Resurrecting the Judean Date Palm

The Judean date palm, once found in abundance in the land of Israel, has been extinct for some 1,500 years. In 2005, the botanical researcher Elaine Solowey tried planting an ancient seed that had been discovered in the ruins of Masada. The resulting tree (nicknamed Methuselah) has now produced offspring. April Holloway writes:

For thousands of years, the date palm was a staple crop in the kingdom of Judea, as it was a source of food, shelter, and shade. Thick forests of the palms towering up to 80 feet and spreading for seven miles covered the Jordan River valley from the Sea of Galilee in the north to the shores of the Dead Sea in the south. So valued was the tree that it became a recognized as a symbol of good fortune in Judea. It is chronicled in the Bible, Quran, and ancient literature for its diverse powers . . . and as a cure for a wide range of diseases including cancer, malaria, and toothache.

However, its value was also the source of its demise and eventual extinction. The tree so defined the local economy that it became a prime resource for the invading Roman army to destroy. Once the Roman Empire took control of the kingdom in 70 CE, the date palms were wiped out in an attempt to cripple the Jewish economy. The effort eventually succeeded, and by 500 CE the once plentiful palm had completely disappeared, driven to extinction for the sake of conquest. . . .

[Elaine] Solowey now hopes she will be able to plant an ancient date grove. To do that, she would need to grow a female plant from an ancient seed as a mate for Methuselah, and it’s looking promising—Solowey has managed to sprout a small handful of other date palms from ancient seeds recovered at archaeological sites around the Dead Sea, and at least two of them are female.

Read more at Ancient Origins

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, History & Ideas, Land of Israel, Masada, Science, Yigael Yadin

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security