Eretz Israel

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Der moderne Staat Israel

Eretz Israel, literally translated: Land of Israel (Hebrewארץ ישראל "Land of the God-fighters", from ארץ eretz "land", שרה sarah "to wrestle, fight" or שרר sarar "to rule" and the Semitic name of God אל EL), is a traditional Hebrew name for the land, usually called the Land of Canaan in the Bible, where, according to the biblical account, the Israelites settled and lived for several centuries alongside Canaanites, Philistines and other peoples. The name Israel was originally given to Jacob, the progenitor of the twelve tribes of Israel, after he had wrestled victoriously with his divine adversary at the river Jabbok and was blessed by the latter:

„22 The same night he arose and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream, and everything else that he had. 24 And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26 Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” 27 And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” 29 Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. 30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” 31 The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. 32 Therefore to this day the people of Israel do not eat the sinew of the thigh that is on the hip socket, because he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip on the sinew of the thigh.“

The term "Israel" has been revived since the beginning of political Zionism in the 19th century and is also used more frequently in Israel today, but not to refer to the state but to the historical homeland of the Jews. Eretz Israel roughly means the area that has traditionally been called Palestine in European sources since antiquity, occasionally also Southern Syria. The term Palestine also occurs in Jewish sources.

The term Holy Land is also used synonymously. This term became extremely popular historically, especially during the Crusades. In religious terms, Eretz Israel can also be equated with the Promised Land. This name refers to the biblical passages in which the divine promise to give the land to Abraham and his descendants is mentioned, first in Genesis (Genesis 15:18).


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