Geography – getting to know the land – 2

Israel is of course a lot of different things – a state, a vision, a symbol, the scenery of history – but most basically, it is a geographical entity, a place, with distinct characteristics of topography, climate, flora and fauna, and natural resources.  Obviously, traveling in Israel (or living there) is necessary for one to get a “feel” for the place, to “know” it.  On the other hand, sometimes even traveling or living in a place runs into the problem of not being able to see the forest for the trees.  Through satellite and aerial photos, of course maps, and written descriptions, we can get a sense of the big picture, of the lay of the land.  This lesson will present some activities and resources to help accomplish this; however, we hope it will be just the initial experience of an ongoing practice of turning to the map to locate and imagine every historical event and personality connected with Israel.


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The Desert Experience – 8

The saga of the 40 years of wandering in the desert  takes up the better part of  two books in the Pentateuch – the Book of Numbers (called Bamidbar – ‘In the Desert’- in Hebrew), and Deuteronomy describe the experiences of the people of Israel in the desert. In this lesson  we will try to examine the different ways the desert experience affected and influenced the people and its relationship to thelandofIsrael. We will do so by closely studying two specific episodes – the story of the spies and that of the two and a half tribes that requested the land outside the promised borders. These stories form “bookends” to the 40 years of wandering in the desert. The sin of the spies resulted in the decree that the nation would not enter the land until all the present generation had died and is therefore the beginning of the extended desert stay. The story of the two and a half tribes takes place at the end of the forty years as the new generation prepares to enter thelandofIsrael. As such they provide an interesting contrast to each other and cast light on the entire period. (more…)

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