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 (“devar“). 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 “devar/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.