Agriculture in Palestine was dependent on rainfall rather than on irrigation (as in Egypt and Mesopotamia). This had the advantage of not requiring human effort to water the land (see Deut. 11: 10–12 ), but if either the early or the late rains failed the result could be disastrous for the farmer. The three main crops were grain, wine, and oil (Joel 2: 19 ), but in a summary description of the land in Deuteronomy 8: 8 , a somewhat fuller indication of the principal products of the land is given.
The most important of the field crops were the various types of cereal (including wheat and barley) grown in particular for the making of bread and (in the case of barley) for the brewing of beer. The most important fruits were the grape, cultivated principally for the production of wine, and the olive which was grown for its oil. Other fruits included figs and pomegranates. The final commodity mentioned in Deuteronomy 8: 8 , often translated as ‘honey’, may be something produced from dates. Other vegetables, especially pulses, herbs, and spices, were also grown, as were pistachios and almonds.
Interesting light is shed on the agricultural year by the ‘Gezer Calendar’, dating from about the 10th century BCE, so‐called because it was found at Gezer and listed farming activities for successive months (or two‐month periods) of the year. It suggests the following sequence, though the actual crops are not always specified: two months for gathering (olives?), two months for sowing (grain?), two months of late sowing (vegetables?), one month for hoeing, one month for harvesting barley, one month for harvesting (wheat?) and measuring, two months for harvesting grapes, and one month for gathering summer fruit.