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Israel: Seven Species (7) Honey

Updated on December 7, 2017


Before the Israelites entered the Promised Land of Israel, God told Moses to warn the Israelites to keep the commandments of the Lord God for He was bringing them into a good land with food ready to sustain them during the drought. Seven species were mentioned and they were wheat, barley, vines, figs, pomegranates, olive and honey. If they disobeyed God and worshiped other gods, they would surely perish.

Deuteronomy 8:6-11:

  • Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.
  • For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills.
  • A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive and honey;
  • A land where thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; ..
  • When thou has eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.
  • Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day.

From the land of Egypt where the Israelies were in servitude, God brought them to a land of seven species of food which would make them survive in drought. However, they must not forget to keep the commandments of the Lord, or they perish..


Chapter 8:1 of the book of Deuteronomy begins. "All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers." The text continues and ends with the dire warning. "And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the Lord thy God and walk after other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish" (19).

The specific emphasis on these seven species and not on other crops becomes readily understandable because it is woven into the description of the land of Israel — a warning to obey God's commandments.

Seven Species
Seven Species


The seven species of food symbolize the close relationship between the Jewish People and the Land of Israel.

•Rimon Season (pomegranate)—September/October—Rosh HaShanah/Yom Kippur/Sukkot
.Tamar Season (date/honey)—September/October—Rosh HaShanah/Sukkot
•Zayit Season (olive)—November/December—Hanukkah
•Te’ena Season (fig)—January/February—Tu B’Shevat
•Gefen Season (vine, grape)—March—Purim
•Wheat and Barley Season—April/May/June—Passover/Shavuot


The seven species are the natural and indigenous crops mentioned in the Torah that grew in Israel without need of irrigation. All the species were discovered, received and accepted the very moment the Israelites entered the land after their bondage in Egypt. They have been used symbolically ever since.

Honey (dates) D'vash (Te'marim)
Honey/Dates signify that a person can be righteous, can follow obligation and abundance, meaning that the land flows with milk and honey.

The date palm grows in the desert and flourishes without much water. The palm tree takes a long time to grow so it does not use a lot of water.


Before the Israelites stepped into the Land of Milk and Honey, they were already warned by God to obey Him and not turn to other gods, then they will live long on the land.

Deuteronomy 11:8-9

  • Therefore shall ye keep all the commandment which I command you this day that ye may be strong and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it;
  • And that ye may prolong your days in the land, which the God sware unto your fathers to give unto them and to their seed, a land that floweth with milk and honey.


The seven species (including the date as honey) are the outstanding representatives of the special agricultural problems of the land of Israel. The fate of these crops depends on the delicate balance and exact timing of opposing forces of nature during the critical period between Passover and Shavuot. These conditions, totally foreign to the Israelites in Egypt and the Sinai desert, were a basic and familiar element in the daily lives of the Canaanite dwellers in the land of Israel.

Contrasting with the seven species are those choice products which Jacob sent to Egypt. These are crops that, although they represent the bounty of the land of Israel, do not present the worrisome agricultural problems that could "lure away to serve other gods." Despite the severe famine that gripped the land of Israel at the time, Jacob had the various choice products on hand to send to Egypt. Pistachio and almond trees flower early, fruiting before olive and pomegranate trees, grapes or date palms have even blossomed. Balm, gum and laudanum are products of the sap extracted from the bark and leaves of various plants.

All these produce crops even in drought years, since they require relatively small quantities of rain. This is also true of wild flowers from which bees make honey, a product that, even in harshest years, was plentiful in "the land flowing with milk and honey." Many of Israel's flowers blossom in drought years. In fact, numerous flowers appear early and in even greater abundance than normal specifically under drought conditions, in an attempt by nature to ensure the next generations by hastening the flowering and seed-making process.

This is why the honey of the seven species cannot be bee honey but must be date honey. Nor is it carob honey, because the carob tree blossoms in a different season and in no way reflects the agricultural problems associated with the "luring away to serve other gods." As a matter of fact, the carob is known as the one fruit tree that can survive even after devastation of agricultural land, continuing to give fruit in desolate, abandoned wasteland.

The role of the seven species in the battle for monotheism becomes even more apparent with the revelation that only they could brought as offerings of the first fruits (bikkurim) to the Temple in Jerusalem. The Mishna[2] tells us "One does not bring offerings of the bikkurim (first fruits) except from the seven species." In this way the Mishna elaborates on the Biblical verses, which say: "The first of the bikkurim of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God";[3] and "You shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the earth that you harvest from your land that the Lord your God is giving you...[4]

Rosh Hashana setting
Rosh Hashana setting



In Jewish tradition, honey is a symbol for the new year, Rosh Hashana. At the traditional meal for that holiday, apple slices are dipped in honey and eaten to bring a sweet new year. Some Rosh Hashana greetings show honey and an apple, symbolizing the feast. In some congregations, small straws of honey are given out to usher in the new year.

The Hebrew Bible contains many references to honey. In The Book of Judges, Samson found a swarm of bees and honey in the carcass of a lion (14:8). The Book of Exodus famously describes the Promised Land as a "land flowing with milk and honey" (33:3). However, the claim has been advanced that the original Hebrew (devash) actually refers to the sweet syrup produced from the juice of the date.[15]

In the Christian New Testament, Matthew 3:4, John the Baptist is said to have lived for a long period of time in the wilderness on a diet consisting of locusts and wild honey.




The date palm was considered a staple in the Judean Desert, as it was a source of food, shelter and shade for thousands of years, and became a recognized symbol of the Kingdom of Judea. It grew around the Dead Sea in the south, to the Sea of Galilee and Lake Hula regions in the north. The tree and its fruit caused Jericho to become a major population center and are praised in the Hebrew Bible possibly several times indirectly, such as in Psalm 92 ("The righteous himself will blossom forth as a palm tree does."), or date cluster mentioned in Song of Solomon 5:11; 7:7-8 (Heb:: tal·tal·lim′; san·sin·nim′).

It was even said by some to have medicinal properties, supposedly curing many diseases and infections, promoting longevity and acting as a mild aphrodisiac. Its likeness was engraved on shekalim, the ancient Hebrew unit of currency. According to historical sources, the taste of them was something splendid.Pliny the Elder, a Roman naturalist of the 1st century AD, wrote that Judæa's dates were known for their succulence and sweetness..[citation needed]

When the Romans invaded ancient Judea, thick forests of date palms towering up to 80 feet (24 m) high and 7 miles (11 km) wide covered the Jordan River valley from the Sea of Galilee in the north to the shores of the Dead Sea in the south. The tree so defined the local economy that Emperor Vespasian celebrated the conquest by minting the "Judaea Capta", a special bronze coin that showed the Jewish state as a weeping woman beneath a date palm. The Judean Date is even mentioned in the Qur'an.

The date growing as a commercial fruit export stopped at the end of 70 A.D., when the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans. From then, the tradition was lost. Judean date palms were wiped out by about A.D. 500.

Vespasian coin celebrating the victory over the rebels. The legend says: IVDEA CAPTA. (Judea captured)

A date palm is also featured on the ten-shekel coin of the New Israeli Shekel.

Symbol of beauty, in Jewish culture


The date palm is one of the most important trees in the East. The fruit is the daily food of millions of people; wine is made of the sap and the seeds are made into edible food for camels. The fibres of the leaf-stems can be woven into ropes. The tall trunk is a valuable timber and its leaves are made into many different types of articles.

Revelation 7:9

  • After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.

The palm is also used a symbol of victory.

John 12:12-13

  • On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem,
  • Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Honey is the last of Israel's Seven Species prepared for the Israelites when they reached the Promised Land. The Seven Species were ready to welcome the Israelites after the long wandering in the wilderness. Hopefully, they would repent of their disobedience to the Lord. Two thousand years later, they have not all changed for the better. Now the Israelites are facing the greatest threat from their enemies, the Arabs. Peace between the Jews and the Arabs is very fragile hanging on a thread and America, their greatest ally is negotiating the peace that has eluded them for so many years. May God have mercy on the Israelites and hopefully, that honey, the last of the Seven Species bring them sweetness and satisfaction to the land flowing with milk and honey.

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    • einron profile image

      einron 7 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA


      Thanks for bookmark. Blessings!

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 7 years ago

      fascinating! bookmarked and voted. insightful and relevant information.

    • einron profile image

      einron 7 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA


      Great that you were able to discover new things on the subject. Thanks for visiting. Blessings!

    • einron profile image

      einron 7 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

      Michael Adams 1959

      Thanks for being the first to comment. Very appreciative! Glad to be of service to you. Blessings!

    • quuenieproac profile image

      quuenieproac 7 years ago from Malaysia

      Thanks for a well researched hub on honey and its religious significance. I always discover new things from reading your hubs!

    • Michael Adams1959 profile image

      Michael Adams1959 7 years ago from Wherever God leads us.

      Wow, very informative great work! Glad I stopped in to read it. A lot of things I did not know.