What does “milk and honey” refer to?
Exodus 3:8 (NASB)
8 "So I have come down to deliver them from the [a]power of the
Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious
land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the
Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the
Hivite and the Jebusite."
Even today in the middle east, with its warm climate and plentiful of flowers has suitable conditions for beekeeping . So the reference to the land of Canaan as flowing with milk and honey ,imply that honey production was plentiful from those times.
During a military campaign, Jonathan the son of King Saul, when the army entered the forest ,they found honey flowing on the ground. Obviously the bees nested in the hollows of the trees, bees also make their nests in hollow cavities on mountain rocks.
The Israeli Honey Production and Marketing Board says the trade can be traced back to 1882 in this Land of Milk and Honey. As of this year, there are 529 beekeepers keeping an eye on some 120,000 hives around the country. The bees produce approximately 35 kilograms of honey per hive annually.
Recently discovered beehives from ancient Israel 3,000 years ago appear to be the oldest evidence for beekeeping ever found, scientists reported.
Archaeologists identified the remains of honeybees — including workers, drones, pupae, and larvae — inside about 30 clay cylinders thought to have been used as beehives at the site of Tel Rehov in the Jordan valley in northern Israel. This is the first such discovery from ancient times.
1 Samuel 14:25-27 (NET Bible)
25" Now the whole army entered the forest and there was honey on the
ground. 26 When the army entered the forest, they saw the honey
flowing, but no one ate any of it, for the army was afraid of the
oath. 27 But Jonathan had not heard about the oath his father had made
the army take. He extended the end of his staff that was in his hand
and dipped it in the honeycomb. When he ate it, his eyes gleamed."
The fact that David was a shepherd and on one occasion, his father Jesse asked him to take supplies to his brothers in the army, as well as ten portions of cheese to their commanding officer, indicates that sheep herding and milk production was abundant in those days.
1 Samuel 17:17-18 (NET Bible)
17 "Jesse said to his son David, “Take your brothers this ephah of
roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread; go quickly to the camp to
your brothers. 18 Also take these ten portions of cheese to their
commanding officer. Find out how your brothers are doing and bring
back their pledge that they received the goods."
Sheep Farming in Israel
https://www.dairyschool.co.il › sheep-farming-in-israel
Sheep farming in Israel is some of the most productive in the world, with carefully developed breeds of sheep that produce high quantities of milk. This success is perhaps no surprise when you consider the history of sheep farming in Israel. In the Old Testament, Abel, the second son of Adam and Eve, became a shepherd.
Many other important Biblical figures, including Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Rachel, and King David, kept flocks of goats and sheep. For early Jews, sheep provided wool, meat, and milk. Because flocks of sheep were transportable, shepherding was an ideal occupation for Jews as they travelled in search of a permanent homeland.
When God delivered the Israelites from their bondage in the land of Egypt, he promised to bring them to a good a spacious land flowing with milk and honey. This indicates that milk and honey production was abundant in Biblical times in the land of Canaan.