A land of wheat and barley
There were two harvests in it, one a barley harvest, which began at the passover, and the other a wheat harvest, which began at Pentecost: instances of the great plenty of these might be observed in the vast quantities consumed in the times of Solomon, in his household, and in the yearly distribution he made to Hiram, ( 1 Kings 4:22 1 Kings 4:28 ) ( 5:11 ) ( 2 Chronicles 2:10 ) , 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 ) ( Acts 12:20 ) . 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 F8:
with which this land abounded everywhere; the places most noted were Lebanon, Eshcol, Engedi, Ashkelon, Gaza, and Sarepta; according to the above writers F9, 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 F11
and fig trees and pomegranates:
according to Josephus F12, 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 ) ( 2 Chronicles 2:10 ) ( Ezekiel 27:17 ) . It was usual also, as we are told, for the ten tribes to send oil into Egypt F13; according to the Jewish doctors, Tekoah was the first place for oil, and the second, Ragab, beyond Jordan F14; very probably the same with Argob, ( Deuteronomy 3:4 ) .
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 F15 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 F16 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 F17 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 F18 reports, that the Babylonians made honey out of palm trees; so the Arabs call honey of palm trees "dibs, dibis, dipso" F19, 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.''
F8 Misn. Menachot, c. 8. sect. 1.
F9 lbid. sect. 6.
F11 T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 77. 1.
F12 De Bello Jud. l. 3. c. 9. sect. 8.
F13 Echa Rabbati, fol. 59. 3.
F14 Misn. Menachot, c. 8. sect. 3.
F15 Nat. Hist. l. 23. c. 4. Tikkune Zohar, correct. 16. fol. 27. 1.
F16 De Bello Jud. l. 4. c. 8. sect. 3.
F17 In Misn. Menachot, c. 5. sect. 1. so Bartenora in Misn. Biccurim, c. 1. sect. 3.
F18 Clio, sive, l. 1. c. 193.
F19 See Shaw's Travels, p. 143.