Land ownership in the Pentateuch : a thematic study of Genesis 12 to Deuteronomy 34
The aims of this thesis are to study how the Pentateuch portrays land ownership and to answer some of the theological questions which arise from the study. By considering the Pentateuch as a literary work of art, relevant texts in their finished form are analysed in their contexts. The first Part, examining the stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in Gen. 12-50, deals with the idea of land ownership on two levels: (i) Yahweh's promise of the land to each patriarch and statements about a future owning of the land promised. The study of land promise accounts discusses issues such as the identity and extent of the promised land, the meaning of the giving of the land and the present and future owners of the land. (ii) The other aspect is the actual purchase of pieces of land and owning them, the cultivating of vacant land and appropriating it, and the digging of wells and claiming them. The second Part, examining the stories of Liberation, the Sinai Covenant and the Conquest in Exod. I--Num. 36, deals with the idea of the ownership of land by Yahweh and by the people of Israel. In the discussion of Yahweh's ownership is included his claim to the whole earth, agricultural land and a mountain sanctuary in the promised land. Regarding the ownership of land by the Israelites, different methods of possessing the land, rights and responsibilities of their tenancy, Levitical use of the pasture land and the priestly care of the dedicated land are discussed in detail. The third Part is the Farewell Address of Moses in Deuteronomy. Three ideas of land ownership are discussed in detail: Yahweh's ownership of the entire heaven and earthi the Isr~aelite ownership of the land possessed in Transjordan and the land to be possessed in west Jordan and the conditions of land ownership, and the ownership of land by other ethnic groups. In the Conclusion, some important questions identified during the analysis of the texts are answered from the total perspective of the study.