The term “agriculture” pertains to the cultivation of the soil in order to produce food and other useful and appreciated growth from the land, including products and by-products of fields, gardens, and orchards. Studying its practice includes analyzing all activities, installations, and tools used by the practitioner as related to the cultivation, caring for the land and the plants, and production of all foodstuffs and by-products. In ancient Israel, agriculture was the main source of livelihood, with animal husbandry in second place. Practiced mostly by villagers and to a certain degree by city dwellers, the influence of agriculture on many aspects of Israelite daily life was very strong. Because agriculture played such an important role in the economy, its influence can be detected in many aspects of daily life, such as religious beliefs and practices, customs and laws, and social behavior.
Agricultural Richness of Canaan.
“For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land where you may eat bread without scarcity, where you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron and from whose hills you may mine copper” (Deut 8:7–9). The Bible considers Canaan to be “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exod 3:8). The agricultural versatility of the land can be seen in Egyptian lists of loot brought back home from military campaigns as well as from the Egyptian “Story of Sinuhe,” which describes Canaan as “a goodly land … figs were in it and grapes. It had more wine than water. Plentiful was its honey, abundant its olives. Every [kind of] fruit was on its trees. Barley was there, and emmer. There was no limit to any [kind of] cattle” (Pritchard, 1969, p. 19).
These idealistic descriptions of the Promised Land sound like a brochure of a ministry of tourism. However, for those engaged in agriculture in this region, God’s words as he expelled Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden were much more realistic: “cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken” (Gen 3:17–19). A more down-to-earth description of Canaan as it relates to agriculture appears in Deuteronomy 11:10–11: “For the land that you are about to enter to occupy is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sow your seed and irrigate by foot like a vegetable garden. But the land that you are crossing over to occupy is a land of hills and valleys, watered by rain from the sky.”
The various descriptions of the land suggest that agriculturally speaking Canaan was a versatile land but that its fruits could be obtained with hard work. This is well illustrated by the fact that there are more than thirty-five biblical place-names which have some relationship to agriculture, such as Gat-rimmon, “press of the pomegranate” (Josh 19:45), and ʾir-hattemarim, “city of palms” (Judg 1:16).
Conditions in Israel have not changed drastically since biblical times. Paleoenvironmental evidence is being collected by increasing numbers of archaeological projects which contribute to the understanding of the ecology of biblical times including conditions related to agriculture.
Topographic and climatic conditions.
Canaan—or, as it is also called, Eretz-Yisrael (“the land of Israel”)—is a land of variants when it comes to topography and climate. The country is divided into regions, each having its own name and divided into subregions. Although not all the geographical regions are enumerated in the Bible, most of them have been recorded. Some of them can be identified without question, like the hill country of Judah; the Negev, the arid region around Beersheba; ʾarabah, the region between the Dead Sea and Eilat; the Coastal Plain; the midbar, the wilderness; and Shephelah, the low hill country of Judah. Some regions are well known as agricultural lands from their names and the context in which they appear, such as the Jezreel Valley, the Sharon Plain, and Carmel.
Climatic conditions also vary from region to region. While the climate can be classified as Mediterranean, which means a four-season climatic division, rain comes mostly in the fall and winter, starting in late October and ending in late March, with the heaviest downpours in November through January. However, certain parts of the country do not get much rain, and the region south of Beersheba, where annual average precipitation is less than 10 inches (around 250 mm), can hardly be considered agriculturally unless special measures are taken. Droughts are common; thus, the greatest blessing is rain, as stated in Deuteronomy 11:14: “He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil.”
Yahweh’s ownership of the land is the underlying idea dominating the Israelite concept of landownership, as expressed in Leviticus 25:23: “The land shall not be sold in perpetuity, for the land is mine.” However, the land was given for safekeeping and cultivation to private, royal, and priestly owners. Private landownership was supposed to remain in the extended family; royal land could be acquired in many ways, such as by military conquest or confiscation; priestly lands were acquired mostly by contributions.
In biblical times and until the modern, industrial period land was acquired and held mostly for agricultural purposes. Archaeological evidence shows that villages and towns were constructed in areas that could not be used for agriculture. It is also evident that agricultural activity was extended into marginal areas by utilizing special methods. Tree clearing in the forested hills was one way of creating agricultural land (Josh 1:14–18); other methods included terracing and runoff farming.
The Israelite settlement originated in the mountainous regions of Palestine and necessitated the development of a method that would permit the cultivation of the steep slopes. Although terracing was used previously, the Israelites who settled the hill country popularized this method. While these areas have enough precipitation, not enough suitable land was available for field crops and orchards. The origin of terracing is not known yet, but the appearance of terraces in the Palestinian hill country at the end of the Late Bronze and the beginning of the Iron I period is considered one of the marks of the arrival of the Israelites. Terracing enabled the construction of small hamlets and villages, which either were occupied for only a short time or became the foundations of larger towns. Other signs used by scholars to indicate the appearance of the Israelites are plastered and bell-shaped cisterns, four-room houses, stone-lined storage pits, and collared-rim jars, all of which made settlement of the hill country possible.
An offshoot of terracing was runoff farming, which extended agriculture into arid zones such as the central Negev highlands and the Judean desert. Runoff farming relies on the collection of runoff rainwater and its diversion by low walls and channels to terraced fields built in wadi beds and into cisterns and pools. Archaeological remains of farming communities are found mostly, but not exclusively, next to fortresses built along certain trade routes. Architectural and ceramic remains show that the farmers who lived in these settlements were growing crops and herding animals. Some of these communities are dated to the time of Solomon and the United Monarchy and others to the period of the Judahite kingdom and its waves of expansion during the reigns of Uzziah (r. 791–734 B.C.E.) and Josiah (r. 639–609 B.C.E.). It is very likely that the settlers were in this area as part of state policy and that they were charged with protecting the trade routes and the borders while providing as much as possible of their own livelihood. Modern experiments in reconstructed farms show that it is possible to grow field crops and fruit trees under such conditions.
The Agricultural Calendar.
The Bible enumerates many of the agricultural seasons, such as plowing, sowing, reaping, harvesting barley, harvesting wheat, threshing, grape picking, and ingathering of fruit. However, the information available from the Bible is not sufficient to construct an agricultural calendar. This means that internal biblical information does not enable one to organize the agricultural activities mentioned in the Bible in their correct order. Luckily, an ancient inscription, referred to as the “Gezer Calendar,” helps in this task of placing the different agricultural chores on a calendar. Using this inscription helps to determine when certain agricultural seasons and activities took place, when they started and ended. The translation of this inscription, which was found at Tell Gezer during its excavation by R. A. S. Macalister at the beginning of the twentieth century and dates to ca. 925 B.C.E., is as follows:
two months of ingathering [olives]two months of sowing [cereals]two months of late sowing [legumes and vegetables]a month of hoeing weeds [for hay]a month of harvesting barleya month of harvesting [wheat] and measuring [grain]two months of grape harvestinga month of ingathering summer fruit
A study of this inscription suggests that it reflects the cultic order initiated by King Jeroboam (r. 922–901 B.C.E.) after the division. This is based on the placement of the holidays within this agricultural schema.
The three holidays the Israelites were commanded to observe were originally agricultural festivals. Pesah (Passover) celebrates the beginning of cereal harvesting, Shavuot (Pentecost or Weeks) is at the end of the cereal harvesting, and Sukkot (Booths) marks the end of ingathering and the beginning of the agricultural cycle, which starts again with sowing. These festivals are referred to in the Bible as “the three pilgrimages” since during them all Israelite males were supposed to attend the cult center. The sacrifices, the contributions to the Temple, and the food consumed at these festivals all suggest an agricultural background and origin. Later in Israelite history, each festival was given a historical background for its celebration.
The beginning of domesticating plants and animals ushered in the Neolithic period sometime just before 7000 B.C.E. First, cereals were domesticated, then legumes and later fruit trees. The first animals to be domesticated were sheep and goats, and the last was probably the camel. Israelite farmers did not domesticate any new plants or animals. However, they chose carefully from a large variety available.
The largest category of plants grown by Israelite farmers was cereal. Cereals were considered one of the three basic dietary elements together with wine and oil. Wheat (Triticum) and barley (Hordeum) were the most important cereals. As far as wheat was concerned, there were several varieties available; but it seems that the most commonly cultivated was hard wheat (T. durum Desf.). Other varieties included emmer and spelt.
Barley, which is more resistant to harsh conditions than wheat, enabled the extension of settlement into marginal zones. It can withstand saline and alkaline conditions and less water. With barley, settlements could be established in arid zones such as the Negev and Judean desert. In addition to wheat and barley, other cereals grouped under the term “millet” were cultivated. Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor [L.] Moench) was cultivated in biblical times as well.
Legumes were a very important element for the diet in antiquity as much as they are still because they provide a source of protein. Biblical and archaeological sources show that among the legumes cultivated in biblical times were broad beans (Vicia faba), lentils (Lens culinaris Medic.), bitter vetch (Vicia ervilia L. Willd.), chickpeas (Cicer arientum L.), peas (Pisum sativum), and fenugreek (Trigonela foenum-graecum L.). While some of these species are mentioned in the Bible, it seems that the most famous were the lentils used in the gruel or pottage cooked by Jacob and used in exchange for Esau’s birthright (Gen 25:30).
To spice the food, black cumin (Nigella sativa L.), cumin (Cuminum cyminum L.), and coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.) were cultivated and used. Dill (Anethum graveolens L.) and mint (Mentha longifolia L.) were also used for spicing food; but these plants grew wild, and there is no reason to believe that they were cultivated in biblical times.
Other field crops included flax (Linum usitatissimum L.) and sesame (Sesamum indicum). While the seeds of both plants could be used for making oil, flax was also used for making cloth.
Orchards and vineyards.
Most fruit trees were grown in mixed gardens, but biblical evidence shows that grapes (Vitis vinifera L.) and olives (Olea europaea L.) were mostly cultivated in separate plots. Judging from the number of times these trees are mentioned in the Bible, grapes and olives were probably the two most important fruit trees. Together with cereal, they appear in formulae of blessings and curses. This trio of grain, wine, and olive oil appears again and again in ritualistic pronouncements.
Planting a vineyard was a major investment, which is described in detail in Isaiah 5:1–8. Grape vines were allowed to grow on trellises or sprawl on the ground. Grapes were mostly used for winemaking, and there were several varieties of grapes and different types of wine. In addition to wine, grapes were used for making syrup, vinegar, and raisins, which could be also made into raisin cakes.
The olive was already mentioned as the primary source for oil that was used in cooking and for several other purposes such as fuel in lamps, ointments, and ritualistic purposes. Other fruit trees cultivated by the biblical farmer were figs (Ficus carica L.), pomegranates (Punica granatum L.), dates (Phoenix dactylifera L.), and sycamore figs (Ficus sycomorus L.). Although the carob (Ceratonia siliqua L.) is not mentioned in the Hebrew Bible and no remains have been reported from Iron-Age strata, it can be safely assumed that this native tree was also cultivated together with others, such as tappuah (maybe apricot), bakaא (maybe black mulberry), and a variety of nuts like almonds, pistachios, and walnuts.
Although vegetables appear to be an important dietary component in the modern Near East, in biblical times they were not held in high regard. The attitude toward vegetables can be summarized with the proverb, “Better is a dinner of vegetables where love is than a fatted ox and hatred with it” (Prov 15:17).
The nature of vegetables does not permit their preservation, and their recovery in archaeological excavations is very hard. Therefore, most knowledge concerning vegetables in biblical times comes from written records, which are scant. One verse in the Bible enumerates most of what is known about which vegetables were cultivated. When the Israelites are in the desert complaining about their misfortune, they reminisce and say, “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic” (Num 11:5). Although this list refers to conditions in Egypt, the items enumerated are native to the Levant. The Hebrew word translated as “leeks” might refer to other garden greens, while “melons” could be a reference to watermelons. There is one biblical instance (Isa 1:8) where a mention is made of a cucumber garden but not much else. The story of the conflict between King Ahab and Naboth suggests that vegetable gardens were in close proximity to the house (1 Kgs 21:2).
Agricultural work takes place year-round. A prosperous agricultural year is when one activity does not end before the other has to commence, as the prophet Amos said: “The time is surely coming, says the LORD, when the one who plows shall overtake the one who reaps, and the treader of grapes the one who sows the seed” (Amos 9:13). The order of agricultural activities is well illustrated in the Gezer Calendar.
Sowing and plowing.
A regular year began with sowing cereals. In the Bible, this season is called “sowing” or “plowing,” with the understanding that one was not carried out without the other. The Gezer Calendar designates two months for this activity, with two additional months for late sowing, probably of legumes and vegetables, a period corresponding to mid-October to mid-February.
Plowing was done after the first rains softened the ground because otherwise the plow could not penetrate it. Usually, the seeds were scattered by hand first and then covered by plowing. The plow was made of a wooden frame with a metal tip. During the Israelite period, the tip of the plow was mostly made of iron. During the early period, the Israelites depended on their neighbors to help with making and maintaining their agricultural implements, as recorded in 1 Samuel 13:19–22, “Now there was no smith to be found throughout all of the land of Israel.…But every one of the Israelites went down to the Philistines to sharpen his plowshare.…And the charge was a pim for the plowshares.” Several iron plowshares were found in archaeological excavations, showing that during the period of the Monarchy iron was quite common for this purpose.
Another way of sowing was with a seed drill attached to the plow. This was very popular in Mesopotamia (see, for example, Borowski, 2002, pp. 55–56, figs. 6 and 7) and probably was also in use in Eretz-Yisrael. Although no archaeological remains of a seed drill were found in Palestine, there is some linguistic evidence in the Bible (for example, Isa 28:25) to suggest that it was used prior to Mishnaic times when there is direct evidence for its usage.
The plow was pulled by draft animals, mostly oxen, although heifers and donkeys were used as well. In this connection, most important is to note the prohibition against harnessing together two different types of animals for pulling the plow (Deut 22:10).
Harvesting cereals and processing grain.
Harvesting, or ingathering, was for the farmer the happiest time of the year, provided that there was enough rain and the yield was plentiful. The first crop to be harvested was barley, followed by wheat. Harvesting field crops started in mid-March and continued until the latter part of May; it was marked by the Passover celebration in the beginning and Pentecost at the end. Harvesting field crops was a complex operation because it involved not only the cutting of grain but also the binding of it for transport to the threshing floor, and then threshing, winnowing, and finally storing it.
The threshing floor was located outside the settlement, where the prevailing wind could help in the winnowing process. Threshing (the separation of grain from the stalks) was done by either beating with a stick or running over the stalks with a sledge or a cart pulled by animals (cow, ox, donkey). The mixture of broken stalks (straw) and grain was separated by tossing it in the air and using the wind to blow away the light particles (straw, chaff), allowing the grain to drop nearby. Final cleansing was done using different types of sieves. The clean grain was stored in private and public facilities.
Grape and olive harvesting and processing.
A somewhat similar process had to be followed for fruit. Grapes were cut and immediately treaded for wine or spread in the sun to become raisins. According to the Gezer Calendar, this period lasted from mid-May to mid-July (see Borowski, 2002, p. 36, table 3). Winemaking was a happy occasion accompanied by singing and music (Jer 25:30, 48:32–33). Most wine presses were hewn in rock next to the vineyards (Isa 5:2), and the grapes were treaded there. Regularly, a wine press had a treading floor and a collection basin from where the juice was scooped and placed in jars to be stored in a cave for fermentation. One wine-producing center was uncovered in Gibeon (el-Jib), just north of Jerusalem.
Olives, on the other hand, were transported most of the time to a central location where they were pressed. During the period of the Monarchy, the beam press was developed, which enabled the pressing of larger quantities of oil in a shorter time period by attaching stone weights to a wooden beam that was placed on top of wicker baskets full of cracked olives. The oil ran into collection basins, of either clay or stone. Major oil-pressing centers were excavated at several sites, including Beth-Shemesh, Tel Batash (Timnah), and Tel Miqne/Ekron.
Other summer fruits were also processed immediately after harvesting. Figs and dates were dried or boiled into syrups. Dates and pomegranates were also processed into wine.
Storage was important since the produce could not be consumed or shipped away at once. Several systems of storage were developed and used depending on the commodity and the owner. For individuals, grain was stored mostly in small, stone-lined or plastered pits near the house. In some sites, such as Megiddo, larger pits (silos) were constructed, probably for usage by the central administration for storage of taxes in kind or grain from royal estates. Large buildings for storage in bulk are known from Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Tell Jemmeh. Grain could also be stored in large jars placed in storage rooms at home or in large storehouses, such as those discovered in Hazor, Tel Hadar, and Beersheba. Other commodities, such as wine, oil, and even dried figs, were also stored in jars in the same facilities. At some sites, basements and caves for storage were discovered. Storage in jars made transport of commodities easier. Inscribed jar handles show that commodities, possibly wine, were shipped from Gibeon and that during the reign of Hezekiah there was some kind of a distribution system of commodities in jars possibly related to the rebellion against Assyria.
Factors in crop yield.
Rain was not the only determinant of crop failure or success. There were other factors that affected the agricultural outcome, such as soil fertility and destructive agents including pests and diseases. Continuous use of the soil depletes it of its nutrients and lowers the yield. There are several ways that soil fertility can be restored. The easiest, but costly, is fallowing. This method does not require any investment, but by practicing it the farmer loses a season’s worth of crop. That is why it is hard to believe that a universal sabbatical year was practiced in ancient Israel, in spite of the law in Exodus 23:10–11: “For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield; but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow.…You shall do the same with your vineyard, and with your olive orchard.” During the sabbatical year, pruning the vine was forbidden (Lev 25:4); consumption of grapes produced by an unpruned vine was forbidden as well (Lev 25:5, 11).
It seems that if fallowing was practiced at all, it was included in a cycle of crop rotation. There is possible evidence, although not straightforward, to suggest that crop rotation was practiced. One of these examples is the “proverb of the farmer” (Isa 28:24–29), where there is a description of certain agricultural practices. One of them relates to sowing: “When they [the farmers] have leveled its surface, do they not scatter dill, sow cummin, and plant wheat in rows and barley in its proper place, and spelt as the border?” Although several Hebrew terms have uncertain meaning, the overall impression is that the farmer sows the different species in their appointed place. It is highly possible that the expression “proper place” is a reference to the use of crop rotation, part of which included fallowing; the farmer could not afford to have the whole land lie fallow simultaneously; thus, one had to make fallowing part of the crop rotation cycle. Crop rotation is also healthier for the crops because repeated use of the same plot for the same crop encourages the development of diseases and pests that attack that specific crop.
Other means of restoring soil fertility included different ways of fertilizing. While green manuring—using leguminous plants for nitrogen enrichment of the soil—was known during Roman times, there is no reason that this method of fertilizing was not known in biblical times since legumes were available and cultivated. A more common method, judging from the large number of times it is mentioned in the Bible, though indirectly, was the use of animal manure and ash.
Fertilizing helps to restore soil fertility and raise agricultural yield. However, biblical farmers, like their modern counterparts, had to fight certain factors which caused reduction of crop yield and sometimes even total devastation. One of these factors was drought, and farmers could not do anything to avoid it. A faithful Israelite farmer would have tried to observe the covenant to secure “rain in its season.”
Other destructive forces were pests and diseases. The most destructive pest was the locust, which when it attacked would cause total devastation, as Joel 1:4 describes it: “What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten, and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten.” Other less destructive pests were different kinds of worms and moths, mice, and fruit bats.
Several diseases caused crop failure or yield reduction, and some of them are mentioned in the Bible. Close study of the terms and symptoms shows that most of them prevail also in modern times and include smut, rust, and bunt in cereals; black rot in grapes; and peacock eyespot in olives.
The farmer could try to fight off these destructive forces by crop rotation, fumigation of storage facilities, correct methods of cultivation, and care. Since chemicals were not available as pesticides and/or fertilizers, the food was organically grown and healthier but the yield was lower.
Laws Related to Agriculture.
One of the cornerstones of Israelite society was its covenant, which was based on the law given by Yahweh to his people. Observation of the covenant was rewarded in agricultural terms (Deut 11:13–17). Because of its prominence in daily life, many laws have a very close relationship to agriculture. A certain portion of the law is devoted to matters of land inheritance. Basically, only sons could inherit the land and the eldest son was given preference (Deut 21:15–17). When there was no son, a close relative had to marry the widow (levirate marriage) and provide a son (Deut 25:5–6). However, when there were no sons, a daughter could inherit (Num 27:8). If there was no daughter, the land could be inherited by other male relatives, as outlined in Numbers 27:9–11. The incident of the daughters of Zelophehad (Num 27:1–8, 36:1–9) underlines the daughters’ right to inherit the land with the stipulation that they can marry only within the clan “so that all Israelites may continue to possess their ancestral inheritance” (Num 36:8).
Another portion of the law code was concerned with the socially and economically weak and safeguarded their welfare by promulgating several protective measures. The poor, the sojourner, the orphan, and the widow were given support using agricultural surplus. They were allowed to participate in the harvesting of the seventh-year growth (Exod 23:11); a corner of each field was left unharvested for their consumption, and they were allowed to glean behind the harvesters in the fields and orchards (Lev 19:9, 23:22; Deut 24:20–21); they were given any sheaves forgotten in the field at the end of the day (Deut 24:19); and a tithe was measured every third year for the needy (Deut 14:28–29).
Enjoying the fruits of one’s labor was very important. Special dispensation was available in times of war. “Has anyone planted a vineyard but not yet enjoyed its fruit? He should go back to his house, or he might die in the battle and another be first to enjoy its fruit” (Deut 20:6).
Animals provided the muscle to perform many tasks related to agriculture, such as plowing, threshing, transporting agricultural produce to be processed, and transporting finished by-products to market. As such, animals were also cared for by several laws: “your ox and your donkey may have relief” on the Sabbath (Exod 23:12), and when overcome under their heavy burden they should be helped (Exod 23:5). This attitude of “pity for the animals” is well expressed in the law forbidding harnessing two different types of animals to a plow: “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together” (Deut 22:10) because of their unevenness. The mixing of kinds is recognized as well in the prohibition of sowing more than one kind in a plot: “You shall not sow your vineyard with a second kind of seed, or the whole yield will have to be forfeited, both the crop that you have sown and the yield of the vineyard itself” (Deut 22:9).
The most important cultic festivals were agricultural. “Three times in the year you shall hold a festival for me” (Exod 23:14). These festivals celebrated the commencement of cereal harvesting (Passover), the conclusion of cereal harvesting (Pentecost), and the end of the ingathering season (Tabernacles). Ancient Israel throughout its history lived off the soil, and its relationship with the soil can be exemplified by what the Bible says about King Uzziah: “he had farmers and vinedressers in the hills and in the fertile lands, for he loved the soil” (2 Chr 26:10).
[See also ANIMAL HUSBANDRY; BETH-SHEMESH; COOKING; CORN, OIL, AND WINE PRODUCTION; DIET, BRONZE AND IRON AGE; DIET, HELLENISTIC AND ROMAN PERIOD; EKRON; INDUSTRY AND PRODUCTION, HELLENISTIC AND ROMAN PERIOD; JEZREEL VALLEY; NEGEV; SHEPHELAH; and TIMNAH, TEL BATASH.)]
- Ayalon, Etan, Rafi Frankel, and Amos Kloner, eds. Oil and Wine Presses in Israel from the Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine Periods. BAR International Series. Oxford: Archaeopress, 2009. Presents verbal descriptions accompanied by photographs and plans, from north to south, of close to 100 oil and wine presses.
- Borowski, Oded. Agriculture in Iron Age Israel. Boston: American Schools of Oriental Research, 2002.
- Borowski, Oded. Every Living Thing: Daily Use of Animals in Ancient Israel. Walnut Creek, Calif.: AltaMira, 1998. Discusses how animals were used in many aspects of agricultural activities.
- Currid, John D., and Avi Navon. “Iron Age Pits and the Lahav (Tel Halif) Grain Storage Project.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 273 (1989): 67–78.
- Dalman, Gustav. Arbeit und Sitte in Palästina. 7 vols. Hildesheim, Germany: Georg Olms, 1964. A highly important source for Bible students, especially those interested in daily life, in which the author presents an enormous amount of ethnographic materials gathered in Jerusalem before World War I.
- Evenari, Michael, Leslie Shanan, and Naphtali Tadmor. The Negev: The Challenge of a Desert. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971.
- Faust, Avraham. “The Farmstead in the Highlands of Iron Age II Israel.” In The Rural Landscape of Ancient Israel, edited by Aren M. Maeir, Shimon Dar, and Zeאev Safrai, pp. 91–104. BAR International Series 1121. Oxford: Archaeopress, 2003. An attempt to analyze Iron Age–II farmsteads using available data, with some preliminary conclusions concerning the economy and household of this type of settlement and treatment of regional differences in the form of farmsteads.
- Faust, Avraham. “The Rural Community in Ancient Israel during Iron Age II.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 317 (2000): 17–39. The social structure and decision-making process in ancient Israel are presented based on an analysis of house size, shape, and distribution of agricultural–industrial installations and other elements related to agriculture compared with biblical and historical data.
- Felix, Yehuda. “Kele habbaqar Wehammahresah and Their Names in Mishnaic Times.” Leshonenu 24 (1960): 137–156 (Hebrew).
- Frankel, Rafi. The History of the Processing of Wine and Oil in Galilee in the Period of the Bible, the Mishna, and the Talmud. Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University Press, 1984. Very crucial to understanding wine and oil making not only in the Galilee but in the rest of the country as well.
- Gibson, Shimon. “Agricultural Terraces and Settlement Expansion in the Highlands of Early Iron Age Palestine: Is There Any Correlation between the Two?” In Studies in the Archaeology of the Iron Age in Israel and Jordan, edited by Amihai Mazar, pp. 113–146. Sheffield, U.K.: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001. An excellent review of the history of scholarship pertaining to this topic.
- Henrey, K. H. “Land Tenure in the Old Testament.” Palestine Exploration Quarterly 86 (1954): 5–15. The different types of ownership are outlined, explained, and described on the basis of biblical references.
- Hopkins, David C. The Highlands of Canaan: Agricultural Life in the Early Iron Age. Sheffield, U.K.: Almond, 1985. Enumerates the difficulties encountered by the Israelites during their settlement in the highlands of Palestine and describes the solutions they employed.
- Hopkins, David C. “Life on the Land: The Subsistence Struggle of Early Israel.” Biblical Archaeologist 50 (1987): 178–191. An excellent account of life during the period of Israelite settlement in the hill country.
- Loew, Immanuel. Die Flora der Juden. 4 vols. Leipzig, Germany: R. Loewit, 1924–1934. A linguistic study of plant names mentioned in the Bible and other Jewish texts, alphabetically arranged, utilizing Semitic languages other than Hebrew (Aramaic, Syriac) to clarify plant etymologies.
- Pritchard, James B. Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1969.
- Ron, Zvi. “Agricultural Terraces in the Judean Mountains.” Israel Exploration Journal 16 (1966): 33–49, 111–122. The first and most extensive study of terracing in the Judean mountains.
- Stager, Lawrence E. “Farming in the Judean Desert during the Iron Age.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 221 (1976): 145–158. A study of three farmsteads in the Judean desert dated to the seventh century B.C.E., possibly during the Josianic expansion.
- Walsh, Carey Ellen. The Fruit of the Vine: Viticulture in Ancient Israel and the Hebrew Bible. Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1996.
- Zohary, Michael. Plants of the Bible. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1982.