Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Hevron Biblical City

Hevron Biblical City

The name "Hebron" (or Chevron-pronounced with a hard "ch") is derived from the Hebrew word "chaver," or "friend." In Arabic, Hebron is called "Al Khalil," which also means "friend." Both Arabic and Hebrew are shortened forms of the phrase, "Friend of God," meaning Abraham.

Hebron, located 32 km. (20 miles) south of Jerusalem in the Judean hills, is the site of the oldest Jewish community in the world, which dates back to Biblical times. The Book of Genesis relates that Abraham purchased the field where the Tomb of the Patriarchs is located as a burial place for his wife Sarah. According to Jewish tradition, the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the Matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah are buried in the Tomb.

Tomb of the Patriarchs

The Cave of Machpelah is the world's most ancient Jewish site and the second holiest place for the Jewish people, after Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The cave and the adjoining field were purchased, at full market price, by Abraham some 3700 years ago. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rebecca, and Leah are all later buried in the same Cave of Machpelah. These are considered the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of the Jewish People. The only one who is missing is Rachel, who was buried near Bethlehem where she died in childbirth.

The double cave, a mystery of thousands of years, was uncovered several years ago beneath the massive building, revealing artifacts from the Early Israelite Period (some 30 centuries ago). The structure was built during the Second Temple Period (about two thousand years ago) by Herod, King of Judea, providing a place for gatherings and Jewish prayers at the graves of the Patriarchs.

This uniquely impressive building is the only one that stands intact and still fulfills its original function after thousands of years. Foreign conquerors and invaders used the site for their own purposes, depending on their religious orientatio. The Byzantines and Crusaders transformed it into a church and the Muslims rendered it a mosque. About 700 years ago, the Muslim Mamelukes conquered Hebron, declared the structure a mosque and forbade entry to Jews, who were not allowed past the seventh step on a staircase outside the building.

Hebron has a long and rich Jewish history. It was one of the first places where the Patriarch Abraham resided after his arrival in Canaan. King David was anointed in Hebron, where he reigned for seven years. One thousand years later, during the first Jewish revolt against the Romans, the city was the scene of extensive fighting. Jews lived in Hebron almost continuously throughout the Byzantine, Arab, Mameluke, and Ottoman periods. It was only in 1929 - as a result of a murderous Arab pogrom in which 67 Jews were murdered and the remainder were forced to flee - that the city became temporarily "free" of Jews. After the 1967 Six-Day War, the Jewish community of Hebron was re-established. It has grown to include a range of religious and educational institutions.

Hebron contains many sites of Jewish religious and historical significance, in addition to the Tomb of the Patriarchs. These include the Tombs of Othniel Ben Kenaz, the first Judge of Israel (Judges 3:9-11); Avner Ben Ner, general and confidante to Kings Saul and David; and Ruth and Jesse, great-grandmother and father of King David. Victims of the 1929 pogrom, as well as prominent rabbinical sages and community figures, are buried in Hebron's ancient Jewish cemetery. The site of the Terebinths of Mamre ("Alonei Mamre") (Genesis 18:1), and King David's Pool, also known as the Sultan's Pool (II Samuel 4:12), are also located in Hebron.

Upon the liberation of Hebron in 1967, the Chief Rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces, the late Major-General Rabbi Shlomo Goren, was the first Jew to enter the Cave of Machpelah. Since then, Jews have been struggling to regain their prayer rights at the site, still run by the Muslim Waqf (Religious Trust) that took control during the Arab conquest. Many restrictions are imposed on Jewish prayers and customs at the Tomb of the Patriarchs despite the site's significance, primacy and sanctity in Jewish heritage and history.

Over 300,000 people visit Ma'arat HaMachpelah annually. The structure is divided into three rooms: Ohel Avraham, Ohel Yitzhak, and Ohel Ya'akov. Presently Jews have no access to Ohel Yitzhak, the largest room, with the exception of 10 days a year.

Historical Background
Hebron was founded (Numbers 13:22) around 1720 BCE. The ancient city of Hebron was situated at Tel Rumeida. The city's history has been inseparably linked with the Cave of Machpelah, which the Patriarch Abraham purchased from Ephron the Hittite for 400 silver shekels (Genesis 23), as a family tomb. As recorded in Genesis, the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the Matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca and Leah, are buried there, and - according to a Jewish tradition - Adam and Eve are also buried there.

Hebron is mentioned 87 times in the Bible, and is the world's oldest Jewish community. Joshua assigned Hebron to Caleb from the tribe of Judah (Joshua 14:13-14), who subsequently led his tribe in conquering the city and its environs (Judges 1:1-20). As Joshua 14:15 notes, "the former name of Hebron was Kiryat Arba..."

Following the death of King Saul, G-d instructed David to go to Hebron, where he was anointed King of Yehuda (II Samuel 2:1-4). A little more than 7.5 years later, David was anointed King over all Israel, in Hebron (II Samuel 5:1-3).

The city was part of the United Kingdom of Israel and - later - the Southern Kingdom of Yehuda, until the latter fell to the Babylonians in 586 BCE. Despite the loss of Jewish independence, Jews continued to live in Hebron (Nehemiah 11:25), and the city was later incorporated into the (Jewish) Hasmonean kingdom by John Hyrcanus. King Herod (reigned 37-4 BCE) built the base of the present structure - the 12 meter high wall - over the Tomb the Patriarchs.

In 1540, Jewish exiles from Spain acquired the site of the "Court of the Jews" and built the Avraham Avinu ("Abraham Our Father") synagogue. One year - according to local legend - when the requisite quorum for prayer was lacking, the Patriarch Abraham himself appeared to complete the quorum; hence, the name of the synagogue.

In 1870, a wealthy Turkish Jew, Haim Yisrael Romano, moved to Hebron and purchased a plot of land upon which his family built a large residence and guest house, which came to be called Beit Romano. The building later housed a synagogue and served as a yeshiva.

In 1893, the building later known as Beit Hadassah was built by the Hebron Jewish community as a clinic, and a second floor was added in 1909. The American Zionist Hadassah organization contributed the salaries of the clinic's medical staff, who served both the city's Jewish and Arab populations.

In 1925, Rabbi Mordechai Epstein established a new yeshiva, and by 1929, the population had risen to 700 again.

On August 23, 1929, local Arabs devastated the Jewish community by perpetrating a vicious, large-scale, organized, pogrom. According to the Encyclopedia Judaica:

"The assault was well planned and its aim was well defined: the elimination of the Jewish settlement of Hebron. The rioters did not spare women, children, or the aged; the British gave passive assent. Sixty-seven were killed, 60 wounded, the community was destroyed, synagogues razed, and Torah scrolls burned."

A total of 59 of the 67 victims were buried in a common grave in the Jewish cemetery (including 23 who had been murdered in one house alone, and then dismembered), and the surviving Jews fled to Jerusalem. However, in 1931, 31 Jewish families returned to Hebron and re-established the community. This effort was short-lived, and in April 1936, fearing another massacre, the British authorities evacuated the community.

Following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, and the invasion by Arab armies, Hebron was captured and occupied by the Jordanian Arab Legion. During the Jordanian occupation, which lasted until 1967, Jews were not permitted to live in the city, nor -- despite the Armistice Agreement -- to visit or pray at the Jewish holy sites in the city. Additionally, the Jordanian authorities and local residents undertook a systematic campaign to eliminate any evidence of the Jewish presence in the city. They razed the Jewish Quarter, desecrated the Jewish cemetery and built an animal pen on the ruins of the Avraham Avinu synagogue.

The Re-established Jewish community
Israel returned to Hebron in 1967. The old Jewish Quarter had been destroyed and the cemetery was devastated. Since 1968, the re-established Jewish community in Hebron itself has been linked to the nearby community of Kiryat Arba. On April 4, 1968, a group of Jews registered at the Park Hotel in the city. The next day they announced that they had come to re- establish Hebron's Jewish community.
The actions sparked a nationwide debate and drew support from across the political spectrum. After an initial period of deliberation, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol's Labor-led government decided to temporarily move the group into a near-by IDF compound, while a new community -- to be called Kiryat Arba -- was built adjacent to Hebron. The first 105 housing units were ready in the autumn of 1972. Today, Kiryat Arba has over 6,000 residents.

The Jewish community in Hebron itself was re-established permanently in April 1979, when a group of Jews from Kiryat Arba moved into Beit Hadassah.

Following a deadly terrorist attack in May 1980 in which six Jews returning from prayers at the Tomb of the Patriarchs were murdered, and 20 wounded, Prime Minister Menachem Begin's Likud-led government agreed to refurbish Beit Hadassah, and to permit Jews to move into the adjacent Beit Chason and Beit Schneerson, in the old Jewish Quarter. An additional floor was built on Beit Hadassah, and 11 families moved in during 1986.

Since 1980, other Jewish properties and buildings in Hebron have been refurbished and rebuilt. Today, over 500 Jews live in Hebron.

The story of David appears in two sections of the Bible

The story of David appears in two sections of the Bible
1 Samuel 16 - 1 Kings 2:11, and
1 Chronicles 10:14 - 29:30


These texts are too long to appear on this page

Instead, topic headings and references are given

David's Genealogy 1 Samuel 16:11; 17:12; 1 Chronicles 2:315

David as a shepherd, 1 Samuel 16:11.

David kills a lion and a bear, 1 Samuel 17:34-36.

Pre-Israelite ivory plaque found at Megiddo. A harpist plays
for his prince much as David did for Saul (1 Samuel 18:10)

Anointed king while a youth by the prophet Samuel, 1 Samuel 16:1,13

Described to Saul, 1 Samuel 16:18.

Armor bearer and musician at Saul's court, 1 Samuel 16:21-23.

Slays Goliath, 1 Samuel 17.

Love of Jonathan for David, 1 Samuel 18:1-4.

Popularity and discreetness of David, 1 Samuel 18.

Saul's jealousy of David, 1 Samuel 18:8-30.

David is given Michal as wife, 1 Samuel 18:17-27.

Jonathan intercedes for David, 1 Samuel 19:1-7.

David fights the Philistines and defeats them , 1 Samuel 19-8.

Saul attempts to slay him; he escapes to Ramah, and lives at Naioth, where Saul pursues him, 1 Samuel 19:924.

David returns, and Jonathan makes covenant with him, 1 Samuel 20.

David escapes by way of Nob, where he obtains shewbread and Goliath's sword from Abimelech, 1 Samuel 21:1-6;

David recruits an army of insurgents, goes to Moab, returns to Hareth, 1 Samuel 22.

David saves Keilah, 1 Samuel 23:1-13.

David makes a second covenant with Jonathan, 1 Samuel 23:16-18.

David goes to the wilderness of Ziph, is betrayed to Saul, 1 Samuel 23:13-26.

Saul is diverted from pursuit of David, 1 Samuel 23:27,28.

David goes to En-gedi, I Samuel 23:29.

David refrains from slaying Saul, 1 Samuel 24.

David covenants with Saul, I Samuel 26.

David marries Nabal's widow, Abigail, and Ahinoam, 1 Samuel 25.

David has the opportunity to kill Saul but takes his spear only, Saul is contrite, I Samuel 26.

David flees to Achish and dwells in Ziklag, 1 Samuel 27.

List of men who join him, 1 Chronicles 12:1-22.

Ancient Canaanite weapons

David conducts an expedition against Amalekites, lies to Achish, 1 Samuel 27:8-12.

David is refused permission to accompany the Philistines to battle against the Israelites, 1 Samuel 28:1,2; 29.

David rescues the people of Ziklag, who had been captured by the Amalekites, 1 Samuel 30.

Death and burial of Saul and his sons, 1 Samuel 31; 2 Samuel 21:1-14.

David slays the murderer of Saul, 2 Samuel 1:1-16.

Lamentation over Saul, 2 Samuel 1:17-27.

David goes to Hebron and is anointed king of Judah, 2 Samuel 2:1-4,11;5:5; 1 Kings 2:11; 1 Chr. 3:4; 11:1-3.

List of those who join him at Hebron, 1 Chr. 12:23-40.

Ishbosheth, son of Saul, is crowned, 2 Sam. chapters 2-4.

Head of a Warrior, da Vinci

David wages war against, and defeats, Ishbosheth, 2 Sam. 2:13-32; 3:4.

David demands the restoration of Michal, his wife, 2 Sam. 3:14-16.

Abner revolts from Ish-bosheth, and joins David, but is slain by Joab, 2 Sam. 3.

David punishes Ish-bosheth's murderers, 2 Sam. 4.

David anointed king over all Israel, after reigning over Judah at Hebron seven years and six months, and reigns thirty-three years, 2 Sam. 2:11; 5:5; 1 Chr. 3:4; 11:1-3; 12:23-40; 29:27.

David makes conquest of Jerusalem, 2 Sam. 5:6; 1 Chr. 11:4-8; Isa. 29:1.

David builds a palace, 2 Sam. 5:11; 2 Chr. 2:3.

Friendship of David with Hiram, king of Tyre, 2 Sam. 5:11; 1 Kin. 5:1.

Philistines make war against David, and are defeated by him, 2 Sam. 5:17,25.

David assembles thirty thousand men to escort the ark to Jerusalem with music and thanksgiving, 2 Sam. 6:1-5.

Uzzah is stricken when he attempts to steady the ark, 2 Sam. 6:6-11.

David is terrified, and leaves the ark at the house of Obed-edom, 2 Sam. 6:9-11.

David brings the ark to Jerusalem with dancing and great joy, 2 Sam. 6:12-16; 1 Chr. 13.

David organized the tabernacle service, 1 Chr. 9:22; 15:16-24; 16:4-6,37-43.

David offers sacrifice, distributes gifts, and blesses the people, 2 Sam. 6:17-19.

Michal upbraids him for his unseemly behaviour, 2 Sam. 6:20-23.

David desires to build a temple, is forbidden, but receives promise that his seed should reign forever, 2 Sam. 7:12-16; 23:5; 1 Chr. 17:11-14; 2 Chr. 6:16;

David conquers the Philistines, Moabites, and Syria, 2 Sam. 8.

David allows Mephibosheth, the lame son of Saul, to live, 2 Sam. 9:6; 19:24-30.

Bathsheba Bathing,
from the Book of Hours of Louis XII

David sends commissioners with a message of sympathy to Hanun, son of the king of Ammon; the message misinterpreted, and commissioners treated with indignity; David retaliates by invading his kingdom, and defeating the combined armies of the Ammonites and Syrians, 2 Sam. 10; 1 Chr. 19.

David commits adultery with Bath-sheba, 2 Sam. 11:2-5.

David wickedly causes the death of Uriah, 2 Sam. 11:6-25.

David takes Bath-sheba to be his wife, 2 Sam. 11:26,27.

David is rebuked by the prophet Nathan, 2 Sam. 12:1-14.

Death of his infant son by Bath-sheba, 2 Sam. 12:15-23.

Solomon is born to David, 2 Sam. 12:24,25.

David defeats and tortures the Ammonites, 2 Sa--7 12:26-31.

Amnon's crime, his murder by Ablom, and Absalom's flight, 2 Sam. 13.

AbsaIom returns, 2 Sam. 14:1-24.

Absalom's usurpation 2 Sam. 14; 15.

David's flight from Jerusalem. 2 Samuel 15:13-37.

Shimei curses him, 2 Sam. 16.

David crosses the Jordan, 2 Sam. 17:21-29.

The Death of Absalom, woodcut

Absalom's defeat and death, 2 Sam. 18.

David laments the death of Absalom, 2 Sam. 18:33; 19:1-4.

David upbraided by Joab 2 Sam. 19:5-7.

David upbraids the priests for not showing loyalty amid the murmurings the people against him, 2 Sam. 19:9-15.

Shimei sues for clemency, 2 Sam. 19:16-23.

Mephibosheth sues for the king's favor, 2 Samuel 19:24-30.

Barzillai rewarded, 2 Sam. 19:31-40

Judah accused by the ten tribes of stealing him away, 2 Sam. 19:41-43.

David returns to Jerusalem 2 Samuel 20:1-3.

Sheba's conspiracy against David, and his death, 2 Samuel 20.

David makes Amasa general, 2 19:13.

Amasa is slain, 2 Samuel 20:4-10.

David gives the seven sons of Saul to the Gibeonities to be slain to atone for Saul's persecution of the Gibeonites, 2 Sam. 21:1-14.

David buries Saul's bones, and his sons, 2 Samuel 21:12-14.

David defeats the Philistines, 2 Sam. 21:15-22, 1 Chronicles 20:4-8.

David takes the military strength of Israel without divine authority, and is reproved 2 Sam. 24; 1 Chr. 21; 27:24.

Painting by Sir Frank Dicksee, 'Leila'

David cannot have intercourse with Abishag, 1 Kings 1:1-4.

Adonijah attempts to gain the throne, Solomon and Bathsheba outwit him, 1 Kings 1; 1 Chronicles.

David's instructions to Solomon, 1 Kin. 2:I-11, 1 Chr. 22:6-19; 28; 29.

Last words of David, 2 Sam. 23:1-7.

Death of David, I Kings 2:10; 1 Chr. 29:28;

Age of David at death, 2 Sam. 5:4,5,- 29:28.

Length of reign forty years, 1 Kings, 1 Chr. 29:27,28.

Wives of David, 2 Sam. 3:2-5; 11:3,27; 1 Chronicles 3:5

Children born at Hebron, 2 Samuel 3:2-5, 3:4; children born at Jerusalem, 2 Samuel 5:14-16; 1 Chronicles. 14:4-7.

King David - The Flawed Hero

David - The Flawed Hero

David by Michelangelo, detail of head

David, a self-made man of exception ability and charisma - brilliant and yet flawed. He was fascinating to later generations because the Bible shows him not as a perfect hero, but as a realistically drawn man who tried to do God's will.
Samuel, a holy man and king-maker
Saul, the king David betrayed and replaced
Michal and Jonathan, the daughter and son of Saul, both of whom loved David
Absalom, son of King David
Bathsheba, mother of David's heir Solomon

See the story below


David and Samuel

This is the way to hold a sling. One end is attached to the middle finger; the thumb and pointer finger let go of the other end.

David is introduced to us in three different stories.

In the first, a wise man and soothsayer called Samuel is looking for someone who will be God's chosen one. He chooses David over all his older brothers - and naturally they do not like it.

David and Goliath

In the second, David leaves the sheep he is tending and takes food supplies to his brothers in the battlefield.

David and Goliath, Caravaggio

He offers to fight the fearsome Philistine giant Goliath, and he defeats this ogre by cunning rather than physical strength.

Warfare - David and Goliath explains why David may have had the advantage of Goliath all along.

You can also read about David's use of lateral thinking at Young People in the Bible

In the third story, David charms King Saul with his music and poetry, and is accepted into the inner core of Saul's court. Each of the three stories is significant, because they show a different aspect of David:

his ability to please the right people

his use of cunning rather than traditional fighting methods - the Israelites were most successful in battle when they used guerrilla warfare

his great personal charm, which he used without scruple all his life.

David Replaces King Saul

Pre-Israelite ivory plaque found at Megiddo. A harpist plays for his prince much as David did for Saul (1 Samuel 18:10)

David joined the court of Saul. He was adept at playing the harp, and Saul enjoyed his music. Court musicians had access to the king, and David made the most of it.

But even while he seemed to sympathise with Saul's problems, David constantly undermined the King.

Saul was no fool. He saw what was happening. He ruled by public acclamation, and now David was drawing the popular vote to himself.

Several times Saul tried to get rid of David, and in the end David was forced to flee.

But not before he had formed close relationships with two of Saul's children

Jonathan, Saul's trusted son and heir, and

Michal, Saul's younger daughter who fell passionately in love with David.

Saul Attacking David, Guercino

In an attempt to lessen the threat David posed, Saul let Michal marry David, but it did no good, and eventually Saul made an open attempt on David's life.

David, helped by Michal, fled from the court, becoming an outlaw. Michal was left behind, becoming increasingly bitter when David failed to send for her.

David then acquired two additional wives, Abigail and Ahinoam, and a considerable number of seasoned warriors. They formed an outlaw group moving from place to place and living by their wits. He took this band of men and began fighting for his former enemies, the Philistines, but he did not actually take part in the battle in which Saul and all but one of his sons, including Jonathan, died. He did, however, send large gifts to the Israelite leaders as a conciliatory measure.

David Becomes King

When David heard that Saul and his sons were dead, he went to Hebron. There he was anointed king by the men of Judah who had received his gifts.

One of Saul's sons remained alive, Ishbosheth, but he was murdered in his bed by two of his retainers who brought the boy's head to David.

David, now a king himself, sensibly killed the two retainers who had killed their king. He also took Michal back from her second husband, even though she was most reluctant to leave him - and he to leave her.

David now launched himself on the task of uniting Israel and extending its territory - by alliance or warfare. He moved his capital to Jerusalem, since it was more central to the northern provinces he now included in his territory.

Jerusalem Becomes David's Holy City

Jerusalem at the time of David; the fortress he occupied, Jebus, is in the lower right of the map

He also brought the Ark from Hebron to Jerusalem, thus making his new capital a sacred city.

In the procession leading the Ark into the city, a lightly-clad David pranced at the head of the procession so that his genitals were displayed. Michal, conscious of the need for royal dignity, was contemptuous of his behavior and said so. He no longer needed the royal status she had given him so he relegated her, now an unnecessary thorn in his side, to perpetual chastity.

One of the first things that David did in Jerusalem was get an extended building program under way. He began to plan a suitable temple to house the Ark, and a palace for himself and his growing family.

David and Bathsheba

David began empire-building. He became engrossed in reform and administration, and no longer accompanied his military forces when they went into battle. Instead, he stayed in Jerusalem.

One evening when he was walking on the terrace of his palace he saw a woman bathing after her menstrual period, and sent for her. She came, they had sexual intercourse, and in due course she discovered she was pregnant.

Since she - Bathsheba - was already married this posed a problem, which David solved by organizing the death in battle of her husband.

She entered David's harem, the baby was born, but she later gave birth to another son who became King Solomon.

Absalom's Revolt

David seems to have had little control over his children.

The heir apparent Ammon raped his half-sister Tamar and then refused to marry her - marriage would have been the normal procedure at that time. Tamar's brother Absalom murdered Ammon, then later led a revolt against his own father, David, but was killed in battle.

David's family life is not too far removed from Greek tragedy.

Succession to the Throne

When David was old his sexual potency failed him. This was a serious problem since the potency of the king was still linked with the well-being of the country. A beautiful young woman was introduced, naked, into David's bed, but it did not good.

David, by Frederick Leighton

Seeing his chance, David's eldest remaining son Adonijah led an attempted coup d'etat against his father, to take power from the ailing old man. He was supported by his own brothers and by the general populace - the 'people of the land'.

But Bathsheba had other ideas - she wanted the throne for her son. If Adonijah became king, her own son Solomon and his brothers would almost certainly be executed.

She formed an alliance with various powerful groups in the country, religious and military, and replaced Adonijah with her son Solomon.

Soon after, David died - he 'slept with his ancestors, and was buried in the city of David. The time that David reigned over Israel was forty years: seven years in Hebron, and thirty-three in Jerusalem'.

The area in the bottom right corner corresponds to the fortress of Jebus,
shown on the map further up the page

Background to the Story of David

Note: The reign of David saw the beginning of a transition from rule by autonomous tribal leaders to an organized kingship.

This was not popular with ordinary Jewish tribesmen, who believed they were being increasingly enslaved, subjects of a king rather than free men. H.D.Kitto in The Greeks writes about the Greek attitude to slavery, but it could just as well apply to the Israelites' wary relationship with their kings:

Slavery and despotism are things that maim the soul, for, as Homer says, 'Zeus takes away from a man half of his manhood if the day of enslavement lays hold of him'. The Oriental custom of obeisance struck the Greek as not 'eleutheron'; in his eyes it was an affront to human dignity. Even to the gods the Greek prayed like a man, erect; though he knew as well as any the difference between the human and the divine. That he was not a god, he knew; but he was at least a man. He knew that the gods were quick to strike down without mercy the man who aped divinity, and that of all human qualities they most approved of modesty and reverence. (H.D.Kitto, The Greeks, p10)

Arbitrary government offended an Israelite to his core. It showed no respect for his person. Israel was surrounded by countries where law was arbitrary, expressing the private will of a king: palace government, not government according to a law derived from God. Acceptance of despotism like this would make an Israelite a slave.
This concept of a citizen's rights emerged in Israel before it even did in Greece. Successive kings had to battle against it.

Modern Geography Israel

Modern Geography
West Bank
The land on the west bank of the Jordan River is a hotly contested region which goes by many names. Many Israelis call it "Yesha" (though the Hebrew acronym—Judea, Samaria, and Gaza—technically includes the Gaza Strip as well, which is no longer part of Israel); Palestinians and the United Nations refer to the land as "occupied Palestinian territories"; others call it the "disputed territories"; and others simply call it "the West Bank."

The land shares its western, northern, and southern border with Israel; to the east lies the Jordan River, and Jordan beyond that. The area of the West Bank was part of the province of Syria during Ottoman rule prior to World War I. Following the war, the land became part of British Mandate Palestine and was known as Judea and Samaria, harking back to its Biblical appellation. In 1947, the UN Partition Plan allocated most of the West Bank to the envisioned Arab State, though this plan never came to fruition due to the Arab attack on a fledgling Israel, which ended in the 1948 War.

During the 1948 War, the area came under the control of Trans-Jordan, which subsequently renamed itself Jordan as it controlled land both east and west of its namesake river. However, Jordan's territorial claim was not recognized by leading powers in the world.

In the days and weeks leading up to the Six Day War in 1967, Egypt had taken steps to cut off Israel from the outside world by blockading the Straits of Tiran, which were crucial for trade. Egypt and Jordan had threatened to act together against Israel, and fearing an attack, Israel launched a pre-emptive strike against Egypt, launching the region into a full-scale war. Jordan, despite Israel's entreaties to stay out of the war, began attacking Israel as well. Israel responded with military action, and then-Defense Minister Moshe Dayan personally oversaw the recapture of the Old City of Jerusalem. The IDF quickly captured the rest of the West Bank as well, and blew up the bridges over the Jordan River, severing the East Bank from the West.

Though Israel conquered the West Bank, only the Old City was annexed to the state. The international legal status of the West Bank, however, has been murky for over 40 years—the area is frequently referred to being "over the Green Line"—meaning: beyond a quasi-border with Israel proper. The Israeli army oversees residents' safety in the area, which is mostly rural and peppered with Palestinian villages and Israeli settlements.

Despite the lack of Israeli ownership over the West Bank, Jewish settlements began to crop up following 1967 at the encouragement of the government at the time. The growth of these settlements in a contested area (though it was won in a time of war) provoked resentment in both the Left wing in Israel and in the Arab communities, and was the stated reason for the first Intifada in 1987.

Talks between the PLO and Israel during the early 1990's led to a cease-fire (until the second Intifada began in 2000…) and granted the PLO sovereignty in parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Jewish West Bank cities continued to grow; some of the most densely populated Israeli areas and cities in the West Bank are the Etzion Block, with approximately 60,000 residents; Ma'ale Adumim, with a population of over 33,000; Ariel, over 18,000; and Beitar Illit, comprised of over 32,000 Jewish residents. Following several attacks in the West Bank and involving terrorists traveling from the West Bank into Israel during the 2000—2004 Intifada, Israel maintains over 600 checkpoints in the region, and Palestinian cars are banned from many highways leading to Israeli cities.

In 2005, a massive disengagement plan began under the auspices of then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Cities and settlements in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank were completely evacuated by the IDF, and Jewish residents forced to leave. In all, about 9,000 residents were evacuated from twenty-one settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in the West Bank.

The Land of Israel

The Land of Israel
Modern Cities
Many of the cities in modern Israel date back to the towns of the Bible, while some—like Tel Aviv, Israel's largest—are only a century old. All of Israel's cities—and towns and villages—are part of Israel's unique mix of ancient and modern, bringing together cultures from around the world and those close to home. Learn more about Israel's largest cities here.


Modern-day Ashkelon is built on layer upon layer of past civilizations. A coastal city in the Southern District of Israel with an ancient seaport, it was the oldest and largest port city in the days of antiquity. Ashkelon was important as a trading post in Biblical times, and it is the site of the famous scene between Samson and Delilah, when Delilah cuts Samson's hair in order to deprive him of his strength (Judges 14). The Philistines conquered Ashkelon, and it became one of the five Philistine city-states (along with Gath, Gaza, Ekron and Ashdod); even during the Israelites' conquest of the land, the Philistines could not be uprooted from the city. Years of bitter war between the Philistines and the Israelites followed and King Saul himself was slain by the Philistines (II Samuel 1). Read more »


Beersheba is the 7th largest city in Israel, and the largest in the southern desert region known as the Negev. In fact, Beersheba, the administrative center of the Southern District of Israel, is often referred to as the "Capital of the Negev." Read more »


Eilat is located at the southernmost tip of Israel, on the shores of the Red Sea, or rather, an inlet of the Red Sea called the Gulf of Eilat or Gulf of Aqaba. Eilat is mentioned in the Bible, though it was not part of Biblical Israel. The Biblical Eilat is connected to the ancient town of Ezion-Geber, and is mentioned in Numbers 33 as one of the stations the Israelites crossed on their winding journey from Egypt to the Holy Land. It is later mentioned in Deuteronomy 2, also in connection with Ezion-Geber. Read more »


Haifa, surrounded by the gentle waters of the Mediterranean on one side, and the striking Carmel mountains on the other, is the third largest city in Israel (following Tel Aviv, number two, and Jerusalem, number one), and the largest city in the north. It is the capital of the Haifa District, one of the six administrative districts in Israel. Read more »


Jerusalem is one of the world's oldest cities. Christians and Muslims both revere the city, for the holy sites and history it contains. It is central, and essential, to the Jewish faith, mentioned in the Bible over 600 times. Jerusalem has many different names in the Bible, including Shalem, and Ir David (David's city). The etymology of the name is thought to come from "yerusha," meaning inheritance, and "shalem," meaning peace. Read more »


The name "Rehovot" first appears in the Bible, as the name of one of the wells dug by the patriarch Isaac (Gensis 26). The name means "wide open," and it was a reference to the expanse of land God gave to Isaac, which would allow the people to be fruitful in the land. The modern town of Rehovot took its name from this Biblical place, though the ancient Rehovot was in the Negev, while modern-day Rehovot is on the coast, south of Tel Aviv. Read more »


Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv-Yafo, called Tel Aviv, is the second largest city in Israel, right after Jerusalem. It is the capital of the Tel Aviv District, one of Israel's six administrative districts. Tel Aviv's neighbor city, Jaffa, has a long, rich history dating back to Biblical times. Jaffa was an important port city; it is mentioned in II Chronicles 2 as the city to which the wood for Solomon's Temple was delivered. Jaffa is also the city from which Jonah fled, heading for Tarshish (Jonah 1). Read more »


Tiberias—Teverya in Hebrew—is a town rich in history. Unlike many famous cities in Israel, such as Jerusalem, Beersheba, and Hebron, its roots are not Biblical, but it nonetheless became an important center for Torah and Jewish life in the period following the destruction of the Second Temple. Read more »


The West Bank
The land on the west bank of the Jordan River is a hotly contested region which goes by many names. Many Israelis call it "Yesha" (though the Hebrew acronym—Judea, Samaria, and Gaza—technically includes the Gaza Strip as well, which is no longer part of Israel); Palestinians and the United Nations refer to the land as "occupied Palestinian territories"; others call it the "disputed territories"; and others simply call it "the West Bank." Read more »


King David Of Hebron

King David Of Hebron
by Wayne Blank
See also 1 Year Holy Bible Reading Plan

Hebron is one of the most ancient cities of the land of Israel. It was the home, and is the burial place, of Abraham (see also Abraham's Journey), along with Isaac and Jacob, and their wives Sarah, Rebekah and Leah. Later, in the time of Joshua, the LORD (i.e. Jesus Christ - see 'Before Abraham Was, I AM') designated Hebron as one of the Israelite "cities of refuge":

"20:1 The LORD also spake unto Joshua, saying, 20:2 Speak to the children of Israel, saying, Appoint out for you cities of refuge, whereof I spake unto you by the hand of Moses [see also Moses The Christian]: 20:3 That the slayer that killeth any person unawares and unwittingly may flee thither: and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood.
20:4 And when he that doth flee unto one of those cities shall stand at the entering of the gate of the city, and shall declare his cause in the ears of the elders of that city, they shall take him into the city unto them, and give him a place, that he may dwell among them. 20:5 And if the avenger of blood pursue after him, then they shall not deliver the slayer up into his hand; because he smote his neighbour unwittingly, and hated him not beforetime. 20:6 And he shall dwell in that city, until he stand before the congregation for judgment, and until the death of the high priest that shall be in those days: then shall the slayer return, and come unto his own city, and unto his own house, unto the city from whence he fled.

20:7 And they appointed Kedesh in Galilee in mount Naphtali, and Shechem in mount Ephraim, and Kirjatharba, which is Hebron, in the mountain of Judah. 20:8 And on the other side Jordan by Jericho eastward, they assigned Bezer in the wilderness upon the plain out of the tribe of Reuben, and Ramoth in Gilead out of the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan out of the tribe of Manasseh. 20:9 These were the cities appointed for all the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them, that whosoever killeth any person at unawares might flee thither, and not die by the hand of the avenger of blood, until he stood before the congregation." (Joshua 20:1-9 KJV)

"Then came all the tribes of Israel to David unto Hebron"

During the Israelite civil war (the one between Saul and David; there were also Israelite civil wars between the northern and southern kingdoms - see the Fact Finder question below), Hebron was chosen by the LORD to be David's capital city.

"2:1 And it came to pass after this, that David inquired of the LORD, saying, Shall I go up into any of the cities of Judah?
And the LORD said unto him, Go up.

And David said, Whither shall I go up?

And he said, Unto Hebron.

2:2 So David went up thither, and his two wives also, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail Nabal's wife the Carmelite. 2:3 And his men that were with him did David bring up, every man with his household: and they dwelt in the cities of Hebron. 2:4 And the men of Judah came, and there they anointed David king over the house of Judah" (2 Samuel 2:1-4 KJV)

During the war, most of David's children were born at Hebron.

"3:1 Now there was long war between the house of Saul and the house of David: but David waxed stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul waxed weaker and weaker.
3:2 And unto David were sons born in Hebron: and his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; 3:3 And his second, Chileab, of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; 3:4 And the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; 3:5 And the sixth, Ithream, by Eglah David's wife. These were born to David in Hebron." (2 Samuel 3:1-5 KJV)

It was also at Hebron that the victorious David was proclaimed king over all of Israel (see also David, Future King Of Israel).

"5:1 Then came all the tribes of Israel to David unto Hebron, and spake, saying, Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh. 5:2 Also in time past, when Saul was king over us, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in Israel: and the LORD said to thee, Thou shalt feed my people Israel, and thou shalt be a captain over Israel.
5:3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the LORD: and they anointed David king over Israel.

5:4 David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. 5:5 In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months: and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah." (2 Samuel 5:1-5 KJV)

Fact Finder: What were the causes of the wars that the Israelites fought among themselves?
See Israelite Monarchy - The Origin, The Civil War, The United Kingdom, The Division Of Israel, The Northern Kingdom and The Southern Kingdom

Israel and the Sinai Desert: Locations

Israel and the Sinai Desert: Locations

Tel Aviv - Jaffa

Tel Aviv is Israel's first modern city, and certainly its most secular. On the Sabbath - known as Shabbat - while Orthodox Jews are at prayer, Tel Aviv's young fashion victims are out and about. Clubs here don't even begin to get going much before one in the morning, and then they're packed. It's something of a biggest is best culture in Tel Aviv - the central bus station in Tel Aviv is reputedly the biggest bus station in the entire world, and the city is also home to a huge 6 floor shopping mall - truly a place to 'shop til you drop'.
It's a modern city, sprung up from sand dunes in the last century and Israel's centre for business, culture and nightlife. With flash hotels, good weather and pristine beaches it is an all year round tourist destination. It is home to 40% of Israel's 5 million population, in and around the city and suburbs. It is the northern most part of the greater metropolis of Tel Aviv-Jaffa as the two cities were combined in the 1950's, and represents the alternative to ancient Jaffa, full of modern architecture and modern history, colour, and city bustle. In Tel Aviv the attractions are entirely modern, you can even visit the Wax Museum with models of Michael Jackson amongst others!

Jaffa is where Christian civilisation began, the site of God's "great flood", and where Noah's son Japheth settled, naming it "Jaffa", Hebrew for beautiful. It is a biblical city, one of the oldest in the world, and an early and important trading point for the Mediterranean. The architecture of Old Jaffa was reconstructed in the 1960's, and it is the home to bustling fish restaurants provided for by local fishermen, artists quarters and galleries, a stunning flea market, tourism and nightlife and a composite community with many immigrants from North Africa and Central Europe. If you're interested in the local history, you'd be well advised to visit the Jaffa Museum of Antiquities, with artefacts of recent digs.

If you're interested in a holiday with a combination of sight seeing, museums and attractions coupled with sandy beaches, Tel Aviv-Jaffa is a great place to touch down.


Jerusalem has been fought over for the last three thousand years - Egyptians, Persians, Romans, Crusaders, Marmelukes, Turks, British, Jordanians and now Israelis have all laid claim to the Golden City, also known as The Eternal City and the City of David. As you would expect of one of the world's oldest and most turbulent cities, it is a wealth of every changing history, battles and many reigning conquerors. Whatever religious sides of Jerusalem you wish to explore there is plenty to see and do, with ancient market places, shrines, mosques, churches and ruins. It is a city in which the rhythm of the city is dictated by prayer and ritual.

Jerusalem is divided into four parts; the new city in the west, West Jerusalem in the south west and south, East Jerusalem and at its heart, the Old City, a collection of bazaar and sacred shrines. There are four distinct quarters in the Old City - Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Armenian. The Old City is heavily occupied by the Jewish Quarter, which hosts the Temple Mount and the Weeping Wall, a Mecca for Judaism. The Old City streets in the Arab quarter can sometimes be unnerving for women after dark, so you should always be a little wary. The Dome of the Rock, The City of David excavations and the Mount of Olives are all classic places to visit in the old city.

The New City was a creation of the 20th century, rebuilding stinking and rotting old Jerusalem when the Jews returned to Zion. Now it's a relatively luxurious and bold modern city. Whilst not as happening as Tel-Aviv, there's plenty of cultural life to explore here.

Jerusalem is now the highly disputed capital of Israel. The eastern part of the city was captured from Jordan in 1967.


In the hills of Judea, a little south from Bethlehem, lies Hebron, a place of rich history and progressive farming community, famed for its peaches. Hebron has long been a centre of fierce opposition to the occupation. The troubles mean that few travellers come here. But if you do, you'll find the locals surprisingly friendly, given the tension in the air. There is nowhere for travellers to stay in Hebron, and before visiting you should always check on the current political climate. The Intafada is the name given to the uprising that began in 1987 when some Palestinians were believed to have been deliberately killed by a Jewish motorist. Towns like Hebron are still affected by strikes, curfews, military roadblocks, and even riots. It's best not to talk politics if you get invited into a local discussion or home.

The Hebron Casbah is a great place to meander and pick up artisan crafts like olivewood sculpture and colourful blown glass. It boasts the Tomb of Joseph, and the Oak of Abraham where Abraham was visited by three angels telling him of Isaac's birth.
Between Hebron and the biblical town of Bethlehem lives the Kfar Hetzion Kibbutzi, and agricultural-religious community established after the original Kibbutz was wiped out during the 1948 War of Independence, and stands as a symbol of Jewish courage.

Al Arish

Like many Arab towns, Al Arish comes to life at night. In the coolness of the evening the streets fill with Egyptians trading, eating and just going places. Apart from shopping, playing chess and smoking, sheeshas are the only real nightlife pursuits. Although women are visible in the crowded streets, you'll never see any in the cafes.

The city of Hebron

The city of Hebron presents a unique problem to the Biblical archaeologist. Ancient Hebron, located a few miles west of the Dead Sea and about 20 miles south of Jerusalem, figures prominently in the Jewish Bible, mentioned more than 70 times. Hebron is known to be one of the oldest cities in the world. Josephus Flavius, the noted first century CE Jewish historian, stated that in his time Hebron was already 2,300 years old!1

The city with its rolling hills and vineyards is closely identified with the Patriarch Abraham. When Abraham's wife, Sarah, died, he purchased a burial site for her in Hebron.2 The tomb was located inside a cave that has been known through the ages as the Cave of the Patriarchs. Jewish tradition reveals that Adam and Eve are also buried there. Subsequent to Sarah, all the patriarchs and matriarchs -- Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rebecca, and Leah were all buried there. Only Rachel, the second wife of Jacob, was buried elsewhere, in Bethlehem. During the reign of King Herod (first century, BCE) the Cave of the Patriarchs was completely enclosed by a fortress-like structure, still standing today.

The Bible tells us that during the journey of the Israelites through the wilderness to the Promised Land, Moses sent 12 men to spy out the land of Canaan. The last city the spies investigated was the city of Hebron. Outside the city was a valley in which grapes grew in huge clusters. The spies cut down one of the large clusters and carried it back to the camp of the Israelites.3

After the death of Moses, Joshua led the Children of Israel in a series of battles for the conquest of Canaan. The king of Hebron played a prominent role in the failed battle against Joshua.4 Years later, Hebron served as the capital city for the newly anointed king, David. For seven and a half years, Hebron was the political center of Israel, until the conquest of Jerusalem.5 Jerusalem then became the new capital, but reverence for Hebron, with its unique spiritual and historical legacy, was maintained, and remains so to this very day.

A number of noted historians and archaeologists jumped on the Bible-bashing bandwagon and boldly claimed that Hebron was uninhabited during the Late Bronze age (1550-1250 BCE), when the incident of the spies occurred and was likewise uninhabited during Early Iron age (1250-1000 BCE), during which time Joshua conquered Canaan.7

It is known that ancient cities would move about, changing their location as the necessity arose. Ancient Dibon, in modern-day Jordan, is a classic example. Evidence of ancient inhabitation was found in two distinct nearby locations. At one time, the city was built high atop a lofty mound. After an enemy invasion, the rubble made it difficult to build atop the ruins, so the city was relocated at the base of the mound. That city too was invaded, due in large part to its vulnerable location. It was then decided to relocate to the top of the mound again.

One of the more famous set of ancient inscriptions is known as the Egyptian Amarna Letters.

There are ten surviving correspondences13 between king Shuwardata and Akhenaten. Shuwardata was the king of the Hebron district, as he himself states in letter EA#281.

If there are correspondences between the king of Hebron and a Late Bronze Age pharaoh, Akhenaten, then Hebron must have been in existence at that time.

Some of the hieroglyphics [in Medinat Hebu, Egypt] record various trade routes that were used by the Egyptian military. A few of those routes were in the land of Canaan, and one in particular ran south to north, paralleling the western coast of the Dead Sea. It lists the cities, in their proper order, that were along the route. One of those cities is Hebron.15

If Hebron was listed in the early Iron Age as a city off a main trade route, it must have surely existed at that time.

Chadwick, who is presently a senior research fellow at Jerusalem's William F. Albright Institute for Archaeological Research, revealed that Hammond had indeed found evidence of Late Bronze occupation in six different areas of Tel Hebron!

During a new expedition in 1998, Israeli archaeologist Yuval Peleg found more than 50 burials with grave goods dating to the Late Bronze Age. Concerning Early Iron Age evidence of occupation, a great amount of pottery has recently been found, much of it in the conventional Israelite collared-rim style, typical of the Early Iron Age. The architecture and plastering techniques of the strata containing the collared-rim pottery was conventional Early Iron Age construction.17

As mentioned earlier, Hebron was one of the cities visited by the twelve spies sent out by Moses. According to the Bible, when the spies returned to Moses, they claimed ...the people who live in the land, are strong, and the cities have great walls, and moreover we saw the children of giants there... we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so were we in their sight.18

What led the Israelites spies to think that the land was inhabited by giants? Archaeology can supply the answer.

The city wall and guard towers of Late Bronze Hebron were constructed entirely of huge stone blocks, some more than six feet in length weighing more than 10 tons each. These are called cyclopean stones, from the word Cyclops, the name of the mythological Greek giant. A tower that guarded the city gate, though most of its height was torn down, still stands 20 feet high. The original tower was probably about 60 feet in height. We can only imagine how high the city walls of Hebron were. We can also imagine what must have passed through the minds of the 12 spies of Moses when they first saw the mighty walls of Hebron. Surely, the walls were protecting the city from giants!

The evidence is incontrovertible. To say that no Late Bronze/Early Iron Age artifacts were to be found in Hebron is simply untrue. Yet, if there is so much evidence that Hebron was indeed inhabited during the era of the conquest, why do some archaeologists and historians still continue to claim there is no such evidence?

The present spokesman for the "non-inhabited Hebron" camp is Israeli archaeologist, Dr. Avi Ofer. He himself discovered pottery shards from the Late Bronze Age.20 Brushing it off as a quirky find, something that came from someplace else and did not originate where he found it, he vocally claims that the city was not inhabited during that era.

Why would an archaeologist negate his own findings? Dr. Ofer is not only an archaeologist; he is also a leader in the Peace Now movement in Israel. This left-wing political organization believes in peace at any cost, favoring to give as much land as necessary to the Palestinians in return for promises of good behavior. Hebron, of course, is much contested in the current Middle East debate. Ofer admits that its importance is great, yet favors ceding it to, what he believes is, the soon-to-be country of Palestine.
If the historical Jewish conquest of Hebron is discounted, then the Jewish claim to the area is not valid.

Lest you wonder how a scientist can recant the significance of his own discovery, it is important to understand that archaeology is not the exact science that laymen assume it to be. It is an interpretive art based on logic, deduction, and intuition. Tangible finds such as inscriptions, pottery, foundations of buildings, evidence of destruction must be given life and meaning in order to fit into an historical, social, religious, and economic context. This interpretation is where the true expertise of the archaeologist comes into play. But, like any interpretive art, it can be subject to political, social and religious pressures and prejudices from outside and from within academic circles. Adam Mikaya wrote in Biblical Archaeological Review,22 "As anyone who has made his living in academia knows, (archaeology) is a political jungle... Indeed, the higher stakes only intensify the political animosities."

And, Hebron is a perfect case in point. Before the finding of concrete evidence, Hebron was flaunted as contrary to the Biblical narrative of an Israelite conquest of Canaan. With the discovery of artifacts in recent years, Hebron now boasts of incontrovertible evidence of the Israelite conquest. But we mustn't hold our collective breath waiting for the anti-Biblicists to admit their mistake. In the words of Jonathan Swift, "There's none so blind as they that won't see."23



3. Philistines, but Less and Less Philistine
Extracts Only:
Archaeologists have applied more polish to the long-tarnished reputation of the Philistines.

Recent excavations have raised the estimation of Philistines.

In recent years, excavations in Israel established that the Philistines had fine pottery, handsome architecture and cosmopolitan tastes. If anything, they were more refined than the shepherds and farmers in the nearby hills, the Israelites, who slandered them in biblical chapter and verse and rendered their name a synonym for boorish, uncultured people.

Archaeologists have now found that not only were Philistines cultured, they were also literate when they arrived, presumably from the region of the Aegean Sea, and settled the coast of ancient Palestine around 1200 B. C.

At the ruins of a Philistine seaport at Ashkelon in Israel, excavators examined 19 ceramic pieces and determined that their painted inscriptions represent a form of writing. Some of the pots and storage jars were inscribed elsewhere, probably in Cyprus and Crete, and taken to Ashkelon by early settlers. Of special importance, one of the jars was made from local clay, meaning Philistine scribes were presumably at work in their new home.

The discovery is reported in the current issue of The Israel Exploration Journal by two Harvard professors, Frank Moore Cross Jr. and Lawrence E. Stager. Dr. Cross is an authority on ancient Middle Eastern languages and scripts. Dr. Stager, an archaeologist, is director of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon, a Harvard project.

"Perhaps it is not too bold to propose," they wrote, "that the inscription is written in a form of Cypro-Minoan script utilized and modified by the Philistines - in short, that we are dealing with the Old Philistine script."

The two researchers and other scholars said it was not surprising that the Ashkelon inscriptions were in an Aegean type of writing. The biblical Philistines are assumed to have been a group of the mysterious Sea Peoples who probably originated in the Greek islands and migrated to several places on the far eastern shores of the Mediterranean.

Holy Cities of Israel

Holy Cities of Israel

Shalom Partner and Friend of Israel,

Have there ever been moments in our lives when we have encountered the holiness of God? Only if this is so do we know Him in reality. At Israel’s first such experience of God, the people trembled. Mount Sinai was on fire, smoking like a furnace and quaking greatly. It was a terrifying sight, and they began to sense what a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God, who is a consuming fire, a God who watches over His people with a holy zeal. (Deuteronomy 4:24 and Hebrews 10:31)

As the Almighty and the Lord of His people and of all mankind, God in His holiness declares His will. To that there can only be one response; obedience. It is a decision that will either bring blessings or cursing.

Ever wonder why Israel is in the forefront of almost every news report? What is it that Israel has, that is so important that there is a continual struggle over this land? Wars have been fought for the control of Israel and Jerusalem and today there is still the ongoing battle.

We have thought about this for many months and come to a conclusion that it is wrapped up in one word – Holiness!

It is a fact that most people that come to Israel, come expectantly that here they will receive a ‘touch from God.’

"And Jehovah said to him, I have heard your prayer and your cry which you have made before Me. I have made this house which you have built holy, to put My name there forever. And My eyes and My heart shall be there perpetually." 1 Kings 9:3 MKJV

And it is because of the ‘Holy sites’ in what is known as the ‘Holy cities’ that tens of thousands of tourists or pilgrims come to Israel each year. Then we ask ourselves what is it that draws people by the thousands to the ‘Holy Land’? It’s a deep desire for the presence of God. And it is in Israel that there will be the final battle between good and evil.

But…"Holiness" doesn't mean separation from life, in Jewish thought. Holiness means the fullness of life, a God-centred life, full of joy and truth.

This month we would like to take a look at mainly, ‘The Four Holy Cities of Israel’ – which is the collective term in Jewish tradition applied to the cities of Jerusalem, Hebron, Tiberias and Safed: "Since the sixteenth century the holiness of Israel, especially for burial, has been almost wholly transferred to four cities - Jerusalem, Hebron, Tiberias, and Safed." For believers in Yeshua we can also add Nazareth (where Yeshua grew up) and Bethlehem (where Yeshua was born).

The Semitic root of the name "Jerusalem" is thought to be "s-l-m" meaning peace, harmony or completeness, and is the root word for SHALOM. A city called Rusalimum or Urusalimum appears in ancient Egyptian records as one of the first references to Jerusalem. Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) first appears in the book of Joshua 10:1 but this form has the appearance ‘yerusha’ (heritage) and the original name Shalem. Typically the ending -im indicates the plural in Hebrew grammar and -ayim the dual thus leading to the suggestion that the name refers to the fact that the city sits on two hills. To the Arabs, Jerusalem is al-Quds ("The Holy") and only 3rd on their list.

"Zion" initially referred to part of the city, but later came to signify the city as a whole. Under King David, it was known as "Ir David" (the City of David). Jerusalem has been the holiest city in Judaism and the spiritual homeland of the Jewish people since the 10th Century BCE.

Jerusalem is associated with the element of fire… (a reference to the continuous sacrificial fires kept burning in the Holy Temple). And it is the first of the holy cities, place of "Har Habayit" (Mountain of the House) and the temple.

Jerusalem has been the holy (and only) Jewish worship city for many centuries until the destruction of the temple by the Romans. Jerusalem is already referenced in the Bible as the holy city chosen by God. The holiness of Jerusalem is recognized by Jewish law by special rules relating to Jerusalem only.

For Christians Jerusalem is holy, very significant and important as makes reference to Judea Christian heritage was birthed through the Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus).

For the Jews, the significance of Jerusalem is quite clear. The Jewish connection to Jerusalem is an ancient and powerful one. Judaism made Jerusalem a holy city over three thousand years ago and through all that time Jews remained steadfast to it. Jews pray in its direction, mention its name constantly in prayers, close the Passover service with the wistful statement "Next year in Jerusalem," and recall the city in the blessing at the end of each meal.

The destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans in 70 AD looms very large in Jewish memory; remembrance takes such forms as a special day of mourning, houses left partially unfinished, a woman's makeup or jewellery left incomplete, and a glass smashed during the wedding ceremony.

In addition, Jerusalem has had a prominent historical role, as the only capital of a Jewish state, and is the only city with a Jewish majority during the whole of the past century. Significant words quoted by a Jerusalem mayor;
"Jerusalem represents... the purest expression of all that Jews prayed for, dreamed of, cried for, and died for in the two thousand years since the destruction of the Second Temple."

But "Holiness" doesn't mean separation from life…

In Jewish thought... Holiness means the fullness of life, a God-centred life, full of joy and truth. Jerusalem thrives in spite of those who attack her. Truth is on Israel’s side. Jerusalem grows and awaits the return of her king and her house, the Messiah and God’s Temple. King David in his infinite wisdom continues; "For the sake of my brothers and friends, I shall speak of peace in your [Jerusalem] midst" (Psalms 122:8).

He then concludes - "For the sake of the House of the Lord, our God, I will seek your [Jerusalem's] good" (Psalms122:9).

More than the Jewish People need Jerusalem, Jerusalem needs them…

Of what value is the Holy City and House of God, if there are no people to take in God’s sacred spirit? God's Spirit dwells only where there are those who will benefit from His Presence.

As God told Moses, in the desert "Build me a Tabernacle" and I will dwell among them." (Exodus 25:8). But more deeply, "I will dwell within them," within those who are prepared for God's Presence. And later God repeated the same commandment to King David and King Solomon who constructed the very First Temple. (1 Kings 9: 3)

One of David's first acts as king was the conquest of Jerusalem. He named it the "City of David" and declared it the capital of his kingdom.

David conquered Jerusalem in approximately 1004 BCE and made it a centre of government. He brought the Ark of the Covenant to the city, and Jerusalem became the political and spiritual nexus of the Jewish people. David refrained from building the Temple, because he was a man of war, he was not permitted to build the temple thus leaving the task to his son Solomon. The concentration of religious ritual at the Temple made Jerusalem a place of pilgrimage and an important commercial centre.

The city served as the capital of the United Kingdom (Judah and Israel) for only two generations. Its centrality was restored by the conquest and destruction of the northern Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians in 722 BCE.

It was in Jerusalem that most of the great prophets were active, articulating spiritual and ethical principles that would transcend the city's narrow confines to become pillars of human civilization. In 586 BCE the city succumbed to the Babylonians. At the order of their king, Nebuchadnezzar, the city was torched, the Temple razed, and the people were exiled.

The building of the First Temple in Jerusalem brought into being a new religious reality for the people of Israel: sacrifices could now be offered only at the Temple, and the biblical implementing of the three pilgrimages - at "Pesach" (Passover), "Shavuot" (Pentecost), and at "Sukkot" (Tabernacles) received concrete affirmation. With ritual worship concentrated in Jerusalem, the city’s population was swollen enormously at fixed times each year, despite its pronounced geographic remoteness.

In 538 BCE, a proclamation by King Cyrus of Persia, who had conquered Babylon, permitted the exiles to return to Jerusalem. It was during the ensuing "Persian Period" that the Second Temple was built. The people were led by the towering figures of Ezra and Nehemiah. As the leader and governor of Jerusalem, Nehemiah required every family in Judah to send ten of its members to live in Jerusalem, thus augmenting the city's meagre population. Nehemiah's great project was to rebuild the walls and fortify the city.

Because Zerubabel did not have the funds and skilled workmen available to him as King Solomon did, the Second Temple was inferior in beauty and workmanship; however it was refurbished and enlarged by King Herod.

Ironically, the First and Second Temple was plundered and burnt down first by the Babylonians in 586 BC and then by the Romans in AD70 both on the 9th day of AV.

During King Herod's reign (37-4 BCE) Jerusalem grew northward. Monumental building projects included the Second Wall, the expansive and magnificent Temple Mount, the Antonia Fortress and the Citadel (today's Tower of David).

Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth was active in this period of the Second Temple. After gathering His Apostles and followers in the Galilee and surrounding areas - His views often conflicted with the Jewish religious leaders of the day and it was in Jerusalem where He was crucified.

Jerusalem a burdensome stone for the nations

"And in that day I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all peoples. All who lift it shall be slashed, and all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it." Zechariah 12:3 MKJV

The Bible does not end with the rebirth of the nation of Israel, but goes into great detail about what happens when the nation is reborn. The Bible shows the re-born nation will be rejected and will suffer war after war. The wars that Israel has gone through since its rebirth; along with the rejection of the nation by nearly all religions, political, and economic organization fits right into Bible prophecy.

The wars involving Israel 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973 are minor compared to the future battles described in the Bible. These wars will not go on forever.

Jerusalem Trodden Down...

In Luke Chapter 21:24, Jesus referred to the Church Age as the "Times of the Gentiles." This passage from Luke reveals that the Jews will not have total control of Jerusalem until the Church Age is completed. Many believe the Church Age, the Age of Grace, will end with the Rapture of the Church. The Christian Church is currently the primary vehicle God uses to speak to the Earth. Soon, Israel will be placed in the forefront, after the Church Age is fulfilled, and the world will be back under the Law of God.

Third Temple

For this reason, Israel will build their Third Temple to God in Jerusalem, believing that only the daily sacrifice of animals can justify them before their God. Of course, the New Testament believers know that the Jew should be under the Grace of God in Messiah Yeshua. However since God has blinded National Israel to this fact (Romans 11: 25-29,) He will allow them to build this Third Temple. When this Third Temple is constructed, the prophecies of Revelation 11, 13, 14 and 19 can, for the first time in history, be fulfilled.

When the Antichrist of Revelation 13 is revealed as the Deceiver that he is, setting up an idol in the Third Temple and violating Commandments 1 and 2, National Israel's eyes will be opened to the Grace of God in Christ for the first (and last) time... and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the TIMES OF THE GENTILES be fulfilled.

Jerusalem a cup of trembling

"So the angel who talked with me said to me, Cry out, saying, so says Jehovah of Hosts: I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy." Zechariah 1: 14

The Earthly City of Jerusalem has special significance to the God of Israel. He is jealous for His City.

The primary prophetical message of this passage details God's protection of Jerusalem against all nations that would come to battle against her. As we can see the attempted destruction of Jerusalem will be suicidal. Jerusalem will be a subject of severe contention; an issue without peaceful resolution. Christians and Jews both lay claim to the city as does Islam (without Biblical mention). It is impossible for the world's national leaders to create a diplomatic solution between Judaism and Islam on this issue. As the inevitable confrontation approaches: Zechariah 12: 1-3


The ancient city of Hebron, burial place of our forefathers, has seen much religious settlement for centuries, but it has been a hotbed of contention for just as long, chronicling the battles between Jews, Christians, and Moslems that have seeped the city in blood. Hebron is regarded as a holy City and is the burial place of the Jewish patriarchs. Biblically, it is the first capital of King David. Hebron is associated with the element of earth (a reference to the Cave where the patriarchs and matriarchs were buried.) The Patriarchs according to the Judeo-Christian Old Testament are Abraham, his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob. Collectively, they are referred to as the three patriarchs.

The name Hebron derives from the root "h- b-r" meaning ‘friend.’ In the Bible, Hebron is also referred to as Kiryat Arba: "Now the name of Hebron formerly was Kiryat Arba." Joshua 14:15

David chose Hebron as his royal city and was anointed there as king over Judah (2 Samuel 2:1-4). In addition, Abner was buried there (3:32), his traditional tomb is still standing. Eventually David was anointed king over all Israel in Hebron (5:1-3). The city was also one of the Levitical cities and a city of refuge (Joshua 21:13; I Chronicles 6:42); it was an important administrative centre and this was the reason why Rehoboam fortified it (2 Chronicles 11:10).


Safed (Tz'fad) came to be regarded as a holy city after the influx of Jews following the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492 and became known as a centre of Kabalah.

Safed is associated with the element of air (a reference to the mystical/spiritual branch of Judaism that flourishes there.) The Jewish presence in Safed is new relative to the other holy cities, but once the Spanish exiles began settling there, it outshined even Jerusalem in Torah scholarship. Though the city has undergone earthquakes and other calamities since then, its magnetic spiritual aura continues to attract Jews from every walk of life.

Safed is mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud as one of five elevated spots where fires were lit to announce the New Moon and festivals during the Second Temple period. Legend has it that Safed was founded by a son of Noah after the Great Flood. However, for believers in Yeshua there is no significant value.


Tiberias is one of the four holy cities and was founded by the son of Herod the Great, named Herod Antipas. Tiberias was accorded its name in honour of the Roman Emperor Augustus ‘Tiberius’. The city was difficult to establish with a viable number of citizens, however, because of rumours it had been built on an ancient graveyard, and this fact, according to Jewish 'halacha' (law) would prevent any Jews living there from touching holy food or attending synagogue. However, it is a predominantly Jewish City today.

Herod, (the king who Yeshua (Jesus), in the New Testament, appropriately referred to as 'that fox') came up with the idea to import unwilling citizens to his new city forcibly, thus solving his population problem.

Tiberias is a place of extremes. The Sea of Galilee is a freshwater lake, and yet it is a few hundred feet below sea level and situated in the lowest valley on earth, namely the Jordan Valley.

In addition Lake Kenneret (Sea of Galilee) provides more than one half of all Israel's freshwater needs. Tiberias is associated with the element of water (a reference to its being located on the Galilee Sea).

For us, as believers Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee have another significant importance of ‘holiness’ where our Messiah Yeshua performed many of His miracles in the surrounding areas.

He went about doing good…

Capernaum lay on the north western shore of the Sea of Galilee, that lovely expanse of water where everything breathes an atmosphere of beauty - The shores with sub- tropical vegetation, the lake itself with its shades of blue and the gentle lapping of its waves, and the rolling hills encircling the lake.

Capernaum in the days of Yeshua was an important, thriving and important town. It was here that Yeshua (Jesus) born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth lived as a son of His people. And, it was here where He journeyed through the lake shore towns of Chorazin, Magdala and the rest. As He journeyed through the countryside teaching the good news about the Kingdom of God, the Sea of Galilee was His favourite place, it provided the setting for ‘The Sermon on the Mount’ but His final destiny lay in Jerusalem; "From that time Jesus went on to make clear to his disciples how he would have to go up to Jerusalem, and undergo much at the hands of those in authority and the chief priests and scribes, and be put to death, and the third day come again from the dead." Matthew 16: 21 BBE

Most people tend to think that Revelation 20 is the only passage in the Bible that speaks of a future reign of the Lord. Nothing could be farther from the truth. There are key passages in both the Old and New Testaments that speak of the Lord's future reign.

Yeshua (Jesus) is returning to reign on earth because the Old Testament prophets say so…

Psalms: 2: 6 - 9; 22: 27 - 31; 47; 67; 89: 19 - 29; 110 and 132: 13 – 18
Isaiah: 2: 1 - 4; 9:6-7; 11:3b – 9 and 24: 21 – 23
Jeremiah: 23: 5 and 33: 6 – 18
Ezekiel: 20: 33 – 44; 37; 24 – 28; 39: 21 – 29 and 43:7
Daniel: 7: 13 – 14, 18, 27
Hosea: 3: 4 – 5
Joel: 3: 14 – 17, 21
Micah: 4: 1 – 7
Zephaniah: 3: 14 – 20
Haggai: 2: 20 -23
Zechariah: 2: 10 – 13; 6: 12 -13; 8:2 – 3; 9:10 and 14:1 – 9

New Testament Apostles say so…

Acts: 3: 21
2 Peter 3: 13
Romans: 8:18 – 23
2 Thessalonians: 1: 7 – 10
2 Timothy 2: 12
Revelations 12: 5; 19: 15 – 16; 20: 4 – 6 and 21: 1 – 7

The Heavenly Host say so…

The angel Gabriel Luke 1: 26 – 38 ; the four living creature and the 24 elders Revelations 5: 9 – 10; the angels of God Revelations 11: 15; the martyrs Revelations 15: 3 - 4

And most important is because Yeshua says so…

"Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, so that where I am, you may be also." John 14: 1 - 3

Matthew 19: 28 and 25: 31; Luke 1:32; Acts 1: 3 – 6 Revelations 2: 26 – 27; 3: 21 and 3:7

The most Holy City of all…

"And the foundation of its wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city had been adorned with every precious stone. The first foundation, jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprasus; the eleventh, hyacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls. Respectively, each one of the gates was one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, as transparent glass. And I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty is its temple, even the Lamb. And the city had no need of the sun, nor of the moon, that they might shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it, and its lamp is the Lamb. And the nations of those who are saved will walk in the light of it; and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honour into it." Revelations 21: 18 - 24

With SHALOM as we wait for our Messiah Yeshua,




This page provides detailed information about the ancient city of Hebron, one of the key cities in the Palestinian Authority. Many of the products featured on this site come from Hebron, which provides local markets for the people of Al-Kaabneh, located about 25 kilometers (15 miles) away on the edge of the Dead Sea desert.

Photos of hisotrical sites, markets and people give a sense of the deep religious significance of this place, which is sacred to the Moslem, Jewish and Christian religions.


Hebron is one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the world. Remains dating back to the ancient, middle and modern stone ages have been found in Hebron. Excavations have proven that the history of the city can be traced back to earlier than the year 3500 B.C. Recently, archeologists discovered 40 clay jugs, 4000 years old, at the entrance to nearby Tel Hebron.

The Ancient Canaanite name for the city of Hebron is Arbo'a, which is derived from the word "four." It is believed that the city was called so because it is surrounded by four main mountains, or because the area hosted four confederated settlements in biblical times.

An ancient Canaanite royal city, Hebron was founded "seven years before Zoan in Egypt" (Numbers 13:22). Zoan was the capital of the Hyksos invaders, and has been dated to the 18th century BC.

After the exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt, Hebron was one of the cities visited by spies sent by Moses. Later, Joshua fought the Battle of Aijalon near here, where "the sun stood still," against a confederation of Amorite chiefs including the "king of Hebron" (Joshua 10). Just outside the village is the mosque of Nabi Yunus which, according to Muslim tradition, is built over the grave of the prophet Jonah. During the time of Jesus Christ, some houses were built around the cemetery wall, which soon became a village known as "House of Abrahim". Jesus visited here often, and there is an active Christian community in modern Hebron.

The present Arabic name of Hebron is Al Khalil, meaning "the friend." The city was named after Prophet Abraham who was called "Khalil" in the Quran:

"Who can be better in religion than one who submits his whole self to Allah, does good, and follows the way of Abraham the true in faith? For Allah did take Abraham for a friend."
Holy Quran 4:125

In ancient Hebrew, the name for a nearby ancient settlement is Kiriath Arba: "the suburb of four." The Jewish holy scriptures say that the this name was given because four couples were buried there: Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Leah, Isaac and Rebecca.

For Muslims, Hebron is holy because the Magarat ("Cave") is located there, where Muslims believe that Abraham, the father of all the prophets, was buried. Muslims have an absolute belief in the prophecies of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, as well as the Torah, as the word of God. In the holy Muslim book, the Quran, Abraham, Jacob and Isaac were named 73, 18 and 16 times respectively, as opposed to only 4 times for the prophet of Islam, Muhammad. Jews and Christians revere the Cave for the same reasons.

The Book of Genesis tells that the patriarch Abraham purchased the Cave in Hebron for the full market price of 400 silver shekels:

"And Abraham listened to Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver, which he had named in the hearing of the Hittites, four hundred shekels of silver, current money among the merchants."
Tanach - Genesis Chapter 23: 16

King David, the son of Solomon (c. 10th century BC) was ordered by God to go to Hebron; he was anointed king of Israel there, and made it his capital for 7-1/2 years, until the taking of Jerusalem (II Samuel 2-5). King Herod the Great (ruled 37-4 BC) built a wall around the cave of Mach-pelah, portions of which survive beneath additions by Byzantines, crusaders, and Mamluks. The Muslims ruled the city almost continuously from AD 635 until after World War I.


Modern Hebron is a city of 40,000 people: an agricultural, marketing and trade centre, with glass, brass, ceramic, pottery and leather crafts, as well as cotton products, olivewood carvings, dried fruits, fine grapes and wines, all found in a central bazaar over 3000 years old. Quarries in the surrounding hills export highly-prized, distinctive rose-colored stone and marble throughout the Middle East.

The Cave of Mach-pelah in the center of the city is surmounted by a large mosque, al-Haram al-Ibrahimi al-Khalil (The Sanctuary of Abraham, the Friend). After the Six-Day War (1967), the tombs of the patriarchs were opened to all worshippers for the first time in exactly 700 years. Both Muslim and Jewish services are now held in the cave.


Conquest of Canaan in Biblical Archeology

Conquest of Canaan in Biblical Archeology

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After wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, Moses handed over leadership to Joshua, whose responsibility it was to bring the nation of Israel into the promised land of Canaan. After entering Canaan, Joshua had to go to war with the people who occupied the land. Canaan was a land of city-states. There was no central gov­ernment; each city had its own king. To conquer the land each city would have to be defeated.

At the time of the Conquest of Canaan by Israel Egypt was nominally in control of the region.

- Pharaoh Thutmose III (1504-1450) had added the region to Egypt’s domain.

- His son, Amenho­tep II (1450-1424), Pharaoh of the Exodus, continued control.

- His son, Thutmose IV (1424-1414), Pharaoh while Israel was in the wilderness, was more interested in foreign alliances than military dominance.

o He had married the Asiatic daughter of Artatama, King of Mitanni. Mitanni was in northern Mesopotamia, mostly Hurrian.

- His son, Amenhotep III (1414-1378), who now ruled, was not interested in maintaining an empire. He was more concerned with domestic interests.

o The Tell el-Amarna letters depict him as ignoring the Canaanite pleas for help against the Hapiru.

o He left the individual cities of Canaan to themselves during the conquest by Israel.


Canaan culture was fairly advanced.

- Cities were well laid out, and houses showed good design and con­struction.

- Floors of buildings, were often paved, or plastered.

- Drainage systems had been developed.

- Workers were skilled in the use of copper, lead, and gold.

- Pottery was among the finest anywhere in the world.

- Extensive trade was conducted with foreign countries, including Egypt, Northern Mesopota­mia, and Cyprus.

God com­manded that all Canaanites be de­stroyed or driven from the land (Num. 33:51-56; Deut. 7:1-5).

- Had Israel done so, all would have been well; but she did not. Many Canaanites were allowed to remain, and Israel suffered the effects of their influence.

- This was the dan­ger that God wanted to avoid.

o Many of the people accepted the worship of Canaanite Baal (fig. 2) rather than God.

o The attraction was that Baal was held to be god of rainfall and good crops. No doubt the Canaanites advised their new farming neighbors that technical skill was not enough to insure a good harvest, but that worship of Baal was still more impor­tant.

Moses’ strategy for taking Canaan, no doubt revealed to him by God, clearly had been to attack the land at its approximate midpoint, coming in from the east, and divide it into a south and north section, that each could be con­quered separately.

- We may assume that Moses had shared this plan with Joshua, so that the new leader had the plan in mind as the people prepared for crossing the Jordan.



Jericho stood as a first and principal objective in the conquest of Canaan.

- Joshua sent two spies to make recon­naissance.

- The two crossed the Jordan and came to the city where they were protected by a harlot, Rahab, whose house was located on the city wall.

- When the men were detected, Rahab hid them beneath stalks of flax on the roof and then pointed the pursuers in the wrong direction.

- Convinced that Jericho would fall to Israel, Rahab requested safety for her and her family in return for her help. The men gave their promise and with further help escaped back to Joshua.

- Joshua learned from Rahab that the people feared Israel greatly. News of victories over Sihon and Og had reached Jericho.

Crossing the Jordan

The morning after the spies’ return, Joshua ordered the people to move to the bank of the Jordan. Shittim (exact location unknown), is where they encamped.

- It was spring and the Jordan was at flood stage. Before crossing three days were spent in final preparations and instructions.

- We may be­lieve that during these three days the people wondered how all Israel could possibly cross the wide expanse of water flowing by them.

When everything was ready, the priests, carrying the ark, moved toward the river. The people, followed at a distance of 3000 feet (Josh. 3:4). This insured that a maximum number would see the ark as the guiding signal.

- When the feet of the priests touched the water, it miracu­lously separated. As if stopped by a dam, the water from upstream that flowed toward them “stood up in a heap.” The other water continued its course to the Dead Sea, leaving a wide space for the people to cross (fig. 3).

- The priests bearing the ark stopped and remained in the middle of the river as the people moved past. As the people crossed, the water backed up approximately 15 miles upriver, as far as the city Adam.

o This gave testimony to each person that God was restraining the water.

o Adam is identified with Tell ed-Damieh about 20 miles from the Dead Sea. Israel crossed the Jordan opposite Jericho about five miles from the Dead Sea, so they were 15 miles from Adam. Since rockslides have occurred near Adam temporarily stopping the Jordan (once in AD 1267, 1906 and 1927), some have suggested that God used this means here.

- As soon as everyone had left the riverbed, the water was released and the river flowed again.

- Two memorials of this crossing were created, one in the Jordan and one across at Gilgal, where the people encamped (Josh. 4:1-24).


Gilgal now became a continuing center of Israelite activity. Its exact location is still uncertain, but clearly it was somewhere in the Jordan Valley between Jericho and the Jordan River (Josh. 4:19).

- From here, Jericho and Ai were soon taken.

- Later the Gibeonites came to Gilgal seeking a peace treaty (Josh. 9:6). From Gilgal Joshua led his army by forced march to help the Gibeonites against the southern con­federacy (Josh. 10:6-7).

- From here, too, he went north to meet the northern confederacy (Josh. 11:6-14).

- And here the first allotment of tribal territo­ries was made (Josh. 14:6). While the army was in the field fighting, the people remained at Gilgal as home base.

Three important events transpired soon after encampment.

The circumcision of all the men (Josh. 5:2-9).
The observ­ance of the Passover (Josh. 5:10).
The cessation of manna. God had supplied this food since the first year of travel (Exod. 16:14-22).

Defeat of Jericho

Frequent biblical reference to Jericho shows that it was of major importance in the land. Jericho is well identified with Tell es-Sultan, five miles west of the Jordan and seven miles north of the Dead Sea. The mound covers about eight acres (fig. 4).

- After Jerusalem, Jericho is the most excavated site in Israel. Charles Warren in 1868 sank several shafts but concluded that nothing was to be found. Germans Sellin and Watzinger excavated 1907-13, Garstang 1930-36 and Kenyon 1952-58. Since 1997 an Italian-Palestinian team has been digging.

- Kenyon’s description of the walls of Jericho is significant.

o The walls were of a type, which made direct assault practically impossible. An ap­proaching enemy first encountered a stone abutment 11 feet high, back and up from which sloped a 35o plastered scarp reaching to the main wall some 35 vertical feet above (fig. 5).

o The steep, smooth slope prohib­ited battering the wall by any effective device or building fires to break it.

o An army trying to storm the wall found difficulty in climbing the slope, and ladders to scale it could find no satisfac­tory footing.

God had plans for taking Jericho, which were revealed to Joshua in an unusual manner (Josh. 5:13-6:5).

- Joshua was met by one called the “commander of the army of the LORD.”

- “Commander of the army of the Lord,” could be the appearance of Christ as the Angel of God. This “Commander” called the ground “holy” (Josh. 5:15), as with Moses at the burning bush (Exod. 3:5), and used the personal pronoun “I” as giving Jericho into Joshua’s hand.

- The plans were to have “armed men,” led by seven priests carrying the ark, walk around the city once each day for six days and seven times on the seventh. At the close of the thirteenth circuit, the priests would blow trumpets and the people shout with a loud voice. When they did, the walls of the city would collapse and the army could enter.

The plan was executed as instructed.

- Thirteen times the city was circled and then the walls fell as the trumpets sounded and the people shouted. The army took the city with ease.

All the people of the city were killed, with the exception of Rahab and her family, whose lives were spared in keeping with the spies’ promise, and the city was leveled by fire. No Israelite was permitted to enrich himself by looting. God placed a ban on the city, declaring that it was “devoted” to Himself (Josh. 6:17-18).

- Spared, Rahab came to be included in the ancestral line of David and so of Christ (Matt. 1:5).

Archaeologists have found that the walls of Jericho did indeed fall down, they date the destruction of the wall to the time of Joshua (c. 1400 BC).

- The first major excavation of Jericho was carried out by a German team between 1907 and 1909. They found piles of mud bricks at the base of the mound the city was built on.

- It was not until a British archaeologist named Kathleen Kenyon excavated the site with modern methods in the 1950s that it was understood what these piles of bricks were. She determined that they were from the city wall, which had collapsed when the city was destroyed.

- The Bible says that when the walls collapsed, the Israelites stormed the city and set it on fire. Archaeologists have found evidence of a massive destruction by fire just as the Bible states. Kenyon wrote in her excavation report:

“The destruction was complete. Walls and floors were blackened or reddened by fire, and every room was filled with fallen bricks, timbers, and household utensils; in most rooms the fallen debris was heavily burnt.”

What caused the walls of Jericho to collapse?

- The common secular explanation is an earthquake must have caused the collapse.

o It must have been a very unusual earthquake because it struck in such a way as to allow a portion of the city wall on the north side of the site to remain standing, while everywhere else the wall fell.

- Rahab’s house was evidently located on the north side of the city.

o The Bible states that her house was built against the city wall. Before returning to the Israelite camp, the spies told Rahab to bring her family into her house and they would be spared. Rahab’s house was miraculously spared while the rest of the city wall fell.

o This is exactly what archaeologists have found. The preserved city wall on the north side of the city had houses built against it.

- The timing of the earthquake and the manner in which it selectively took down the city wall suggests something other than a natural calamity…It was God at work.

Both Garstang and Kenyon found dozens of store jars full of grain from the Canaanite city of Jericho.

- The obvious conclusion is that these were from the city when it was burned, not looted, by Joshua.

- The archaeological record fits the biblical account precisely.


The city of Ai was the next objective before Israel.
- A reconnaissance party sent by Joshua was not impressed by Ai’s strength and, overconfident, advised that merely “two or three thou­sand” would be sufficient to take the city.

- Joshua sent 3,000 soldiers, who ended up being defeated by Ai.

- The main reason for the defeat, however, was not the number of Israel­ite soldiers; it was the existence of sin in Israel’s camp. Achan of the tribe of Judah had ignored God’s ban on the “devoted” items from Jericho and took a Babylonian garment, 200 shekels of silver, and a 50-shekel bar of gold.

Following the defeat, God revealed to Joshua that such a sin had been committed and told him to inquire as to the identity of the guilty party. This was done, and Achan was identified.

- Identification was found probably by using the Urim and Thummim (Exod. 28:30; Num. 27:21).

- Achan con­fessed to having taken the items and hidden them in his tent. These were recovered from their hiding place, and then Achan and his family were stoned and then burned with all of his possessions. This punishment was necessary, both in view of the serious offense and as a warning to other Israelites.

With the sin punished, Israel was now able to conquer Ai (Josh. 8).

- By night, Joshua sent a large force to hide in ambush in a valley between Ai and Bethel.

- The next day Joshua led another force in a frontal attack on the city.

- When the men of Ai came out from the city, Joshua’s force retreated. The hidden force arose and attacked the army of Ai from behind. Joshua’s force then turned, and the enemy was trapped.

- The result was that all 12,000 of the male in­habitants of Ai were killed, the king hanged, and the city reduced to rubble.

The location of Ai is still uncertain but could be either et-Tell (fig. 6), or Khirbet Nisya.

- David Livingstone theorized that ancient Bethel should be located at modern Bireh. Working from that hypothesis he identified Nisya as the place the biblical description for Ai would demand.

- Nisya is only two to three acres, which corre­lates well with the biblical description of Ai as a small, but walled city, and is located correctly to be the biblical Ai.

No indication is given of a conquest of Bethel by Joshua.

- Bethel’s king is listed as killed by Joshua’s forces (Josh. 12:16), but no record is given of a direct attack on the city.

- The reason may be that her power was broken at the time of Ai’s defeat. It was only logical for her to join in assisting Ai against an enemy which she could expect would confront her next, and Joshua 8:17 states directly that she did.

- Bethel’s king may have been killed at this time, though the record mentions only Ai’s ruler (Josh. 8:23, 29). Joshua’s employment of so many more troops the second time may have been in part due to his expectation that Bethel would join with Ai.


With Jericho, Ai, and Bethel con­trolled, Joshua took the people, according to God’s instruction (Deut. 27:1-26), north to Shechem to renew God’s covenant.

- Near Shechem, at the foot of Mount Ebal, Joshua built an altar, and the priests made burnt offerings and peace offer­ings. On prepared stones, Joshua wrote a “copy of the law of Moses” (Josh. 8:32).

- Half the tribes moved toward Mount Gerizim, with half remaining near Mount Ebal. Near Joshua as he read was the Ark of the Covenant.

- Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim lie north and south from each other with Shechem between their eastern ends (fig. 7).

Israel’s conquest of this northern, central region where Shechem was a principal city (Gen. 12:6; 33:18-20) is not described in Scripture.

- The biblical account speaks of the Israelites being able to move north to it, apparently without difficulty, but does not explain how this was possible.

- Shechem was more than 30 miles north of Ai, and her people would not have considered themselves under Israelite domination simply because the more southern city had fallen.

- The most likely explanation is that Israelite forces had moved north to subjugate the area ahead of time, though after Ai’s fall. Certain matters suggest this.

o One is that Joshua 11:19 states that no city other than Gibeon (Josh. 9) capitulated to Israel peacefully, which means that Shechem must have been taken forcibly.

o Another is that Joshua 12:17, 18, 24 lists kings of the Shechem area who were killed by Joshua’s troops at some point in time, and so prob­ably here at this logical juncture.

One of the Amarna letters indicate that the prince of Gezer and the prince of Shechem surrendered to Joshua during the conquest of the land:

“See the actions taken by Milkilu, the prince of Gezer, and the sons of Labayu, the princes of Shechem, who have handed over the land to the Hapiru.”

This letter also confirms the Bible, in that these two cities were also spared, not destroyed, in Joshua’s conquest. They are both mentioned together in Joshua 21:21.


Returning to Gilgal, the Israelites received homage from another group of peo­ple of central Canaan, the Hivites, representing four major cit­ies northwest of Jerusalem a few miles - Gibeon, Chephirah, Beer­oth, and Kirjath-jearim -sometimes called the Gibeonite tetrapolis.

- The Hivites were one of the seven listed national groups of Canaan at the time of the conquest: Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites, and Jebusites (Josh. 3:10; 24:11).

- Doubting that Israel would accept their treaty offer if they were identified with nearby Gibeon, they contrived a trick, wearing worn-out clothing and bearing moldy bread, to make them­selves appear to have traveled from a distant country.

- They asked that Israel make a treaty of peace with them, and it was granted. This was contrary to God’s instruction (Exod. 23:32; 34:12; Deut. 7:2), however, and the Israelites were held responsible because they had not asked counsel “of the LORD.”

- When the ruse was known three days later, Joshua and the elders honored the treaty because it had been made in the name of God.


At this point Israel had separated the northern and southern regions of Canaan. Jericho, Ai, Bethel, Beeroth, Gibeon, Chephi­rah, and Kirjath-jearim formed a continuous line across southern central Canaan; and the fact that Israel had been able to assemble peaceably at Shechem indicates control had been gained in the northern central area as well. The South and North were now separated and remained to be taken each by itself.

Defeat of Southern Canaan

Contact with the South came soon after the treaty with the Hivite tetrapo­lis. Among the four cities, Gibeon was the largest and most powerful (Josh. 10:2); and when news of her action reached the king of Jerusalem, he formed a coalition of major southern cities. Four leading cities joined with him: Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon (all five cities have been located). Gibeon is found at el-Jib, seven miles northwest of Jerusalem. Excavations took place from 1957-1962.

- These confederates began their gen­eral resistance to Israel by first attacking Gibeon, apparently to force her out of the new alliance with Israel. Gibeon quickly appealed to Joshua in Gilgal, and Joshua brought his troops by forced march the 24-mile dis­tance to Gibeon in one night. He took the attackers by surprise, routed them, and pursued them toward the heights near Beth-horon to the west.

- Near Beth-horon the fleeing troops turned south in an apparent attempt to reach home cities, but on the way God sent a hailstorm that killed more of the enemy than did Israel’s swords.

- The five kings, staying close together, succeeded in getting to the vicinity of Azekah and Makkedah, but then sought shelter in a cave.

o The pursuing Israelites found the kings in a cave, but merely sealed the opening with stones and continued after the fleeing soldiers.

o Joshua wanted the troops themselves caught and killed before they could get to the safety of their walled cities. This was accomplished in major part (Josh. 10:18-20), and then attention was again given to the trapped kings.

o Joshua commanded his military leaders to place their feet on the necks of these rulers while he slew them. Then Joshua had the lifeless bodies of all five hung on trees for his men to see during the remainder of the day (Josh. 10:21-27).

There is an amazing piece of evidence to support this. A letter has been found, written by a man named Abdi-Hiba, Governor of Jerusalem, to Pharaoh Amenhotep IV (1378-1367), requesting aid from Egypt in fighting the approaching Hebrews. The letter states the following:

“Why do you not hear my plea? All the governors are lost; the king, my lord, does not have a single governor left! Let my lord, the king, send troops of archers, or the king will have no lands left. All the lands of the king are being plundered by the Habiru. If archers are here by the end of the year, then the lands of my lord, the king, will continue to exist; but if the archers are not sent, then the lands of the king, my lord, will be surrendered.”

Compare this with the following statement found in Joshua 10:1-5:

“Now it came to pass when Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem heard how Joshua had taken Ai and had utterly destroyed it;...,Therefore Adoni-Zedek king of Jerusalem sent to Hoham king of Hebron, Piram king of Jarmuth, Japhia king of Lachish, and Debir king of Eglon, saying, ‘Come up to me and help me, that we may attack Gibeon, for it has made peace with Joshua and with the children of Israel.’ Therefore the five kings of the Amorites, the king of Jerusalem, ....gathered together and went up, they and all their armies, and camped before Gibeon and made war against it.”

The Bible states in Joshua 10:26 that Joshua defeated these kings, captured them and killed them, including the king of Jerusalem, Adoni-Zedek.

- The letter written by Abdi-Hiba was probably written after the Biblical event by the successor of Adoni-Zedek, Abdi-Hiba, as a last ditch effort to stop the advancing Hebrews.

- The time frame of this letter also corresponds to the dating found in the Bible. According to 1 Kings 6:1, the Exodus was 480 years before King Solomon built the temple, which occurred in 966 BC, that would date the Exodus at 1446 BC. Right after the Golden calf incident recorded in Exodus chapter 32, chapter 33 verse 11 states that Joshua was a young man at this time. The Hebrew word used here for young man refers to a boy of an age somewhere between infancy and adolescence.

- Putting Joshua’s age at around 15 years old at the time that God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses. Add another 40 years wandering in the wilderness, would put Joshua’s age at approximately 55 years old when he first entered into the land of Canaan in 1406 BC.

- Joshua 24:29 states that he lived to be 110 years old, which means he would have died around 1352 BC. According to historians, the Abdi-Hiba letter was written between 1387 and 1366 BC, right in the middle of Joshua’s conquest of Canaan.

Joshua’s Long Day (Joshua 10:12-14)

It was earlier that same day, as Joshua stood on a hill near Gibeon watching the enemy flee from his troops, that he called to God, “O sun stand still over Gibeon, O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon” (Josh. 10:12).

- These words have traditionally been taken to mean that this day was miraculously pro­longed.

- The verb amadh is used (twice in v. 13), and it definitely indicates a change in pattern of movement. Further, verse 13 closes with the expression, “and delayed going down,” where the word “delayed” (uz) again speaks of motion, and the phrase “going down” (labho) is normal in reference to the sun setting. Still further, verse 14 states that this day was unique in history, which sug­gests a major miracle such as the prolonging of a natural day occurred.

- The extent of this prolongation can also be estimated. Since the hour was at noon when Joshua voiced the call, and it is stated that the sun did not go down for “about a full day,” it is likely that the afternoon hours until sunset were prolonged twice their normal length. In other words, the total daylight hours of the day were one and one-half times nor­mal.

- There was good reason for Joshua wanting this day prolonged. The five strong kings had brought their armies out from their fortified cities to do battle with Israel in the open. Their thinking likely had been that, since the walls of Jericho and Ai had not helped those cities, it would be better to try a new method. But this left them without their best means of defense, and Joshua knew it. Now he did not want them to get back behind their walls if he could help it, all that would be needed was enough daylight to make the route complete. Accordingly, Joshua asked God to sup­ply added hours.

Although we believe the biblical account of Joshua’s Long Day is true, the claim that NASA has proven it is an urban myth.

- The claim that astronomical calculations proved that a day was “missing” began over a century ago. In the last few decades, the myth has been embellished with NASA computers performing those calculations.

- No one who repeats this story has ever provided details of these calculations on how exactly the missing day was discovered? How could you detect a missing day unless you had a fixed reference point before this day?

- In fact we would need to cross check between both astronomical and historical records to detect any missing day. And to detect a missing 40 minutes requires that these reference points are known to within an accuracy of a few minutes.

- It is certainly true that the timing of solar eclipses observable from a certain location can be known precisely. But the ancient records did not record time that precisely, so the required crosscheck is not possible. The earliest historically recorded eclipse us 1217 BC, nearly two centuries after Joshua.

Conquering of the Southern Cities

With this crucial battle won, Joshua pressed on to conquer cities in all the southern area. The first assaults were against Mak­kedah and then Libnah, both close to the cave where the kings had been killed.

- Each city was taken with the re­spective kings killed. However, little physical harm was done to the cities, a pattern Joshua followed for all this south­ern campaign.

- The location of each city is uncertain, Makkedah is best identified with Khirbet el-Kheishum, two miles northeast of Azekah at the head of the Elah Valley, and Libnah with Tell es-Safi four miles west.

Joshua then moved south to three of the cities of the confederacy: Lachish, Eglon, and Hebron.

- Lachish, about ten miles southwest of Azekah, was the strongest of the three and was attacked first. The city fell on the second day of fighting, and the people were killed as at Makke­dah and Libnah, though this time the king had already been killed at the cave near Makkedah.

o Lachish is identified with Tell-Lachish (fig. 11), discovered in 1929 and excavated in 1932-1938 and 1973-1987.

- The king of Gezer (identified with Tell Jezer) came with his army to aid Lachish, but he and his men all perished before Joshua.

- Joshua then moved on to Eglon (identified with Tell el-Hesi) the farthest west of the southern three confederate cities, and then to Hebron, the farthest east, both fell.

After these earlier conquests, Joshua continued south to subdue the lower part of Canaan.

- His army reached Kadesh-barnea, where Israel had spent time during the wilderness journey.

- Debir was probably the most important prize in this lower southern area.

o Debir is identified with Tell Beit Mirsim, 13 miles southwest of Hebron.

Finally, Joshua returned to Gibeon where the whole campaign had started.

One main city, however, was not taken. That was Jerusalem, one of the five confederates.

- Jerusalem had been out of the way as Joshua had pursued the fleeing enemy on the way south.

- It remained a tiny island, not incorpo­rated into Israelite territory, until King David seized it later.


News of Joshua’s con­quest of the South reached Jabin the king of Hazor.

- Jabin, fearing similar attack on his region formed a confederacy.

- The kings he assembled are listed as representing all parts of northern Canaan:

o The mountain region above Hazor.

o The plain “south of Kinner­eth (Sea of Galilee).”

o The Valley of Esdraelon.

o The western re­gion as far as Dor.

o Three cities mentioned in particular, Madon, Shim­ron, and Achshaph.

- The assembly included Canaanites, Amorites, Hit­tites, Perizzites, Jebusites, and Hivites. The gathering point was the waters of Merom (Lake Huleh), and the host numbered like “the sand on the seashore” (Josh. 11:4).

Joshua brought his battle-tried troops north to meet this confederacy.

- Jabin’s confederacy was routed and chased far to the west.

- Joshua followed up this triumph by putting “all these royal cities and their kings to the sword” (Josh. 11:12). Then he re­turned to the city of Hazor itself and burned it.

- Similar to the Southern Campaign most cities were spared, but Hazor was apparently seen by Joshua as a prize of psychological value for burn­ing. People would be forced to recog­nize that any city could have been burned had Israel chosen, if great Ha­zor could not escape.

Evidence from the Amarna Tablets.

- Other letters requesting aid from Egypt have also been discovered that were written during this same time frame. The following letter is from a man named Shuwardata, governor of Gath:

“May the king, my lord, know that the chief of the Hapiru has besieged the lands which your god has given me; but I have attacked him. Also let the king, my lord, know that none of my allies have come to my aid, it is only I and Abdu-Heba who fight against the Hapiru chief. I plead with the king my lord, if you agree, send Yanhamu, and let us quickly go to war, so that the lands of the king, my lord, might be restored to their original boundaries!”

- Shuwardata governor of Gath is also mentioned in the following letter from a man named Milkilu, a prince of Gezer, with whom he was allied:

“Let it be known to the king that there is great hostility against me and against Shuwardata. I ask the king, my lord, protect his land from the approaching Hapiru.”

- These two men later seem to have offered allegiance to Joshua, as evidence from a second letter from Abdi-Heba, governor of Jerusalem:

“Let it be known what Milkilu and Shuwardata did to the land of the king, my lord! They sent troops of Gezer, troops of Gath, they took the land of Rubutu; the land of the king went over to the Hapiru. But now even a town near Jerusalem, Bit-Lahmi (Bethlehem) by name, a village which once belonged to the king, has fallen to the enemy. Let the king hear the words of your servant Abdi-Heba, and send archers to restore the imperial lands of the king! But if no archers are sent, the lands of the king will be taken by the Hapiru people. This act was done by the hand of Milkilu and Shuwardata.”

- This is interesting, because even though Joshua destroyed most of the inhabitants of the cities he came across, the city of Gath was spared. Joshua 11:22 states: “No Anakites were left in Israelite territory; only in Gaza, Gath and Ashdod did any survive.”


Before the respective tribes could begin occupation, it was necessary to assign territory to the remaining nine and a half tribes. This was the task to which Joshua set himself on returning to the people still encamped at Gilgal. The procedure had already been indicated when the people were still east of the Jordan; namely, by lot, which placed the decision with God rather than men (Num. 26:55-56; 33:54).

Allotments East of the Jordan

Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh had already received their allotted portions.

- Moses had supervised this prior to the Jordan crossing (Num. 32:1-42; Deut. 3:13-17; Josh. 13:8-33).

- The land then as­signed stretched from the Arnon River north to Mount Hermon.

Allotments of Judah, Ephraim, and Manasseh

While preparations were being made for allotting portions on the west of the Jordan, Caleb interrupted proceedings with a request (Josh. 14:6-15).

- He asked that he might personally be granted the Hebron area, where the giant Anakim had been found, when he, Joshua, and the other spies had surveyed the land before. He reminded Joshua that Moses had promised him the region (see Deut. 1:36). Joshua granted the request.

The tribe of Judah, Caleb’s tribe received the first regular allotment of land, which included the area already granted to Caleb.

- The territory was very large (Josh. 15:1-12).

- Its eastern border was the Dead Sea, and its western the Mediterranean. Its south­ern border angled south from the Dead Sea so that Kadesh-barnea was included and its northern border ran irregularly from the northern tip of the Dead Sea west to the Mediterranean. Its main cities in Joshua 15:20-63, make a long list.

Another amazing find that confirms the Book of Joshua was found on the walls of an Egyptian temple at Medinet Habu (fig. 13).

- The walls contain a list of cities that Rameses II (1304-1238) recorded as enemy towns.

- The cities are represented on the wall by men bearing shields. Within the shields are the names of the cities.

- Among the list of cities are Janum, Aphekah and Hebron.

Joshua 15:53-54 states that the among the cities on the border of the children of Judah were “Janum,…Aphekah,… Kirjath Arba (Hebron).”

The next lot was for Ephraim, Josh­ua’s tribe (Josh. 16:1-10).

- Ephraim was given a smaller section than Judah, north of Judah and with room left between for Benjamin.

The third lot was for the remaining half tribe of Manasseh (Josh. 17:1-11).

- This por­tion bordered Ephraim on the north, stretching again, like Judah and Ephraim, from the Jordan to the Medi­terranean.

- The northern boundary of Manasseh was the southern edge of the Esdraelon Valley.

Allotting Interrupted

Before allotting the remaining seven tribes, the people, for some reason, gave themselves to the task of moving camp from Gilgal to Shiloh, where they then erected the tabernacle in the place it was to occupy for many years (Josh. 18:1).

- They had been at Gilgal between six and seven years during the time of Joshua’s cam­paigns. Now they moved farther into the land to occupy a city, which had just been allotted to Ephraim.

- One reason for the interruption was the people’s desire to locate the tabernacle in a permanent place.

- Another reason the Bible suggests is the remain­ing tribes suddenly displayed a surpris­ing lack of interest in receiving their portions. This change of attitude seems to have resulted when both Ephraim and Manasseh objected to their allot­ments.

o These two tribes complained that their portions were too small, especially since they contained large wooded areas.

o Their objections evidently were enough to influence the other tribes, which now hesitated to occupy their allotments at all.

- With the people gathered at Shiloh, however, Joshua began allotting again (Josh. 18:2-9).

- The decision on which section was to be received by a particular tribe was still to be revealed by lot.

The Seven Remaining Allotments

The first tribe now to receive terri­tory was Benjamin (Josh. 18:10-28).

- Benjamin’s allotment was small, squeezed between large Judah to the south and the Joseph tribes to the north.

- It extended only about halfway to the Mediterranean from the Jordan. It did include the cities Jericho and Jerusalem.

The next allotment was for Simeon.

- This time no land area as such was assigned but only cities within the large territory of Judah.

- Seventeen cities are named (Josh. 19:1-9).

- Simeon was the smallest of the tribes, number­ing only 22,200 men at the second census (Num. 26:14) and so could fit into smaller quarters than others.

Zebulun received allotment next (Josh. 19:10-16), followed by Issachar (Josh. 19:17-23).

- Both of these terri­tories were small, about the size of Benjamin, but constituted mainly of fine level land in the fertile Esdraelon Valley.

- Zebulun bordered on Issachar’s northwest.

Asher received the fifth allotment, a larger section again (Josh. 19:24-31).

- It lay along the Mediterranean, from Manasseh on the south to Israel’s bor­der on the north.

The sixth allotment was for Naphtali, the last of the north­ern tribes (Josh. 19:32-39).

- Her area was also large, extending from north to south beside Asher.

- She bordered both Zebulun and Issachar on the south.

The last tribe to receive allotment was Dan, whose land was in the south (Josh. 19:40-48).

- This territory was small, between Judah and Ephraim, like Benjamin, which bor­dered it on the east.

- Eighteen cities are listed in the division.

- Because Dan was one of the larger tribes numerically, many Danites migrated. They went far north to Laish, which city they conquered and then renamed Dan (Josh. 19:47; Judg. 18).

Levites (The Priests)

Religious personnel were important to the manner of worship that God had instituted in Israel. One entire tribe was devoted by God to provide this person­nel, the tribe of Levi.

- This tribe was considered by God as a substitution for the male firstborn, spared on the night of the initial Passover, and so otherwise claimed by God (Exod. 13:1-15; Num. 3:40-51).

- Levites numbered 23,000 males one month and older at the time of the conquest.

- Among them, descendants of Aaron were declared to be priests, and the eldest son of the continuing family was designated high priest.

- Priests and Levites administered the tabernacle ceremonies. Priests did the sacrificing and Levites assisted.

- Some persons had to act as teachers, and those persons were the priests and Levites. God had com­manded them to fill this need (Lev. 10:11; Deut. 33:10).

Central Tabernacle

In keeping with the idea of theocra­cy, with God as chief ruler, the main unifying instrument among the tribes was the central sanctuary at Shiloh, the tabernacle.

- As in the wilderness, the tabernacle represented God’s presence among His people. This religious cen­ter was for all the people of every tribe, with no tribe favored over another.

- All could come to the tabernacle and on occasion were commanded to come for their religious expression.


In addition to the revealed, recorded Law, God supplied the priests and Levites with a special device for receiv­ing further information from Himself. This was the Urim and Thummim, apparently consisting of objects, which could be contained in the pocket-type “breastplate” of the high priest, worn on the front of his ephod (Exod. 28:30; Lev. 8:8; Num. 27:21; Deut. 33:8; 1 Sam. 28:6; Ezra 2:63).

- The exact method by which God intended these objects to give the reve­lation is not stated. Whatever it was, when so used, the Urim and Thummim did provide a way whereby God’s will might be known, though perhaps limited to a yes or no type of communica­tion. The question could be voiced and God would use this means to give answer. Only the high priest could use the objects, a limitation which safe­guarded against improper use.

The Urim and Thummim are rather mysterious objects. The Bible does not specifically describe them. Even their names, Urim, “light” and Thummim, “perfection,” give scholars scarcely a clue to their form and function.

- Exodus 28:30 says that the Urim and Thummim were placed in a breastplate that Aaron, the high priest, wore. One of the functions of this breastplate was to reveal God’s judgment, an account of which Moses records in Numbers 27:21. In this case, the Urim revealed what God wanted Israel to do. Saul and David probably consulted the Urim and Thummim through the high priest (1 Samuel 14:36-37; 23:2-4). Biblical use of the Urim and Thummim is not specifically mentioned after the reign of David.

Josephus, first century Jewish historian, wrote about the Urim and Thummim in his Antiquities of the Jews.

- The Thummim, he writes, were twelve stones, which were set in three rows of four stones in the breastplate (3.7.5).

- He describes the Urim as being two sardonyx stones that were placed on the shoulders of the high priest (3.8.9).

- When God wished to guide the Israelites, He often did so by means of these stones. Josephus states:

“God declared beforehand, by those twelve stones which the high priest bare on his breast, and which were inserted into his breastplate, when they should be victorious in battle; for so great a splendor shone forth from them before the army began to march, that all the people were sensible of God’s being present for their assistance.”


Joshua was victorious from the extreme south, near “Mount Halak, which rises toward Seir,” to the extreme north “in the Valley of Lebanon below Mount Hermon.”

- The only people who made peace without being attacked were the Hivites of the Gibeonite tetrapolis.

- It is expressly stated that among those slain were the giants, the Anakim, of whom the spies had particularly spoken years before (Num. 13:33).

- The total number of kings killed was 31, the names of their cities being given in Joshua 12:10-24.

This means that, when Joshua re­turned to Gilgal from the northern campaign, the military strength of the major part of the land had been broken.

- Included was the area on the east of the Jordan from the Arnon River in the south to Mount Hermon in the north, and on the west from below the Dead Sea in the south to Mount Hermon again in the north.

One region had escaped, with Canaanites scattered throughout the land. The plain of Philistia, on the Mediterranean coast­line, was unconquered (Josh. 13:1-6).

- Most of this territory remained in Canaanite hands until the time of David.

Timeline Tribes of Israel Conquest I Conquest 2


1. Archaeology & The Old Testament by Alfred J. Hoerth, 1998

2. A Survey of Israel’s History by Leon J. Wood, 1986

3. All the Men of the Bible by Herbert Lockyer, 1958

4. Bible Believer’s Archaeology, Historical Evidence that Proves the Bible by John Argubright, 2003

5. Archaeology of the Old Testament by Dr. James Borland, 1976 (Liberty Bible Institute cassette tapes)

6. WebBible Encyclopedia online at

  1. Where is Hebron, and what is its religious significance to Jews and Muslims?

    General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

    Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, published an Oct. 28, 1996 article, titled "Hebron: Historical Background and Statistics," on its website that stated:
    "Hebron (Al-Khalil in Arabic) is located 32 km. south of Jerusalem in the Judean hills, and sits between 870 and 1,020 meters above sea level...

    The Hebrew word 'Hebron' is (inter alia) explained as being derived from the Hebrew word for 'friend' ('haver'), a description for the Patriarch Abraham, who was considered to be the friend of God. The Arabic 'Al- Khalil' -- literally 'the friend' -- has a nearly identical derivation, and also refers to the Patriarch Abraham (Ibrahim), whom Muslims similarly describe as the friend of God.

    Hebron has approximately 120,000 (Sunni Muslim) Arab residents [According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) this number reached 166,003 for mid-year 2006]. Hebron's Jewish population, comprised of 45 Jewish families and around 150 yeshiva students, is about 500. Hebron's three Christian residents are the custodians of the city's Russian church. An additional 6,000 Jews [7,000 as of 2007 according to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS)] live in the adjacent community of Kiryat Arba."
  2. "Hebron has usually had a significant Jewish population, although following Arab riots in 1929 most Jews left and did not return until after the Israeli occupation following the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, when numerous Jewish settlements were established outside Hebron. One of Judaism's four holy cities, Hebron is also a sacred place for Muslims.

    The site of ancient Hebron, which antedates the biblical record, has not been precisely determined. The Bible first mentions Hebron in connection with Abraham. The cave of Machpelah (also called the Cave of the Patriarchs; now enclosed by the Mosque of Ibrahim) is the traditional burial place of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah. David ruled the Hebrews from Hebron for seven years before moving his capital to Jerusalem, and Absalom began his revolt in Hebron.

    The city has figured in many wars in Palestine. It was taken (2d cent. b.c.) by Judas Maccabeus (see Maccabees) and temporarily destroyed by the Romans. In 636 it was conquered by the Arabs and made an important place of pilgrimage, later to be seized (1099) by the Crusaders and renamed St. Abraham, and retaken (1187) by Saladin. It later became (16th cent.) part of the Ottoman Empire.

    In the 20th cent., Hebron was incorporated (1922–48) in the League of Nations Palestine mandate, and in 1948 it was absorbed by Jordan. As one of the major towns in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the city became a focus of Jewish-Arab tensions. The emergence of the Intifada in the 1980s was accompanied by an escalation of violence, and in 1994 the Mosque of Ibrahim was the site of the murder of Muslim worshipers by an extremist Israeli settler. Under the agreement establishing Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank, the Israeli occupation of Hebron was scheduled to end by Mar., 1996. After setbacks and delays, most of the town of Hebron was handed over to Palestinian control in Jan., 1997."
  3. "Hebron is the site of the oldest Jewish community in the world, which dates back to Biblical times. The Book of Genesis relates that Abraham purchased the field where the Tomb of the Patriarchs is located as a burial place for his wife Sarah. According to Jewish tradition, the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the Matriarchs Sarah, Rebekah, and Leah are buried in the Tomb.

    Hebron has a long and rich Jewish history. It was one of the first places where the Patriarch Abraham resided after his arrival in Canaan. King David was anointed in Hebron, where he reigned for seven years. One thousand years later, during the first Jewish revolt against the Romans, the city was the scene of extensive fighting. Jews lived in Hebron almost continuously throughout the Byzantine, Arab, Mameluke, and Ottoman periods...

    Hebron contains many sites of Jewish religious and historical significance, in addition to the Tomb of the Patriarchs. These include the Tombs of Othniel Ben Kenaz (the first Judge of Israel) and Avner Ben Ner (general and confidante to Kings Saul and David), and Ruth and Jesse (great-grandmother and father, respectively, of King David)...

    Numbers 13:22 states that (Canaanite) Hebron was founded seven years before the Egyptian town of Zoan, i.e. around 1720 BCE, and the ancient (Canaanite and Israelite) city of Hebron was situated at Tel Rumeida. The city's history has been inseparably linked with the Cave of Machpelah, which the Patriarch Abraham purchased from Ephron the Hittite for 400 silver shekels (Genesis 23), as a family tomb. As recorded in Genesis, the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the Matriarchs Sarah, Rebekah and Leah, are buried there, and — according to a Jewish tradition — Adam and Eve are also buried there.

    Hebron is mentioned 87 times in the Bible, and is the world's oldest Jewish community. Joshua assigned Hebron to Caleb from the tribe of Judah (Joshua 14:13-14), who subsequently led his tribe in conquering the city and its environs (Judges 1:1-20). As Joshua 14:15 notes, 'the former name of Hebron was Kiryat Arba...'

    Following the death of King Saul, God instructed David to go to Hebron, where he was anointed King of Judah (II Samuel 2:1-4). A little more than 7.5 years later, David was anointed King over all Israel, in Hebron (II Samuel 5:1-3).

    The city was part of the united kingdom and — later — the southern Kingdom of Judah, until the latter fell to the Babylonians in 586 BCE. Despite the loss of Jewish independence, Jews continued to live in Hebron (Nehemiah 11:25), and the city was later incorporated into the (Jewish) Hasmonean kingdom by John Hyrcanus. King Herod (reigned 37-4 BCE) built the base of the present structure — the 12 meter high wall — over the Tomb the Patriarchs."

    Topics: Israel, Hebron, Cave of Machpelah
    Hebron, one of the four “Holy Cities” in Israel, lies at the center of Biblical Judea. Learn more about "The City of the Patriarchs."
  5. The Cave of Machpelah is the world's most ancient Jewish site and the second holiest place for the Jewish people, after Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The cave and the adjoining field were purchased—at full market price—by Abraham some 3700 years ago. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah are all later buried in the same Cave of Machpelah. These are considered the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people. The only one who is missing is Rachel, who was buried near Bethlehem where she died in childbirth.
    The story of the City of David began over 3,000 years ago, when King David left the city of Hebron for a small hilltop city known as Jerusalem, establishing it as the unified capital of the tribes of Israel. Years later, David's son, King Solomon, built the First Temple next to the City of David on top of Mount Moriah, the site of the binding of Isaac, and with it, this hilltop became one of the most important sites in the world.

    Book Cave of Machpelah Tour
  6. Hebron is an ancient biblical city in Erez Israel located in the Judean Hills, 19 miles south of Jerusalem. Hebron was founded around the year 1727 b.c.e. on Jebel al-Rumayda, a hill near to the present town. At about this time, the Patriarch Abraham purchased the Cave of Machpelah from Ephron the Hittite, and it was here that the Jewish forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their wives were buried.
    Book Gamla Tour Book Hebron Tour
  7. Jericho
    Jericho is believed to be one of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in the world, with evidence of settlement dating back to 9000 BCE, providing important information about early human habitation in the Near East.
    Jericho Daily Tours
    Jericho Daily Tours are open to all members of the public . Small groups in luxury van / minibus. The price for these tours include entrance fees. All tours are operated by expert government licensed guides. Daily tours are perfect solution to a high level and low budget tour in Israel. Free Pick up from major hotels.

    Jericho Private Tour
    The most exclusive way to discover Israel. You are provided with your own private driver-guide who will speak your native language. No need to share the trip with other tourists with different interests. This is your tour, you will decide what to see and what to leave out.Complete flexibility and spontaneity are yours.You will have more time to see more fascinating sites-you will set your own pace.
  8. Local Arabs is the description of the Arabs in what was formerly known as the region of Palestine, which is the Land of Israel.
    It is an insult and it is promoting the perpetration of a fraud by calling the local Arabs nothing else than local Arabs. Prior to the mid sixties they were called Arabs all of a sudden they woke up one morning and decided in order to promote their fraud and deception to assume the title the Jews had since the Romans renamed the Land of Israel Palestine and Jerusalem Aelia Capitolina.
    YJ Draiman

    When is the Israeli government stopping in deluding itself that the Arab/Palestinians want peace? It is time to face reality and stop wasting time on a faƧade in the illusion of peace. The Arabs behavior and actions speak volumes, that they do not want peace. When you teach your children to commit terror and violence, honor terrorists and suicide bombers; there is no one to talk to.

    As long as you have Arabs living in Greater Israel, terror and violence will never stop. It is in their blood and in their culture. Just look around in the world and see how terror and violence is promoted in the Muslim countries and in the Muslim communities in Europe and elsewhere. They are killing each other by the tens of thousands. When is the world at large going to wake up and face the hard reality? That terror and violence must be eliminated at all costs like a cancer or we are doomed to extinction. Death to all terrorists must be applied, no exception. When the Arabs Muslims; are teaching their children from infancy to commit terror and violence. There is no alternative but elimination of the terrorists and those who promote and incite the masses to commit terror and violence.

    It is time for Israel to go in with the Army and start taking over Hebron, the second holiest city for Jews. Every terror attack another section of Hebron will be retaken by Israel the rightful owners. Since the 1920’s Hebron has and is a hotbed of terror. It is time to take some serious actions.

    When you the Arabs teach and train your children to hate and commit terror and violence. There is no one to talk to. The only solution is to expel all the Arabs to Jordan or to the homes and 75.000 sq. mi. of territory the Arab countries confiscated when they terrorized and expelled over a million Jewish families from the Arab countries. Jews who have lived in those Arab countries for over 2500 years and now live in Israel. The Arabs do not belong in Israel. The past has shown that they know only terror and violence. They are killing their own people by the thousands.
    Yj Draiman