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Judean Date Palm

A 2,000-year-old Date Palm seed from the time of Christ germinates...


Two thousand years ago forests of Judean date palms (Phoenix dactylifera L.) covered the Jordan river valley from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea.  The Judean date palm was a major provision for food, building material, fuel, and medicinal use for the Israelites.  It defined the local economy and resulted in Jericho, called the "city of Palm trees" in Scripture (Deut. 34:3; Judges 1:16, 3:13; 2Chron 28:15), becoming a major trade city at that time.


With the Roman siege of Judea and the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the production and export of the date palm fruit ended and subsequently resulted in the Judean date palm trees becoming extinct between 150-500 A.D.  Date palms in Israel today have been imported from other countries.



In 1963, archeologist Yigael Yadin (1917-1984), referring to ancient transcripts of Flavius Josephus, excavated remnants of food storage rooms at Masada, a cliff-side fortress by the Dead Sea, and recovered 2000 year old Judean date palm seeds.  The seeds remained stored for 40 years at an Israeli University until recently when researchers began germination experiments with a few selected seeds.

The researchers were able to get one seed of five to germinate and result in a Judean date palm tree from what may be the oldest seed ever germinated.  The new plant has been growing steadily, and after 26 months, the tree is nearly four-feet (1.2 meters) tall.  Researchers are hoping that by reviving the plant they may be able to study its medicinal uses.  Carbon dating of the seeds found at Masada revealed that they date from roughly the time of the ancient fortress' siege in 73 A.D. 

date palm seedsThe seeds were excavated along with skeletons of those who died during the Roman siege of Masada.  Scientists pretreated the seeds in fertilizers and hormone-rich solutions, and then planted them.  The single seed resulting in the Judean Date Palm tree holds the record for the oldest directly-dated seed to be germinated.  Scientists determined its age from control seeds taken from the same batch and from shell fragments from the sprouted seed itself.

In Scripture, part of the instructions given for building of the temple by Solomon included carvings of the Judean date palm tree over the doors of the inner court, on the doors, and on the walls (1Kings 6:29, 32, 35-36).  John 12:13 relates that when Jesus entered Jerusalem for the Passover before His crucifixion, the people "took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him".  Revelations 7:9 declares that those who come out of the great tribulation by the blood of the Lamb will be "standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,...".

"The righteous flourish like the palm tree, and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.  They are planted in the house of the LORD, they flourish in the courts of our God.  They still bring forth fruit in old age, they are ever full of sap and green, to show that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him."  Psalms 92:12-15 (RSV)

By: http://stillwatersministry.com/datepalmtree.htm

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