Neot Kedumim

the biblical landscape Nature reserve

In 1924, Ephraim and Hannah Hareuveni came up with the idea to establish a "Garden of the Prophets and Sages." And then they proposed to create a garden with plants from the Bible period and the early Roman period in the Land of Israel. The garden was established gradually in the 1970-s... It was called Neot Kedumim - The Ancient Oasis...

Neot Kedumim today is the Biblical landscape restored reserve situated between two largest Israeli megapolices - Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. This unique reserve allows visitors to go back in time and see how Jewish people lived back in the past. Bible pages become alive when one sees trees and shrubs mentioned in the Scriptures and walks through ancient ruines of villages...

The fig tree has a special meaning and significance in the Holy Scriptures. It is first mentioned in the very benning of human history:

"Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves." (Genesis 3:7)

Then, in prophet Micah's  Messianic kingdom vision, the fig tree is depicted as a symbol of prosperity:

"Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken." (Micah 4:4)

And in the Gospel we see how Jesus uses the fig tree in order to teach his disciples the pattern of faith.

"Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered." (Mat. 21:19)

This is an ancient cistern from which our ancestors draw water thousands of years ago.  Many biblical histories happened at water cisterns. For example: Rebecca and Eliezer met , Moses and Zipporah, and Jesus and the Samaritan woman had a very interesting conversation at the well. Here we finally begin to understand the importance of water both in ancient Israel and even in modern country as well. And we might understand now why Jesus, on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, proclaimed: “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me.” (John 7:37)

 The story about certain tax collector who was desperately willing to see Jesus turned into an example of, overcoming the obstacles, faith. The story becomes vivid in Neot Kedumim when we see the sycomore trees similar to that one which Zacchaeus climbed.

“And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him” (Luke 19:4)
The sycamore tree produces a very delicious fruit. Sitting under the tree we can discuss its significance in the Bible.

"And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene." (Mat. 2:23)“There shall come forth a shoot from the trunk of Jesse" (Isaiah 11:1)There is a connection between these two passages, one from the Old Testament and the other from the New. According to one of the Church Fathers, Eusebius, the word "Nazarene" should be understood as shoot, a Hebrew word "netser". That is why even the name of Nazareth in Hebrew sounds as Natseret. 

When we look at an ancient olive tree and see its offshoots, we can undersand better the prophecy of Isaiah about Messah and his bonds with his own people. Olive oil is one of the Seven Species of the Land of Israel.Iw  was also used to anoint kings in the past. Literally Messiah means annointed by the olive oil.

olive tree
olive tree

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness” (John 8:12)
 The olive press will remind us of the last hours of Jesus in Gethsemane (Gat Shemanimin Aramaic means the oilve press).

We can see why the olive tree was used as a symbol of a Jewish nation by apostle Paul in his Epistle to Romans(11:17-21):

"If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either."

olive press
olive press

The history of wine presses in Israel are as old as the  tradition of wine drinking. 

The earliest wine press was apparently the human foot, that is how they crushed and squeezed grapes into a bag where it would ferment.

By the 2nd century AD, the Romans began using a "screw press"  similar to which we can see in Neot Kedumim.

The attitude to wine drinking is expressed ont he pages of the Bible. The wine is praised by the Bible authors but, in many cases, drinking too much wine is critisized and rebuked by them.

"Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, And whoever is intoxicated by it is not wise." (Proverbs 20:1)

"Woe to those who rise early in the morning that they may pursue strong drink, Who stay up late in the evening that wine may inflame them!" (Isaiah 5:11)

 "Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to reckless indiscretion. Instead, be filled with the Spirit." (Ephesians 5:18)

"Wine that gladdens human hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread that sustains their hearts." (Psalm 104:15)

"Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do." (Ecclesiastes 9:7)

Jesus, as described in the Gospel of John, helped people at the wedding party when they lacked wine for the banquet:

"And the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now. (John 2)