This course deals with the historical geography of the Bible Lands as represented in ancient texts (the Bible as well as Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Canaanite sources). Emphasis is on the interrelationship of history with physical and human geography during the Bronze and Iron Ages including analysis of the settlement, economic, political, military, and communication factors in ancient Israel. Upon completion a student should be able to correlate relevant archaeological, historical and biblical material with important sites, roads, and landscape features within the eastern Mediterranean region.


With its focus on ‘the Land’, the Bible is a profoundly geographic text. In spite of this, the geographic dimension of the Bible is often misunderstood, overlooked or assumed. Knowledge of the geography of the lands of the Bible can provide a much fuller understanding the Bible through establishing the context of biblical events and key factors explaining the course of biblical and, indeed, much of world history. 'The Land’ promised to Abraham and his descendants, located on a bridge between the two centers of ancient civilization, has played a pivotal position in the unfolding of the history of what is now known as the Middle East. The names and descriptions given to the natural and man-made features of the lands of the Bible have profoundly affected our civilization, ranging from place names, often reproduced on distant landscapes, to ways we map the world. Its situation on a transition zone between five climatic types, bisected north to south by the Levant (or Dead Sea) Rift System with its complex geology, has made this small area one of the more physically and biologically diverse and agriculturally challenging regions in the world.

There are no Prerequisites or Corequisites for this course.

Moore, Charles W.

Adjunct Associate Professor in Geography
Part Time
B.A. (1965), M.U.P. (1967), Ph.D. (1971), University of Washington
Subject Matter: 

Dr. Moore completed post-graduate study in geography and urban/regional planning at the University of Washington. His career has been devoted to both academic and government research in the areas of natural sciences, technological change and natural resource development. During the 1970s, he served as Assistant Professor of Geography at the University of Saskatchewan and spent a year at Glasgow University in Scotland as a Research Fellow. He spent 33 years with the Canadian federal government in policy-related evaluation of science and technology programs at the former Science Council of Canada and the Department of Natural Resources (including the Geological Survey of Canada, Geomatics Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Canada Centre for Mineral and Energy Technology). He has published and delivered academic papers in the fields of historical economic geography, geology, regional planning and program evaluation as well as traveled and conducted research in those same subjects in North America, Western Europe and Israel.

Course Credit: 
Three (3) semester hours
Instructional Objectives: 

On successful completion of this course, a student should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of how the physical, social and economic geographical framework and contexts have influenced historical biblical events in the eastern Mediterranean region and the flow of biblical history, generally. This will include the following:
    • the geologic history and processes that have created the landforms;
    • the climate and weather and the factors that govern them;
    • the resultant ecosystems with their zones or patterns of vegetation and populations of animals;
    • the built environment and economic structures created on this foundation, particularly agricultural land use and settlement patterns, choice of building materials, mining and manufacturing, trade routes and fortifications; and
    • the Bible’s land ethic, including related statutes.
  2. Demonstrate an ability to identify and name on maps the location of the major physical and cultural features of the biblical land of Israel, i.e., boundaries of types of political/administrative or natural regions or subdivisions; physical features of mountains, valleys and plains, rivers/wadis, lakes, forests and wetlands; as well as land and sea trade routes, agricultural areas, fortifications, cities and settlements.
  3. Demonstrate an ability to visualize the geographical environments that affected the writers of the Bible and are used in their imagery, by identifying on maps as well as recognizing photographs of where major Biblical events took place.
  4. Demonstrate elementary skills in the use of literary, scientific and cartographic resources, tools and procedures in the study of the historical geography of the Bible lands.
  5. Develop an increased understanding of the Bible through a better grasp of the geographical factors in biblical episodes.
  6. Provide the basis for a better understanding of current events in the Middle East and for future travel to the region.
Required Texts: 

The textbooks for this course are as follows:



Students may order book through the University Bookstore.

The books used or referred to in this course are commercial publications. They represent the views and ideas of their authors, editors, and publishers. Living University does not endorse these texts nor vouch for their accuracy. We simply employ them in helping you master the content of the course.

Course Calendar: 
Lesson 1 Introduction: The Role & Methods of Historical Geography in Biblical Studies
Topic 1 - Biblical Historical Geography as a Field of Study Beitzel x-xii; 14-17; 18-32; 98-105; 200;
Geobasics 1
Topic 2 - Biblical Land of Promise & Its Setting  
Writing/Map Assignment 1
Quiz 1
Lesson 2 The Physical Geography of Bible Lands I: Geology & Regions
Topic 1 - Geologic Structure & History Beitzel 56-58; 32-56;
Geobasics 2-25,
Geobasics Mini-guide
Topic 2 - Landforms, Regions, Relief & Soils  
Writing/Map Assignment 2
Quiz 2
Lesson 3 The Physical Geography of Bible Lands II: Weather & Water
Topic 1 - Weather & Climate Beitzel 64-66;58-64
Topic 2 - Hydrology & Water Balance  
Topic 3 - Climate Change & Past Climate Scenarios  
Writing/Map Assignment 3
Quiz 3
Lesson 4 The Physical Geography of Bible Lands III: Biogeography
Topic 1 - Vegetation & Phyto-geography Beitzel 66-67
Topic 2 - Zoogeography & Wildlife Re-introductions  
Topic 3 - Biblical Botany & Landscape Restoration  
Writing/Map Assignment 4
Mid-Term Examination
Lesson 5 The Human Geography of Bible Lands I: Settlement & Agricultural Geography
Topic 1 - Toponymy Beitzel 72-76; 106-144
Topic 2 - Rural Land Use, Settlement & Tenure  
Topic 3 - Agricultural Technologies  
Writing/Map Assignment 5
Quiz 4
Lesson 6 The Human Geography of Bible Lands II: Political & Economic Geography
Topic 1 - Roads, Trade & Geopolitics Beitzel 76-86; 40;145-206; 220-231;
Geobasics Mini-guide
Topic 2 - Urbanization, Administration & Fortifications  
Topic 3 - Economic Growth & Decline   
Writing/Map Assignment 6
Quiz 5
Lesson 7 The Human Geography of Bible Lands III: Brief Historical Geography Survey-Babylon to Modern State of Israel
Topic 1 - Babylon to Roman-Byzantine Judea/Syria/Palestina Beitzel 207-219; 232-276
Topic 2 - Arab Conquest to End of Ottoman Empire  
Topic 3 - British Conquest to Modern State of Israel  
Research Paper
Final Examination
Course Requirements: 

Reading and writing exercises
Refer to “Course Calendar” section for basic lesson structure and reading assignments. Specific assignments and due dates are set forth in each published lesson.

Filing writing assignments
All writing assignments in this course should follow the MLA style as set forth in Writing Research Papers: A Complete Guide by Lester & Lester. Please cite your sources and use quotation marks where needed. The "Attach a File" feature on an assignment submission page lets you submit your work so your instructor can have it handy for download, review and grading.

Study tips
Distance learning emphasizes self-motivation. The instructor functions as a facilitator with the student as the driving force in mastering course content. Students are encouraged not to put off completing their readings and assignments.

A course grade will be determined based on the number of points a student has earned over the semester as follows:

  • Research Paper (250 points)
  • Writing / Mapping Assignments (six, each worth 60 points, for a total of 360 points)
  • Quizzes (five, each worth 28 points, for a total of 140 points)
  • Exams (a mid-term worth 100 points, and a final worth 150 points, for a total of 250 points)
  • TOTAL 1000 points

Posting the autobiography, participation in on-line discussions and extra work can earn a student bonus points. These points could make the difference between an A or a B, or passing or not passing.

Grades are in the traditional American style of an A, B, C, D, or F. In distance learning, we believe that the measure of mastery of course subject matter is completion of 80% of the objectives for a course. That means that we want students to earn at least 800 points in this course. If they do not do so then they have not achieved the level of the mastery we would like them to have.

We want this course to be competency-based and so it is possible for the entire class to receive an A or a B. There is no artificial curving of scores in the assignment of grades (if you do not know what that means, do not worry about it). Mastery of the material is what one’s goal should be.

Grades, assigned by points, are as follows:

A 900-1000 points
B 800-899 points
C 700-799 points
D 600-699 points
F Below 600 points

Students With Disabilities
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities have a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. Students having a disability requiring an accommodation should inform the instructor by email (on the “Course Info” page click on the instructor’s name and then select “Send Email”).

Technology Access
This course requires web access and the student has to have an established e-mail account. The Adobe Acrobat Reader is necessary to view documents that are PDF files. One can download the reader free at

Course Evaluation
Student input is welcome for improving this course. Making suggestions by e-mail is helpful. Our goal in this course is to facilitate the successful achievement of all instructional objectives by all students. At the end of the course students have the opportunity of assessing the course. We want to make e-learning courses as effective as we can. We may also ask some other questions concerning a student’s experience in distance learning to help us improve our program. We appreciate students letting us know how we can improve our products and services for them and other distance learners.

Withdrawing From or Dropping This Course
It is the responsibility of a student to drop a course if he or she cannot meet the requirements of the course. Any student who stops attending a course without officially withdrawing from it risks receiving a punitive grade for that course. Withdrawal requests may be conveyed in any manner to the course professor, Registrar, or Vice President of Academic Affairs. This action is sufficient for ensuring any refund owed you. Please note the following: If a student drops a course on or before the “Last day to withdraw from a course without a grade penalty” as published in the University Academic Calendar, even if his or her work is not of a passing grade, then a “W” is recorded. If a course is dropped after that date, but before the last 21 calendar days of the semester, then the instructor determines the grade. The faculty member will at this time record a grade of “W” if passing (not computed in GPA) or “WF” if failing (computed in GPA). Students who drop a course, yet remain in one or more other courses during the last 18 calendar days of the semester, will receive a grade of “WF.” Students who completely withdraw from the University at any time during the semester may be given a grade of “W” on all courses. If students do not initiate the withdrawal process, the instructor is required to initiate the administrative process and to record a grade of “W” or “WF” for the course depending on the date the faculty member drops the student from the course. Students who register for a course as an audit, but then withdraw will be assigned a grade of “W” for the course.