How Well Do You Know the Geography of The Bible?
by J. Reinoehl

Everyone knows that the Bible happened in the Middle East, plus a corner of Northeast Africa - more or less, anyway. Still, most of the places in that area have gone through many names. They've been conquered by empire after empire. They've had collective names like the Fertile Crescent, the Holy Land, the Land of the Four Rivers, and more. 

They've been named in English, Arabic, Hebrew, and Greek, plus dead or mostly dead languages such as Assyrian, Akkadian, and Latin. They've gone from being one of the most fertile areas in the world to being reduced to desert by a combination of climate change and over-habitation. They are sadly mostly still homes to great conflict. Even keeping track of them nowadays is tough going - so it takes a true Bible scholar to remember exactly what was going on there at the time.

Complicating things still further is the problem of the Bible not always being entirely clear about where things actually went down. The Red Sea may not have actually been the Red Sea, but instead the "Reed Sea." Plus, the landscape has changed: at least two of those Four Rivers aren't where they ought to be. 

Fortunately, archaeology can help us confirm some things, such as that the Biblical Goshen - the area where the Hebrew slaves lived in Egypt - does, in fact, contain the remnants of a settlement with the bones of Semitic people, from around the time of the Exodus. That means we can piece it all together with the original text to establish a good idea of what was going on, and importantly, where. Let's see if you know your Biblical geography!

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