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The Torah tells us Israel is "a land of olive oil and honey" (Deut. 8:8). This is interpreted as date honey, not bee honey. Where in the sources is it taught that this is date honey?

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I remember this Gemara, the Gemara is a source for us, but I don't know the source of the Gemara.

Berachot 41b:

R' Hisda and R' Hamnuna were seated at a meal, and dates and pomegranates were set before them. R' Hamnuna took some dates and said a blessing over them. Said R' Hisda to him: Does not the Master agree with what R' Joseph, or as some say R' Isaac, said: Whatever is mentioned earlier in this verse has precedence in the matter of benediction? - He replied: This [the date] comes second after the word 'land', and this [the pomegranate] comes fifth. He replied: Would that we had feet of iron so that we could always [run and] listen to you!

Rashi said in his comment that "honey" written in Tora is date.

Eruvin 4b:

Honey' [is an allusion to the eating o food of] the size of a big date [that constitutes an offence] on the Day of Atonement!

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We see from Kesuvos 111b that an example is given of goats whose udders are leaking milk grazing under date trees whose fruit is oozing dvash so that the two liquids combine in the grass and flow. This is given as the original meaning of the term.

A Land Flowing With Milk & Honey

We start with the interpretation of the Talmud, which interprets the words zavat halav u‘dvash, (flowing with milk and honey) as “milk flows from the goats’ (udders), and honey flows from the dates and the figs (Ketubot 111b).” For a pastoral people, this indeed must have been an inviting description of the land.

Kesuvos 111b

רמי בר יחזקאל איקלע לבני ברק חזנהו להנהו עיזי דקאכלן תותי תאיני וקנטיף דובשא מתאיני וחלבא טייף מנייהו ומיערב בהדי הדדי אמר היינו זבת חלב ודבש

My translation:

Rami Bar Yechezkel went to Bnai Brak and saw some goats that were eating under date trees and their דבש was flowing and milk was oozing from them (the goats) and mixing with each other. He said, this is "flowing with milk and honey"

דבש

  • Interesting source for "land of milk and honey". Too bad we don't see this in B'nei Brak, today! – DanF Dec 22 '16 at 20:56
  • @DanF Part of the explanation of the land gradually getting worse is that different generations see this more intensely the farther back that we go. This is the quote that i was able to find. – sabbahillel Dec 22 '16 at 21:02
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    @DanF the only thing really lacking in Bne Brak is goats. – kouty Dec 22 '16 at 22:27

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