Helping to illuminate biblical context and background
LATEST RELEASE 2016
God as a Gardener, Parables Illustrated by Plants
By Carolyn A. Roth
Rooted in God: interpreting plants in Bible lore
by Carolyn A Roth
BBGS Mid-Atlantic Regional Director
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) www.joanngardnerbooks.com
More Exhaustive Bibliography
RECENT ADDITION TO LIBRARY
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
RECOMMENDED WEB SITES:
By our Israeli friend, Sara Gold
By our mentor and bible gardening inspiration, Shirley Sidell
Fascinating look at food and cuisine from the Far and Middle East
Check out our BBGS HOME website
Leila AE Harris of the Carolinas
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."
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.
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..."
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.-
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.
If you've ever thought about growing your own food, the Greenhouse of the Future might be the answer you're looking for.
This sustainable, passive-solar DIY greenhouse is built from upcycled materials like tires, wood and glass bottles, and operates using fully renewable energy. It includes an area to grow vegetables, an aquaponics area to farm fish and a place to relax amidst your personal nature retreat.
But it's not just about food self-sufficiency. By controlling exactly what you eat, you can avoid all the harmful stuff that often comes with "denatured" food, such as GMOs, pesticides, herbicides, preservatives and other chemical additives. You can save money and avoid food cost fluctuations, and if the SHTF, you can survive. And of course, there's the ability to enjoy the warmth of the sun all year-round and a healthy reconnection to nature.
The concepts and technologies behind this unique greenhouse design draw on more than 40 years of eco-building research by American architect Michael Reynolds, a proponent of "radically sustainable living" who is known for his innovative Earthship constructions based on recycled materials like used tires, aluminum cans and plastic bottles that he developed in the 1970s. Some of his famous Earthship clients include actors Dennis Weaver and Keith Carradine.
Francis Gendron, the first graduate of Reynolds' Earthship Academy in Taos, New Mexico, is the founder of the Greenhouse of the Future project.
"The synergy between this sustainable technology and the natural phenomena giving us food, water and warmth could literally change the world," claims Gendron, who is based in Canada. "In Quebec, our biggest environmental impact is linked to food because it comes from so far away."
"The Greenhouse of the Future is unique because it interrelates the natural phenomena to create an abundance of local organic food as well as an an ideal shelter to relax and enjoy the sun, even in the middle of winter," according to the producers, who filmed each step of the construction from various models for the step-by-step construction guide. The guide includes a 70-minute DVD, a 190-page ebook and a 70-page appendice with plans.
The instructions explain the basic concepts involved in making the sustainable greenhouse, from organizing a "tire party" to creating Canadian wells, to installing bottom plates, lateral supports, insulation walls and rafters and roofing.
“We do believe that if we combine this greenhouse with other technologies like compost heating, aquaponics and other intensive growing techniques, we could grow a major part of our food in a sustainable way even in the coldest countries,” said filmmaker Curt Close, who worked with documentary film company Anaconda Productions and Gendron's nonprofit SolutionEra to produce the Greenhouse of the Future DVD kit.
Using a model developed from Earthship's expertise, Gendron has found a way to heat the greenhouse only during the three coldest months of the year, though it is adaptable for any climate. A passionate advocate of sustainability, His overall goal is to increase local food production and reduce human impact on the natural environment.
The producers say the Greenhouse of the Future is part of a "radically sustainable revolution." You might just call it your little slice of heaven.
For the complete article visit
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."
To read more, click this link.
For the entire "Geologic Past of the Levant," click here:
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.
Academic unearths new lead to fabled Babylon gardens
Early Farming Society in Israel Domesticated Beans
Excavators uncovered large quantities of bean seeds, serving as one of the oldest known examples of legume domestication in the ancient Near East.
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.
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.
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, 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Sukkot: The Four Species, myrtle, palm fronds, willow and citron
From Biblicalflora news group comes this outstanding article from Arthur Schaffer
"THE AGRICULTURAL AND ECOLOGICAL SYMBOLISM OF THE FOUR SPECIES OF SUKKOT"
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 right...an 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.
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)
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"
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 email@example.com
CHECK OUT HER WEBSITE: http://accessiblegardens.org/