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Daat Mikra Bible Atlas

February 29, 2012

The new Daat Mikra Bible Atlas is quite unlike any other that I have ever seen.  

The Daas Mikra series is an important  Hebrew language Bible commentary that takes a traditional view of the text while applying some techniques from modern secular Biblical studies, particularly archaeology and language based techniques. 

The series has been slowly appearing in English translation, with Psalms (three volumes) and Job already appearing, and volumes on Proverbs and the Five Scrolls (Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther) reportedly forthcoming.

The Daat Mikra Bible Atlas is structured mostly as double page spreads (a few articles are longer), each focused on a single particular topic.  The selection of the contents shows a strong bias towards religious Zionism (and in particular, for a greater Israel) and a large focus on the Pentateuch – which concerns almost half of the Atlas, unlike almost every other Bible Atlas I have seen.  Note in the contents below the large number of entries for the book of Genesis alone!

Archaeological evidence, when it exists, is cited extensively in the text, always in service of a maximalist reading of the text.  And I certainly never recall seeing a Bible Atlas before with a section entitled “The Future Borders of Israel according to Ezekiel.”

Here are the contents:

  • The Biblical Age:  Historical Survey
  • Geographical Terminology in the Bible
  • Place Names
  • The Lands of the Bible
  • The Rivers Flowing out of Eden
  • The Boundaries of the Promised Land
  • The Geopolitical Importance of Israel
  • Geographical Regions
  • The Negev
  • The Jordan River and the “Land of the Jordan”
  • The Arnon and its Tributaries
  • The Yabbok and Other Streams of Transjordan
  • Highways and Roads
  • International Highways
  • The Descendants of Noah
  • The Canaanites
  • The Borders of Canaan
  • The Territories of the Canaanites
  • The Descendants of Yoktan
  • Nimrod’s Empire
  • The Age of the Patriarchs
  • From Ur to the Chaldees to the Land of Canaan
  • Abraham in Canaan
  • Egypt
  • The Cities of the Plain
  • The War of the Kings
  • The Proto-Philistines and the Philistia Road
  • The Ishmaelites
  • The Descendants of Keturah
  • Isaac
  • The Hurrians/Horites and Hivvites
  • Seir, Edom, and the Edomites
  • Jacob
  • The “Land of Shechem”
  • The Hyksos
  • Shur, Shihor, and the Land of Goshen
  • The Eighteenth Dynasty in Egypt
  • Midian and the Midianites
  • Sinai
  • The Song of the Sea
  • The Spies
  • The Land of Hormah
  • The Kingdom of Moab and the Kingdom of Sihon
  • The Kingdom of Og and the Conquest of Bashan
  • The Story of Balaam
  • Balaam’s Last Prophecy
  • The Cities Built by the Reubenites and the Gadites
  • The Israelites Marches in the Wilderness
  • The Israelite Camp in the Steppes of Moab
  • The Prologue to Deuteronomy
  • The Regions Mentioned in Deuteronomy
  • Moses on Mount Nebo
  • The Period of the Isralite Conquest:  The Amarna Period
  • Joshua’s Strategy
  • The Ai Campaign
  • The Blessing and the Curse
  • The Gibeonite Confederation
  • The Canaanite Kings Defeated by Joshua
  • The Lands Allotted to the Tribes and the “Remaining Land”
  • The Tribal Allotments
  • The Transjordanian Tribes
  • Havvot Ya’ir
  • The Territory of the Judahites
  • The Districts and Cities of Judah
  • The Pre-Israelite Kingdom of Jerusalem
  • The Josephite Territories
  • The Territory of Benjamin
  • The Northern Tribes
  • The Territory of Dan
  • The Cities of the Priests and Levites
  • The Judges
  • The Sanctuary at Shiloh
  • The Concubine in Gibeah
  • Jerusalem
  • The Danite Conquest of Layish
  • Ehud’s War Against Moab
  • The Battle on the Kishon
  • Gideon’s War Against the Midianites
  • Merneptah’s Campaign Against Israel
  • Jephthah’s War Against the Ammonites
  • The Neo-Philistines
  • Samson
  • The Battle at Even Ha’ezer
  • On the Eve of the Monarchy
  • Saul’s Search for his Father’s Asses
  • The Battle of Yavesh Gilead
  • The Battle of Mikhmas
  • Saul’s Wars
  • David’s Flight from Saul
  • The Battle of Jazreel and Mount Gilboa
  • David in Hebron
  • Ish-Boshet’s Kingdom
  • The Battles in the Refa’im Valley
  • Aram, the Descendants of Aram, and Damascus
  • David’s War Against the Ammonites and their Aramean Allies
  • David’s War Against Edom
  • The Revolts of Absalom and Sheva Son of Bikhri
  • David’s Heroes
  • David’s Census
  • The Empire of David and Solomon
  • Jerusalem and the Temple Under the United Monarchy
  • Solomon’s Administrative Districts
  • Tyre at its Zenith
  • Lebanon
  • The Lands with which Solomon Traded
  • Judah and Israel
  • Shishaq’s Invasion
  • Rehoboam’s Fortifications
  • The War Between Abijah of Judah and Jeroboam
  • The Invasion by Zerah the Nubian
  • Ben-Hadad’s Campaign
  • Ahab and the Battle of Karkar
  • Jehoshaphat’s War Against the Moabites, Ammonites, and their Allies
  • Elijah’s Career
  • Mesha of Moab
  • The War of the Three Kings Against Moab
  • Jehu’s March
  • The Samaria Ostraca
  • Elisha’s Career
  • Amaizah’s Wars
  • The Wars of Joash of Israel
  • Jeroboam II
  • The Kingdom of Uzziah/Azariah of Judah
  • At the Mercy of Assyria
  • The Campaigns of Tiglath Pileser III
  • Judah in the Time of Ahaz
  • “Edomites Came to Eilat”
  • The Fall of Samaria and Exile of its People
  • Hezekiah’s Kingdom
  • Sennacherib’s Campaign Against Jerusalem
  • The Israelite and Judahite Diasporas in the Time of Isaiah
  • Josiah’s Kingdom
  • Josiah’s War with Pharaoh Necho
  • Carchemish
  • Judah at the Mercy of Baylonia
  • Nebuchadnezzar’s Campaign in Judah
  • The Exiles in Egypt
  • The Persian Empire at its Zenith
  • The Province of Yehud
  • Nehemiah and the Walls of Jerusalem
  • The Compass of Jewish Settlement after the Return to Zion
  • The Future Borders of Israel according to Ezekiel
  • Eretz Israel in the Talmudic Literature
  • The Middle East Today

The maps are attractively produced, and because they are narrowly focused on each particular spread’s topics, they are highly focused with a strong pedagogy.  So, in many ways, this Atlas is the opposite of the highly detailed Macmillan Bible Atlas/Carta Bible Atlas/Sacred Bridge series which is perhaps the best known Jewish Bible atlas series. 

And yet, despite the Daat Mikra Bible Atlas’s break with standard academic approaches to understanding Biblical geography, and its not-so-subtle bias for an enlarged Israel, I have to admit I was, in a way, fascinated by it.   This Bible atlas reflects a great deal of thought and study in an attempt to interpret the Biblical text literally and seriously – showing a possible way of understanding the Hebrew Bible as a geographical text.  In this way, I would compare this Bible atlas to the map portions of the Landmark Herodotus and Landmark Thucydides which similarly have high regard for their source texts.   Arguably, if one wishes to read the Hebrew Bible literally and take it at face value, this atlas is the clearest geographical statement I have seen to date.

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