Planting Date Palms in the
By Chris Josephson
“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….”
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
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
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
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
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