Bible Review 15:3, June 1999

Milk and Honey

Biblical comfort food.

By William H.C. Propp

Bible Review

The Bible calls Canaan “a land flowing with milk and honey.” Sounds messy, doesn’t it?

The familiar words imply that, like the Big Rock Candy Mountain, the Promised Land so richly feeds its inhabitants it’s as if it flows with food and drink.

But what exactly are “milk” (Hebrew h\aµlaµb) and “honey” (debasð)? The first may refer to actual milk, in those days mostly from goats, or to a milk-based product such as yogurt or butter (also called h\em). “Honey” in the Bible is sometimes bees’ honey, but more often syrup or molasses made from grapes or dates. (That is why honey is listed as one of the seven plant species of the Holy Land [Deuteronomy 8:8].)

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