Multipurpose Wall Decoration from 1893: A Biblical Map of the Holy Land
From Our Holdings
This "New and Original Biblical Map of the Holy Land" from 1893 was probably never intended to be used by a pilgrim or traveler on the ground.
In fact, "Biblical maps" were maps of Palestine that showed the Israelites' route through the desert or, in the Christian context, important places in Jesus' life – all based on the latest biblical research. Maps in this genre had existed for centuries aside from contemporary maps that helped travelers get their bearings.
Orientation or Decoration?
Our map is labeled in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish. It shows current railroad lines alongside the Israelites' passage through the Red Sea, the route taken by biblical scouts to the land of Canaan, and the site of the Battle of Gilboa. In addition to a legend and illustrations of contemporary "sights" such as the Cave of the Patriarchs and the Western Wall of the Temple, it includes a box for recording people's birthdays. This is evidence that the map was conceived as a wall decoration rather than a reference to take on a pilgrimage.
But who hung a map like this on the wall? It must be seen in the context of Zionism, the movement in Judaism to create a Jewish state. "Buy now – it's time!" reads a caption in Yiddish: settle in Palestine, for it is here, the map argues, that the Jewish people's past and future come together.