The Land of Milk and . . . Molasses?

The custom of eating honey on Rosh Hashanah is widespread among Ashkenazi, Sephardi, and Mizraḥi Jews; in biblical times, however, honey was a rarity. Tami Ganeles-Weiser explains how honey entered Jewish cuisine:

[B]ee’s honey wasn’t common in ancient Israel—in fact, [the Torah’s phrase] “the land of milk and honey” is a bit of a misnomer. The reason for the lack of honey is simple: the bees of the region were a particularly aggressive strain. Their ferocity made raiding hives for honey a risky task, so bee’s honey was a delicious, if rare, happenstance. (King Saul’s son Jonathan found honey on the ground during the battle of Mikhmash and “his eyes brightened,” [according to the book of Samuel].)

“Honey” was frequently made from sources other than bees, such as dates, figs, and even pomegranates. The “land of milk and honey” refers to molasses from dates, sources say. Archaeological findings at Beit She’an in Israel indicate that around the 9th century BCE, people started keeping tame, non-native Anatolian bees. By talmudic times, . . . the Hebrew word devash, which once referred to all kinds of syrup, generally meant bee’s honey.

Scholars granted honey a unique status as the only kosher product of a non-kosher creature. The bee, it was ruled, was a carrier, not a creator.

Read more at Moment

More about: Hebrew Bible, History & Ideas, Jewish food, Kashrut, King Saul, Rosh Hashanah


To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy