Friday, October 11, 2013

Book Review of The Land Is Mine by Norman C. Habel

By Norman C. Habel

ISBN 0-8006-2664-8

Fortress Press



Building off of the fine work that Walter Bruggemann did in The Land, Norman Habel goes in depth in his study of the Israelite people’s relationship to the land, and discovers six ideologies of land and its meaning to the Israelite people in the Hebrew Testament.


The ideologies are as follows:

·         The Land as the Source of Wealth (for the nation)

o   Views land as trust of the king (as representative of the nation)

o   Land is given to build nation as empire

o   Wealth trickles down to people

o   Scriptures: I Kings 3-10

·         The Land as Conditional Grant

o   God has conquered the land for Israel

o   He gives it to the Israelites on an indefinite loan

o   Israel needs to obey God and do his will in order to keep the land and be blessed by it

o   Scripture: Book of Deuteronomy

·         Land as Family Lots

o   Land assigned by God

o   Up to each tribe to subdue the land and claim it for God’s people

o   The tribe is central then, to Israelite land claims and loyalty

o   Scripture: Book of Joshua (especially the end)

·         The Land as God’s inheritance

o   God, Israel and Land are bound together

o   The land suffers because of Israel’s sin

o   The land, ultimately, is God’s

o   The healing of the land is coming

o   Scriptures: prophets, especially Jeremiah

·         The Land as Sabbath Bound

o   God is owner of the land

o   Israelites are tenant farmers

o   Land is promised Sabbath, including Sabbath years and jubilee

o   The health of the people and land is tied to this Sabbath practice

o   Priests are accountable to keep this land ethic before the people

o   Scriptures: Leviticus 25-27

·         The Land as Host Country

o   People of God came from another place

o   The land existed before the people

o   The people of God are responsible for remembering that they were immigrants and wanderers

o   Scriptures: Exodus, Abraham narratives


                This is such a fun, thoughtful book. It is academic and deep as well. It carefully scours to discover the multiple threads of people’s understanding their land in relationship to the God of the Bible. As one reads this fine book, it is not long before one realizes that the Israelite understanding of land formed their identity, changed and evolved over time, and at the same time was a layered, multivalent ideology filled with power and conflict. For me, and my interests in land and spirituality, this is a must have on my desk. For others, it would be an interesting way to understand Hebrew througt from a new and enlightening perspective.

Star Rating (out of 5 stars):

Five stars

Best Audience:

Pastors who like to think, academics, and those interested in Middle-Eastern politics.



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