Genesis, the first book of the Bible, recounts the unconditional covenant God made with Abram, a descendent of Shem, who was one of Noah’s sons. Abram was from Ur, in the land of Chaldeans, which is modern-day Iraq, near the intersection of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, just west of the Persian Gulf.
In Genesis 12:2, God tells Abram to leave his homeland and that he will become a great nation. In Genesis 15:18, God makes an unconditional covenant with Abram– to give his offspring land. As always, in covenants, God is very specific:
“To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”
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According to this specification, the land that belongs to Abram could be what is identified in the below map inside of the black lined border:
In Genesis 16, God instructs Abram to publicly name his son who was born to his wife’s Egyptian slave Hagar, officially giving him an inheritance. His name, “Ishmael,” is again specific, for a reason. First, to signify that God listened to Hagar’s affliction, his name means “God hears.” Second, God describes what kind of person Ishmael and his offspring will be like:
“He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” (Gen. 15:12)
God also made another covenant with Abram, first changing his and his wife’s name to Abraham and Sarah, respectively. Then, telling them that they will have a son, Isaac, who will be born to his wife the following year when she is 91 years-old. God claims that he will establish a covenant with Isaac and his offspring. He also clarifies that this covenant does not extend to Ishmael.
Of Ishmael and his offspring God states:
“As for Ishmael … I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.” (Gen. 17:20-21) And, “… for through Isaac shall your offspring be named. And I will make a nation of the son of the slave woman also, because he is your offspring.” (Gen. 21:12-13)
When Hagar and Ishmael are later cast out by Sarah, God provides for them in the desert. He also reassures Hagar and tells her that he will make Ishmael into a great nation.
With all of the false claims made by people (who know little to nothing about biblical history or geography) about the nation Israel “occupying ‘Palestinian’ land,” many Christians point to the Abrahamic covenants arguing that only Israel can make such a claim about its neighbors. If Israel were inhabiting the land God gave it has a nation, it would include the geographical regions starting from the direction of southwest facing southeast, from east of the Nile river of modern-day Egypt, through the northern part of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and the southern half of Iraq.
Following the Euphrates River northwest, the land belonging to Abraham and Isaac’s descendants would include everything west and north reaching the Mediterranean Sea. This would include most of modern-day Syria, the southern most part of Turkey, all of Jordan, all of Lebanon, and all of Israel, including the West Bank and Gaza strip.
In light of the fact that Israel is surrounded by enemies who also have been at war with each other for thousands of years, it is quite clear that Ishmael’s descendants’ “hands are against everyone.”
In fact, such hostility is remarkable considering where modern-day Israel exists as illustrated in the map below. However, to be more accurate, the Balkans, Belgium, England, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the Ukraine, should not be yellow, but a green-yellow color, as they are 20-40 percent Muslim in certain areas. (Israel is the speck of red in the center.)
Western Europe really looks more like what is represented by the map below. Muslims represent nearly 60 percent of the population of Greece, more than 50 percent of Spain, nearly 40 percent of Italy, 30 percent of Ireland and Crete, and roughly 25 percent everywhere else. These numbers are also lower because they predate the “migrant crisis,” which accounts for higher percentages in Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Scandinavia.