A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates—The limestone rocks and abrupt valleys were entirely covered, as traces of them still show, with plantations of figs, vines, and olive trees. Though in a southern latitude, its mountainous formations tempered the excessive heat, and hence, figs, pomegranates, &c., were produced in Palestine equally with wheat and barley, the produce of northern regions.
honey—The word "honey" is used often in a loose, indeterminate sense, very frequently to signify a syrup of dates or of grapes, which under the name of dibs is much used by all classes, wherever vineyards are found, as a condiment to their food. It resembles thin molasses, but is more pleasant to the taste [Robinson]. This is esteemed a great delicacy in the East, and it was produced abundantly in Palestine.Of olive oil, Heb. of the olive tree of oil, i.e. not of wild and barren, but of fruitful olive trees, which yield plenty of oil. 1 Kings 4:22, yea, there was such plenty of wheat in this land, that it not only supplied the inhabitants of it, but even furnished other countries with it; with this the merchants of Israel and Judah traded at the market of Tyre, Ezekiel 27:17. According to the Jewish writers, the best fine wheat flour was at Mechumas and Mezonichah, and the next to them was Chephraim, or Ephraim, in the valley (h):
and vines; with which this land abounded everywhere; the places most noted were Lebanon, Eshcol, Engedi, Ashkelon, Gaza, and Sarepta; according to the above writers (i), Cerotim and Hatolim were the first for wine, and the second to them were Beth Rimah and Beth Laban in the mountain, and Caphat Sigmah in the valley; the wine of Sharon is also highly commended by them (k).
and fig trees and pomegranates: according to Josephus (l), the country of Gennesaret furnished with the best grapes and figs for ten months without intermission, and the rest of fruits throughout the whole year. Figs and pomegranates, the spies brought with them when they returned from searching the land, as well as grapes, are a specimen of the fruits of it, Numbers 13:23.
a land of oil olive; the mount of Olives was famous for olive trees, and had its name from thence; the whole land abounded with them, and though oil was so much in common use with the Jews, they supplied their neighbours with it: see 1 Kings 5:11. It was usual also, as we are told, for the ten tribes to send oil into Egypt (m); according to the Jewish doctors, Tekoah was the first place for oil, and the second, Ragab, beyond Jordan (n); very probably the same with Argob, Deuteronomy 3:4.
and honey; besides the great quantities of honey produced by bees in this country, there was much of another sort that dropped from trees, called wild honey, the food of John the Baptist in the wilderness, Matthew 3:4. Pliny (o) speaks of a sort of honey which he calls "eloeomeli", or oil honey, which is said to flow from the olive trees in Syria; but this honey here is generally thought by the Jewish writers to be an honey which was made of the fruit of palm trees, frequent in this country, and especially about Jericho; of which Josephus (p) says, that the palm trees about Jericho, the fatter of them (i.e. of the fruit of them) being pressed, emit a large quantity of honey, scarce exceeded by any; and Maimonides (q) says, that the honey spoken of in the law, particularly in this place, is honey of palm trees, so Ben Melech; and it was not unusual for people of other nations to make honey of the fruit of them. Herodotus (r) reports, that the Babylonians made honey out of palm trees; so the Arabs call honey of palm trees "dibs, dibis, dipso" (s), the same with the word here used; agreeably to which both the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem paraphrase the words,"out of whose palm trees honey is made.''
(h) Misn. Menachot, c. 8. sect. 1.((i) lbid. sect. 6. (k) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 77. 1.((l) De Bello Jud. l. 3. c. 9. sect. 8. (m) Echa Rabbati, fol. 59. 3.((n) Misn. Menachot, c. 8. sect. 3.((o) Nat. Hist. l. 23. c. 4. Tikkune Zohar, correct. 16. fol. 27. 1.((p) De Bello Jud. l. 4. c. 8. sect. 3.((q) In Misn. Menachot, c. 5. sect. 1. so Bartenora in Misn. Biccurim, c. 1. sect. 3.((r) Clio, sive, l. 1. c. 193. (s) See Shaw's Travels, p. 143.A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)8. wheat and barley] Not the most characteristic products of Palestine, but put first as the staple food of man and the principal distinction of the cultivated soil from the desert, the land not sown (Jeremiah 2:2). On the distribution of wheat and barley in Palestine see Jerusalem, i. 298 f. These two grains are followed by four fruits.
vines and fig trees and pomegranates … oil olives] ‘Far more than any grain the staple products of the Judaean range have been its fruit-trees and especially the great triad of the Olive, Vine and Fig, the three which in the ancient parable the trees desire in turn to make their king’ (Jerusalem, 1:299 ff. which see for the distribution of these trees and their power as factors in civilisation and human wealth). Here the Olive is taken apart from its usual companions Vine and Fig either because of its importance or for the rhythm of the prose. Oil olives, lit. the olive of oil, the cultivated and grafted, as distinguished from the wild, olive. Cp. 2 Kings 18:32 with the other word for oil, yiṣhar, used above Deuteronomy 7:13 (q.v.); here it is shemen.
honey] See on Deuteronomy 6:3.Verse 8. - "Palestine has been celebrated in all ages for three products: corn, wine, and oil, which still continue to be its most valuable crops" (Ibid., p. 189). The principal corn crops were wheat and barley. The vine was largely and carefully cultivated; the olive required little cultivation, being almost a spontaneous growth, and forming one of the most valuable productions of the country; the fig was also indigenous in Palestine, and still grows there, both wild and cultivated, in abundance; that the pomegranate (firemen) also was very abundant may be inferred from the number of places named from this (cf. Joshua 15:32; Joshua 19:7, 13; Judges 20:45, 47; Judges 21:13; 1 Chronicles 4:32, etc.). Honey. The word so rendered (d'bash) is used both of the honey of bees (Leviticus 2:11; Deuteronomy 32:11; 1 Samuel 14:26, etc.; Psalm 81:17; Proverbs 16:24, etc.), and of the honey of grapes, a syrup obtained by boiling down the newly expressed juice of the grape to a half or third part of its bulk, and still known among the Arabs by the name of dibs (Robinson, 'Bib. Res.,' it. p. 442; Smith, Bib. Dict.,' s.v. 'Honey'). In the wilderness, the people had murmured that they had been brought into an evil place, no place of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; and where there was no water to drink (Numbers 20:5). Moses here tells them that the land they were about to occupy was not such a place, but one abounding in all those things of which they had found the wilderness so destitute. Deuteronomy 1:31; Deuteronomy 2:7), by which God desired to humble them, and to prove the state of their heart and their obedience. Humiliation was the way to prove their attitude towards God. ענּה, to humble, i.e., to bring them by means of distress and privations to feel their need of help and their dependence upon God. נסּה, to prove, by placing them in such positions in life as would drive them to reveal what was in their heart, viz., whether they believed in the omnipotence, love, and righteousness of God, or not.
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