Ancient Near East
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Maps & Geography
Mythology & Beliefs
People in History
Timelines & Charts
Israel the Center of the World
Bordering Three Gigantic Land Masses
Little did the descendants of Abraham, also known as the Hebrews, realize what was in store for them as they entered into the land of Canaan. Their relatively small territory was right in the heart of the ancient world and on the borders of three gigantic land masses, Asia, Africa and Europe. Every great kingdom around them, from the north, south, east and west, along with their conquering monarchs would be confronted with Israel and learn about their people, their laws and the holy Oracles of the One whose kingdom will never pass away.
Its not always apparent that the small country of Israel was actually right in the center of the ancient world and lying in a position of extreme importance. Israel was located between the Mediterranean to the west and the Syrian Arabian desert to the east. It actually formed a narrow bridge that connected the great powers of the Ancient Near East. To the south was Egypt and to the north was Syria, Anatolia and northwest Mesopotamia.
Ancient Trade Routes and The Fertile Crescent
In our day and age we think of the world in terms of a planet with nearly 200 independent countries on 7 continents. In the ancient world civilization originated in the Mesopotamian region near the Persian Gulf and migrated from there. A great migration developed upon what is known as the "Fertile Crescent," which was like a great arc of cultivable land that extended from the Persian gulf, up and around Mesopotamia and back down to Israel. By 1000 BC the known world reached as far west as Europe. The major east-west trade routes were established along the Fertile Crescent. Abraham, the first Hebrew actually followed this route from ancient Ur in Mesopotamia, up and around the Fertile Crescent to Haran and down to Israel. When the armies of the east collided with the armies of the west it would happen somewhere along the Fertile Crescent. This brings up an interesting point. Israel was located on the west end of the Fertile Crescent. In order to travel from east to west or north to south one had to pass through Israel.
The Great Kingdoms of the Ancient World
The great kingdoms in the ancient world were Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, Persia, Greece and Rome. They were all, at one time, world governing empires in the known world. What is incredible is that the small country of Israel was located right in the center of all of them. In fact almost every time they collided it was in the land of Israel. The geography of the Near East forced people who traveled from Egypt to Greece to pass through Israel. To travel from Babylon to Rome meant to pass through Israel and to travel from Persia to Egypt meant to pass through Israel. It is no wonder that Alexander the Great gave respect to the people of Jerusalem and their temple.
God's Chosen People
Israel was intended by the Lord to be a light to the whole world and it was to them that the Word of God was entrusted. The people of Israel were called the "chosen people" because "through" them God would reveal His love for all mankind. Abraham was made aware of this when he met Melchizedek and the Lord revealed Himself to him by the name "El Elyon" which signified that He was not just the God of the Hebrews but the "most high" God of all mankind. The LORD chose this small insignificant place to teach the whole world of His great redemptive plan to save the world through Jesus, the Messiah of Israel and the Word of God clothed in human flesh. When Jesus came He came to His home, to the land of Israel (John 1:16), and this was His plan which he foretold by the mouth of the prophets and written in oracles for all mankind to read.
ROM 3:2 "... unto them were committed the oracles of God."
(More to come)
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Table of Contents
The Land of Assyria
The Land of Israel
The Land of Babylon
The Land of Persia
The Land of Egypt
The Land of Rome
The Land of Greece
The Land of Ancient Peoples