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

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


Why the White House’s Plan to Prevent an Israel-Hizballah War Won’t Work

On Monday, Hizballah downed an Israeli drone, leading the IDF to retaliate with airstrikes that killed one of the terrorist group’s commanders in southern Lebanon, and two more of its members in the northeast. The latter strike marks an escalation by the IDF, which normally confines its activities to the southern part of the country. Hizballah responded by firing two barrages of rockets into northern Israel on Tuesday, while Hamas operatives in Lebanon fired another barrage yesterday.

According to the Iran-backed militia, 219 of its fighters have been killed since October; six Israeli civilians and ten soldiers have lost their lives in the north. The Biden administration has meanwhile been involved in ongoing negotiations to prevent these skirmishes from turning into an all-out war. The administration’s plan, however, requires carrots for Hizballah in exchange for unenforceable guarantees, as Richard Goldberg explains:

Israel and Hizballah last went to war in 2006. That summer, Hizballah crossed the border, killed three Israeli soldiers, and kidnapped two others. Israel responded with furious airstrikes, a naval blockade, and eventually a ground operation that met stiff resistance and mixed results. A UN-endorsed ceasefire went into effect after 34 days of war, accompanied by a Security Council Resolution that ordered the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to assist the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in disarming Hizballah in southern Lebanon—from the Israeli border up to the Litani River, some 30 kilometers away.

Despite billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer support over the last seventeen years, the LAF made no requests to UNIFIL, which then never disarmed Hizballah. Instead, Iran accelerated delivering weapons to the terrorist group—building up its forces to a threat level that dwarfs the one Israel faced in 2006. The politics of Lebanon shifted over time as well, with Hizballah taking effective control of the Lebanese government and exerting its influence (and sometimes even control) over the LAF and its U.S.-funded systems.

Now the U.S. is offering Lebanon an economic bailout in exchange for a promise to keep Hizballah forces from coming within a mere ten kilometers of the border, essentially abrogating the Security Council resolution. Goldberg continues:

Who would be responsible for keeping the peace? The LAF and UNIFIL—the same pair that has spent seventeen years helping Hizballah become the threat it is today. That would guarantee that Hizballah’s commitments will never be verified or enforced.

It’s a win-win for [Hizballah’s chief Hassan] Nasrallah. Many of his fighters live and keep their missiles hidden within ten kilometers of Israel’s border. They will blend into the civilian population without any mechanism to force their departure. And even if the U.S. or France could verify a movement of weapons to the north, Nasrallah’s arsenal is more than capable of terrorizing Israeli cities from ten kilometers away. Meanwhile, a bailout of Lebanon will increase Hizballah’s popularity—demonstrating its tactics against Israel work.

Read more at The Dispatch

More about: Hizballah, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden