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Our next chapter in Learning about the Old Testament takes us on a search through the background of the Old Testament.
The Old Testament was written in the Near East. The lands of Egypt, Palestine and Israel. I was about to say and section of Greece, Crete etc…but realized that was during New Testament times! Good catch eh?
Anyways, because it took place in the Near East means that it took place among a particular cultural setting as well. Understanding the culture and place helps us to put words and situations into context.
Palestine strategically important
Palestine is the English version of the word ‘Philistia’. This area was situation on the Mediterranean coast in the Near East. It was a strategically good position. It covered the trade routes between Egypt and Assyria. Unlike many of the other countries around it, this was a land the bible tells us that was “flowing with milk and honey”. It had easy access to sea, ample sources of water and more.
This land was originally called Canaan. This was a land that was divided into five geographic areas.
- rich coastal plain
- upland area stretching from hills of Galilee south to Judean hills
- Jordan Valley
- Hills of Transjordania
Understanding the geography helps us to understand why people moved the way they did and why cities were set up where they were (strategic defense).
Current archaeologists are helping us understand the people of Palestine better. They can’t tell us everything, they give us clues regarding people movements and lifestyle, but there are huge gaps in our understanding.
First off because archaeology can’t excavate all of Palestine! Imagine if it could eh? Everything would be dug up with no place for people to live. Or even if they tried only to dig up the important places… people still live there a lot of the time. Plus archaeology can only provide us with an educated guess. They can’t tell us with complete certainty everything we might want to know.
BUT archaeology often validates (that might not be quite the right word) what the Bible tells us. Showing us the historical accuracy contained within the pages of God’s glory. As Allan Harman tells us “The biblical faith rests on the historical basis of the bible.”