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Book: The Bible for the Curious

Chapter: 5. A History of Ancient Israels

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.35686


The land of the Old Testament runs from the Mediterranean Sea eastwards
to the Jordan Valley, and from the borders of modern Syria and Lebanon as
far as Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula. Ancient writers called this land many
names, including part of Syria, Canaan, Retenu and Palestine. It has four
geographical zones: (from west to east) the coastal plain, lowlands, highlands
and the Jordan Valley. The Jordan Valley, including the Dead Sea and
the lake of Galilee, is part of the Great African Rift and forms the lowest
point on the earth’s surface. On a map, it may seem a major barrier but the
river can in fact be crossed at may points quite easily on foot. Beyond it lies
the Jordanian plateau.

Chapter Contributors

  • Philip Davies ( - philipdavies) 'University of Sheffield, (Emeritus)'