A Land of Milk & Honey

There are many things in the Bible that don’t equate with modern norms. Some of these we Christians believe were superseded by Christ in the New Covenant between God and man. Among these, of course, are the dietary restrictions.

In a way that’s an improvement. I’m not squeamish, but the idea of locusts being an approved food and lobster being prohibited doesn’t quite square with my personal druthers. I guess that would mean that the red food coloring made from crushed bugs would be okay, although some members of my family are so allergic that they break out in hives at the mere mention of it.

Actually, what piqued my curiosity was the description of the Promised Land as “flowing with milk and honey.” Personally, steak and lobster sounds better, but there’s that prohibition against sea creatures without fins and scales again. But milk and honey? Why that?

As a nation of sweet eaters, I’m sure we can identify with the attraction of something like honey. But there’s probably more to it than that. First, honey is unusual in that when you find it, it’s ready to eat. It’s unique because it may be the only food that doesn’t spoil; it may crystallize, but it doesn’t go bad. But does that make it worth a trip across the desert that ultimately took 40 years? No. But think of this, if the land flowed with honey, which would mean many bees which would require many plants on which they would feed. This, in turn, would be the sign of a very verdant and productive land.

Similarly with milk – and remember this is fresh, unhomogenized, unrefrigerated, quick-to-sour cow juice. If I were very thirsty in that part of the world, water would be much preferred. However, this milk could be used to make butter or cheese, both of which have more utility. (There are not a lot of references to cheese in the Bible, but it does show up in Samuel and Job.) However, again, it is not the milk itself, but what it means. Dairy cattle need to graze in order to produce milk. If there is not sufficient food for the cattle, the first thing that cattle shut down is milk production. Once again, here is a sign of a viable place to live and farm and put down roots.

Sometimes I think that I’m pretty smart especially given the time in which I live. We’ve got computers, books, schools and all the tools for obtaining knowledge. However, in some things we no longer understand things that were obvious to the unsophisticated peoples of the past. Children of that time understood the meaning of God’s description, while we have to think about it. Maybe this is one of God’s ways of reminding us not to take ourselves too seriously.

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