The Glorious Land
In all the T’nakh, the word אֶ֥רֶץ – eretz (Heb: ‘land’) occurs 2,400 times making it the 4th most frequently used noun in the Hebrew Bible! Which makes it a pretty important topic!! Eretz first occurs in the Hebrew text in Genesis 1:10 and is translated as ‘Earth’, however, the majority of the time, the word eretz refers to the Land of Israel. The phrase, ‘land flowing with milk and honey’ is
אֶ֛רֶץ זָבַ֥ת חָלָ֖ב וּדְבָ֑שׁ (eretz zavat chalav vd’vesh) and occurs 20 times in the T’nakh and of course always refers to Israel. God Himself ‘coined’ this phrase and used it five times to describe Canaan – the land He was giving to Israel: Exodus 3:8, 17; 13:5; 33:3; and Lev. 20:24.
It is important to know God’s perspective on Israel and the Biblical names for this land. It was also referred to as the Land of Canaan (Gen. 12:5; 17:8) and of course became the land of Israel. Ezekiel said it was, “… the glory of all lands” (Ez. 20:6, 15) while Daniel said it was “the glorious land” (Dan. 11:16, 41). Moses explained that it was a land that God cared for in an unusual way: “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.” (Deut. 11:12)
From the start of their existence, the Jewish people are bound up with the land of Israel. The reason revolves around the calling God had for Abram’s descendents. God laid out His plan at the very start in the Abrahamic Covenant in Genesis 12:1-3, saying, “in thee [Abram and his descendents] shall all families of the earth be blessed.” If the Jewish people were to be a blessing to all people, then they needed to be centrally located to the nations to carry out this task. Israel is a natural land bridge between three continents: Africa, Europe and Asia. Trade routes that connected the known world criss-crossed Canaan making it the hub of the world. God states specifically that the blessing rested upon Abram being in, “a land that I will shew thee.” Gen. 12:1
The Israeli Declaration of Independence, drafted on May 15th, 1948 begins: “The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books.” I love the phrase, “eternal Book of Books” which refers to the Bible of course. The pens that wrote the Bible were held by hands of Jewish writers from the land of Israel. Daniel’s use of the phrase, “the glorious land” certainly is fitting for the place that produced the Bible.