More laws and religious practices

Deut 1-3    Chapters 1-3 of the Book of Deuteronomy give a parallel account of the Israelites’ travels from Kadesh Barnea to the Plains of Moab (see also Numbers 13-36).

Deut 4-33    Chapters 4-33 recount the Ten Commandments together with other laws and religious practices to be observed by the Israelites.

 

The Seven Fruits

In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses is recorded as saying to the Israelites, “The LORD your God is bringing you into a good land… a land that has wheat and barley, vines, fig-trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey(Deuteronomy 8:7-8). These indicators of a ‘land of plenty’ are known as the ‘Seven Fruits’ or seven varieties of produce.
 

The seven fruits

The 'seven fruits' represented a 'perfect' land of plenty
 

The ‘promised land’ of Canaan was to be a perfect land (the number seven represents perfection in Jewish tradition), 'flowing with milk and honey' (see Exodus 3:8). It was to be a well-watered land with springs, streams and pools of water irrigating the fertile soil (in stark contrast to the semi-arid desert lands of the Negev where the Israelites had settled for over thirty years in the area around Kadesh Barnea).

In the Spring sunshine, grain crops would ripen quickly, with the first sheaves of barley celebrated by the Festival of Firstfruits in April, followed by the main barley harvest later in April or early May (see Leviticus 23:9-14). The end of the wheat harvest in May was celebrated by the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost – fifty days after Firstfruits), the main harvest festival for cereal crops (see Leviticus 23:15-22). Wheat and barley were winnowed on a threshing floor, and the cereal grains were baked into ‘lehem’ (Hebrew, meaning ‘bread’), the staple diet of the Israelites.

Vines and fig trees were tended in June, and the fruits ripened during the long, hot summers. Water mixed with a little wine (to provide calories, sugar and iron) was the standard drink in most Jewish homes. The wine improved the taste of the water (which had often been stored for weeks during the dry season), and reduced the number of bacteria present. The ripe grapes were harvested early in September, followed by figs, dates, pomegranates and the olive harvest. The ‘honey’, referred to by Moses, was date honey, made with the sweet fruits of the date palm. The fruit harvest was celebrated at the Festival of Tabernacles, when Jewish families would camp out in the harvest fields in ‘tabernacles’ (tents) and temporary shelters or ‘booths’ (see Leviticus 23:33-43).

 

ncient Qasrin

An olive press at Ancient Qasrin

 

Ploughing would then take place before the first rains in November, when the grain crops for the next agricultural year were planted.

Cultivation of the ‘Seven Fruits’ in a traditional Jewish environment can be seen at the Neot Kedumim Biblical Landscape Reserve just off the Tel Aviv to Jerusalem Highway 443 near Lod (Lydda), 6 miles / 10 km south west of Ben-Gurion International Airport. Visitors can also explore reconstructed vine terraces, a vineyard watchtower, olive and wine presses, and traditional grain threshing floors.

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