Holy Land Agriculture During the Talmudic (Biblical) Era
The state of agriculture during the talmud (biblical) period
The state of agriculture during the talmud (biblical) period can be investigated from a number of sources including the writings of Joseph and the archaeological finds, but most of the information obtained is from rabbinic literature. Jewish law and legends (even if they are not engaged in agriculture directly) reveals much material that allows us to learn about the state of agriculture during this period.
Many sources mark that the people of the holy land lived with the feeling that their country is a Land of milk and honey, but these days, the question arises, how the land mostly barren deserts, had food for approximately three million people at certain periods?
There are several answers:
1. Since then, climate change - Rainfall that were once suitable for growing foods. (This approach is backed by unspecified sources including climate change).
2. The change in the landscape of agricultural past, large areas in the mountains were cultivated using intensive processing steps. But with the dispossession of Jews from their late 4th century staircase were destroyed and the ground was swept and left the rocky areas that we see today.
3. Farmers Palestine were very hardworking and have a sacred relationship to their land. They worked the land intensively adopted new crops and develop advanced technologies in order to achieve a record harvest.
Size of ground units
Population density due to the land units were quite small per family. According to one source it is probably about 17 hectares.
Agricultural relations depended on the state of the Roman conqueror. After the destruction the land was taken from the Jews. These lands were leased back to the Jews (often the same people who were the original owners). Some time later they recovered agriculture and got most of the land back. Communities grew- natural resources increase and therefore agricultural land were held by the family and processed. We find evidence that the notes from the Bar Kochba mutiny, discovered in the Judean Desert, these regimes are proving that even in the midst of the Bar Kokhba war, the Jewish continued to purchase land.
After the Bar Kochba mutiny, agriculture was suffering in the Holy Land. Many areas of the country were destroyed. Following the increase in taxes the physical and spiritual existence of the Jewish-agricultural were crushed, high tax charge to the farmers meant they could not leave work to study Torah. Philosopher of that period saw urbanization as a temporary solution for the physical and spiritual problems of the people.
However as it was after the destruction of the Second Temple Once again the people recovered quickly and returned to agriculture. Jewish settlements proliferated and began to spread toward the northern frontier areas. Again density increases and the corresponding plot size decreased.
One hundred years between the mid-2nd century onwards jewish life was more in the field of spiritual life and practice across the country.
The severe agricultural crisis in the Holy Land began in the second part of the 3rd century Roman Empire. "This crisis resulted in:
1. droughts and natural disasters.
2. plundering tax policy of the government.
The situation was so bad they had to allow farming in house that can’t afford to pay taxes next year. This led the Ha'amoraim generation to reduce the importance of agriculture. Due to this situation the Jewish rabbis who abandoned farming and moved to cities sold their lands to Gentiles. The end of the century was probably the least amount of land that belonged to the nations.
These foreign settlers lacked the experience, motivation, knowledge and dedication were Jewish (features that were essential for agriculture teresa mountains) growing areas were abandoned and became a grazing places and even began to develop forest. Terraces Land that was preserved was now washed into rivers moving the soil to swamps and lowland valleys.
During the 4th century Jewish agriculture in the Holy Land had recovered, but the small settlement could not stop the deterioration of Agriculture. In the Byzantine period, Jewish agriculture developed mainly in the Negev highlands where agriculture was based on the concentration of runoff loess hills to surface streams. Rest of the country had limitations in practising agriculture, but still a small number of Jewish agricultural settlements survived.
Bible and rabbinic literature mentions more than 500 plant names. Of these 150 species were identified.
Grain: five sorts of grain - barley, rye spelled wheat and oats. Among them was the most important wheat. Many varieties were introduced, and the price was higher than barley. (According to Josephus, common people ate barley the rich ate wheat). Another important increase was in rice (grown in the country during the Second Temple period), excelled in natural flavor and had been exported out of the Holy Land..
Legumes: beans, hummus and fava bean- There is no doubt that legumes were an important dish in biblical times. The seeds are eaten boiled or roasted and achieved a record crop harvest.
Lentil: Three thousand years old or more seeds were discovered in excavations around the country. This is the most important legume and it was sold at a high price, almost the price of wheat.
Vegetables: Vegetable played an important role towards food do to their great nutritional importance. The garlic and onions was an important crops used for medicinal properties.
Spices: The ancient people liked spicy food. The most important spice was pepper (also considered very tropical herb) imported from far away.
Industrial crops: many plants have provided materials. While Ha'amoraim expanded cultivation of flax and textile industry in the country, a fabric industry was developed especially known for delicate, Beit Shean fabrics.
Herbs: Herbs have varied, Rabbinic literature recalled about 70 varieties. The vast majority were wild and a few species were specially bred.
Perfume and incense plants were imported from abroad and only a few species were grown in Israel, for example, persimmon an expensive perfume that was famous at the time, grew in the Dead Sea area.
Fruit trees: In the Talmudic Period, the country grew 30 species. Most important are the five species- olive, grape vine,fig, dats and pomegranate.
Olives and Grapes were the main trees of the Holy Land then fig, date and palm.
Fruitless trees and forest: nowadays an accepted assumption for the biblical Land of Israel during the Talmudic practice was proved in forests testing that in these periods of the holy land there was intensively cultivating that did not allow forest development.
An accepted view is that traditional Arab agriculture in the country is heir to an ancient Hebrew agriculture. In practice it turns out that there are significant differences between these two agricultural cultures.
Especially traditional Arab agriculture field crops was extensive farming and intensive agriculture in the country where technological innovations produced larger crops.
Fertilization- preserving the fertility of the soil using organic fertilizer. Land has been developed and maintained threw method of fertilizing fields by livestock manure. Fertilization method is also one of the reasons that distinguish the Jewish agriculture in the traditional Arab agriculture.
The use of sophisticated instruments diverse pumping and maximal utilization of water potential, was has the highest evidence level researchers find about farmers in the Holy Land.
It should be noted that Israel was a land of convoys passage in many directions and it often adopted new crops that brought with them diseases and other pests which had to be addressed.