The phrase “land of milk and honey” is repeated several times in the Scriptures. In this brief word study, we will focus on the word “honey,” its Semitic/Shemitic origins, and its presence in the Scriptures to bring light to the meaning for them and us now.
The word “honey” comes from the Hebrew word “devash“ דְּבַשׁ (H1706 – dev·ash’) meaning “the gummy substance from bees and fruit, particularly dates, used for food.” It is related to the Hebrew words “devar/debar” (bees, words, and/or a collection of something),”devorah/Deborah” (meaning “bee-hive”), and “Devarim” (meaning “The Words”, it is the original name for the book of Deuteronomy).
The literal/concrete meaning of the word picture of “devash” is “the moving back and forth of the teeth of the house/family.” So it means the “eating of the house or the food of the house,” and that is what honey is – food for the bees (“devash“). On a more spiritual sense, it is the “food gained from the Word” as referenced by Yahushua in the Gospel of Yochanan (John) chapter 6:
Yochanan (John) 6:53-58:
(53) Yahushua therefore said to them, “Most assuredly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you don’t have life in yourselves.
(54) He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
(55) For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
(56) He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me, and I in him.
(57) As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father; so he who feeds on me, he will also live because of me.
(58) This is the bread which came down out of heaven — not as our fathers ate the manna, and died. He who eats this bread will live forever.”
First instance of “devash/honey”
Beresheit (Genesis) 43:11: Their father, Yisra’el, said to them, “If it be so now, do this. Take from the choice fruits of the land in your bags, and carry down a present for the man, a little balm, a little honey, spices and myrrh, nuts, and almonds;
– This was Ya’aqov’s (Jacob) instructions to His sons when they were going back to Yoseph for food from Mitsrayim (Egypt). The brothers had thought that the return of their silver was an accident, so Ya’aqov commanded them to bring not only double the silver, but choice fruits of the land including royal gifts of myrrh, spices, nuts, and honey.
Other notable instances of “devash/honey”
Shemoth (Exodus) 3:8: I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Mitsrites, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey; to the place of the Kena`anite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivvite, and the Yevusite.
– This is the first instance of the Father saying that He was bringing the Children of Yisra’el to a land flowing with milk and honey.
Shemoth (Exodus) 16:31: The house of Yisra’el called the name of it Manna, and it was like coriander seed, white; and its taste was like wafers with honey.
– The manna in the wilderness tasted like wafers with honey – it is amazing that the food sent down from heaven tasted of honey!
Vayyikra (Leviticus) 2:11: “‘No meal offering, which you shall offer to Yahweh, shall be made with yeast; for you shall burn no yeast, nor any honey, as an offering made by fire to Elohim.
– Despite the richness that came with honey, Yahweh wished no offering to be mingled with honey. Those who worshipped other deities offered their food offerings with honey, thus Yahweh sought separation between His people and the nations.
Other scriptures: Exo 3:17, 13:5, 33:3; Lev 20:24; Num 13:27, 14:8, 16:13-14; Deu 6:3, 8:8, 11:9, 26:9,15, 27:3, 31:20, 32:13; Jos 5:6; Jdg 14:8,9,18,25; 1Sa 14:26-29,43; 2Sa 17:29; Psa 19:10, 81:16, 119:103; Pro 16:24, 24:13, 25:16,27 ….etc.
Honey was a rich food, worthy of the greatest of kings and the lowest of men. It is the fruit of the labor of bees and the food of salvation through the Word of Yahweh. May this study be food for thought and enrich your spiritual walk. Shalom Aleichem.