Geography, Economy, Etc.

Geography, Economy, Etc.

To understand the time of the kings it is very helpful to have a good grasp of the geography of Israel, its economy, etc.

So they went up, and searched the land from the wilderness of Zin unto Rehob, as men come to Hamath. And they ascended by the south, and came unto Hebron; where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the children of Anak, were. (Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs. The place was called the brook Eshcol, because of the cluster of grapes which the children of Israel cut down from thence. And they returned from searching of the land after forty days. And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land. And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan.Numbers 13:21-29

Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of cattle: and when they saw the land of Jazer, and the land of Gilead, that, behold, the place was a place for cattle; The children of Gad and the children of Reuben came and spake unto Moses, and to Eleazar the priest, and unto the princes of the congregation, saying, Ataroth, and Dibon, and Jazer, and Nimrah, and Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Shebam, and Nebo, and Beon, Even the country which the LORD smote before the congregation of Israel, is a land for cattle, and thy servants have cattle: Wherefore, said they, if we have found grace in thy sight, let this land be given unto thy servants for a possession, and bring us not over Jordan.Numbers 32:1-5

And they came near unto him, and said, We will build sheepfolds here for our cattle, and cities for our little ones: But we ourselves will go ready armed before the children of Israel, until we have brought them unto their place: and our little ones shall dwell in the fenced cities because of the inhabitants of the land. We will not return unto our houses, until the children of Israel have inherited every man his inheritance. For we will not inherit with them on yonder side Jordan, or forward; because our inheritance is fallen to us on this side Jordan eastward.Numbers 32:16-19

The land of Israel was a very fruitful place with very fertile ground that was great for agriculture. The nation was divided by the Jordan River which runs North to South through the middle of the land. The land of Gilead is to the east of the Jordan and the rest of Israel is to the west. Gilead was especially suited for livestock. The land is hilly and has lot of caves in the hills. There is a wide variety of animal life including lions, bears, foxes, camels, cattle, etc. Because Israel borders the Mediterranean, it enjoys a very mild climate that is great for a wide variety of fruit trees and vineyards. It would occasionally snow there.

For the king’s ships went to Tarshish with the servants of Huram: every three years once came the ships of Tarshish bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.2 Chronicles 9:21

Because of the geography and technology of the time, Israel had an agrarian economy for most of its history. There was a monetary system and some level of employment, but most people would be self-sustaining farmers and herdsmen. Although Israel borders the Mediterranean, they only had a limited navy for a few years under Solomon. This is probably due to Jewish superstition about dying at sea. Israel bordered major trade routes that connected Africa with Asia and Europe; they also had an alliance with Tyre, one of the major seaports of the ancient world just to the north of Israel. It is an ideal location for developing wealth and for self-sustained living. They would need very little imports and could literally export anything they had around the world.

And the LORD delivered them into the hand of Israel, who smote them, and chased them unto great Zidon, and unto Misrephothmaim, and unto the valley of Mizpeh eastward; and they smote them, until they left them none remaining. And Joshua did unto them as the LORD bade him: he houghed their horses, and burnt their chariots with fire.Joshua 11:8-9

Among all this people there were seven hundred chosen men lefthanded; every one could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss.Judges 20:16

And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan his son: (Also he bade them teach the children of Judah the use of the bow: behold, it is written in the book of Jasher.)2 Samuel 1:17-18

David smote also Hadadezer, the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he went to recover his border at the river Euphrates. And David took from him a thousand chariots, and seven hundred horsemen, and twenty thousand footmen: and David houghed all the chariot horses, but reserved of them for an hundred chariots.2 Samuel 8:3-4

Because of their alliance with Tyre, Israel was not in danger of invasion from the West. The Jordan river formed a natural barrier to the East. Because the country was so hilly fighting with cavalry or chariots was extremely limited. Israel largely fought in hand to hand combat with archers and slingers. The one exception to this was Gilead. Gilead lacked the natural borders and was constantly being invaded.

But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: A land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.Deuteronomy 11:11-12

The Land of Israel was truly the perfect location from every stand point. This is why God promised it the nation of Israel.


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