsh deserts that are treacherous and deadly.
You will find mountainous terrain with commanding views ...
and deep valleys which hem you in on almost every side.
Each region of the country has its strengths and weaknesses, and each one played a part in how the ancient people lived out their lives.

In this series, we will explore the various terrains found in the land of Israel. The aim of the study is to enhance your reading of the Bible by providing background information and pictures that will shed light on why certain events occurred the way they did. Just like any other nation, the ancient Israelites were shaped (in part) by the land in which they lived.

(Photos courtesy of BiblePlaces.com)