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It's True: Israel Was the "Land of Milk and Honey"

Teresa Neumann : Jun 10, 2010  Thomas H. Maugh II - Los Angeles Times

"This is a very special discovery … because there is no evidence from before for bringing any kind of animals from such a distance, especially bees, which represent a quite complicated, sophisticated type of agriculture. This throws new light on the economy of the Biblical period."

Bees in Israel(Israel)—The Bible often refers to Israel as the "land of milk and honey," but until recently most scholars assumed the "honey" referred to a fruit nectar. Now, since the discovery of a 3,000-year-old apiary in the Jordan Valley three years ago, and the theory that the bees were actually from Turkey, researchers believe the Bible was referring to the "real thing."

"This is a very special discovery…because there is no evidence from before for bringing any kind of animals from such a distance, especially bees, which represent a quite complicated, sophisticated type of agriculture," said archaeologist Amihai Mazar of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "This throws new light on the economy of the Biblical period."

Mazar was quoted as estimating that there were 100 to 200 hives in the central part of the city, with 1.5 million to 2 million bees if all hives were in use. "That's quite strange for a city" because bees can be a nuisance, he said. "There must have been some central authority that forced the city to accept the apiaries."

Said a report in the L.A.Times: The findings "would imply an incredible amount of commodity trading of bees," said bee expert Gene Kritsky of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, editor of American Entomologist. The importation of Italian bees to the United States in the 1860s "was thought to be a big deal then," he said, "but the Israelis may have been doing this as far back as the first millennium BC."

According to the report, the Israelites prized honeybees for the honey they produced and for the wax of their combs, which was used in metallurgical casting.

Click on the link provided to find out more about these ancient apiaries.







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