Bible Review 9:2, April 1993

The Holy Land in Christian Imagination

By Robert L. Wilken

The idea of a holy land has its beginnings in ancient Israel and in the Hebrew Bible. Biblical history begins with the call of Abraham to leave his people and his land in Ur of the Chaldees (Iraq) to serve the one God in a new land, the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:1). During the Exile in Babylonia following the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C.E.a, the idea of repossessing the land became the driving force of Jewish hopes (Deuteronomy 30:3–5). The term “Holy Land” became a way of expressing the unique relationship between the people of Israel and the land of Israel (Zechariah 1:13–17; 2 Maccabees 1:7).

Even after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E., Jews continued to hope for a restoration of Jewish institutions in the Holy Land.

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