Reviving the Date Palms of Ancient Judea—and Discovering Their Origins

Dec. 28 2020

For several years, a group of scientists and archaeologists led by Sarah Sallon have been working to grow date palms from 2,2000-year-old seeds discovered in the Judean desert. After successfully, growing both male and female trees, they have managed to produce dates like those eaten in biblical and talmudic times. Megan Sauter writes:

The Judean date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) is known from historical accounts for its sweet, large fruit, which even had medicinal properties. It played a significant role in the Judean economy for about two millennia—at the least from the 5th century BCE until the 11th century CE—but went extinct centuries ago.

In 2008, [Sallon and her team] successfully germinated a 2,000-year-old seed from the fortress of Masada near the Dead Sea and, appropriately, named this seedling “Methuselah.” This past year, they revealed the germination of six other seeds: one from Masada, four from Qumran, and one from Wadi Makukh. These were named “Adam,” “Jonah,” “Uriel,” “Boaz,” “Judith,” and “Hannah,” respectively.

The genes of modern date palms come from two fairly distinct populations: an eastern variety (from the Middle East, Arabia, and Asia) and a western variety (from Africa). The researchers determined that the Judean date palm came from crossbreeding eastern varieties with western varieties.

Compared to modern date seeds, the ancient seeds were longer and wider. This corroborates the historical descriptions of these dates as being large. The descriptions of the dates’ sweetness are also accurate.

Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: Archaeology, Hebrew Bible, Israeli agriculture

The U.S. Is Trying to Seduce Israel into Accepting a Bad Deal with Iran. Israel Should Say No

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its quarterly report on the Iranian nuclear program. According to an analysis by the Institute for Science and International Security, the Islamic Republic can now produce enough weapons-grade uranium to manufacture “five nuclear weapons in one month, seven in two months, and a total of eight in three months.” The IAEA also has reason to believe that Tehran has further nuclear capabilities that it has successfully hidden from inspectors. David M. Weinberg is concerned about Washington’s response:

Believe it or not, the Biden administration apparently is once again offering the mullahs of Tehran a sweetheart deal: the release of $10 billion or more in frozen Iranian assets and clemency for Iran’s near-breakout nuclear advances of recent years, in exchange for Iranian release of American hostages and warmed-over pious Iranian pledges to freeze the Shiite atomic-bomb program.

This month, intelligence photos showed Iran again digging tunnels at its Natanz nuclear site—supposedly deep enough to withstand an American or Israeli military strike. This tells us that Iran has something to hide, a clear sign that it has not given up on its quest for a nuclear bomb.

Meanwhile, Antony Blinken today completes a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia, where he is reportedly pressing the kingdom to enter the Abraham Accords. This is no coincidence, for reasons Weinberg explains:

Washington expects Israeli acquiescence in the emerging U.S. surrender to Iran in exchange for a series of other things important to Israel. These include U.S. backing for Israel against escalated Palestinian assaults expected this fall in UN forums, toning down U.S. criticism regarding settlement and security matters (at a time when the IDF is going to have to intensify its anti-terrorist operations in Judea and Samaria), an easing of U.S. pressures on Israel in connection with domestic matters (like judicial reform), a warm Washington visit for Prime Minister Netanyahu (which is not just a political concession but is rather critical to Israel’s overall deterrent posture), and most of all, significant American moves towards reconciliation with Saudi Arabia (which is critical to driving a breakthrough in Israeli-Saudi ties).

[But] even an expensive package of U.S. “concessions” to Saudi Arabia will not truly compensate for U.S. capitulation to Iran (something we know from experience will only embolden the hegemonic ambitions of the mullahs). And this capitulation will make it more difficult for the Saudis to embrace Israel publicly.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Antony Blinken, Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship