Borders of the Promised Land

The borders of the Promised Land are described by Moses in Numbers 34 (see also Deuteronomy 1:1-8), and hundreds of years later during the Judean exile in Babylon the prophet Ezekiel essentially repeated this same description as he looked ahead to the restored kingdom of God’s people (Ezekiel 47:13-23). The borders included the land of Phoenicia and Damascus, but the actual allotment of the land by Moses and Joshua (Numbers 32; Deuteronomy 3:1-11; Joshua 13-20) did not encompass these areas. When Moses sent spies to scout out the Promised Land (Numbers 13), their route extended all the way to Lebo-hamath, affirming that this was the full extent of the Promised Land as Moses envisioned it. One area difficulty, however, is the exact extent of the northeastern border according to Numbers 34. It is clear that the border passed from Hazar-enan to the Sea of Galilee, but the locations of Shepham, Riblah, and Ain, which are given as markers along this stretch of the border, are uncertain, and this has led to differing opinions regarding whether the region of Hauran was included in Moses’ description as it was in Ezekiel’s description (Ezekiel 47:18). Omitting the region of Hauran, however, would mean that the border passed through the city of Damascus, but this important city is never mentioned in Numbers 34, and this would also make Moses’ description incongruent with Ezekiel’s description in this respect. Thus it is likely that Moses’ description included the region of Hauran. Also, this author has recently found that Tall Sha`f would make a very viable candidate for the location of the town of Shepham (shown on this map), and this perfectly aligns with a border that encompasses Hauran.

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