Bibliotheca Sacra 138 (1981) 302-12.

          Copyright © 1981 by Dallas Theological Seminary.  Cited with permission.

 

 

 

 

                        The Promised Land:

                   A Biblical-Historical View

 

 

                                         Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.

 

 

In the Old Testament few issues are as important as that of

the promise of the land to the patriarchs and the nation Israel. In

fact, Cr,x,, "land," is the fourth most frequent substantive in the

Hebrew Bible.1 Were it not for the larger and more comprehensive

theme of the total promise2 with all its multifaceted provisions,

the theme of Israel and her land could well serve as the central

idea or the organizing rubric for the entire canon. However, it

does hold a dominant place in the divine gifts of blessing to Israel.

Yet there is more to the promise of the land than religious

significance arid theological meaning; an essential interrela-

tionship exists between the political and empirical reality of the

land as a Jewish state and all biblical statements about its spir-

itual or theological functions. The land of Israel cannot be re-

duced to a sort of mystical land defined as a new spiritual reality

which transcends the old geographic and political designations if

one wishes to continue to represent the single truth-intentions3

of the writers of the biblical text. Instead, the Bible is most

insistent on the fact that the land was promised to the patriarchs

as a gift where their descendants would reside and rule as a

nation.

 

The Land as Promise

 

The priority of the divine Word and divine oath as the basis

for any discussion of the land is of first importance. From the

 

   302



The Promised Land: A Biblical-Historical View   303

 

inception of God's call to Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees, God had

marked out a specific geographical destination for him (Gen.

12:1). This territorial bequest was immediately reaffirmed and

extended to his descendants as soon as Abraham reached

Shechem (Gen. 12:7).

Thus Alt was certainly wrong in rejecting the land as a part of

the original promise. Noth was closer to the mark when he de-

clared that the promise of both the land and the seed was part of

the original covenant to the patriarchs.4

So solemn was this covenant with its gift of the land5 that

Genesis 15:7-21 depicted God alone moving between the halves

of the sacrificial animals after sunset as "a smoking furnace and

a flaming torch" (v. 17; all translations are the author's unless

noted otherwise). Thus He obligated Himself and only Himself to

fulfill the terms of this oath. Abraham was not asked or required

likewise to obligate himself. The total burden for the delivery of

the gift of the land fell on the divine Provider but not on the

devotion of the patriarch. As if to underscore the permanence of

this arrangement, Genesis 17:7, 13, 19 stress that this was to

be a MlAOf tyriB;, "an everlasting covenant."

 

Boundaries of the Land

 

The borders of this land promised to Abraham were to run

"from the River Egypt [Myirac;mi rhan;.mi] to the Great River, the River

Euphrates" [trAp;-rhan; ldoGAha rhAn.Aha] (Gen. 15:18). Or in the later words

of the oft-repeated pairs of cities, the land included everything

"from Dan to Beersheba" (Judg. 20:1; 1 Sam. 3:20; 2 Sam. 3:10;

17:11; 24:2, 15; 1 Kings 4:25 [Heb. 5:5]; and in reverse order, 2

Chron. 30:5). These two cities marked the northernmost and

southernmost administrative centers rather than sharply de-

fined boundary lines.

Even though a number of evangelical scholars have wrongly

judged the southern boundary of the "River Egypt" to be the Nile

River,6 it is more accurately placed at the Wadi el-'Arish which

reaches the Mediterranean Sea at the town of El-'Arish, some

ninety miles east of the Suez Canal and almost fifty miles south-

west of Gaza (cf. Num. 34:2, 5, Ezek. 47:14, 19; 48:28).

Amos 6:14 likewise pointed to the same limits for the south-

ern boundary: the "brook of the Arabah" (hbArAfEhA lHana) which flows

into the southern tip of the Dead Sea. Other marks on the same

southern boundary are the end of the Dead Sea (Num. 34:3-5),



304                 Bibliotheca Sacra-October-December 1981

 

Mount Halak (Josh. 11:17), the Wilderness of Zin (Num. 13:21),

Arabah (Deut. 1:7), Negeb (Deut. 34:1-3), and "Shihor

opposite Egypt" (Josh. 13:3-5; 1 Chron. 13:5).7

The western boundary of the land was "the Sea of the Philis-

tines," that is, the "Great Sea" (Num. 34:6; Josh. 1:4; Ezek.

47:20; 48:28) or Mediterranean Sea, while the eastern boundary

was the eastern shore of the Sea of Kinnereth, the Jordan River,

and the Dead Sea (Num. 34:7-12).

Only the northern boundary presented a serious problem.

The river that bordered off the northernmost reaches of the

promised land was called "the great river" which was later

glossed, according to some, to read "the River Euphrates" in

Genesis 15:18; Deuteronomy 1:7; and Joshua 1:4. In Exodus

23:31 it is simply "the river."

But is the Euphrates River to be equated with the Great

River? Could it not be that these are the two extremities of the

northern boundary? This suggestion proves to have some weight

in that the other topographical notices given along with these

two river names would appear to be more ideally located in the

valley which currently serves as the boundary between Lebanon

and Syria. The river running through this valley is called in

modern Arabic Nahr el-Kebir, "the great river."

One of the most difficult topographical features to isolate is

the "plain of Labwah [or ‘toward, in the coming to’] Hamath"

(tmAHE xbol; bHor;) (Num. 13:21), or just simply Labwah Hamath

(Num. 34:8; Josh. 13:3-5; 1 Kings 8:65; 2 Kings 14:25; 1 Chron.

13:5; Amos 6:18; Ezek. 47:15; 48:1-28). Mazar (Maisler) has

identified "Labwah Hamath" or "toward Hamath" as the modern

city of Labwah in Lebanon. This city, in a forest just to the south

of Kadesh and northeast of Baalbek, was of sufficient stature to

be mentioned in Amenhotep II's stele, as Rameses II's favorite

hunting grounds8 and in Tiglath-pileser III's text along with

Hamath. Numbers 13:21 seems to point to the same "plain"

(bHor;), a district further defined by 2 Samuel 10:6, 8 and

Judges 18:28.

Added to this site are Mount Hor (which may be the same as

Mount Akkar), just south of the "great river" in Lebanon; and the

towns of Zedad, Ziphron, Hazer Ainon (all referred to in Num.

34:3-9; cf. Ezek. 47:15-19; 48:1-2, 28), and Riblah (Ezek. 6:14).

All these towns may be bearers of names similar to some Arabic

village names today, for example: Riblah, Sadad, Qousseir

( = Hazer) or Qaryatein (Hazer Spring).9



The Promised Land: A Biblical-Historical View   305

 

While the precise details on the northern border remain

extremely tentative, the evidence favors some line far to the north

of Dan which would include old Canaanite settlements such as

Sidon (Gen. 10:15) and indeed the whole Phoenician coastal

section from Sidon to the Philistine Gaza (Gen. 10:19).

Meanwhile, the settlement of Transjordania by the two and

one-half tribes seems to be clearly outside that territory originally

promised to Israel. Joshua 22:24-25 clearly implies that Gilead

was outside the borders of Canaan and the portion allotted by

promise. The same implication is sustained in Lot's removal to

Transjordania's Sodom (Gen. 13:12) and in the instructions

Moses gave to Reuben and Gad: "We will cross over ... into the

land of Canaan, and the possession of our inheritance shall

remain with us across the Jordan" (Num. 32:32, NASB). Even

when three of the six cities of refuge were assigned to Transjorda-

nia, they were distinguished from the three that were "in the land

of Canaan" (Num. 35:14). Thus the most that could be said for

Israel's occupation of these lands on the eastern bank of the

Jordan is that it was a temporary occupation but that they did

not belong to the land of promise. Likewise the Negeb in the

south was also outside the parameters of the promise.

 

The Land as the Gift of God

 

Leviticus 25:23, in a context dealing with the Year of Jubilee,

declares that the owner of the land is none other than the Lord.

Indeed the God of Israel is the Giver of whatever the land yields

(Deut. 6:10-11). Thus one of the central theological affirmations

about the land is that it is the gift of God to Israel. Eighteen times

the Book of Deuteronomy refers to the promise of the land made

with the patriarchs, and all but three of these eighteen references

emphasize the fact that He likewise "gave" it to them.10

This land was "a good land" (Deut. 1:25, 35; 3:23; 4:21-22;

6:18; 8:7, 10; 9:6; 11:17), for it was filled with brooks, springs,

wheat, barley, grapes, vines, figs, pomegranates, olives, honey,

iron, and copper.

Yet what God gave He then termed Israel's "inheritance"

(hlAHEna). It was "the good land which the Lord your God is giving

you as an inheritance" (Deut. 4:21; cf. 4:38; 12:9; 15:4; 19:10;

20:16; 21:23; 24:4; 25:19; 26:1). Thus the Owner of all lands

(Ps. 24:1) allotted to Israel the land of Canaan as their special

"inheritance."



306                 Bibliotheca Sacra-October-December 1981

 

Whereas the land had been granted to the patriarchs by

virtue of the divine Word and oath, it was still theirs in theory and

not in actuality. For over half a millennium it was only the land of

their sojourning; they did not as yet possess it. Then under

Joshua's conquest the ancient promise was to be made a reality.

Since the land was a "gift, " as Deuteronomy affirmed in some

twenty-five references (Deut. 1:20, 25; 2:29; 3:20; 4:40; 5:16; et

passim), Israel had but to "possess" (wrayA) it (Deut. 3:19; 5:31;

12:1; 15:4; 19:2, 14; 25:19). This does not mean that the idea of

taking the land by force or conquest was contradictory to the idea

of its bestowal as a gift.11 As Miller correctly reconciled the situa-

tion, God's overthrow of the enemy would be the way in which He

would finally allow Israel to take possession of the land.12 The two

notions come together in the expression, "The land which

Yahweh gives you to possess."

If it be objected, as it surely has, that such action on God's

part is pure chauvinism and unfair partiality, it should be re-

membered that Deuteronomy had already spoken of the same

divine replacement of former inhabitants in Transjordania. The

Emim, Horites, and Zamzummim had been divinely dispos-

sessed and destroyed (Deut. 2:9, 12, 21) and their lands had been

sovereignly given to Moab, Edom, and Ammon. The comparison

of their situation with Israel's had not been missed by the writer

(2:12). In fact Amos 9:7 reviews several other exoduses Yahweh

had conducted in the past: the Philistines from Crete and the

Syrians from Kir of Mesopotamia, not to mention the

Ethiopians.

Accordingly, as the conquest came to an end, what the pa-

triarchs had enjoyed solely in the form of promissory words

except for a burial plot or two was now to be totally possessed.13

Yet this introduced another enigma, namely, the gap be-

tween the gift of the whole land and the reality of Israel's partial

conquest and control of the land. On the one hand Yahweh

promised to drive out the inhabitants of Canaan "little by little"

(Ffam; Ffam;) (Exod. 23:30-33), and Joshua made war "a long time"

(MyBira MymiyA) (Josh. 11:18). On the other hand the Canaanites were

destroyed "quickly" (rhema) (Deut. 7:22; 9:3).14 Furthermore not

only is the speed with which the conquest was completed an

issue; but also the extent of the conquest is a problem (cf. Josh.

12:10-23 with 15:63; 17:12; Judg. 1:21-22, 29). But the contrast-

ing statements on the speed of the conquest are relative only to the

magnitude of the work that was to be done. Where the conquest



The Promised Land: A Biblical-Historical View               307

 

is presented as fait accompli, it is so from the standpoint of the

territory having been generally secured from the theocratic per-

spective (even though there were many pockets of resistance that

needed to be flushed out and some sites that needed to be recap-

tured several times since the fortunes of warfare tended to seesaw

back and forth as positions frequently changed hands).

Nevertheless the inheritance remained as a gift even when

the actual possession of the land lagged far behind the promise.

An identical conundrum can be found by comparing the various

provisions for "rest" (HaUn, Exod. 33:14: hHAUnm;, Deut. 12:9) in the

"place" that the Lord had chosen to "plant" His people. Whereas

Israel had not yet come to the "resting place" and to the inheri-

tance of the land (Deut. 12:9), by the time Joshua had completed

his administration "The LORD [had given] them rest on every

side, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers .... Not

one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house

of Israel failed: all came to pass" (Josh. 21:44-45, NASB).15

Why then, it might be asked, was David still expecting this

rest as a future hope (2 Sam. 7:10-11)? And why was Solomon,

that "man of rest," expecting it (1 Kings 8:56; 1 Chron. 22:9)?

The solution to this matter is that even the emphasis of Joshua

in 21:44-45 was on the promised word which had not failed

Israel, nor would it. But whether any given generation has re-

mained in the land has depended on whether it has set a proper

value on God's promised inheritance.

Such conditionality did not "pave the way for a declension

from grace into law," as von Rad suggested16; neither does the

conditional aspect of any single generation's participation in the

blessings offered in the Davidic covenant contradict the eternal-

ity of their promises. The "if" notices in this covenant (1 Kings

2:4; 8:25; 9:4-5; Pss. 89:29-32: 132:12; cf. 2 Sam. 7:14-15) re-

ferred only to any future generation's participation in the bene-

fits of the covenant, but they did not affect the transmission or

the certainty of God's eternal oath.17 The ownership of the land

(as a gift from God) is certain and eternal, but the occupation of

it by any given generation is conditioned on obedience.

Therefore neither the days of Joshua nor those of David could

be used as a kind of blank check for any subsequent generation to

rest on their fathers' laurels. Indeed, the word of promise could

also be theirs, if they would enter not only into the material

resting place, but if they too would appropriate that rest by faith

as did Caleb and Joshua (Ps. 95:7-11; cf. Rom. 9-11).



308                Bibliotheca Sacra-October-December 1981

 

Loss of the Land

 

The history and theology of the land divides right at this

point. In the succinct vocabulary of Brueggemann,18 the Jordan

is "the juncture between two histories." In the one "history is one

of landlessness on the way to the land" and in the other it is

"landed Israel in the process of losing the land." Thus the sine qua

non for continued enjoyment of life in the land is obedience that

springs from a genuine love and fear of God. Failure to obey could

lead to war, calamity, loss of the land, or death itself (Deut. 4:26).

Many of the laws were tied directly to the land and Israel's

existence on it, as indicated by the motive clauses or introductory

words found in many of them.19 In fact when evil was left un-

checked and was compounded, it caused the land to be defiled

and guilty before God (Deut. 21:23; 24:4). This point could not

have been made more forcefully than it is in Leviticus 26 and

Deuteronomy 28. Naturally no nation or individual has the right

to interpret any single or isolated reverse or major calamity in life

as an evidence of divine love which is seeking the normalization of

relationships between God and man. Yet Israel's prophets were

bold to declare with the aid of divine revelation that certain

events, especially those in related series, were indeed from the

hand of God (e.g., Amos 4:6-12 and Hag. 1:4-7).

The most painful of all the tragedies would be the loss of the

land (Lev. 26:34-39). But such a separation could never be a

permanent situation; how could God deny Himself and fail to

fulfill His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Lev. 26:42)?

As surely as the judgments might "overtake" (Deut. 28:15, 43; cf.

Zech. 1:6) future generations, just as surely would every prom-

ised blessing likewise "overtake" (Deut. 28:2) them the moment

"repentance" (bUw) began (Deut. 30:2, 6, 8, 10; cf. Zech. 1:6).20

Forsaking the covenant the Lord made with the fathers would

lead to an uprooted existence (Deut. 30:24-28) until God once

more restored the fortunes of Israel.

 

The Prophets and the Promise of a Return

 

The "headwaters" of the "return" promises, as Martens

states in one of the first studies of land theology in the prophets,21

are in Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Both of these men had experienced

firsthand the loss of land; yet together they contain twenty-five



The Promised Land: A Biblical-Historical View               309

 

explicit statements about return to the land22 and five texts with

indirect announcements of return.23

Jeremiah's characteristic formula for the restoration of

Israel to the land is "restore the fortunes (or captivity)" (tUbw;-tx,

yTib;wa).  Twelve of its twenty-six occurrences in the Old Testament

are found in Jeremiah (e.g., 29:14; 30:3; 32:44). Ezekiel on the

other hand usually casts his message in a three-part formula

(e.g., Ezek. 11:17; 20:41-42; 36:24; 37:21): (a) "I will bring

(Hiphil of xcAyA) you from the people"; (b) "I will gather (Piel of CbaqA)

you from the lands"; (c) "I will bring (Hiphil of xOB) you into the

land of Israel."24

In one of the most striking passages in the prophets, Yahweh

pledges that His promise to restore Israel's fortunes (Jer. 33:26)

will be as dependable and as certain as His covenant with day and

night (33:20, 25).

While the sheer multiplicity of texts from almost every one of

the prophets is staggering, a few evangelicals insist that this

pledge to restore Israel to her land was fulfilled when Zerubbabel,

Ezra, and Nehemiah led their respective returns from the Babylo-

nian Exile. But if the postexilic returns to the land fulfilled this

promised restoration predicted by the prophets, why then did

Zechariah continue to announce a still future return (10:8-12) in

words that were peppered with the phrases and formulas of such

prophecies as Isaiah 11:11 and Jeremiah 50:19?

Such a return of the nation Israel to the land could come only

from a literal worldwide assemblage of Jews from "the four cor-

ners of the earth" (Isa. 11:12). The God who promised to bring

spiritual and immaterial blessings will also fulfill the material,

secular, and political blessings in order to demonstrate that He is

indeed Lord of the whole earth and all that is in it.

The question as to whether the return follows a national

spiritual awakening and turning to the Lord or vice versa is

difficult. Sometimes the prophets seem to favor the first, as in

Deuteronomy 30, and sometimes it appears that the return pre-

cedes any general repentance, as in Ezekiel 36:1-37:14 and

perhaps in Isaiah 11. But there can be no question about a future

return in any of the prophets.

 

The New Testament and the Promise of the Land

 

For Paul, no one of the previous promises has changed--not

even the promise of the land. Since the Old Testament has an



310                 Bibliotheca Sacra-October-December 1981

 

authority equal to that of the New Testament, the permanency

and directness of the promise of the land to Israel cannot be

contravened by anything allegedly taught in the New Testament.

Tal is wide of the mark when he summarizes the view that the Old

Testament can be set aside now that the New Testament era has

dawned.25  He holds that all geopolitical rights promised in the old

covenant have been cancelled and that the best that Israel can

hope for now is to be part of the new people of God, the church,

but without nationality, land, or statehood. But such a view does

not square with either the Old covenant or the New covenant.

The most significant passage on this subject in the New

Testament is Romans 9-11, especially 11:11-36. For Paul,

Israel's restoration to the favor and blessing of God must come in

"full number" or as the RSV puts it, "full inclusion" (plh<rwma,

Rom. 11:12; cf. plh<rwma tw?n e]qnw?n in 11:25). Thus Israel is and

remains God's link to her own future as well as the link to the

future of the nations. For if her temporary loss of land and

failures have fallen out to the spiritual advantage of the

world and their reconciliation to God, her acceptance will signal

her "life from the dead" (11:15).

"And so all Israel will be saved" (Rom. 11:26) in accordance

with the predictions of Isaiah 27:9 and 59:20-21. The "and so"

(kai> ou!twj) probably points back to verse 25 and the "mystery" of

the temporary failure of Israel until the full number of the Gen-

tiles comes in (cf. Luke 21:24). Then, in that future moment, "all

Israel will be saved" pa?j  ]Israh>l swqh<setai). This is not a matter

of individual salvation nor a matter of converting to a Gentile

brand of Christendom, but it is a matter of God's activity in

history when the nation shall once again, as in the days of

blessing in the past, experience the blessing and joy of God

spiritually, materially, geographically, and politically.

The main lines of Paul's argument in Romans 9-11 are clear

and in complete agreement with the promise of the land to the

nation of Israel in the Old Testament. Therefore one ought not

detract from or minimize the full force of this blunt witness to

God's everlasting work on behalf of Israel. For herein lies one of

the greatest philosophies of history ever produced: Israel is God's

watermark on secular history that simultaneously demonstrates

that He can complete in time and space what He promised to do

and that He, the Owner and Ruler of all nations, geography, and

magistrates, will deal severely with those nations that mock,

deride, parcel up, and attack Israel (e.g., Joel 3:1-5). Those that



The Promised Land: A Biblical-Historical View   311

 

attempt to do so either in the name of the church or the name of

political and economic expediency will answer to the God of

Israel.

Yes, Israel is the "navel" of the earth (Ezek. 38:12; cf. 5:5)26 in

more ways than one. The mark of God's new measure of grace,

not only to Israel as a nation but also to all the nations and

Gentiles at large, will be Israel's return to the land and enjoyment

of it in the millennium.

 

Notes

1 H. H. Schmid, "Crx," Theologisches Handworterbuch zum Alten Testament,

Ernst Jenni and Claus Westermann, eds. (Munich: Chr. Kaiser Verlag, 1971),

1:227-35, esp. 234; and "hmdx," pp. 58-59, cited by Elmer Martens, "Motivations

for the Promise of Israel's Restoration to the Land in Jeremiah and Ezekiel" (Ph.D.

diss., Claremont Graduate School, 1972), p. 2.

2 For a discussion which organizes the total message of the Bible around the

promise, see Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Toward an Old Testament Theology (Grand

Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1978).

3 The hermeneutic claimed here is that which was set forth by E. D. Hirsch,

Validity in Interpretation (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1967), esp.

chap. 1. Also see Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., "The Current Crisis in Exegesis and the

Apostolic Use of Deuteronomy 25:4 in I Corinthians 9:8-10," Journal of the

Evangelical Theological Society 21 (1978):3-18.

4 See Kaiser, Toward an Old Testament Theology, pp. 89-91, 58-59.

5 Cf. Genesis 13:15, 17; 24:7; 26:3-5: 28:13-14; 35:12: 48:4; 50:24.

6 The argument is usually based on the fact that the Hebrew word rhAnA is

consistently restricted to large rivers. However, the Hebrew is more frequently lHana

(= Arabic wady) instead of the rhAnA of Genesis 15:18 which may have been

influenced by the second rhAnA in the text (J. Simons, The Geographical and

Topographical Texts of the Old Testament [Leiden: E. J. Brill, 19591, p. 96, sec.

272). In the Akkadian texts of Sargon II (716 B.C.) it appears as nahal musar

(James B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testa-

ment (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969), p. 286; also Esarhad-

don's Arza(ni) or Arsa = Arish(?), (ibid., p. 290). See Bruce K. Waltke, "River of

Egypt," Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zonder-

van Publishing House, 1975), 5:121: and J. Dwight Pentecost, Prophecy for

Today (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1961), p. 65. An interesting

case for the Nile is made by H. Bar-Deroma in "The River of Egypt (Nahal

Mizraim)," Palestinian Exploration Quarterly 92 (1960):37-56.

7 Simons argues that Shihor is not a branch of the Nile, the old Pelusiac or

easternmost branch of the Nile - which is never a lHana according to K. A. Kitchen

("Egypt, Brook of," Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand

Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 197512:224-25), but is the Wadi el-'Arish

(Simons, Geographical and Topographical Texts, p. 104).

8 Benjamin Mazar, "Canaan and the Canaanites," Bulletin of the American

Schools of Oriental Research 102 (1946):9. Cf. Simons, Geographical and

Topographical Texts, pp. 99-102; George W. Buchanan, The Consequences of the

Covenant (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1970), pp. 91-109; Yohanan Aharoni, The Land of

the Bible, tr. Anson F. Rainey (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1967), pp. 65-67;

and Yehezkel Kaufmann, The Biblical Account of the Conquest of Palestine

(Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1953), pp. 48-56. Is the Myirac;mi xObl;-dfa of 2 Chronicles



312                 Bibliotheca Sacra-October-December 1981

 

26:8 of sufficient weight to offset this interpretation, or is it merely an imitation of

the older tmAHE xObl;-dfa as Simons argues (Geographical and Topographical Texts, p. 101)?

9 See Buchanan, The Consequences of the Covenant, pp. 99-101.

10 This point is made by Patrick D. Miller, Jr., "The Gift of God: The Deuterono-

mic Theology of the Land," Interpretation 23 (1969):454. The references he gives

are Deuteronomy 1:8, 35; 6:10, 18, 23; 7:13; 8:1:9:5; 10:11; 11:9, 21; 19:8; 26:3,

15; 28:11: 30:20: 31:7; 34:4.

11 Von Waldow felt these two ideas were "self-contradictory" (Hans E. von

Waldow, "Israel and Her Land: Some Theological Considerations," A Light unto My

Path, eds. Howard N. Bream et al [Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 19741,

p. 502).

12 Miller, "The Gift of God," p. 455.

13 For further development of this thought see Kaiser, Toward an Old Testa-

ment Theology, pp. 124-36.

14 For a full statement of this problem, see G. Ernest Wright, "The Literary and

Historical Problem of Joshua 10 and Judges 1," Journal of Near Eastern Studies

5 (1946):105-14. For a partial evangelical response, see Kenneth Kitchen, Ancient

Orient and Old Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1964).

15 See Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., "The Promise Theme and the Theology of Rest,"

Bibliotheca Sacra 130 (April-June 1973):135-50.

16 Gerhard von Rad, "The Promised Land and Yahweh's Land in the Hex-

ateuch," in The Problem of the Hexateuch and Other Essays, tr. E. W. T. Dicken

(New York: McGraw-Hill Co., 1966), p. 91. Also see von Rad, "There Remains Still a

Rest for the People of God: An Investigation of a Biblical Conception," in The

Problem of the Hexateuch, pp. 94-102.

17 See Kaiser, Toward an Old Testament Theology, pp. 61-66, 92-94.

18 Walter Brueggemann, The Land (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977), pp.

71-72. See also the mammoth tome by W. D. Davis, The Gospel and the Land

(Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1974), esp. pp. 36-48.

19 This fine point is made by Miller, "The Gift of God," pp. 459-60. The instances

from Deuteronomy he lists are 15:1ff.; 16:18-20; 17:14ff.; 18:9ff.; 19:1ff.; 19:14;

21:1 ff. ; 21:22ff. ; 24:1-4; 25:13-16.

20 Cf. Kaiser, Toward an Old Testament Theology, pp. 137-39, 198, 223.

21 Martens, "Motivations for the Promise of Israel's Restoration," p. 12. See also

the earlier study of Hans-Reudi Weber, "The Promise of the Land: Biblical Inter-

pretation and the Present Situation in the Middle East," Study Encounter 7

(1971): 7-10 (="La Promesse de la Terre," Foi et Vie, 71 [19721:19-46).

22 Martens listed these explicit ones as Jeremiah 3:11-20: 12:14-17; 16:10-18:

23:1-8; 24; 28:1-4; 29:1-14: 30:1-3; 30:10-11; 31:2-14; 31:15-20; 32:1-44;

42:1-22; 50:17-20; Ezekiel 11:14-21; 20:39-44: 34:1-16: 35:1-36:15; 36:16-36:

37:1-14; 37:15-28; 39:21-29.

23 The indirect ones were Jeremiah 30:17b-22: 31:23-25; 33:1-18; Ezekiel 28:20-26:

34:17-31 (Martens, "Motivations for the Promise of Israel's Restoration," pp. 172-96).

24 Ibid., pp. 164-72.

25 Uriel Tal, "Jewish Self-Understanding and the Land and State of Israel,"

Union Seminars Quarterly Review 26 (1970):353-54.

26 But seethe brilliant essay by Shermaryahu Talmon, "The 'Navel of the Earth'

and the Comparative Method," in Scripture in History and Theology: Essays in

Honor of J. Coert Rylaarsdam, eds. Arthur L. Merrill and Thomas W. Overholt

(Pittsburgh: Pickwick Press, 1977), pp. 243-68. He concluded thatCr,xAhA rUBFa does

not mean a mountain peak that serves as the center of all the surrounding

landscape, but that it is a plateau, a level plain nested on a mountain. The

Septuagint o]mfaloj, "navel," is unwarranted when judged by biblical and

contextual considerations.

 

 

This material is cited with gracious permission from:

Dallas Theological Seminary

            3909 Swiss Ave.

            Dallas, TX   75204

            www.dts.edu

Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at:  thildebrandt@gordon.edu