Answers to Quora Questions by Yair Davidiy (5 November 2017, 15 Heshbon, 5778)
Is Israel the centre of the Earth?
Would the Israeli-Palestinian conflict receive as much world attention if it was not taking place in the Land of Israel?
Ezekiel Chapter 38 describes the pagan forces of Gog and Magog coming to besiege the Jewish and Israelite nations dwelling in the Land of Israel in the End Times.
The Land of Israel is described as being "be-tabor ha-aretz" i.e. at the center of the earth. It is translated as English "in the midst of the land" but "center of the earth" is an equally accurate rendering.
Ezekiel (NKJV) 38:
10 Thus says the LORD God: On that day it shall come to pass that thoughts will arise in your mind, and you will make an evil plan: 11 You will say, I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates 12 to take plunder and to take booty, to stretch out your hand against the waste places that are again inhabited, and against a people gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwellÂ in the midst of the land.
The expression translated from the Hebrew as "in the midst of the land" and just as well meaning "at the center of the earth" is indeed so translated in the ESV (English Standard Version), and the NETBible.
Other reditions inclue:
"at the center of the world" (NASB and HCSB).
"in the middle of the earth" (WEB, ERV and ASV).
The International Standard Version (ISV) says "who live at the center of the world's attention."
See the various translations at Bible Hub.
The word 'tabor" in Hebrew does mind "center" but it is also applied to the navel i.e. belly button.
Among the Classical Rabbinical Commentators (as given in "Mikraot Gedolot") we find:
R"Y Karo: "they dwell on the navel of the earth, at the center of the world".
Rashi: "on the height and strength of world like the navel which is in the center of person from which everything descends."
Metsudat David: "at the central dividing point of the world just like the navel is in the middle of the body."
Radak: "The Land of Israel is called 'Navel of the Earth' since it is in the middle of the world just like the navel is in the middle of the body."
It should be noted that this same expression is also found elsewhere in the Bible (Judges 9:37) where the KJ renders it as "the middle of the land."
It should be noted that Ezekiel is referring to the Land of Israel as it will be in the End Times. A great authority, the Hatam Softer (1762-1839), has been quoted as saying that in the End Times the land of Israel will expand to include portions of Western Europe, the British Isles, and Atlantic Ocean area.