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State of Israel
מדינת ישראל
Medīnat Yisrā'el
Location of Israel in the Middle East
Map of Israel
Location of Israel in the Middle East
Location of Israel in the Middle East
Flag Coat of Arms
Anthem: Hatikvah
The Hope
(and largest city)
Official language(s) Hebrew and Arabic
Demonym Israeli
Government Parliamentary republic
 -  Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
 -  Speaker of Knesset Dalia Itzik
 -  Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch
Modern statehood
 -  Water (%) 2
 -  2008 estimate 7,282,000 (96)
 -  1995 census 5,548,523 
 -  Density 324/km2 (34)
839.2/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2007 estimate
 -  Total 188,936,000,000 (52)
 -  Per capita 27,146 (32)
GDP (nominal) 2007 estimate
 -  Total 164,103,000,000 
 -  Per capita 23,578 
Currency Israeli new sheqel (ILS)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 -  Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Internet TLD .il
Calling code 972

This article is about the land and nation named Israel. For the man named Israel, see Jacob. For the Northern Kingdom of Jeroboam I and his successors, see Kingdom of Israel. For the original kingdom of David, see United Kingdom of Israel.

The land of Israel (Hebrew: ישראל, Yisrāʼēl; Greek: Ἰσραήλ, Israēl; Arabic: إِسْرَائِيلُ, Isrā'īl) is strategically located between three major world continents - Europe, Asia and Africa. Because of this strategic location for four thousand years, every 40 years or so an army marches through it.[1] Geographically, it belongs to the Asian continent. Its western border is the Mediterranean Sea. To the north it is bounded by Lebanon and Syria, to the east by Jordan and to the south by the Red Sea and Egypt. Long and narrow in shape, Israel is about 290 miles (470 km.) long and 85 miles (135 km.) across at its widest point. Its total area is 22,145 sq km (larger than Wales, smaller than New Jersey), of which 21,671 sq km is land area.

While Israel controls at least some of its inheritance, much of the land of Israel is under the control of the State of Palestine.


Map of the Holy Land and the territories of the 12 tribes.

By c. 3000-2500 BC the inhabitants seem to have been largely Semitic speaking; they introduced the use of bronze and developed cities. The Bible mentions seven tribes which dominated the region. The country was divided into large numbers of warring city-states ruled over by petty "kings."

The long struggle for its control between factions from the South (Egypt) and the North (Assyria and Asia Minor), in varying political forms, was to dominate the local scene down to the 19th century.

Exodus from Egypt

Main article: Exodus of Israel

The Israelites stemmed from the 12 sons of Jacob (Abraham's grandson), each son becoming his own tribe. The sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Napthali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulon, Joseph, and Benjamin all had an important role in the 'country' of Israel.

The tribes emerged from Egypt under Moses' leadership, followed by Joshua. For doubting their God, they were caused to live in the desert for 40 years until every last doubter had died.

Map Holy Land and 12 Tribes.jpg
The Tribes
Related topics
v  d  e

The Judges

The people of Israel were governed by leaders who were appointed by God. While the judges were in command of the nation, they did good in the Lord's sight, and were blessed. But after each judge died, the people fell into godless chaos, doing whatever their flesh desired. The Lord would then deliver them to their enemies until they repented, and were given a new judge.

The United Kingdom

Main Article: United Kingdom of Israel

The United Kingdom of Israel (1095-975 BC according to Ussher,[2] or 1050-930 BC according to Thiele[3][4]) was a regal government for all of Israel that succeeded to the semi-direct rule over the Israelites by God through His appointed and raised-up Judges. It began with King Saul and ended with the death of Solomon and the subsequent division of the kingdom into Northern and Southern halves.

The Divided Kingdoms

This period began after the death of Solomon when ten of the twelve tribes of Israel revolted against King Rehoboam, son of Solomon. This revolt happened in 975 BC (according to James Ussher[5] or 930 BC (according to Edwin R. Thiele[6]).

The Northern Kingdom, also called the Kingdom of Israel, was a monarchy consisting of the tribes who revolted against King Rehoboam. The Northern Kingdom lasted until 721-2 BC, at which time King Shalmaneser V of Assyria (or perhaps his successor Sargon II) conquered it and carried all of its people off to exile. That kingdom would never again re-assemble.

The Southern Kingdom, also called the Kingdom of Judah, was a monarchy, inclusive only of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, over which the House of David enjoyed an unbroken primacy. This kingdom ended with the Fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC.

Foreign Domination

Exile in Babylon

Persian Period

Greek empires

Hasmoneans and Herods


Israel became a possession of Rome in 63 BC when the Roman Empire made Syria a Roman province. During this time, Israel was known as the Tetrarchy, the Province of Judea, and Syria Palaestina.

Muslim rule

Modern Israel

Satellite Image of Israel

The people of modern day Israel share the same language and culture shaped by the Jewish heritage and religion passed through generations starting with the founding father Abraham (ca. 1800 BC). The Jews have had a continuous presence in the land of Israel for the past 3,300 years.

In the first half of the 20th century there were major waves of immigration of Jews back to Israel from Arab countries and from Europe. During the British rule in Palestine, the Jewish people were subject to great violence and massacres directed by Arab civilians or forces of the neighboring Arab states.


The country of Israel today is long and narrow, located on the eastern side of the Mediterranean Sea. The capital is again Jerusalem, which is roughly in the center of the country. Israel is bounded on the north by Lebanon, on the northeast by Syria, on the east and southeast by Jordan, on the southwest by Egypt, and on the west by the Mediterranean Sea. Before June 1967, the area composing Israel (resulting from the armistice lines of 1949 and 1950) was about 20,700 square kilometers, which included 445 square kilometers of inland water. Thus Israel was roughly the size of the state of New Jersey, stretching 424 kilometers from north to south. Its width ranged from 114 kilometers to, at its narrowest point, 10 kilometers. The area added to Israel after the June 1967 War, consisting of occupied territories (the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) and annexed territories (East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights), totaled an additional 7,477 square kilometers. The areas comprised the West Bank, 5,879 square kilometers; the Gaza Strip, 378; East Jerusalem, 70; and the Golan Heights, 1,150.[7]


Israel has a technologically advanced market economy with substantial government participation. It depends on imports of crude oil, grains, raw materials, and military equipment. Israel has intensively developed its agricultural and industrial sectors over the past 20 years. Israel is largely self-sufficient in food production, except for grains. Diamonds, high-technology equipment, and agricultural products (fruits and vegetables) are leading exports. Israel usually posts sizable current account deficits, which are covered by large transfer payments from abroad and by foreign loans.

See Also

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  1. The New Testament and the People of God by NT Wright, page 3. Fortress Press, 1992
  2. James Ussher, The Annals of the World, Larry Pierce, ed., Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2003 (ISBN 0890513600), pghh. 392-474, 476-477
  3. Leon J. Wood, A Survey of Israel's History, rev. ed. David O'Brien, Grand Rapids, MI: Academie Books, 1986 (ISBN 031034770X), pp. 197-254
  4. Chad Brand, Charlie Draper, Archie England, et al., eds. "Chronology of the Biblical Period." Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003. (ISBN 0-80542-836-4) pp. 291-295
  5. Ussher, op. cit. pghh. 476-482
  6. Wood, op. cit., pp. 257-258
  7. "Israel: Country Studies." Library of Congress, Federal Research Division, November 8, 2005. Accessed November 18, 2008.

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