The Holy Land, or Israel, is a revered location for many faiths, especially Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Holy Land includes Jerusalem, the Western Wall, the Jordan River, the Mount of Olives, Bethlehem, Masada, and the Dome of the Rock. Visitors to the Holy Land explore the ancient towns and destinations such as Gethsemane, the Sea of Galilee, and the Dead Sea. Israel is called the Holy Land because it is the site of divine encounters between man and God and the land where Jesus lived, died, and rose again. The Holy Land is special to Christians because it is the historical region of Jesus’ birth, ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection. It is also the birthplace of the church, the place where most of the Bible was written, and the location of many events in the Old and New Testaments. Many Christians visit the Holy Land to touch, see, and confirm what they read in the Bible. The Holy Land is where God revealed Himself to us in the Person of Jesus the Christ and performed many miracles. It is also where Jesus will one day rule and reign. “Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.” Isaiah 24:23
In Judaism, Israel is more than the “Holy Land”; it is also the “Promised Land.” God promised this land to Abraham and his descendants, “And he said unto him, I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:” (Genesis 15:7; 18). God’s promise of the land was repeated to Isaac (Genesis 26:3) and to Jacob (Genesis 28:13). The exodus of the Jews from Egypt under Moses’ leadership and their travel to Canaan was a fulfillment of God’s ancient covenant with them (Deuteronomy 19:89). It is the “land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8). It is the land of King David, Joshua, Gideon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and many more in biblical accounts. Many mitzvoth, or commands, given to the Israelites in the Torah can only be performed in the land of Israel. The prophet Joel relates a promise of the future blessings of Jerusalem: “So shall ye know that I am the Lord your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.” Joel 3:17
Muslims call the land of Israel the “Holy Land” based on a passage in the Quran in which Moses proclaims, “O my people! Enter the holy land which Allah hath assigned unto you, and turn not back ignominiously, for then will ye be overthrown, to your own ruin” (Surah 5:21). Muslims usually call the land “blessed.” In Islam, Jerusalem also has significance. There, Muhammed is said to have experienced the Isra and Mi’raj. Jerusalem is also the location of two of Islam’s holy buildings, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.. Jerusalem was Islam’s first qiblah (direction of prayer); however, Islamic prayers are now directed toward Mecca. The region referred to as “blessed” is interpreted differently by various Muslim scholars.
The Baha’i religion also regards Israel as the Holy Land, and its two most important shrines are located there. Baha’i followers pilgrimage to the Mansion of the Bahji in Akko, the final resting place of Bahaullah, the founder of their religion. The Baha’i Gardens in Haifa contain the Shrine of Bab, who was a prophet respected in Baha’i, where the Bab’s remains are laid to rest and can be found on a hillside of terraced gardens.