Recreating the Balm of Gilead

“Is there no balm in Gilead?” Jeremiah famously asked, wondering rhetorically why the Jews did not seek atonement for their backsliding. Gilead is a territory located in what is now northwestern Jordan; tsori, the word rendered as “balm,” is mentioned but handful of times in the Hebrew Bible, and appears to be a product especially associated with the Land of Israel. Zohar Amar, a botanist and historian of medicine at Bar-Ilan University, believes he has identified it as the resin of the Atlantic pistachio tree. Bible History Daily reports:

After identifying the tree, [Amar] and his student Elron Zabatani engaged in some experimental archaeology and successfully harvested some of the biblical balm. They reconstructed the traditional method of resin extraction from the Atlantic pistachio tree.

Amar and Zabatani harvested resin from 80 trees in Israel. They based their method of extraction on the resin production in Chios, Greece and Iraqi Kurdistan. In both those locales, residents harvest resin during the summer season.

Amar and Zabatani calculated that 50 trees produce around 33 pounds of resin per season. The high yield makes this industry particularly desirable. Amar explains, “Although it is not possible to estimate how much resin was actually collected every year and how many people were involved in the process, the large amounts of resin we obtained confirm that this was indeed a profitable industry in the past.”

Several photographs of the process can be found at the link below.

Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Hebrew Bible

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict