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

Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Mossad, U.S. Foreign policy