What did the people of ancient Israel call their homeland?

trail through Galilee

Trail in Upper Galilee, photo by  Leonid Spektor

It lies between the Arabian Desert and the blue waters of the Mediterranean. A small chunk of land, not much bigger than Belgium, but one of immense spiritual and historical importance to people all over the world

We call it Palestine, Israel, or the Holy Land but what did the Jews of the first century call the land of milk and honey? The land they had fought for, lost, regained, and lost again? The land that had been promised to them by their God?

The Land of Canaan

This name appears over a hundred times in the Bible, most often in a ceremonial or historical context. A bit surprising, since the people of Canaan were the Hebrew’s enemies. Perhaps they used this term to remind themselves that they had wrested control of this territory from their foes by the power of God.

The Promised Land

The Promised Land recalls the covenant between the Lord and Abraham, something never forgotten in all the long years of war and occupation.

The Holy Land

A name first used by the prophet Zechariah,The Holy Land and still used today by Christians and Jews alike.

The Land of Judah

Referred to throughout scripture, from Deuteronomy to the well-known verse in Matthew: But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.

The Land

This was how the rabbis referred to their homeland when they suffered exile in Babylon and is perhaps the most profound title that could be given.

Whatever title they used, the abiding love that the Chosen People had for the land that God had given them was not based on mere patriotism or familial ownership. It was directly tied to their love for God.

Seeing The Land is high on my list of priorities. How about you? Have you been, or do you wish someday to see the Holy Land?
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