The Future Borders of the Tribes of Israel as Evidence for the Size of a Cubit

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

The Future Borders of the Tribes of Israel as Evidence for the Size of a Cubit

By Shlomo Moshe Scheinman

Summary of Yechezkel (Ezekiel) chapter 48 verses 1-29 according to the Herzog Academy College

In this chapter, Yechezkel describes the division of the land to the twelve tribes. Yechezkel envisions the tribal portions as horizontal strips in the {approximate} middle of which is the “Teruma” strip. There, resides the Temple, the Cohanim, the Levites, Jerusalem and the prince.

The Tribal Strips to the North of the “Teruma” (verses 1 to 7).

In this paragraph, the prophet lists the tribes north of the Teruma: Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Menashe (Manasseh), Ephraim, Reuven (Reuben) and Yehuda (Judah).

The “Teruma” (verses 8-22).

As was indeed mentioned in chapter 45, in the {approximate} middle of the land is the “Teruma” strip, where the Temple, the Cohanim, the Levites, Jerusalem and the prince’s heritage are located.

The Tribes to the South of the “Teruma” Strip (verses 23-29)

In this paragraph the prophet lists the tribal strips south of the Teruma: Binyamin (Benjamin), Shimon, Yissachar (Issachar), Zevulun (Zebulon) and Gad.

Afterwards the prophet summarizes: This is the land which you shall divide by lot unto the tribes of Israel for inheritance, and these are their portions, says, My Master, Hashem (verse 29).

It is not agreed between the researchers where Dan’s inheritance begins for the future. If we knew the upper limit of the tribe of Dan we could probably prove the size of the cubit, because there are 7.2 strips from the border of Dan to the Temple Mount and each strip is equal to 150,000 cubits as I will later elaborate.

The Borders Promised to Avraham Vs. The Borders of Yechezkel

In my article The Sequence of The 6 Biblical Days of Creation In Light of Science I presented my view of the 400 Parsa by 400 Parsa territory promised to the seed of Avraham (Abraham).

future borders of israel

At the time of the future fulfillment of the prophecy of Yechezkel, not all the territory promised to the seed of Avraham will necessarily be divided among the tribes but will be used for other needs. Or else the fulfillment of the full promise to Avraham takes place after the fulfillment of the prophecy of Yechezkel chapter 48. Therefore there is no contradiction between this article and my other article.

Various Views about the Future Division of the Land of Israel

Yehuda Elitzur’s View

According to Yehuda Elitzur’s view – the northern border starts from the dotted line in the picture in the north.


Prof. Daniel Michelson’s view

Prof. MIchelson’s View of the Tribal Division of the Land & the Teruma Strip

Rabbi Yisrael Ariel’s View

According to Rabbi Yisrael Ariel’s (Hebrew Language) “Atlas of the Land of Israel, Its Borders According to the Sources, Fundamentals and Research” page 63, the strip of the tribe of Dan is to the right of the strips of all the tribes (except for the strip of Zevulun and Gad) and the northern border begins specifically at the northern border of the tribe of Asher a bit above Levo Chamat (Antioch – Antakya, Turkey).

Michlol, the Jewish Encyclopedia’s View

According to Michlol*[i] The Jewish Encyclopedia, Dan’s northern border begins much further to the south. And here’s a translated quote:

And in chapter 48, the prophet assigns most of the northern area to the tribe of Dan; “from the north end, beside the way of Chetlon to Levo Chamat, Chatzar-enan, at the border of Damascus, northward, beside Chamat; and they shall have their sides east and west: Dan, one portion” (Yechezkel / Ezekiel 48:1). According to this commentary, the northernmost area within the borders of Yechezkel is Chamat Rabbah, whose distance from the Temple Mount is measured at about 422 kilometers. It was also explained that the tribe of Dan would inherit Tyre and Sidon.

Rabbi Uriel Zvi ben Menachem Schoenberg’s View (from his book Ohr Yechezkel).

According to Sifri, Devarim, Parshat Haazinu, Piska 315 the Land of Israel in the Future Will be Divided into 13 Strips of 150,000 Cubits, Which is Equivalent to 75 Talmudic Mil

And this is a translated quote of Sifri:

Another interpretation, ‘Hashem alone shall guide them’, in the future I will settle you to inherit from one end of the (Israeli side of the) hemisphere to the other side or alternately translated all across the globe and so too, does it say, From the Eastern Side to Western (lit. Sea) Side, Asher one portion (Yechezkel 48:2); from the Eastern Side to the Western (lit. Sea) Side, Reuven one portion (Yechezkel 48:6); from the Eastern Side to the Western (lit. Sea) Side Yehuda one portion (Yechezkel 48:7).

What does the Scripture intend to teach us, Asher one portion, Reuven one portion, Yehuda one portion? That (each tribe of) Israel in the future will take the length from the East to the West, with the width of twenty five thousand rods, whose measurement is 75 (Talmudic) Mil.”.

Rashi, Tractate Yoma 67a

But in the Braita of Haazinu of Sifri we find there that the measurement of the division of the land of Israel in the future will have a boundary of 75 (Talmudic) Mil width for each tribe. We also find that Rabbi Eliezer Kalir established the same principle in his poem, ‘Erchatz Bnikayon Kapot’  “with a width of 75 Mil for its furrows”, and they are the twenty five thousand rods in the book of Yechezkel (Ch. 45) for it was stated, “And from this measurement you shall measure”, etc. And every rod is 6 cubits, behold it is 150,000 cubits. Now every 2000 cubits is equal to 1 Mil, thus we arrive at the measurement of 75 Mil.

According to Yechezkel, chapter 45, the Teruma strip in the center of the country (the strip called “the Prince’s strip” on the map above) should be divided into 3 parts. One part consisting of 10,000 rods (sixty thousand cubits), where the Temple is located and the Cohanim reside, and another part of 10,000 rods for the Levites to the south of the first portion and below this portion further to the south is a section of 5000 rods where the city called “Hashem is there” is located (the city’s name is revealed at the end of the book of Yechezkel).

Calculating the Southern Border of the Tribe of Gad

And according to this the southern border of the tribe of Gad in the future, will be located somewhere between a distance from the Temple between  5.6 times 150,000 cubits (the size of one strip) to almost 6 times 150,000 cubits, that is to say, between 840,000 cubits to a little less than 900,000 cubits.

According to Malbim, it is implied that there are approximately 870,000 cubits, between the Temple and the southern border of the tribe of Gad. This can be deduced since he determined that there are 45 mil[ii] = 90,000 cubits between the Temple Mount and the area of 30,000 cubits, where the city called “Hashem is there” is located. From here until the end of the article I will use the calculation of Malbim. And so too Rashi’s commentary to Yechezkel chapter 48 verse 10 implies that there are approximately 870,000 cubits from the Temple to the southern border of Gad.

And it is logical to conclude that Rashi and the Malbim determined that the Temple was exactly in the middle of the 60,000 cubits (10 thousand rods) of the strip of the Cohanim (priests), because usually the word “within” in the Bible means in the middle[iii]. And the scripture in Yechezkel 48:10 attests: “It shall be given to them as follows: The Holy Teruma [area] for the Cohanim shall measure 25,000 [cubits] on the north, 10,000 on the west, 10,000 on the east, and 25,000 on the south, with Hashem’s Temple within it”.

And we will have to explain the phrase, “and the Temple within it”, written in Yechezkel 48:8, that there, it is referring to the middle between the eastern and western part of the strip.

The Location of the Temple Mount – Latitude and Longitude

According to the website:

The Temple Mount is located at latitude 31.777493 and longitude 35.235799

According to the website

The Temple Mount is at latitude 31.77765 and longitude 35.23547 and perhaps the small change depends on where you measure on the Temple Mount.

According to the internet elsewhere I learned that every change of a degree in latitude equals 111 km (kilometers) and a tenth of a degree equals 11.1 km (if we stay on the same longitude). The southernmost place in the Sinai Peninsula is Ras Muhammed National Park (see the map above).

According to Ras Muhammed National Park’s latitude = 27.74751 (and longitude 34.24078)

According to the website

The distance between latitude of the Temple Mount 31.777493 and latitude of Ras Muhammed National Park 27.74751 equals 448.1 kilometers.

If the cubit is equal to 54.8 cm (as currently claimed by Rabbi Elkana Lior) then the border of the tribe of Gad must be approximately 476.76 km from the Temple Mount, which is entirely within the Red Sea, and it is not at all likely that the border would be entirely within the sea; furthermore, the implication of Exodus Chapter 23 Verse 31, is that the border will end at the sea and not within the sea, as it states:

“And I will set your border from the Red Sea and until the Plishtim (Philistine) Sea and from the desert until the river for I will give into your hand the inhabitants of the land and you shall expel them from your presence”.

According to Rabbi Ido Elba’s viewpoint, the length of a cubit equals 51.7 cm.

870,000 cubits times 51.7 cm. equal to 449.79 km, which is actually one kilometer more than the distance between the Ras Muhammed National Park and the Temple Mount; but defenders of Rabbi Elba’s viewpoint can explain that the extra kilometer is due to imprecise measurements of the distance from the southern section of Ras Muhammed National Park until the Temple Mount. 

The 48 cm. Cubit and The 45.6 cm. Cubit

According to the view that the cubit is equal to 48 cm. and even more so according to the view that the cubit equals 45.6 cm. (based on Egyptian coins described by Rambam), the southern border of the tribe of Gad ends above the southern edge of Sinai. Thus we will have to claim that the rest of the Sinai Peninsula is set aside for needs of the state, or for Non-Jews or for Canaanite slaves or for converts.

Afterwards I found in Rabbi Ariel’s book, “Atlas of the Land of Israel, Its Borders According to the Sources, Fundamentals and Research” that the remainder of the Sinai Peninsula should be allotted to the tribe of Gad based on the phrase in the verse in Yechezkel 47:19 “On the south side towards the Negev”.

Answers to Questions

I also thought of some questions against my viewpoint, and to keep it short I will only mention the sources with possible answers.

  • Aderet Eliyahu Deuteronomy chapter 34 verse 3
  • “The whole land of the Hittites” Joshua 1:4 (note 15 of the Daat Mikra commentary) and it should be noted that the west of Turkey is about 400 Parsa in distance from Sharm el-Sheikh
  • Pasikta Zutarta (Lekach Tov) on Exodus chapter 23 verses 31,32
  • Rebbe’s opinion brought in Sifrei to Devarim Parashat Re’eh, Piska 75
  • Malbim on Devarim Parashat Shoftim Chapter 19 Verse 8
  • Commentary on the Mishnah of Rambam Tractate Ohalot Chapter 18 Mishna 7, “Suria is the land that David conquered outside the Land of Israel and it is Damascus”.
  • Sifri at the start of Devarim and Shir Hashirim Rabba chapter 7 on the words “the face of Damascus that Jerusalem in the future will reach as far as Damascus, for it is stated, “Damascus is his resting place”, and for the future it is also implied by Yechezkel 47:16 that Damascus will be part of northern Israel.


  • Furthermore see, Rabbi Avraham ben Rambam’s commentary on Exodus 23 “and this boundary is wider than the limited boundary of the Land of Israel, listed in Parashat “Ela Masei” … and there is no doubt that this promise depends on fulfilling the goal of completely listening to (the voice of) Hashem and it is for the future.”
  • Rabbi Yitzhak Barda, “Vaya’an Shmuel chapter 17”
  • Responsa, M’phaneach Ne’elamim, chapter 7
  • Yalkut Shimoni, Parshat Pekudei Remez 426 “The well was at the entrance of the courtyard next to Moshe’s tent and it would inform all the camps where they would camp.” And apparently the water coming out of the Temple, as explained in Yechezkel chapter 47, will reach Yericho (Jericho), which is to the east and to the north of the Temple Mount, and from there it will reach south to the city of Tamar to mark the south-eastern border.




[ii] Malbim’s commentary to Yechezkel 40:2, 43:7, 48:35 and commentary to Zechariah 2:16, 12:6, 14:4, 14:5, 14:20


[iii] Shmot Rabba, B’shalach 23:7, Midrash Tanchuma, Acharei Mot, #8

Rashi’s commentary to Breishit 2:9

Rabbi Ovadia of Bartenura (Amar Naka) Bamidbar 17:21

Ibn Ezra to Shmot, (Tezaveh) 29:45 (the short commentary)

Radak’s commentary to Breishit 2:9

Metzudat David to Yechezkel 5:5

Ha’amek Davar, Breishit, Vayeira 18:24

Gilyonei Hashas, Be’urim V’Clalim on Yerushalmi Brachot, point 10