Old Testament Map & History

OLD TESTAMENT MAP OF KING DAVID was born in Bethlehem, in the south of Judah to Jesse, the son of Obed (Matthew 1:5). David was the youngest son of Jesse’s and grew up tending the sheep. However, it was as a youth in the Valley of Elah where David showed what was to come. He fearlessly fought and killed the Philistine giant-champion Goliath, cutting off his head after sinking a stone from his sling in the giant’s forehead.

King Saul took David in, only to turn against him out of jealousy and “an evil spirit”. The old prophet Samuel had anointed Saul king years earlier, only to have him disobey the word of the Lord. Thus a new king was to be anointed, and God had chosen His servant David.

Samuel aided David in his flight from Saul. Earlier he had condemned Saul per God’s instruction. Saul had been rejected, and thus David’s rise to the throne was ordained by Yahweh making David the righteous and chosen king. Indeed his kingdom would usher in the golden era of Israelite/Jewish history. The kingdom established by he and his son Solomon stretched from the Red Sea in the south to the Euphrates River in the extreme north.

An Old Testament map of the feats and events of King David.

This Old Testament Map depicts the movements of David over the course of his life. The concentration of David’s movements were centered in the central hill country within the tribal allotment of Judah. David was a southern boy, and intimately familiar with the desert wildernesses south of his boyhood Bethlehem. David was anointed king in Hebron, and oftentimes sought shelter in the area as King Saul pursued him with his army.

 

 

EDEN Scholars have sought for centuries to locate the Garden of Eden. The below map provides a look at what many feel may have represented the Bible’s description in Genesis 2:10-14. Though this cannot be verified to any degree of certainty, it is interesting to note that geologists and scholars have concluded the Persian Gulf was at one time a dry river bed. The southern location is just one theory, however, concerning the location of the Garden of Eden.

An Old Testament map of the Garden of Eden's possible location - based on Genesis.

Genesis 2 provides the first Old Testament map of the Bible. It is the first geographical reference in the history of man. The Bible is giving a description of where the Garden of Eden was. Thus, the first Old Testament map is that of Eden, and for centuries scholars have sought to draw that map.

THE PISHON & HAVILAH The Pishon is said to have flowed through the whole land of Havilah. Genesis 2:12 makes special mention of Havilah’s gold being of the finest quality. Interestingly, the river bed detected through new satellite imagery ran through an ancient site known as Mahd adh Dhahab. This ancient mine was one of antiquity’s most well known and profitable gold mines.

A possible map of the Garden of Eden's Pishon River.

King Solomon is believed to have obtained his gold from this mine. The massive amount of gold mined from this area is staggering. Could this area be the Biblical Havilah? Could the dried up river bed be the ancient remains of the River Pishon? The circumstantial evidence certainly matches the Biblical description of Eden given in the Bible.


THE HOLY LAND
 Many of the events on any Old Testament map took place in modern day Israel and Jordan. The ancient kings Og and Sihon , defeated by Moses, ruled kingdoms occupying much of modern day Jordan. The West Bank has been an area of dispute since Abraham. The history of Jerusalem is dominated by conflict.

A modern day map of Israel and its neighbors.

The mighty Anakim occupied the land during the time of Abraham and the Conquest of Joshua. Hebron was their capital city, said in Joshua 14:15 to have been previously called Kiriath-Arba. Arba was the greatest among the Anakim, descendants of the Nephilim found in Genesis 6:4. It is no coincidence the violence in this region continues today, in these very same areas, and for many of the same reasons! The battle is one of a spiritual nature; as it was in the Old Testament, so it is today.

 


A possible scenario of Enoch the prophet as he confronted the Watchers, according to the Book of Enoch.

ENOCH The book of Enoch is one of the most fascinating pieces of literature ever written. It was written by Enoch the prophet , found in Genesis 5:21-24. Enoch was one of only two people in the Bible to not die. God took him up. I Enoch expands on the brief reference to the “sons of God”and “daughters of men” found in Genesis 6. Though not included in the modern era Bible, I Enoch was a part of the Greek Septuagint , and would have been read by Jesus and His disciples. Indeed, I Enoch is recognized as hugely influential in the writing of the New Testament. In fact, many scholars discredit Enoch as the writer because of the New Testament style and sounding of the book. In his book, Enoch describes the fallen Watchers, the “sons of God” in the Bible. He says they touched down on the peak of Mt. Herman, and migrated out from there. The kingdom of Og was located in Bashan, just south of Mt. Herman. Og was of the Rephaim, identified with the Anakim in Deuteronomy 2:11, and a people of great stature. The Temple at Baalbek has puzzled scholars since its discovery. It is one of the world’s oldest sites, and has massive stones weighing 1200 tons! Could this be an ancient temple of the fallen Watchers? Enoch was ordered by God to confront these Watchers. A comparison of Enoch’s geography correlates with an Old Testament map of the region mentioned. By the waters of Dan, Enoch received a vision from God. He then ventured to confront the congregation of Watchers to give them God’s verdict at Mt. Hermon.


TABLE OF NATIONS
 An Old Testament map of Genesis 9, commonly referred to as The Table of Nations. The events in Genesis 6 and I Enoch triggered God’s judgment of the flood. After the flood, it was up to Noah and his three sons to re-populate the earth. The above map shows their migration; Ham’s descendants are seen in green. Shem’s clans are in red.Japheth’s kin are seen in black. Notice the tendency to stay relatively close to immediate family. The Old Testament map below shows some other clans, those that migrated further away.

An Old Testament Map demonstrating the settlement of Canaan by the Canaanites.

A map of the Sons of Noah who settled in Africa & Arabia.

THE SONS OF NOAH & THEIR DESCENDANTS SPREAD UPON THE EARTH FROM ARARAT. THESE MAPS DEMONSTRATE THEIR MIGRATION & SETTLEMENT. SHEM AND HAM TENDED TO DWELL AMONGST EACH OTHER MORESO THAN JAPHETH & HAM.

PALESTINE Palestine was occupied long before the Israelites arrived in the land, and even long before the patriarch Abraham arrived. An Old Testament map of Palestine, also called the land of Canaan, shows a diverse landscape. Every known geographical region exists in Canaan. From the coast of the Mediterranean, to the desert regions of Judah and the Negev; from the lowlands of the Shephelah, to the mountains of the Central Highlands, Palestine covers the spectrum of geography.

A map of the geography of Palestine.

Valleys cut through the land in various places. The Jezreel Valley has seen bloodshed since the beginning of time. It’s strategic importance lay in the fact it led to the heartland of Palestine if approaching from the north. It is in the Jezreel Valley the Battle of Armageddon will one day take place. Megiddo, an ancient city of importance, commands the Jezreel. The Jordan Valley slices through Canaan on a north-south axis, providing the eastern border of the Promised Land. The Philistines occupied the plain of Philisitia. The five cities under Philistine control made up what was known as the Philistine Pentapolis. These cities were Ekron, Gath, Gaza, Ashkelon, and Ashdod. These Philistine cities dominated the Coastal Plain, forcing the Israelites into the Western Mountains.

An Old Testament map may list the Western Mountains as the Central Highlands. The Hill Country of Ephraim was also located in this region. Jerusalem and Shechem dominated the Western Mountains. Shechem became the capital of the Northern Kingdom, while Jerusalem became the capital of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The Central Ridge Route ran along the top of the plateau, and was a vital road in antiquity, as it remains today. Abraham spent much of his time in the southern Negev country. Beersheba was a major city of the Negev, and was home to Abraham for a time. Much of the Abraham narrative, and that ofIsaac as well, takes place between Beersheba in the Negev, and Mamre, near Hebron, both located south of Jerusalem.

Ancient Canaan was a land interconnected with roads and cities, though occupied by a wide array of peoples.

ANCIENT PALESTINE Any Old Testament map will reveal the land of Canaan was a well connected land even in ancient times. Many routes of ancient importance criss-crossed the land. Running on a north-south route, three vital ancient highways dissected Palestine. Starting in the west, along the Mediterranean Coast was the International Coastal Highway. This ancient highway carried trade goods which were vital to the economy of the Ancient Near East. Many different armies traversed this route en route to battle, or perhaps returning from defeat. The ancient city of Megiddo sat astride the Aruna Pass; where the I.C.H. enters the ever strategic Jezreel Valley. Megiddo, perhaps more so than any other city of the time, saw blood shed and war regularly in attempts to control this vital route.
The writer of Revelation foresaw the last battle, the Battle of Armageddon, as being fought in this area. Along the Western Mountains ran the Central Ridge Route. This route pierced the heart of Jerusalem, and connected the ancient city to Shechem, in Samaria. The two cities were Canaanite rivals for control of this ancient route before Abraham arrived.

East of the Jordan, in what would become known as the Transjordan region, The Kings Highway ran from north to south. This route is mentioned in Numbers 21:22 by name. This route ran from Ezion-geber, at the top of the Gulf of Aqaba, northward to Damascus. Caravans ran this route carrying spices and perfumes, along with other products from the Arabian Peninsula.

ABRAHAM was called from the land of Ur, in southern Mesopotamia. The Old Testament map of Israel began with Abraham’s journey into Canaan. It is believed by some scholars Ur was suffering a depression of sorts near the end of the third millennium B.C., which would have explained God’s call to leave Ur. Abraham and his father, Terah, along with his nephew Lot, and their wives, left their home and journeyed to Haran. It is widely held they made this trip around 2000 B.C., though the exact dates vary from scholar to scholar. Haran is likely named after Abraham’s brother, who had died unexpectedly in Ur, leaving his only son Lot behind for Abraham to raise. The most likely route they took from Ur led through the ancient city of Mari.

An Old Testament map of Abraham's journey from Ur to Canaan.

The Akkadians founded an empire in Mari. An alternate possibility would have taken Abraham and Terah up the Tigris River to Nineveh. From Nineveh, another city of Old Testament significance, the party would have traveled west to Haran. This Old Testament map of Abraham’s journey depicts a long and arduous journey. After the crew arrived in Haran, the Bible indicates they stopped for an untold amount of time. Genesis 12 opens up with God’s call for Abraham to leave his father’s household and Haran, and to journey “To the land which I will show you”.

 

An Old Testament map of Aram Naharaim.

ARAM-NAHARAIM This Old Testament map of the Land of the Patriarchs shows the importance this area played in shaping the early narratives in Genesis. It is from this region Abraham’s family lived. Scholars have noted at least two cities, Haran and Nahor, which bear names of Abraham’s kin. Abraham sent his servant to this region to fetch a wife for his son, Isaac. Purity was essential to the ancient Hebrews, later to be Israelites. Intermarriage was forbidden, and oftentimes led to conflict and unrest. It was to this area Jacob, Isaac’s youngest son, fled in haste to escape the wrath of Esau, the oldest of the twin boys. Jacob spent twenty years in the region, before returning to Canaan with two wives from among his kin. The Old Testament map is crisscrossed with journeys by different patriarchs to the same areas.

Abraham entered the land of Canaan using the Wadi Ferah.

ABRAHAM entered Canaan by way of the Jabbok River. He crossed the Jordan where the two rivers meet. This Old Testament map shows how Abraham and party followed the Wadi Farah into the Central Highlands. Genesis 12:6records Abraham stopping near Shechem at “the oak of Moreh”. Shechem, thus, became a significant part of the early history of Israel. Two of Jacob’s sons would put to death the residents of Shechem in retaliation for the rape of their sister. After stopping at the oak of Moreh, the Lord appeared to Abraham in an act of reassurance. Abraham built an altar to commemorate the occasion.

The land of Canaan was a diverse and interactive land in antiquity.

EARLY CANAAN   was a diverse and busy land. Any Old Testament map attests to the number of cities, towns, and villages which sprang up near ancient trade routes, intersections, water sources, hill tops, and valleys. As Abraham entered Canaan, the Central Ridge Route would have led southward to Jerusalem. Bethel, Ai, and Gibbeon sat along this route. Jericho lay 18 miles to the east of Jerusalem. Continuing along the same route to the south of Jerusalem sat Hebron, and Beersheba in the Negev lay to the southwest of Hebron. This Old Testament map makes evident the choice of Joshua to invade Canaan through Jericho . Before crossing the Jordan, Joshua and the Israelites encamped at Abel-shittim. Jericho was a strategic city, as the Israelites would have been able to access the Central Highlands by way of three routes, if the city could be taken. Upon seizing Jericho, Joshua chose the route leading northwest, to Ai and Bethel. They were defeated initially at Ai; a consequence of the sin of Achan. However, the second attempt delivered a fatal blow. This began the southern campaign of the Conquest.

An Old Testament map of the invasion of King Chederlaomer in Genesis in which Lot was taken captive.

CHEDERLAOMER and his alliance of kings from Mesopotamia subjugated the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah . The story, found in Genesis 14, indirectly involves Abraham when his nephew Lot is taken captive by the invading army. The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, along with an alliance of the kings of Admah, Zeboiim, and Zoar, refused to pay tribute in the thirteenth year of their subjugation. Their refusal was met by a brutal offensive by Chederlaomer. He ravaged the neighboring countries on his way southward to the cities of the Plains. This Old Testament map depicts his likely route of invasion. Chederlaomer utterly destroyed the alliance of rebel kings, taking many of the inhabitants captive, destined to likely become slaves, or worse. Abraham was told of Lot’s fate by one who had managed to escape. Along with his Amorite friends, among others, Abraham tracked down the army and over ran them near Dan. He rescued Lot, and scattered the invading force. This led to the interesting encounter with the mysterious Melchizedek.

OLD TESTAMENT MAP

 

The Negev, Israel's desert region in the south, was home to Abraham. He built many wells in the area.

THE NEGEV was home to Abraham and Isaac throughout their sojourn in Canaan. This Old Testament map shows the land Abraham and Isaac journeyed in. The primary city of the Negev, or Negeb, is Beersheba. Remains of the store facility and gate complex at the ancient site date back to the time around Abraham, from the Iron II period dating 900-600 B.C. This region only receives ten to twelve inches of water a year, thus water is a scarce resource in this region. Because of this fact, numerous wells have been dug along the major wadis. Abraham is recorded in Genesis as digging many wells throughout his travels. The Amalekites, and other nomadic tribes, roamed the Negev as well. I Samuel 30 depicts David and his men defeating the Amalekites in Ziklag, a city of the Negev between Gerar and Beersheba. Scripture records the Amalekites had raided Ziklag, overthrown the city, and burnt it to the ground.

 

JACOB & ESAU grew up in the Negev, in and around Beersheba and Hebron. The Central Ridge Route connected the two cities. Esau was an outdoorsman, and sought the wild game found nearby. Jacob, however, preferred to stay with the tents.

Jacob & Esau, like their father and grandfather, dwelt in the Negev during their lives.

This worked to his advantage in Genesis 25:29. Esau had been in the fields all day hunting, and came in famished. He begged Jacob for some of the food he had just cooked. Jacob replied he would only feed Esau in exchange for his birthright. Esau flippantly obliged, and ate his fill. Esau became the favorite of Isaac, while Jacob was his mother’s favorite. Eventually, Jacob and his mother would conspire together to deceive Isaac into blessing Jacob rather than Esau. This would prove too much for Esau, and in Genesis 27:41 he was overheard uttering threats against his brother’s life. Rebekah, fearing for Jacob’s life, urged Isaac to send him away to obtain a wife from their kin in Aram-Naharaim.

A map of Jacob's journey to Aram-naharaim to escape Esau's wrath.

JACOB took flight on a route which must have been very familiar to the Patriarchs; the route to Aram-Naharaim, some 500 plus miles to the Northeast of Canaan. This route is engraved on the Old Testament map of the early Patriarch’s. Jacob took out in haste, fleeing the wrath of Esau. It is interesting to keep in mind Scripture’s description of Jacob as a quiet man, a man that chose to stay among the tents. He was not an out doors type. This journey, taken in haste, would have tested him in ways he had never been tested before. This Old Testament map of Jacob’s flight illuminates the route he would have most likely taken. As stated above, this route was well known by Abraham, Isaac, and now Jacob. Jacob would not return this way for another twenty years.

A map of the Exodus out of Egypt & the possible route taken by Moses.

THE EXODUS After the miraculous crossing, helped by a strong Eastern wind sent by God Almighty, the Israelites escaped into the Sinai. Old Testament Bible maps depict various routes as being taken by the Israelites. A Byzantine tradition claims Jebul Musa, in the southern Sinai, is Mt. Sinai. A monastery was built on the site. This site, however, is unlikely the Mt. Sinai of Moses. Old Testament Bible maps differ on the location of Mt. Sinai as well.

 

Moses sent spies throughout the land to gather intelligence on the people and cities of Canaan.

MOSES moved the Israelites northward from Hazeroth to the Wilderness of Paran, as told in Numbers 13. Previously, in Hazeroth, “the anger of the Lord burned” against Miriam and Aaron for speaking against Moses. From their camp in Paran, God instructed Moses to send 12 spies into the land of Canaan. One spy was to come from each tribe, and they were to scout out the land, obtaining samples of produce, and assessing the size and fortifications of the cities. Joshua was one of the spies, representing the tribe of Ephraim . Caleb was another spy, representing the tribe of Judah. These two great men would play instrumental roles in the upcoming Conquest. Their tribes were blessed because of their faith in God.


NUMBERS 13:21 tells how the Israelite spies searched out the land as far as “Lebo-hamath”, which translates as “the entrance of Hamath”. The spies are said to have cut down a cluster of grapes in the valley of Eshcol, a single cluster which they had to carry on a pole between two men. Eshcol was also the name of an ally of Abraham, in Genesis 14:13. Abraham dwelt near the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol.

The spies of Israel searched all of the land of Canaan. What they found was a land full of giants.

Near Hebron, the spies encountered the sons of Anak, reported in Numbers 13:33 to be a part of the Nephilim . All but two of them reported; “the land through which we have gone in spying out, is a land that devours its inhabitants…”. Only Joshua and Caleb remained faithful, and encouraged the people to go up and take the land God will give them. As a result, God gave Caleb the land of the Anakim. It was during the campaigns of Caleb the Anakim were driven to the Coastal Plain.


 

THE LAND OF GIANTS may sound somewhat fantastical when describing the ancient land of Canaan. However, the Bible paints such a picture. The sons of Anak, the Anakim, are said in Numbers 13 to have been occupying Hebron, and likely the Central Highlands north of Jerusalem. In Deuteronomy 2 the land of Ammon is said to belong to the Rephaim , a people as great as the Anakim, and also connected to the Nephilim giants in Genesis. Og, the giant king of Bashan, was the last of the Rephaim, and king of the Amorites.

The Promised Land was a land of giants prior to Israel's conquest.


Deuteronomy 3:11
 gives the dimensions of Og’s bed as over 14 feet long, and over 6 feet wide! I Samuel 17:40 depicts the battle between David and Goliath, the giant Philistine from Gath. Caleb drove the sons of Anak from their land, and forced them to migrate west, where they merged and assimilated with the Philistines. I Chronicles 20:6-7 speaks of another Philistine giant, “a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot – twenty-four in all.”

The brothers Og & Sihon ruled much of the Transjordan, land east of the Jordan River. They were defeated by Moses.

OG & SIHON were the “kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan” (Josh. 2:10). The Israelites encountered these two Amorite kings in Numbers 21. Moses sent messengers to Sihon, king of Moab, seeking permission to pass through his land. Moses assured Sihon the Israelites would not disturb the land nor the people. Sihon, however, refused and gathered his troops for battle. This proved a fatal mistake, as God gave the Israelites victory over Sihon.

Scripture records his brother, Og, king of Bashan, then gathered his troops. The Lord assured Moses victory, and handed Og over to the Israelites. The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh asked Moses for this land east of the Jordan. These tribes became known as the Transjordan Tribes of Israel.

JERICHO As Moses died, and Joshua rose to leadership, God was ready to advance His people into the Holy Land. Old Testament Bible maps attest to the importance Jericho played in the Conquest. The city was not chosen randomly. If Jericho were taken, the Israelites would control three routes leading into Canaan. After the battle of Jericho , Joshua would move northwest and take Ai. Thus began the Southern Invasion of Israel.

 

THE BATTLE OF JERICHO Old Testament Bible maps shed light on the strategy involved with taking Jericho first. Joshua encamped at Abel-shittim, a natural spot to camp before crossing the Jordan. It was from Abel-shittim the spies were sent out to Jericho. There they encountered Rahab the harlot. After the spies returned safely back to camp, Joshua moved the Israelite camp to the shores of the Jordan. For three days the Israelites camped here. God, then, stopped the flow of the Jordan in Adam, north of the Israelites, and provided a miraculous crossing on dry ground.

JOSHUA SENT SPIES AHEAD FIRST. THEY ENCOUNTERED RAHAB, WHO SAVE THEIR LIVES.
JERICHO WAS ON THE JORDAN PLAINS, AND LED INTO CANAAN. IT’S LESS THAN 20 MILES FROM JERUSALEM.JERICHO BECAME JOSHUA’S   MAIN BASE.
After crossing the Jordan, Joshua moved the Israelites to Gilgal. Before going into battle, however, the Israelites had to consecrate themselves to God, thus, they were circumcised as a nation for the first time in forty years. It was also in Gilgal Joshua encountered a visitor, an angel of the Lord’s, perhaps the archangel Michael. From Gilgal, the Israelites marched on Jericho. The city fell to Joshua, and opened up the way into Canaan.

Old Testament Bible maps, such as the one below, portray the importance of roads such as The Central Ridge Route. Shechem, Bethel, and Jerusalem all rested on this route, and control of this route was essential.


THE BATTLE OF HAZOR The ancient city of Hazor was a key Canaanite city in the north of Canaan. Joshua 11 depicts the Israelite victory over the Canaanite forces at the nearby Waters of Merom. Hazor, according to Joshua 11:10, was the “head of all those kingdoms”.

This victory severely crippled the Canaanite ability to resist the Israelite invasion in the north, and opened up this territory for occupation. The Bible records Joshua and the invading army of Israelites burned Hazor with fire. Excavations have shown that shortly before 1200 B.C., the Upper and Lower cities of Hazor were violently destroyed by fire. Old Testament Bible maps make mention of the Battle of Hazor due to its significance in the Northern Campaign of the Conquest.


THE NORTHERN TRIBES OF ISRAEL would eventually constitute the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Old Testament Bible maps clearly show the size and scope of the Northern Kingdom surpassed that of the south. After the death of Solomon, the Northern Tribes split from the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The southern throne remained with the tribe of Judah in the south, and was headquartered in Jerusalem. The Northern Tribes elected Jeroboam I as their king.

Israel tended towards idolatry more so than their southern brethren. The Northern kings set up places of worship at Dan and Bethel, profaning the name of the Lord. Though much larger and more powerful than the Southern Kingdom of Judah , Israel fell to the Assyrians nearly two hundred years before the kingdom of Judah would fall to the Babylonians.


THE SOUTHERN TRIBES OF ISRAEL were centered around the tribe of Judah, by far the largest and most prestigious of the three tribes. The tribes of Benjamin and Simeon rounded out the remaining tribes. Old Testament Bible maps sometimes group these three tribes under the Southern Kingdom of Judah. In a remarkable testament to longevity, the throne of the southern kingdom never passed from the family of David, in the tribe of Judah. For nearly five centuries the house of David sat on the throne of Judah. The Southern Kingdom fell to Nebuchadnezzar II in 586 B.C.

VALLEY OF ELAH Old Testament Bible maps track the exploits of David from his youth to the days of his kingship. It was in this region many conflicts took place between the Philistines and the Israelites. The Israelite and Philistine armies were encamped across the valley from each other, perhaps the intersection between Azekah and Socoh. Goliath would emerge each morning from the Philistine encampment and stand in the valley shouting his challenge to the Israelite army cowered on the opposite hillside.
I SAMUEL 17 records the encounter between David and Goliath. The young shepherd boy David rose to meet Goliath’s challenge. He slew the giant from Gath with a slingshot. His victory inspired the Israelite army, and they set out in pursuit of the fleeing Philistines. Scripture records the Israelites pursued the Philistines as far as Ekron. Old Testament Bible maps capture the geography of these stories, and shed a light of understanding on the Biblical narrative.

Old Testament Bible maps help shed light on the events and people found throughout the Old Testament. It is difficult to understand the Old Testament at times, and the different place names and locations are often hard to pronounce in their English translations. We hope these maps help shed light on the Old Testament, and the power of God.