When the Israelites occupied Canaan, a plot of land was given to each family and such holdings were marked off by landmarks or boundary marks. These are not described in the Bible, but they may have been posts, stones or even furrows in the ground. It is possible that at least some boundary marks in Palestine bore inscriptions of identification. Elaborate inscriptions do appear on landmarks or boundary stones in Egypt and Mesopotamia. For example, an inscribed boundary stone of Nebuchadnezzar I was discovered at Nippur.
Regardless of the way in which the Hebrews marked off their inheritance or landholdings, Jehovah’s law prohibited the moving back of boundary marks. (Deut. 19:14; see also Proverbs 22:28.) In fact, cursed was the one moving back “the boundary mark of his fellow man.” (Deut. 27:17) Since landholders generally were dependent upon the produce of their plots of ground, moving back a boundary mark would mean depriving another person of some of his means of sustenance. Doing this was equivalent to theft and was so viewed in ancient times. (Job 24:2) But there were unscrupulous persons who were guilty of such abuses, and princes of Judah in Hosea’s time were likened to those moving back a boundary.—Hos. 5:10.
Removal of landmarks or boundary marks was viewed as a crime, not only under the Mosaic law, but according to Babylonian law. This action was also prohibited by the Egyptian ruler Amen-em-opet and in Greek and Roman legislation.
God is considerate of the widowed and fatherless. Thus it is said that Jehovah will tear down the house of the self-exalted, “but he will fix the boundary of the widow.” (Prov. 15:25) Then, too, Proverbs 23:10, 11 declares: “Do not move back the boundary of long ago, and into the field of fatherless boys do not enter. For their Redeemer is strong; he himself will plead their cause with you.”
[Picture on page 255]
Bablyonian boundary marker