The Size of Israel's Future Land
Part Ten - The Size of Israel's Future Land
The Measure of the land
The Scriptures declare that the land promised by God will cover a much larger portion of land then Israel has ever possessed. The exact extent of this land is debated by scholars for at least two reasons. First of all, some of the locations used to define Israel’s future borders are difficult to pinpoint in light of our present knowledge of the ancient land.
When the Lord originally promised the land to Abraham, He stated that the borders would be “from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates” (Gen. 15:18). Though the river Euphrates is easy to discern, one might question as to what extent of the river Euphrates is God using as a border. Is He talking of just the Northern most portion or is He talking about the whole length of the River encompassing much of modern Saudi Arabia and Iraq? The river of Egypt may be the Nile yet others see it as other possible rivers located in the Northern part of the Sinai. The North, South, East, and West boundaries are given more specifically in Ezekiel 47:15-20 however, like the information given in Gen. 15, there is much debate over where some of these places are located.
The second problem in determining the boundaries and size of the future Kingdom comes from the text of Ezekiel 48. In Ezekiel 48 we are told how the land is going to be disbursed among the tribes. However the exact measurements of these equal portions is not given with the exception of the Sacred portion. The measurement of the sacred portion does equal the width (v. 8)(East to West) of the other 12 portions however since Ezekiel never tells us the measure of the other portions we are no further ahead. The central part of the sacred portion does have specific measurements. From these measurements one can determine the length (North to South) and the width (East to West) of this central segment however this too does not help us to determine the over all size of the portions for two reasons.
Reason one, in giving the dimensions of this portion, Ezekiel leaves out what measurement he is using to get his results. He says one portion is 25,000 wide and 10,000 long but never tells us if he is speaking of cubits, rods, inches, meters or whatever else might be used for measure. Many of the English versions substitute the word cubit but it is usually listed in italics indicating that it is not part of the Hebrew text. In prior chapters where measurements are given, Ezekiel uses both rods and cubits but nothing is given in this chapter to tell us if he is using either of these measurements.
Reason two, even if Ezekiel is using rods or cubits, the measurements only tell us the size of the central part of the sacred portion. We can guess that the sacred portion is the same length (North to South) as the other portions and if this is true, we should be able to determine the length of the nation. However, unlike the width (East to West), Ezekiel never states that the other12 portions are the same length (North and South) as the sacred portion. Therefore, until additional archaeological information becomes available, the certainty of the borders will be left in question.
To illustrate my point let me give a few examples. It is unlikely that the measurement is a cubit as that is only 18” in length. This would mean that the center of the sacred portion would be approximately 6 miles wide and 6 miles long. Not much room to put the tribe of Levi, the Temple, and the city Jerusalem. If it is a rod, which measures 11 feet, the center of the sacred portion would be 50 miles by 50 miles in size. These measurements would appear more accurate but there is no certainty. If these figures are accurate, and the remaining 2 parts of the sacred portion on either side of the central portion are equal in measurement to the central portion then we can draw some conclusions about its overall size. Using this measurement and guessing that the other portions are equal in size to the sacred portion, we can get a rough estimate of the size of the land. The land received by Israel in the future Kingdom would measure 650 miles long (North to South) and 100 miles wide (East to West) or a total of area of 65,000 square miles. Modern Israel is 8,000 square miles or about the size of New Jersey. If our measurements are correct, and that is a big “if”, the future Israel would end up the size of the state of Missouri. If this much land were to be given to Israel today it would stretch from the Southern border of Turkey to the bottom tip of Sinai and will cover portions of Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon.
Whatever the exact portion of land to be possessed by Israel, we do not it will be spacious and fully able to meet the needs of Israel throughout the Millennium. There will no longer be any questions or controversy over what belongs to Israel.
The Division of the land
Though the size may not be know with certainty, the disbursement of the land is very clear. The land will be divided into 13 equal segments of land, one section for each of the 13 tribes of Israel. Some might ask at this point how there could be thirteen tribes since only 12 are mentioned in the Old Testament. A closer look at the listing of the tribes shows that the 12 tribes came from the sons of Jacob but Joseph was given a double blessing and his two sons each become a tribe (Gen. 48:1-5). When referring to the tribes, the number twelve is used because the tribe of Levi is not counted since it was a special tribe dedicated unto the Lord.
Ezekiel gives us the order the disbursement of the tribes as follows (Ezek. 48:1-29)
Sacred Portion (Levi, Jerusalem, Temple, Prince’s Portion)
Ezekiel tells us that all the portions are equal both in width and length with possibly the exception of the Sacred portion. The sacred portion is the same length as the other portions yet whether it width is the same is unknown. There will be no partiality shown to any tribe as far as the possession of the land.
Ezekiel also tells us that the sacred section is divided into three basic segments which are the same length (North to South) thus lying side by side (Ezek. 48:8-22). The center segment is a section of land given to the Lord. It too is divided into three sections. The northern section is for the priests and measures 10,000 X 25,000 with the temple at its center. The middle section of land is given to the Levites which also measures 10,000 X 25000 and the southern section is given to the city of Jerusalem and measures 5,000 X 25000 with the city of Jerusalem located in the center of this section. The city of Jerusalem will make up a square which measures 4500 on each side. On either side of the central segment are segments that belong to the Prince. These segments will measure 25000 in length (North to South) and their width will be equivalent to the width of the tribes portion minus the 25000 of the central segment. Not knowing the exact width (East and West) of the Princes portion we can only say that the tribes portion is over 25000 in length.