By : Emil G. Hirsch I. M. Casanowicz
Often mentioned in the Old Testament
as a choice article of food. It
was eaten alone (Judges xiv. 9;
I Sam. xiv. 27, et al.), as well
as with other foods. In pastry
it took the place of sugar (Ex.
xvi. 31). It was, with milk, the
food of children (Isa. vii. 15).
Canaan is frequently praised as
a land "flowing with milk
and honey" (Ex. iii. 8, et
al.; Jer. xi. 5; Ezek. xx. 6).
Palestine abounded and still abounds
in wild bees, but it is to be
assumed that bees were domesticated
in Palestine in Biblical times.
In a few passages (e.g., Gen.
xliii. 11; Ezek. xxvii. 17) "debash"
may denote artificial honey, or
sirup, prepared from the juice
of various fruits, which to the
present day forms, under the name
of "dibs," an important
article of export in Syria and
Palestine (comp. Bliss, "A
Mound of Many Cities," pp.
69-71, who describes an apparatus
for boiling down fruit into a
sirup, found at Tell al-?asi,
the ancient Lachish). Though the
first-fruits of honey were brought
to the sanctuary (II Chron. xxxi.
5), it was excluded from sacrifices
on account of its fermenting properties
(Lev. ii. 11; comp. Pliny, "Historia
Naturalis," xi. 15). "Because
coming from an unclean animal"
is the reason given by Philo,
ed. Mangey, ii. 255, for its exclusion.
On account of its sweetness, honey
is used as a figure for gracious
and pleasant things (for the words
of God, Ps. xix. 11 [A. V. 10],
cxix. 103; for wisdom, Prov. xxiv.
13, xxv. 16; for the speech of
a friend, Prov. xvi. 24; Cant.
The Talmud dilates on the preciousness
of honey. It is one-sixtieth as
sweet as manna (Ber. 57b), and
to infants manna had the taste
of honey (Yoma 75b); it lighteth
up the eye of man (ib. 83b; comp.
I Sam. xiv. 27). A drink composed
of honey, wine, and oil is mentioned
under the name of "nomelim"
or "onomelin" (????µe??;
Ter. xi. 1; Shab. 139b). Honey
by itself was considered a beverage
(Maksh. v. 9; comp. ?id. 48b).
In taking out the combs ("?allot";
comp. the Biblical "ya'arah,"
I Sam. xiv. 27; Cant. v. 1) from
the hive ("kawweret"),
which was made of straw or wickerwork,
the bees were first stupefied
by smoke; at least two combs were
left in the hive as food for the
bees during the winter (B. B.
80a; Kelim xvi. 7). Adulteration
of honey by admixture of water
or flour is referred to (So?ah
48b; Maksh. v. 9). Honey was produced
from dates (Ter. xi. 2; comp.
Josephus, "B. J." v.
8). For the medicinal use of honey
see Ber. 44b; Shab. 76b, 154b;
B. M. 38a. The employment of honey
in embalming is mentioned by Josephus
("Ant." xiv. 7, §
4; comp. Pliny, l.c. xv. 18; B.
B. 3b). See Bee.
Bibliography: Robinson, Researches,
Bochart, Hierozoicon, iii. 365;
L. Lewysohn, Zoologie des Talmuds,