Preface to the New Edition
THE BIBLE speaks to every human being. For believers — Jewish, Christian or Muslim — it sets the basic perceptions of God, human life, history and meaning. Its ideas and images have permeated art, music and philosophy to become fundamental to any modern view of human wisdom, whether in support of or challenge to current ideas. So it belongs to and affects all humans.
The Bible is also a very specific, down-to-earth book. Like all of us it is rooted in time and place. This is part of its strength. It reaches people where they are — in this world, of this time. The Bible deals with real people who are born, learn, work, fight, marry, rejoice, weep, struggle and die. It declares the meaning of our shared life, our common experience, our present dangers, our hopes, our sense of purpose. In that it is God's Word to people.
So, through the Bible we follow Moses to Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19). We hear Deborah's victory song at Taanach (Judges 5). We see David dance on the way to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6). We find Jeremiah wondering if God has abandoned him (Jeremiah 15). We hear the anguish of defeated Judeans in exile in Babylon (Psalm 137). We accompany Nehemiah on his evening inspection of the ramparts and gates of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:11). We rejoice with Simeon at the birth of a new baby boy (Luke 2:22-32). We hear Jesus' stories about the Kingdom of God (Luke 15). We walk with a man down 4,000 feet in 18 miles from Jerusalem to Jericho and see him mugged on the road (Luke 10:30). We struggle with Paul on the way from Jerusalem to Damascus (Acts 9) and endure with him the storm and ship damage off Crete (Acts 27). Thus, the Bible speaks to us of events and meaning in specific places and times no matter where or when we live.
However, the times are remote (two or three thousand years ago), and the places unfamiliar,
frequently having strange names (Ur, Mizpah, the Kishon or Jabbok rivers). Having a realistic sense of those Biblical places helps sharpen our awareness of what the Bible says. Why would Abraham leave Ur or Haran and move to Shechem? Why did Israelites avoid the easy coast road in leaving Egypt at the Exodus? Why did David pick Jerusalem for the capital of his new kingdom? Geography, history and the sense of God's will are entwined closely in the Bible. Revelation of God's promises and warnings came to people through experiences in particular places at particular moments, later reflections recall that meaning, sometimes embraced in recollections of the places and specific mention of the times.
With the help of this completely revised and redesigned Hammond's Atlas of the Bible Lands the places may be found on easily readable up-to-date maps. The settings of the stories are richly illustrated. Maps, plans and photos combine to bring to the reader an immediate perception of the places in which the significant events occurred. The organization by time periods is aided by charts showing what happened in different parts of the Biblical world at the same time. They set the Biblical story against the backdrop of contemporary political developments. All this helps us follow the Biblical story from the earliest ancestors of Israel through the founding of the churches of the second century A.D. It reminds us that the places of knowing God are the places of earth, of our ordinary life.
... the land which you are going over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water by the rain from heaven, a land which the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.
— Deuteronomy 11:11-12
This Atlas begins with an introductory section on the unique geography of the Holy Land. Besides terrain, vegetation and climate information, there are maps on trade routes and the economy of Palestine. The main collection of maps is arranged chronologically using the Biblical record from the Old and New Testament with a focus primarily on Palestine. The viewpoint broadens at appropriate intervals to include the larger areas of the Ancient Near East and Greek and Roman worlds. These maps show important political changes, the course of empires and the expansion of the early Christian Church.
Also of special interest in the main collection of maps are the detailed plans of the Holy City of Jerusalem at critical points in Biblical history as well as reconstructions of other cities, ancient sites, battles and even buildings.
The last section of the Atlas brings the reader into the present with an essential look at the lands of the Bible in modern times, along with an up-to-date map of major archaeological sites in Israel and Jordan. The time charts and the Gazetteer-Index at the back of the book are valuable reference tools for locating events in both time and place.
The spellings of Biblical sites and geographical names used in the historical maps are those found in the Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Bible. The place names on the series of modern times maps reflect official U.S. government spellings. Alternative Biblical or other ancient names are placed in parentheses. A question mark following a site name indicates the location is possible or probable but not yet certain.