A Map of Israel, 1650
This map is an incredibly detailed map of Israel which appears in a Bible printed in Holland around the year 1650. The map was printed before being hand painted. The title of the map is in Dutch and Latin and reads: “Palestine or the Holy Land division: Geographical Descriptions of the Celebration and Resting Places of the Childhood Israelis, Egyptian Nations into the Land of Promises By C.D.”
This map includes not only Israel but the wider region including Egypt, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Red Sea. Unusually, this map is oriented to the west (rather than the normal north-south direction), with the Mediterranean Sea at the top of the map and the Jordan Valley at the bottom. The map shows the Land of Israel apportioned into its various sections according to the twelve tribes, along with a number of different towns and areas such as Jerusalem, Shomron, Shechem, Be’er Sheva, and Jericho.
The illustrator included a number of miniature paintings depicting a myriad of biblical events, such as the spies carrying a cluster of grapes, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah burning, the children of Israel crossing the desert, the people of Israel gathering manna, and Moses receiving the Torah on Mount Sinai receiving the Torah. Even the sea contains pictures, with a prominent drawing of Jonah being thrown into the sea.
At the bottom of the map, drawn in intricate detail, is the precise order of the camp of the Jewish People in the desert, along with the mishkan (tabernacle) which was placed in the centre of the camp. Next to this is a detailed illustration of the vessels of the mishkan completed, including the Ark, table, cherubim, copper sink, Menorah, and incense altar.
Connection to Parashat Pekudei
Parashat Pekudei contains a final summary of the many items that were made for the mishkan, and then tells us that on 1st Nissan, almost a year after the Jews left Egypt, Moses received the commandment to erect the mishkan with all its vessels inside. The building was then sanctified, and the Jews were ready to begin their preparations to continue their journey to the Land of Israel.
Geography teachers can use this map to discuss the various topographical features of the Land of Israel.
History teachers can use this map to discuss the history of cartography and seventeenth-century explorations of the world.
Jewish Studies teachers can use the map’s illustrations of the mishkan to introduce the central role that the structure played in the life of the Jews in the desert. It could also aid with teaching the later parashiot (portions) of the Book of Shemot, when these utensils are described in some detail.
This map, which was originally part of a Christian Bible, can also be shown in Religious Studies lessons when learning about the role of the Old Testament in Christianity.
What area does the map show?
Locate Egypt, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Dead Sea.
Which direction is the map orientated?
Which biblical structure features on the map?
The map includes many illustrations of biblical stories. Identify three of these illustrations.
The map also shows the location of cities and villages named in the Bible. Identify three of these places.
Which vessels of the mishkan are illustrated on this map?
When were these images created?
In what book did this map appear?
Where was the book printed?
Reading Between the Lines
Why would these images be included in a Christian Bible?
How accurate are these illustrations? Are some more accurate than others? Why would this be so?
Why is the map less accurate than a modern map?
What is your favourite part of the map? Why?
Do we have anything in our synagogues today that is connected to the vessels from the mishkan?
Print an outline of the map of Israel and label the ten sites that you believe are the most important. Why have you chosen them?
Add five biblical sites to this map.
How did you place them on the map?