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The Earth and the Land

Studies about the Value of the Land of Israel in the Old Testament and Afterwards


Edited By Hendrik J. Koorevaar and Mart-Jan Paul

In the Bible, the land of Israel is more than a piece of ground. It is a theological symbol, because it was an essential part of Israel’s practice of its relationship with God. The land is connected to a lifestyle and to the carrying out of religious acts, like the sacrifices and the celebrations. Aspects of this are the use of the land and the enactment of ecological and humanitarian obligations. In this volume, we concentrate on the religious viewpoints, especially how the promised land can be seen from the Old and New Testament perspective. Before practical conclusions are drawn, it is important to have a good overview of the subject in the entire Bible. The chosen approach is historic-canonical and implies that we use the order of Bible books from the Hebrew canon. Two additional chapters show the Jewish and Islamic viewpoints.

This book has received the Franz Delitzsch Award 2018.

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Chapter 3 The Land in the Books of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers (Raymond R. Hausoul)


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Raymond R. Hausoul1

Chapter 3 The Land in the Books of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers

This chapter explores the place of the land in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. First, the theme of the land in the individual parts of these books will be explored. Secondly, three thematic relationships about the land will be brought into concern: (1) Yahweh Owns the land; (2) Yahweh brings Israel to the land; (3) Yahweh’s presence in the land.

1. Introduction

It has been repeatedly noted that the Old Testament doesn’t only emphasize God’s dealings with his people the Israelites, but also shows how the people are related to the land. Walter Brueggemann states:2 ‘[The] Land is a central, if not the central theme of biblical faith’, and Norman Habel writes that the land ‘could be ranked next to God in importance’.3 Thus the Old Testament notes a fascinating relationship between the Israelites’ habitation both in and outside the promised land.

This chapter will consider the place of the land in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers as a literary unity.4 This approach is relatively new with regard to the Pentateuch. There has been insufficient attention for the literary structure of the Torah:5 ‘Scholars looking at trees have overlooked the forest.’ In the past, it has been suggested that Ex 19:1 to Num 10:10 formed one entirety.6 But given that there is no closure in Num 10:10 and the...

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