When my Junior Master Gardeners planted our biblical garden outside the Servant’s House at our Denton location, we used several of the seven species of Israel. In case you are unfamiliar with the seven species, let’s have a look at Deuteronomy:
“For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing” (8:7-9).
When the scripture refers to honey as one of the seven species, it is actually the date palm. In ancient times, the date was often made into a form of honey by mashing the dates and cooking them with water until they thickened into a syrup. It is believed that the “honey” mentioned here is that of the date palm, not the honey produced by bees. That is why dates are the seventh species.
The seven species of Israel will provide the foundational structure for the Twelve Tribes garden in Corinth. Of course, because of environmental differences between north Texas and Israel, we will have to substitute a hardier tree to represent the date palm. In addition, we will plant the “unofficial” eighth species of Israel, the almond tree. The presence of these plants throughout the garden will be a living reminder of God’s chosen land and people, Israel.
Several other species figure prominently in the biblical landscape, including the four species of the Feast of Tabernacles–myrtle, citrus, palm, and willow–and numerous herbs and flowers. In many cases, plants that are native and adapted to this continent are close relatives of those found in Israel. It has been, and continues to be, a delightful investigative experience for me! I look forward to sharing these plants and their significance with you as they go into the ground.