bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Ancient hives discovered in the land of milk and honey

Beehives dating back 3000 years have been found in the ancient city of Rehov in Israel.

Thirty intact hives, made of straw and unbaked clay with an entrance for the bees at one end and a lid for beekeepers at the other, were found in orderly, three-high rows in a room that could have accommodated 100 hives.

Their location in a city has puzzled experts. They speculate that the city’s ruler might have wanted the industry under his control, or because the beekeeping industry was linked to religious practices since an altar decorated with fertility figurines was found alongside the hives.

Thanks, Slavik, for the tip.



Anonymous The Theolinguist said...

I know it's a little off-topic but as an amateur theologian and etymologist I have to point something out. Geographically speaking, the expression "land of milk and honey" refers to what is now Syria, Palestine, Lebanon and Israel, not just Israel, as is commonly misunderstood.

The phrase "milk and honey" first appears in English around 1000 A.D. in Aelfric's translation of Numbers 16:13 "Flowing with milk and honey," making it one of the earliest Biblical expressions to become a common expression in English. Over three hundred years later, in 1382, William Tyndale, translating Ezekiel 20:6, used the same expression and claimed to never have read any other English version of the Bible, therefore by that time the expression must have become commonplace in the English language.

Over the last thousand years the phrase has been used again and again, diluting its context. It even appears in chapter 20 of John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath (1939), referring to America: "this ain't no lan' of milk an' honey like the preachers say." Today it is commonly accepted to mean any place or region believed to be particularly rich and prosperous, however, the original, literal, geographic meaning of the expression is the greater West Bank area.

"And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey: unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites."

- Exodus 3:8 (King James Version)

11:15 pm  

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