Traces biblical references to surveying and its importance in ancient times.
|Land Surveying in Ancient Times
Throughout history the importance of land and its boundaries has ruled humankind and its perceptions of ownership. Land surveying was used by the ancient Egyptians and Sumerians for their building projects which required the skills and precision associated with the art of surveying. Maps have long been in existence, and the preparation of these maps required someone to do the field work and gather the details before preparing the map.
Surveying services provided by surveyors of Biblical days included mapping and demarcation of borders. Notations were made of the lands conquered and records were kept of the various landmarks that included detailed physical descriptions. All these were written down and literally constituted a start of land records. These records were then used to divide property among various tribes so that each of them had land that could sustain them. These land survey records were also used to plan defense.
The Bible also has laid down laws regarding properties and property markers which are expected to be handed over from generation to generation and all such markers are expected to be honored by man and his ancestors.
Bible references to land surveying
Bible verses and land surveying is borne out by many such examples which indicate the prominence given to land surveying. There were verses which concerned property boundaries and boundary markers like in Deuteronomy 19.14 “Thou shalt not remove thy neighbor's landmark, which they of old time have set, in thine inheritance which thou shalt inherit, in the land that Jehovah thy God giveth thee to possess it.” According to Job (24.2) removal of such markers caused flocks to be stolen and devoured.
The various technologies and equipment for surveys is also listed in the Bible. Like in Ezekiel 42:16 -19 “He measured on the east side with the measuring reed five hundred reeds, with the measuring reed round about. He measured on the north side five hundred reeds with the measuring reed round about. He measured on the south side five hundred reeds with the measuring reed. He turned about to the west side, and measured five hundred reeds with the measuring reed.” The reed is mentioned time and again in the Bible and was a standard of about 10.5 feet. It is also mentioned in building projects. Zechariah 2:1-2 says “I lifted up mine eyes again, and looked, and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand. Then said I, Whither goest thou? And he said unto me, to measure Jerusalem, to see what is the breadth thereof, and what is the length thereof.”
Mapping and boundaries also figure in Biblical descriptions. Numbers 34:6-7 “As for the western border, ye shall even have the great sea for a border; this shall be your west border. And this shall be your north border: from the great sea ye shall point out for you mount Hor.” Such maps and borders were also requisitioned like in Joshua 18:8 “Then the men arose and went, and Joshua commanded those who went to describe the land, saying, 'Go and walk through the land and describe it, and return to me; then I will cast lots for you here before the LORD in Shiloh.'" And in Joshua 18:9 “The men surveyed the land. They described it in a book. The land was divided into seven parts according to its cities." Then they returned to Joshua at the camp at Shiloh. In Hosea 5:10 "The princes of Judah have become like those who would move a boundary. On them I will pour out My Wrath." Job 38:4-5 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it?”
Quantity surveying also figured in the Bible in Luke 14:28 “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sits not down first and counts the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, 'This man began to build, and was not able to finish.'”