Seed, Spade and Sword: The Bible In Context

Helping to illuminate biblical context and background




God as a Gardener, Parables Illustrated by Plants

By Carolyn A. Roth

Order now 

Rooted in God: interpreting plants in Bible lore

by Carolyn A Roth

BBGS Mid-Atlantic Regional Director

IV God’s Word for Gardeners Bible: Grow Your Faith While Growing Your Garden - See more at:
NIV God’s Word for Gardeners Bible: Grow Your Faith While Growing Your Garden - See more at: God's Word for Gardeners

NIV God's Words for Gardeners.

by  Shelley Cramm,
BBGS Regional Director  &
Award Winning Author

(order thru link below)

Seeds of Transcendence: Understanding the Hebrew Bible Through Plants, © 2014 by Jo Ann Gardner

(available at her website)


All the Trees of the Bible: A comprehensive Encyclopedia & Commentary on all the Trees in the Bible. 

Leila AE Harris

Trees of the Bible.

Illustrated by Vic Mitchell

Flowers of the Holy Land.

Bertha Spafford Vester

God as a Gardener: Exploring plants in Bible Parables.

Dr. Carolyn A. Roth

Historia Vegetabilium Sacra, or, a Scripture Herbal...

W. Westmacott (1695)

Famous Trees of Bible Lands.

Richard St. Barbe Baker

Domestication of Plants in the Old World - Daniel Zohary and Maria Hopf


Flowers,plants, and gardening: For Kids.

Wildflowers of Israel

By our Israeli friend, Sara Gold

Biblical Gardens

By our mentor and bible gardening inspiration, Shirley Sidell

The Silk Road Gourmet

Fascinating look at food and cuisine from the Far and Middle East



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The Bible and Archaeology

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The passing of William Joseph Moran III

It is with deepest sorrow and broken heart  I announce the untimely passing of William Moran, our beloved media director and avid blogger for BBGS. He slipped into the Glorious presence of the Almighty this morning, Monday, December 5, 2016.


He will be missed a great deal. He loved the BBGS as much as anyone I have known over the past 7 years.

Please remember his family as they finalize plans for his funeral. I will keep you in the loop as I get the details.

Prayer for the comforting hand of G-d Yeshua to rest upon his family, friends, acquaintances, and extended cyber-world BBGS family.

G-d rest your soul dear friend,

Dr. Ed Bez

Biblical Botanical Garden Society

Oxford, Georgia

Check out our BBGS HOME website

Congratulations to Our Regional Directors!
We wield our spades and sow our seeds and grow our special gardens all across the land.
These fine folk now help us.

Leila AE Harris of the Carolinas 

Shelley Cramm in the Heartland
Kathy Intravaia in the Cold Northcentral USA
Pardee Gunter, Master Gardener WarsawwBiblical Botanical Garden
Sheina Stewart in sunny Jamaica
Dr. Frank Gada on New England's Rocky Shores
Jim Notestein  -
Notestein Nurseries, Gainesville, Florida
Dr Carolyn Roth - Roanoke
Author and Mid-Atlantic Director
 William Joseph Moran III - Rochester, New York
Publicist, Author and Translator 
Western NY/NW Pennsylvania Director

Early 4th century BC

Before returning to Athens, Aristotle tutored Alexander of Macedonia, who became the empire builder  Alexander the Great.  Aristotle imbue in Alexander a love of reason and learning that would be constant in his character throughout his brief career.

As he conquered the many lands that would comprise his empire, Alexander collected plant and animal specimens and returned them to Athens.  With Aristotle's in Athens was his friend and associate,  Theophrastus: Father of Modern botany.*   Aristotle got the animals; his collection became the first zoo.Theophrastus got the plant and with them founded the first botanical garden. African, Levantine and Asian flora would have comprised his garden.

So was Theophrastus the first biblical botanical gardener?

*Read more about Theophrastus in our blog section.

"Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything hat sets us back into the slow cycles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace."

May Sarton

"Train up a fig tree in the way it should go, and when you are old sit under the shade of it."
Charles Dickens
To make half a kilo of honey, bees must collect nectar from over 2
million individual flowers

"Nature is but a name for an effect whose cause is God."

William Cowper
There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.
John Calvin




Almost 250 years ago, the Swedish botanist Carl von Linné published Species Plantarum and binomial nomenclature was born. This systematic approach to naming plants (and animals) is still the universally-recognized system used today. While many gardeners struggle with "Latin names" of plants, knowing a plant's botanical name allows you to converse with gardeners all over the world.

More detail

Linnaeus (1707–78), the Swedish botanist, organized the system of plant nomenclature. He developed his system of classification based on a plant’s sexuality, organizing them into groups called Classes and Orders. These divisions are based on pistil and stamen structure. Plants are classified from the highest division, Kingdom, to Subkingdom, Super division, Division, Class, Subclass, Order, Family, Genus, and the way to Species, the lowest.

Orders are divided in families and the highest classification group normally referred to is the Family. This classification assigns a type of plant to each family as an example of that family’s characteristics as distinguishable from other families. The family names end in “aceae.”

Linnaeus established a precise and workable two-word, or binomial, system for naming plants. The first word is the name of the genus and the second the species.

He wrote about this in two of his most important books: Genera Plantarum in 1737 and Species Plantarum in 1753.


"Botanical Latin is essentially a written language .... How they are pronounced really matters little provided they sound pleasant and are understood by all concerned..."

W.T. Stearn


Asklepios was the Greek god of medicine. The Romans also adopted him and spelled their Latinized version of his name Aesculapius. He was associated with medicine and healing in both cultures and his staff with an entwined serpent is still the universal symbol for the medical profession to this day. Carl Linnaeus named the milkweed genus Asclepias because many folk medicine remedies were derived from these plants.-


Dr Bez's  other websites:

Focus on the Bible

Lastest News Of Interest

Biblical Hittites and Their Food

One way to study ancient civilizations is to find out what they ate. Cuisine tells a lot about the climate, culture and preferences of the eaters. But instead of trying to reverse engineer the food of a culture based on the effects that can be read from ancient bodies, or merely translating old recipes, some researchers decided to actually prepare ancient foods.


St John Lutheran Church Bible Garden- A Must See

Tucked away in the suburbs of Roanoke, Virginia is a pleasant surprise; a flourishing Bible Garden with over four dozen biblical flora specimens.

Supported by the leadership of the church, several active volunteers, and 'shepherded' by Dr. Carolyn Roth, the Bible garden is fast becoming a tour stop for many gardening enthusiasts as well, church groups, school children and civic clubs. 

Dr. Roth is also the chief editor and principal writer of a fascinating devotional website that weds beautifully biblical themes and its flora.

Dr. Roth is a published author with her new release - Rooted in God: Interpreting Plants in Bible Lore.


Grow Your Own Food Year-Round with DIY Solar Greenhouse

A futuristic greenhouse design allows people to escape the tyranny of the industrial food system.

Reynard Loki / AlterNet


Jerusalem as the Center of the World for Ages and Ages

Well, the Levant, actually.

A pair of researchers at Hebrew University have done the digging, sifting, sampling, looking and all the work needed to show that plant distribution has followed the same pattern on Earth since the Mesozoic age when God moved the continents together and our globe's surface took the form we know today,

All life on earth must pass through bible lands to get around. True for animals; true for plants. The researchers choose this medieval style map from 1585 to illustrate their point, Interestingly enough the map is titled "The entire world on a clover-leaf."

That is Jerusalem in the middle.  Bible lands are the hub of the Old World.

To read more, click this link.

For the entire "Geologic Past of the Levant,"  click here:


Olive Oil Ingredient Kills Cancer

We always knew olive oil was good for us, but this good? Praise Adonai!

Click on the link above for the full story about research done on olive oil at Rutgers University.



Hanging Gardens of Babylon?

Academic unearths new lead to fabled Babylon gardens


Early Farming Society in Israel Domesticated Beans

Legumes domesticated

Excavators uncovered large quantities of bean seeds, serving as one of the oldest known examples of legume domestication in the ancient Near East.



Archestratus and the Secrets of Ancient Greek Gastronomy

Ancient Greek poet and philosopher of Gela or Syracuse Archestratus, is often referred to as led the Father of Gastronomy. In his humorous didactic poem Hedypatheia (Life of Luxury) written in the 4th century BC, he advises a gastronomic reader on where to find the best food in the Mediterranean world and reveals the secrets of the ancient Greek cuisine.

Archestratus was the first to approach cooking as an art and made extensive references on eating fish and pulses and drinking wine, which were highly appreciated by the ancient Greeks and remain to date among the typical ingredients of a healthy modern Greek diet. 

Read more


Where to Purchase over 100 Biblical Plants

A new Webpage with links to sources of plants and seeds for more than 100 Biblical plants from our friend and biblical garden specialist, Marsh Hudson-Knapp.

Watching for more posts coming from Marsh in the coming months. He will be featuring closeups of biblical gardens around the United States and abroad.


The Greening of the Ancient Desert Places

In Antiquity, an ingenious system of underground canals, hacked out of the limestone bedrock, in addition to specially built aqueducts and reservoirs with capacities of millions of litres of water, transformed this marginal region into a complex man-made landscape. This is a fantastic example of ancient water-management technology, constructed to irrigate the surrounding terraced field systems.

Read more below



Were Neanderthal People Cooks and Medics?

Neanderthals were sophisticated enough to cook vegetables and use plants for medicine, say Australian scientists. 

I found this article very interesting as it relates to the growth of ancient botanical knowledge.Read more here.


Archaeologists Find 3,300-Year-Old Burnt Wheat

Archaeologists have discovered large jars filled with 3,300-year-old burnt wheat at the excavation sites of the Tel Hatzor National Park in the Upper Galilee.

Read more.


Medicine in the Ancient World (relied heavily on herbs)

Wild ginger was known to be helpful for nausea.Herbs such as henbane and  hemp were known for their anesthetic properties, and physicians stressed the effects of diet and environment on health. Read more...


Flower Power Restores Color to Ancient Rome

Italian archaeologists on Saturday inaugurated new flower gardens in the ruins of ancient Roman palaces on the Palatine Hill in a colorful reconstruction of what the area may have looked like 2,000 years ago.

Purple petunias, white leadworts and medicinal verbain have been planted in the ruins of courtyards and shrines where scribes of the time described luxurious gardens created in imitation of the ancient Greeks.



• Tel Rehov


Tel Rehov, where ancient beekeepers made honey and wax

Here in the Beit Shean Valley, Hebrew University excavators found evidence in 2007 of a major Iron Age (biblical era) honey production facility. Maeir calls it “an absolutely unique find, because until now it was assumed that the honey referred to in ‘the land of milk and honey’ was date honey, but here’s clear proof there were bee hives at that time.” Most likely, wax was also produced here commercially.

The 30 intact hives arranged in orderly rows, and remains of up to 200 more, were made of straw and unbaked clay. There were even remains of bees, bee larva and pupae. By studying the DNA from these remains, researchers in 2010 determined that these bees were similar to the Anatolian species in modern Turkey. Indeed, an Assyrian stamp from the eighth century BCE shows that bees had been brought 400 kilometers from southern Turkey.

Tel Rehov, one of the largest Iron Age sites in Israel, has also yielded some of the largest collections of Greek pottery from the 10th to ninth centuries BCE found in Israel, along with clues as to the chronology of events in early Israel’s monarchy.


Propolis as Medicinal Herb

Propolis is a resin collected from beehives. Bees harvest various resins and volatile oils from nearby plants to create propolis, which is then used in the hive to seal unwanted gaps and prevent pathogenic invasion. Propolis is used worldwide on tooth infections as it is an incredible antimicrobial herb.



Archaeology and the Etrog

Citrus medica 

Earliest archaeological evidence of Etrog cultivation in Israel. Fascinating article about the citron, the yellow citrus-like fruit used by the Jews in religious ceremonies.

Photo below taken by my wife Rachel Leah

Here I am planting a Citrus medica in the biblical gardens at Yad Hashmona, Israel this past Winter, November 2011.


BBGS and Dr Ed Bez recommended Archaeological dig for 2012

For those of you interested in a short-term archaeological experience I recommend the exciting work being done by Dr. Bryant Wood and others at 

Khirbet el-Maqatir, Israel. This site has been proposed to be the ancient site of Ai; the second city of the great Conquest under Joshua's leadership.

Dig for the Biblical Ai with Associates for Biblical Research this summer.


Dr Ed and Rachel Bez return to the USA

Watch for updates, pictures and "lessons from the soil" articles to begin appearing soon.

Photo: taken at Neot Kedumim in Israel the largest biblical floral reserve in the world. Here Dr. and Mrs. Bez stand among the blooming Sea Squill (Urginea maritima). Sea squill are among a handful of "weather flora"; flowers which bloom to indicate an approaching season. Squill is a harbinger of the rainy season (December-May) in Israel. 


Medicinal Date Palm from Oldest Known Seed Planted

Phoenix dactylifera


Growing Trees in the Deserts (Araba) of Israel


Sukkot: The Four Species, myrtle, palm fronds, willow and citron

From Biblicalflora news group comes this outstanding article from Arthur Schaffer

is now online:
This is a very insightful article and carefully researched.


Cedars of Lebanon (Cedrus libani)

Cedar forests lead Lebanon eco-tourism boom

Watch a fascinating video about this majestic Cedar giant.


Nature Museum in Jerusalem Battles for it's Life


The Nature Museum seems to be in the right place at the wrong time. According to a report in the July 27th edition of the Jerusalem Post, the museum, among many other featured children's activities, also provides a place for religious and secular, and even Arabs and Jewish people to mix.

That place? An organic community garden.

That's organic garden as a place of peace, understanding and cooperation.

The museum records about 12,000 visitor's per month. Nothing to sneeze it by most standards. So what's the problem. The museum, located in the German Colony is slated to become the first (American) liberal arts college in Israel.

Local authorities say, "Don't worry, trust us, we have plans for a bigger, better nature museum just up the street."

So far, the dedicated staff members at the museum are not excited about promises. The differance between rhetoric and reality is well known in this region. So they have begun a series of peaceful protests.

Is there a solution? Certainly. Build the other bigger and better nature museum before dismantling the current one. I'm all for education but, I'm also aware of the need here in the Middle East for programs that bring people together and even better if in involves gardening.

The Biblical Botanical Garden Society advocates not only the planting and care of plants mentioned in the Bible but also gives a "green" thumbs up to the creation of community gardens. We have seen amazing things happen between community members when they get involved with these kind of initiatives.

I hope to visit with the leadership and staff at the Nature Museum here in Jerusalem to learn more about their organic community garden programs. I'll be posting a blog after that meeting. 

In the meantime, take a moment to explore the Holy Book and see what surprises happened in or around gardens. You will be glad you did.

More on the Museum


Kiriath jearim and Yad Hashmona, Judea, Israel

The Central ridge in this aerial photo of the Judean Hill Country is the biblical site of Kiriath jearim (I Samuel 7) highlighted here in yellow. The ridge to the right highlighted in red is Yad Hashmona. 

Dr Bez and Rachel are working in the biblical gardens at Yad Hashmona. The gardens are over 20 acres and you can just imagine the amount of work it takes to maintain them. We are a staff of four full-timers and one part-timer.

To follow our adventures and challenges over the next six months read here.


Israel Hailed as World Leader in Eco-innovation

World leaders in the field of "green" technology on Tuesday praised Israel as the world's foremost "laboratory" for eco-innovation. Read more? Click below...


Tulip (Tulipa montana or Tulipa scharonensis)

"I am the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys." Song of Solomon 2:1

Debates have been waged for centuries concerning the true identity of the rose in scripture, that debate continues today. Some experts favor the fall crocus, others the narcissus. Others agree on the tulip.

It is known that tulips are native to the Mediterranean. The name "tulip likely comes from a Persian word meaning "turban."

The tulip is probably one of the Hebrew nitzanim, a group of flowers with handsome red flowers.

Because of their beauty and variety of color, they became garden plants very early in history and the center for their cultivation has for centuries been the Netherlands.


At first glance, it looks like a giant child armed with a box of crayons has been set loose upon the landscape. Vivid stripes of purple, yellow, red, pink, orange and green make up a glorious Technicolor patchwork. Yet far from being a child's sketchbook, this is, in fact, the northern Netherlands in the middle of the tulip season. With more than 10,000 hectares devoted to the cultivation of these delicate flowers, the Dutch landscape in May is a kaleidoscope of giddy colors as the tulips burst into life. The bulbs were planted in late October and early November, and these colorful creations are now ready to be picked and sold as bunches of cut flowers in florists and supermarkets. More than three billion tulips are grown each year and two-thirds of the vibrant blooms are exported, mostly to the U.S. and Germany.

Their dazzling colors are thanks to the years in the 17th century when Tulip mania swept the globe and the most eye-catching specimens changed hands for a small fortune. But like a rainbow, this colorful landscape is a short-lived phenomenon. When the flowers are gone, the land will be cultivated for a rather more mundane crop of vegetables. The Netherlands produce more than nine million bulbs a year.


Enemies and Apples

Even nations at war need to eat. Fascinating article about Israeli grown fruit being delivered to their historical enemy, Syria, via the UN.


Israel and Syria may officially be at war with one another, but that isn’t preventing a bustling apple trade between the two countries.

Starting yesterday, February 15, and lasting three weeks, all apples grown by Israeli farmers on the Golan Heights will be exported to Syria. An estimated 12,000 tons of apples will be exported every day.

This is the sixth consecutive year that Israel has been able to export its apples to its belligerent neighbor.

Of course, the Syrians will not do business directly with the Israelis, so the apples are transfered through third parties, the UN and the International Red Cross. The produce will make its way into Syria via the UN base that sits on the border of the two nations.


Biblical botanists have debated the "apple,apples" mentioned in the Bible. Many believe the apple may be the apricot (Armeniaca vulgaris)

The Hebrew word translated "apple" is tappuach.

Apples (Malus sylvestris Mill.) were likely introduced into Israel and Egypt from Iran, Armenia, or Turkey circa 4000 BC

Biblical refs: SOS 2:3 & 5, Joel 1:12, Josh 15:33, I Chron 2:43.


Plants of the Bible. Michael Zohary, 1982.

Did you know?

In ancient Greece , tossing an apple to a girl was a traditional
proposal of marriage. Catching it meant she accepted.



4,000 Year Old Egyptian Relic Found in a Backyard Garden in England (Dec 2010)

  • Keep gardening folks you never know what you might find - Dr B

An Egyptian relic dug up in a Derby back garden has been valued at £10,000.

The owner of the item, a stone bust shaped as a pharaoh, appeared on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow where the item was valued by antiques expert Henry Sandon.

Asked how he came across the item, the owner, who did not want to be identified, said: “I was doing some gardening when I hit it with my spade.


__________________________________________________________________Flower Power in the Ancient Near East 

"Paradise lost and found : Ancient Royal Garden to be excavated"

  • Ancient gardens are the stuff of legend, from the Garden of Eden to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Now researchers at Tel Aviv University, in collaboration with Heidelberg University in Germany, have uncovered an ancient royal garden at the site of Ramat Rachel near Jerusalem, and are leading the first full-scale excavation of this type of archaeological site anywhere in the pre-Hellenistic Levant.
    To


We introduce you to of America's best loved and knowledgeable biblical gardener; Shirley Pinchiv Sidell. Shirley has an extensive background in gardening biblical plants on the West Coast and serves our society as one of its board of Professional Advisors.

Shirley has graciously consented to make her years of expertise and learning available to you. If you have ANY questions regarding biblical flora or gardening you can now "ASK SHIRLEY".
So "fire away" - "ASK SHIRLEY"any of your questions. Her responses will be made available on the network for all to enjoy. A master file of Q's and A's will be made available as we build up a body of information.

Send your questions to



I Please Pray for Earth & America

Started by Shoshanna Rose in Sample Title Apr 11, 2011. 0 Replies

Cedars of Lebanon

Started by William Joseph Moran III in Sample Title Feb 5, 2011. 0 Replies

Fellowship Garden

Started by Nancy Meyer in Sample Title. Last reply by Dr. Ed Bez Jun 13, 2010. 2 Replies


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This network is committed to exploring the literary, cultural, geographical, archaeological, and historical background of the Bible.


Lentils in the Bible and bowl

Created by Dr. Ed Bez Mar 20, 2016 at 5:16pm. Last updated by Dr. Ed Bez Mar 20, 2016.

Magi and their gifts

Created by Dr. Ed Bez Dec 21, 2015 at 4:47pm. Last updated by Dr. Ed Bez Dec 21, 2015.

Baking Ancient Bread

Created by Dr. Ed Bez Aug 5, 2015 at 6:09pm. Last updated by Dr. Ed Bez Aug 5, 2015.

Earth Day and a Biblical worldview

Created by Dr. Ed Bez Apr 22, 2015 at 2:43pm. Last updated by Dr. Ed Bez Apr 22, 2015.

Folk Know where to Go

Created by Dr. Ed Bez Mar 24, 2015 at 10:47am. Last updated by Dr. Ed Bez Mar 24, 2015.

Why Are We Obsessed with Ancient Grains

Created by Dr. Ed Bez Jan 20, 2015 at 4:49pm. Last updated by Dr. Ed Bez Jan 20, 2015.

Oldest Grave Flowers Unearthed in Israel

Created by Dr. Ed Bez Jul 3, 2013 at 4:18pm. Last updated by Dr. Ed Bez Jul 3, 2013.

Holy Land Farming Began 5,000 Years Earlier Than Thought

Created by Dr. Ed Bez Mar 19, 2013 at 5:12pm. Last updated by Dr. Ed Bez Mar 19, 2013.

Frankincense lives again after 1500 years

Created by Dr. Ed Bez Dec 30, 2012 at 5:37pm. Last updated by Dr. Ed Bez Dec 30, 2012.

The Secret Life of Plants

Created by Dr. Ed Bez Jul 12, 2012 at 11:18pm. Last updated by Dr. Ed Bez Jul 12, 2012.

Frankincense disappearing

Created by Dr. Ed Bez Feb 23, 2012 at 9:18pm. Last updated by Dr. Ed Bez Feb 23, 2012.

32,000 year old seed produces flower

Created by Dr. Ed Bez Feb 23, 2012 at 8:53pm. Last updated by Dr. Ed Bez Feb 23, 2012.

Free resource for Ancient Historical Studies

Created by Dr. Ed Bez Jan 26, 2012 at 4:39pm. Last updated by Dr. Ed Bez Jan 26, 2012.

Ancient olive pickling receipe

Created by Dr. Ed Bez Sep 24, 2011 at 7:06am. Last updated by Dr. Ed Bez Sep 24, 2011.

Fava bean: an ancient legume

Created by Dr. Ed Bez Sep 24, 2011 at 6:14am. Last updated by Dr. Ed Bez Sep 24, 2011.

Gardening as Beneficial as the Gym

Created by Dr. Ed Bez Jul 29, 2011 at 8:52am. Last updated by Dr. Ed Bez Jul 29, 2011.

New Biblical Flora Group

Created by Dr. Ed Bez Jun 17, 2011 at 6:58pm. Last updated by Dr. Ed Bez Jun 17, 2011.

Notes Home

Created by Dr. Ed Bez Dec 29, 2009 at 1:48pm. Last updated by Dr. Ed Bez Apr 17, 2011.

Did you know?

Created by Dr. Ed Bez Apr 6, 2011 at 9:15am. Last updated by Dr. Ed Bez Apr 6, 2011.


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