How were borders determined in Biblical times?

Author: BibleAsk Team

Borders in Biblical Times

Ancient civilizations set borders between themselves using different methods. One way was by setting markers or border stones as physical markers that identify the start of a land boundary or the change in a boundary. There are several other types of named border markers, known as pillars, obelisks, and corners. Border markers can also be indicators through which a border line runs in a straight line to determine that border.

An example of a border marker in ancient Egypt was the boundary stelae of Akhenaten. Eghptians defined the limits of the religious city of Akhet-Aten, built by Akhenaten as the center of the Aten religious cult which he established. Egyptologists categorize the stelae based on whether they are inscribed with the “Earlier Proclamation,” a general explanation of why the location was selected and how the city would be planned, or the “Later Proclamation,” which gives additional information about the edges of the city.

Also, physical geographical landmarks such as seas, rivers, hills, or mountains were used as boundary markers between countries. For example, the Scripture indicates that the boundaries of the Promised Land were as follows:

South: From the Red Sea, (region of Eilat) to the Sea of the Philistines which would be the Mediterranean Sea near Gaza. [Exodus 23:31; Ezekiel 47:19; Genesis 15:18].

West: The coastline of the Mediterranean – called, in those days, the Great Sea [Numbers 34:6; Ezekiel 47:20]

North: From the Great Sea, or Western Sea – other names for the Mediterranean – through what is Lebanon and Syria today to the Euphrates River in the north [Genesis 15:18; Deuteronomy 11:24; Ezekiel 47:17; Joshua 1:4].

East: From the Euphrates River in the north, extending south, past Damascus, along the slopes on the eastern side of the Sea of Kinnereth (the Golan Height). The Kinnereth is also called the Eastern Sea in Scripture and is what we know as the Sea of Galilee.

All these markers kept borders of countries clear and set but were subject to change with each successive generation.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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