What Kind of Honey Did the Land of Israel Flow With?

Until recently, academic scholars have followed the opinion of talmudic sages in reading biblical references to honey as referring not to bees’ honey but to date syrup. Recent discoveries—some of which are now on display at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv—have led them to revise this understanding, as Bible History Daily reports:

Of the 55 times that honey appears in the Hebrew Bible, only twice does it specify bees’ honey (Judges 14:8–9 and 1 Samuel 14:27)—both of which refer to wild bees. Scholars used to believe that the other mentions of honey always referred to fruit honey, which was the common sweetener in ancient times. . . .

However, recent archaeological discoveries show that the ancient Israelites did indeed keep bees. This, coupled with new readings of these Biblical passages, has caused many to reevaluate the accepted interpretation. It seems that some of the 53 appearances of honey in the Hebrew Bible once thought to mean fruit honey actually mean bees’ honey.

Tel Reḥov, a site in the northern Jordan Valley, . . . has yielded discoveries from the 10th and 9th centuries BCE, the time alluded to in the Bible as that of David, Solomon, and the first kings of the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah. Among these discoveries was an apiary—the only [apiary] ever discovered in an archaeological excavation—with remains of bees imported from Anatolia inside the clay hives.

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Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Biblical Hebrew, Hebrew Bible, History & Ideas

 

The Arab Press Blames Iran Rather Than Israel for Gaza’s Woes

Following the fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad over the weekend, many journalists and commentators in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia didn’t rush to condemn the Jewish state. Instead, as the translators at the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) note, they criticized the terrorist group for “operating in service of Iranian interests and thus inflicting suffering on the Gaza Strip’s residents.” One Saudi intellectual, Turki al-Hamad, wrote the following on Twitter:

It is apparent that, if at one time any confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian organizations would attract world and Arab attention and provoke a wave of anger [against Israel], today it does not shock most Arabs and most of the world’s [countries]. Furthermore, even a sense of human solidarity [with the Palestinians] has become rare and embarrassing, raising the question, “Why [is this happening] and who is to blame?”

I believe that the main reason is the lack of confidence in all the Palestinian leaders. . . . From the Arabs’ and the world’s perspective, it is already clear that these leaders are manipulating the [Palestinian] cause out of self-interest and diplomatic, economic, or even personal motives, and that the Palestinian issue is completely unconnected to this. The Palestinian cause has become a bargaining chip in the hands of these and other organizations and states headed by the [Iranian] ayatollah regime.

A, article in a major Arabic-language newspaper took a similar approach:

In a lengthy front-page report on August 7, the London-based UAE daily Al-Arab criticized Islamic Jihad, writing that “Gaza again became an arena for the settling of accounts between Iran and Israel, while the Palestinian citizens are the ones paying the price.” It added that Iran does not want to confront Israel directly for its bombings in Syria and its attacks on Iranian scientists and nuclear facilities.

“The war in Gaza is not the first, nor will it be the last. But it proves . . . that Iran is exploiting Gaza as it exploits Lebanon, in order to strengthen its hand in negotiations with the West. We all know that Iran hasn’t fired a single bullet at Israel, and it also will not do this to defend Gaza or Lebanon.”

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Read more at MEMRI

More about: Gaza Strip, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israel-Arab relations, Persian Gulf