Promised Land Map

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The map on this page shows how the Promised Land was divided and occupied amongst the twelve tribes of Israel. The tribes are named after the sons of Jacob. The patriarch had his name changed to Israel after wrestling with and prevailing over an angel (see Genesis 32).

´╗┐The tribe of Levi is missing from our map because they and their descendants were consecrated, by God, to be his priests. One of their many responsibilities was to serve and maintain the tabernacle in the wilderness, then later the temple in Jerusalem. Instead of receiving territory as an inheritance in the Promised Land in which they could own, the Levites received tithes and offerings from the people.

The Levites were also given access to forty-eight towns throughout the Promised Land in which they could live and maintain the knowledge of God. Six of these locations were designated as cities of refuge (see Joshua 20).

And the Lord said to Aaron, "You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any part among them. I am your part and your inheritance among the children of Israel.

"And behold, I have given the sons of Levi all the tithe in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, the service of the tabernacle of the congregation" (Numbers 18:20 - 21, HBFV, see also Deuteronomy 18).

Although Joseph was also one of Jacob's sons, he too is usually omitted from lists of the tribes. This is because his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, were adopted by Jacob in his stead (Genesis 48).

Division of Promised Land to Israel Map
Division of Promised Land Map *

Migrating to Egypt

How did ancient Israel end up in Egypt? Jacob's favorite wife Rachel had a child named Joseph. He became his father's favorite son because he was born when Jacob was old (Genesis 37:3). Joseph was so loved by his father that he received from him a coat of many colors (Genesis 37).

Joseph's brothers, envious of his special treatment by their father, wanted to kill him. Reuben, Jacob's firstborn son, kept Joseph from being murdered only to have him sold to slave traders on their way to Egypt. Joseph is soon bought by one of Pharaoh's officers.

God is with Joseph in Egypt and blesses him. After a series of events and trials (see Genesis 39 - 41) he is made ruler over Egypt second only to Pharaoh.

And Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Since God has shown you all this, no one is as discreet and wise as you. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall obey your word. Only in the throne will I be greater than you."

And Pharaoh said to Joseph, "See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt." (Genesis 41:39 - 41, HBFV).

After Egypt experiences seven years of bountiful harvests (where Joseph stores extra food) a famine overtakes not only the country but also the land of Canaan where Jacob and his entire family are living.

In 1685 B.C. Jacob and his entire household (which includes Joseph's eleven brothers) move to Egypt's land of Goshen in order to survive the famine. Jacob (Israel) lives 17 years in Egypt and dies at the age of 147 (Genesis 49). Joseph lives to the age of 110 (Genesis 50:22).

Leaving Egypt

How did ancient Israel end up having to leave Egypt in order to claim their inheritance in the Promised Land? Sometime after the death of Joseph a new king reigned over Egypt. The new Pharaoh, out of fear the growing and increasingly prosperous children of Israel might turn against him, has them made into slaves.

And there arose a new king over Egypt who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, "Behold, the people of the children of Israel are many and mightier than we.

Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it will be when there comes a war, they join also to our enemies and fight against us, and get them out of the land." And they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens . . . (Exodus 1:8 - 11, HBFV).

After more than a century of slavery God sends Moses and Aaron to free the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage. It is only after a series of ten plagues are brought on Pharaoh and Egypt that they are finally released from slavery.

The Israelites leave Egypt, in what is referred to as the Exodus, one day after they ate the Passover (Numbers 33:1 - 3). They leave at a time called "the night to be much observed" (Exodus 12:42) which is the start of the high Holy Day known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Exodus begins on Monday, March 22 at sunset (Nisan 15).

The Promised Inheritance

After the Exodus, instead of entering the Promised Land of Canaan, the tribes are made to wander the wilderness for forty years because of their sins (Deuteronomy 8:2). After this period Joshua leads the people into the Promised Land in 1405 B.C. Seven years later, in 1398, Canaan is divided by lot among the children of Israel (Joshua 14).

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Did Israel Rule All the Promised Land?
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Timeline of Jacob and Joseph
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Where Are the Cities of Refuge?
Why Didn't Moses Enter the Promised Land?
What Is a Sabbatical Year?

Notes
* Although Israel was given Philistine cities
such as Ekron, Ashdod, Gaza and others
(Joshua 15:45 - 47, 21:21 - 23), they were unable
to permanently control them (Judges 3:1 - 3).