• Every place where you set your foot will be yours: Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the Euphrates River to the Mediterranean Sea - Deuteronomy 11:24

Greater Israel – From the Nile to the Euphrates

By Hubert Luns, with contributions from Neline Schipper - 24 November 2020

Where should the borders of the State of Israel be? What is it entitled to or does it believe it is entitled to? A hot topic. Just as the Palestinians are 100 percent convinced that the Jews will destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount as soon as they get the chance (and then build their own temple there), so are the political leaders in the Middle East convinced that the Jews want to push the boundaries until Israel encompasses all of Greater Israel. The Israeli politicians can shout out loud that that is nonsense, but the Arabs do not believe that. 

God’s Land
About four thousand years ago, the Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, promised the territory of the State of Israel to Patriarch Abraham and his descendants as an “ever­las­ting possession”, even under oath. Through his sons Isaac and Jacob, this land promise continues until the present time. Abraham had other sons, such as his eldest son, Ishmael, from whom the Arabs descend. They call themselves Adnanites, after Ishmael’s grandson. Arabs include those who call themselves Palestinians. The Arabs today own a much larger tract of land than the Jews plus an enormous amount of oil and other riches, but the patch of land called Israel is begrudged.

This article firstly outlines how God expresses himself time and again in the Bible about His connectedness with the ‘land’, in fact God’s land. The rest of the world belongs to the nations, but this belongs exclusively to God. From here his plan of redemp­tion is being accomplished. God’s kingdom begins as a small stone, but according to Daniel’s prophecy, and will become a mountain that encompasses the entire earth. (Dan. 2:32-35)

“Several biblical texts show the size of the Promised Land, of which Judea and Samaria are the core.”

Several biblical texts show the size of the Promised Land, of which Judea and Samaria are the core. Although not all prophecies are identical, in all cases the area is much larger than present-day Israel. What do these promises of God have to say nowadays? Two extreme positions on this subject are being examined in more detail.

Like a leitmotif through the Bible

  • Genesis 12:7 : “Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said: To your descendants I will give this land.” This was the promise of the land, not yet specified.
  • Genesis 15:18 : “On the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates.” This promise is more specific: “from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates.” From the river of Egypt supposedly indicates the Wadi El-Arish that lies on the Mediterranean Sea in the strip of land between Gaza and Egypt, but it is also often seen as the Nile.
  • Genesis 17:8 : “All the land of Canaan I give (…) as an everlasting possession.” Again a repetition of the promise of the land: “all of Canaan”. And “everlasting”, a term for which the Hebrew olam is used to mean ‘forever, everlasting, never ending, eternity’. This term is also used for the existence of God “from and to eternity”.
  • Genesis 26:4 : “I will give (…) all these lands.” This is a promise to Isaac while he was in Gerar (south-central Israel). Egypt is not covered by this promise, but the land of the Philistines is.
  • Genesis 28:4 : In this prophecy, Isaac blesses his son Jacob with the land that God gave to Abraham.
  • Genesis 28:13 : In this prophecy God promises to Jacob in Bethel “the land on which you are sleeping”.
  • Genesis 35:12 : Back at Bethel, God promises Jacob and his descendants the land He gave to Abraham and Isaac.
  • Genesis 50:24 : In this prophecy, Joseph tells his brothers in Egypt that God will bring them to the land that was promised to the fathers under oath.
  • Exodus 3:8 : In God’s commission to Moses, the promise comes again to bring them back to a beautiful and vast land, the land of the Canaanites.
  • Exodus 23:31 : “And I will set your bounds from the Red Sea [Gulf of Aqaba] to the [Mediterranean] Sea, where the Philistines live, and from the desert to the River [Euphrates].” A different way of saying of Genesis 15:18.
  • Deuteronomy 1:7 : “Break up the camp and take your journey, and go to the moun­tains of the Amorites, to all the neighboring places in the plain [of the Jordan], in the mountains and in the lowland, in the Negev and on the seacoast – to the land of the Canaanites – and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the River Euphrates.” If you take these regions together it encompasses the so-called Greater Israel: from the Wadi El-Arish to the Euphrates.
  • Deuteronomy 11:24 : “Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours: from the wilderness until the Lebanon, and from the River Euphrates, even to the Western Sea, shall be your territory.” The area again includes Greater Israel.
  • Joshua 1:4 : “From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the west, shall be your territory.” A slightly different way of indicating the size of the land (see also Deuteronomy 34:1-3).
  • Ezekiel 47 and 48 : Here we find the description of the size of the land after the final restoration of Israel at the time of the coming Reign of Peace, with the region of each tribe being listed separately. It is not possible to define the exact boundaries, but the area broadly includes the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan plus part of the Negev, and in the north the Golan, all of Lebanon and part of Syria.

“Ezekiel 47 and 48 : Here we find the description of the size of the land after the final restoration of Israel at the time of the coming Reign of Peace”

Solution 1 : The Kairos Document

These biblical texts show that God is inseparably bound to the territory of the present State of Israel. The fact that He promises his people a country to live in, invites to reflec­tion. The return of the Jewish people in our days was not a historically logical develop­ment, but clearly shows that it was an act of God. Besides, that return is still incomplete. What does that mean at present? There are very different opinions about this.

Let’s take a closer look at the Kairos Document. Palestinian Christians of Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran backgrounds issued the con­troversial Kairos Document in 2009, which states that the Palestinians have a right:

«« …to their land [now called Israel], which is God’s land, as is the case with all countries in the world. It is holy inasmuch as God is present in it, for God alone is holy and is the sanctifier. (…) It is God’s land and therefore it must be a land of reconciliation, peace and love. (…) “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.” (Ps. 24:1) (…) We declare that any theology, seemingly based on the Bible or on faith or on history, that legitimizes the occupation [of their land by the Jewish people], is far from Christian teachings. »»

“The Kairos Document proclaims a false position in sweet terms”

Here a false position is proclaimed in sweet terms. The whole earth might be God’s, but God has handed that earth over to humankind to make use of it as they wish. He gave them in that transfer a great deal of autonomy to do with the land whatever they see fit and to define the societal structure according to their own views, even if that goes against God’s laws, also when benefiting becomes exploitation. (Gen. 3:23; 9:1-5; 11:9) This is different with the land for his people Israel. The territory of Israel is God’s land. God does not submit to human arbitrariness, especially not in this regard. God may do whatever He wants with it because it is His own land according to Leviticus 25:23: “The land [that I have given you in property] must not be sold permanently, because the land is Mine and you [people of Israel] reside in my land as foreigners and strangers.” – according to Romans 9:4, “the adoption to sonship” depends on the good favour of the foster father, i.e. God. Because God disposes, God will expel His people when it defiles ‘His’ land. “The Lord will scatter you among the peoples” was the threat. (See for instance Deut. 4:27.) Indeed, the country was completely destroyed and depopulated by the Romans. Yes, it became “the wasteland of my people, a land overgrown with thorns and briers.” (Is. 32:13) For millennia, the land was neglected. Only when the Jews returned did the country flourish again! A salient detail is that when the Jews stayed in Russia they were desperately bad farmers despite the tsars’ efforts to make them farmers through donations of beautiful farmland. But once in Israel they reclaimed the fallow land and they turned out to be top cultivators and farmers.


Solution 2 : The Oded Yinon Plan

There is a strong political movement in Israel that is backing the infamous Oded Yinon Plan. It is even rumoured that supporters of this plan have a place in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government.

What is the Oded Yinon Plan? The plan is named after a Jewish scholar who wrote an essay about it in 1982: “A Strategy for Israel in the 1980’s”. The Greater Israel that is advocated in the Oded Yinon Plan extends to a straight demarcation line (west-south­west) from the estuary of the Euphrates to the Red Sea, a huge area! The Greater Israel idea envisions the creation of a number of allied states around Israel. These states include Leba­non, Jordan, Syria, Sinai as well as parts of Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The plan empha­sizes that Israel must model its geopolitical environment through the Balkanization (i.e., the disintegra­tion of multicultural states into small nation states) of the surrounding Arab states. The division then depends on the ethnic or sectarian composition of each territory. Iraq can be cited as an example. This country could fall apart into a state for the Kurds, one for the Sunnis, and one for the Shia. To survive, Israel would have to become an imperial regional power. The satellite states surrounding Israel should be subordinate and form the basis for a pax-Israelium. The fragmentation of all Arab states into smaller units has been a recurring theme in Zionist strategic thinking; it is not new.

Some followers of the Oded Yinon Plan do not see the plan outlined above as merely an ideal, but they read it as if already in reality. To cite the example of Iraq again; the Iran-Iraq war of 1988 would fit into that plan. Lines are also drawn with the Lebanon War in 2006 and the ongoing wars in Syria and the wider Middle East.

People come to your senses! Don’t you understand that attempts to implement this plan puts the fuse in the powder keg? As if we didn’t have enough trouble already! Wanting to fulfil a prophecy on your own initiative can only lead to misery. One thing is for sure: ‘Not now!’


The Kairos Document wants to completely disconnect the God of Israel and the people of Israel from the land of Israel. The Oded Yinon Plan, on the other hand, wants to bring the outer borders of the Promised Land under Israeli hegemony now. Some theologians claim that the territory of the Promised Land is uncertain, that it is different every time, or that the territory that God promised to Moses does not have that size.

Unfortunately, all these views are the result of inaccurate and, above all, biased reading. The only correct conclusion that can be drawn from the cited Bible verses is that God has promised to Israel the land from the Wadi El-Arish to the Euphrates, and from the Mediterranean to the Amorite region beyond Jordan (kingdoms of Sihon and Og). That does not mean that Israel already has the right to annex all these areas. Greater Israel is still the Promised Land! When during the Kingdom of Peace Messiah intervenes, then and only then, according to Ezekiel 47 and 48, God will hand over this area to Israel. Not before!

It will then have become a completely different world in all respects, incomparable to the current political and social structure. In this sense, Jesus said to Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world.” To which we can add: but indeed of the ‘world to come’ – as the Jews customarily call the Kingdom of Peace.

See also: “Greater Israel: The Zionist Plan for the Middle East – The Infamous Oded Yinon Plan”, Introduction by Michel Chossudovsky, 23rd april 2016.

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