Extinct Tree from Time of Jesus Springs to Life in Israeli Desert


Seeds found in the ancient fortress of Masada that date from the time of Christ have borne fruit in Israel.

Elaine Solowey, a botanist with the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura in Israel, has overseen the work to grow seeds from a variety of date palms that had become extinct.

“It was very difficult to get the seeds,” Sarah Sallon, a pediatric gastroenterologist, told the BBC in a video posted over the summer.

“It took a lot of time and effort and persuasion when people said, “What do you want them for?”

“I said, ‘We want to grow them.’ And they said, ‘You’re mad,’” said Sallon, who directs the Louis L. Borick Natural Medicine Research Center at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.

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The first tree to grow in the Israeli desert was named Methuselah; it sprouted in 2005, according to CBN.

That was a feat because the variety of seeds grown in ancient Israel went extinct about 500 AD.

“We would like to have plantations of the Judean dates. We would like to bring it back into cultivation and give it to the world,” Solowey said.

Methuselah is now a tall tree that Solowey calls “that big boy,” according to the Times of Israel. But because the tree was male, it would not bear fruit.

Solowey has produced six more saplings. She named them Adam (after one of her six sons), Jonah, Uriel, Boaz, Judith and Hannah.

Last year, Methuselah’s pollen fertilized Hannah’s flowers, producing 111 dates.

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This year, according to a release from the Arava Institute, there was a harvest of 700 dates.

Pollen from Methuselah, Adam and Jonah was used to fertilize Hannah’s flowers, the release said.

“They’re the size of the Medjool, but they’re dry and have a lovely honey after-taste,” Solowey said, adding, “If they’d tasted terrible, I don’t know what I would have done.”

According to carbon dating, the seed from which Hannah sprouted is 175 years older than the one used to grow Methuselah.

“We think [the seed] dates to between 30 and 65, and that her heritage is from a date brought back by the Jews who returned from the Babylonian Exile [in 539],” Solowey said.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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