Planting Date Palms in the Desert

 “The children of the Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law, went up out of the city of palm trees with the children of Judah into the wilderness of Judah, which lies in the south of Arad….” (Judges 1:16).

Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister was often called “The architect of modern Israel.” He strongly urged settling of the desert and set the example by living there himself.

I recently learned from David Ben Gurion’s book, “The Jews in Their Land” (page 38), that the city of palm trees spoken of in Judges 1:16 refers not to Jericho, but to Tamar south of the Dead Sea! The location of the Biblical city of Tamar is in the Arava a little south of the Dead Sea. The Arava is a southern extension of the Jordan rift from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Eilat. Except for a few settlements, it is largely desert.

Please continue to read and learn about Bible Light’s new project in this area, and why we think this is the time to launch it.

Another line caught my eye in Ben Gurion’s book: “Judah now at peace with Israel was able to channel energy into the south. Once again we hear of Jehoshaphat ruling the Arava and Edom.” (page 58) As this is being written, the disengagement of Gaza is headline news that doesn’t sound much like peace. But channeling energy into the south untamed desert region could be a great healer, and can help supply a missing ingredient in the Land today.

The founder of Bible Light, Elmer Josephson to whom I was happily married for 35 years, had a favorite expression, “GOD is sovereign!” Friends would often point out, “But we have to work with Him,” – to which Elmer readily agreed. However, the reason he was constantly pointing out the sovereignty of God was to encourage us to know that, even though things seemed to go wrong, God had not turned everything over to the adversary. Elmer wanted us to understand that the “war” is primarily a spiritual conflict and that the weapons of our warfare are NOT carnal (of fleshly and material substance) but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds (II Cor. 10:4); that it is not by might nor by power but by His Spirit (Zech. 4:6); and that the way to overcome evil was by doing good (Rom. 12:21).

It all can be summed up in this: LOVE is the strongest force in the world. And love is made known by the manner in which words are spoken and deeds are performed.

In the spring of 1997 we began an almond orchard in Elmer’s memory at Ma’ale Michmas, north of Jerusalem, along with helping meet other needs of the community. Relatively recently a friend in California, Irl Denniston, paid for a fence around the almond trees to keep the wild animals from destroying the young saplings. This action helped greatly in our finishing the project which we trust will continue many years to bless the people of the community.

Go South, Young Man

A wonderful opportunity has been given us now to help the desert blossom as the rose – Isaiah 35:1. The next verse in Isaiah says the blossoming will be abundant and bring joy and singing; and the glory and excellency of the Lord will be seen. In other words, we plant by a river of promises there.

Bible Light has been invited by DeWayne Coxon of Blossoming Rose to undertake the project of planting Date Palms at Tamar Biblical Park, just south of the Dead Sea. Our first project is 175 date palms lining both sides of the entrance to the park that reaches from the main road to Tamar. The beautiful palm trees will not only adorn the entrance, but provide shade and fruit.

The date palms above have been super-imposed to provide a hint of how the beginning of the row at the left side of the entrance will look.

The best tree for this area is the Medjool date palm, and they will be almost entirely females so that they will bear a crop of dates for harvest. These can be purchased from nearby Moshavim (farm co-operatives) for $30. There are costs involved in digging holes for planting and bringing water to the trees so we are suggesting $35 for the purchase of a date palm which can be in honor of, or in memory of, a friend or relative. Bible Light will issue a certificate suitable for framing without taking out anything for office expense.

We are indebted to the Bridges for Peace website for the following:

Spiritual and Symbolic Significance of Date Palms

The date palm (Hebrew “tamar”) means tall and willowy. Tamar, suggesting grace and beauty, was the name given to several Hebrew women.

The sword-shaped, unopened frond growing from the heart of the date palm is called the lulav. During the Feast of Tabernacles it is waved (along with the willow, myrtle and citron) by Jews toward the four corners of the earth, symbolizing God’s sovereignty over all the world. The upright stature and towering height of the palm, with its sword-shaped frond, has long been associated with victory. Date palms symbolizing triumph were used on coins minted by the Maccabees to celebrate their victory over the Greeks, and by the Romans commemorating their conquest of Jerusalem. Palm fronds became associated with the idea of Jewish independence.

Large clumps of dates ripening in the sun.

In parades of conquerors and great princes, it was customary to wave palm branches and lay them in their path. It is significant that when Jesus rode from Bethphage into Jerusalem, multitudes waved palm branches and laid them on the road before Him. In so doing, they were not only giving Him honor as a coming king, but making an enormous symbolic political declaration before the Romans about the hoped for independence of the Jews from Rome under the rule of their Messiah. Without the palm branches, it would have merely looked like a noisy mob. It was the palm branches that symbolically proclaimed the majesty of the occasion.

Ornately carved date palms adorned the inner walls of Solomon’s Temple, symbolizing the Sanctuary of God’s Presence as the spiritual oasis in man’s life on earth. An oasis is a tranquil retreat, a place of rest and refreshment, a joy and relief to sojourners of the desert to find palm trees beckoning to their source of fresh water, offering shade and plentiful fruit.

The Psalmist used the date palm symbolically of the righteous. Verses from Psalm 92 say, “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree...they shall still bring forth fruit in old age.”


What a beautiful and challenging project lies before us. Will you have a part? Complete this form and mail it to us: Bible Light Int’l., PO Box 370, Ottawa, KS 66067 or submit your order online by clicking HERE.