(April 19, 2005) Golan Heights near Avne Etan

April 2005 Golan

April 2005 Golan Mustard Flower - black mustard

MARK 4:30-32

30 And he said, How shall we liken the kingdom of God? or in what parable shall we set it forth?
31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown upon the earth, though it be less than all the seeds that are upon the earth,
32 yet when it is sown, groweth up, and becometh greater than all the herbs, and putteth out great branches; so that the birds of the heaven can lodge under the shadow thereof. (ASV - 1901)

In 1945 a library of Gnostic gospels from as early as the fourth century AD. was found in Nag Hammadi, Egypt after being buried there by early Christian Gnostics.  The early Church censored numerous "Christian" works as many forgeries were being circulated.  Some of these were supposedly signed by Apostles, but contained unintelligible gibberish or teachings contradicting the context of the four canonized Gospels.  The Gospel of Thomas in this library was of some interest as it preserved parts of Jesus teachings sometimes translated slightly differently.  There was some text about the mustard seed being the smallest seed and after it falls on plowed soil, " produces a great plant and becomes a shelter for birds of the sky" (The Nag Hammadi Library, by James M. Robinson, c.1978, 1988).  

The mustard type shown above grew wild in fields and along roadsides around Galilee.  I observed this mustard plant in the southern Golan near Avne Eitan and measured its height to be 8'10".  In my opinion there might have been taller mustard plants that I have not measured due to the fact I had spent little time in Israel or was unable to stop along a busy highway to measure a giant plant near Haipha.  There were published accounts of mustard plants from 10-16 feet tall without photos.  

April 2005 -- Jordan River Delta area

There were tall mustard plants near where the Jordan River flowed into Lake Galilee/Chinnereth.  During mid-April of 2005 these had produced seed pods and dried up after the winter rains stopped.   

A tiny seed grew to great height in a few weeks time;  it is a success story.  The manuscripts of Matthew and Luke varied; perhaps due to an attempt to paraphrase the saying by those who were not familiar with the species.  The mustard plant in the photo was indigenous to the area.  A garden mustard plant may have achieved greater height in fertile soil and after being watered by hand after the later rains; especially along the shore of Galilee where water was plentiful.   

The little seeds were used to season meat.  In the Talmud (3rd century A.D.) it was written that mustard had been used during the times of the week of unleavened bread.  The mustard was not to be mixed with flour for fear the flour might become leavened.  The Talmud was edited and in set form by the early third century.  The Talmud also stated that wild and domestic mustard should not be planted in the same field.  Perhaps what is common in northern Israel in modern times is some sort of wild variety that might have some genetic material from ancient hybrids.

From a report about mustard oil seed crops in India from 1976, India accounted for 30% of world production.  Indian mustard production accounted for 9% of Indian agricultural production.  The seeds were grown for their edible oil content.  They contained 30-48% of their weight in oil.  During the time of the study it was generally more profitable for a farmer to sow mustard seeds rather than wheat in terms of return on investment and acreage used.  Pliny the Elder listed numerous oil bearing plants from Egypt in his Natural History.  Healthier mustard oil hybrids were developed in the 20th century with lower levels of some organic compounds that were shown to be toxic to animals.  According to the Talmud, dating to the days of Jesus, mustard may have been used in a sauce as a condiment for meat. 1) AN AGRIBUSINESS STUDY OF THE ...MUSTARD SYSTEM, BY K.K.S. CHAUHAN CMA MONOGRAPH #52, 2) MUSTARD: BRASSICA NIGRA L. CULTIVATION, PROCESSING AND MARKETING IN SRI LANKA, BY ARIYA ABESINGE, MINISTRY OF PLANTATION INDUSTRIES COLOMBO 1. JAN. 1975, 3)  Mustard Marketing in Western Tarai, Ministry of Land Reform, Agriculture & Food Agricultural Economics Section Singha Durbar, Sept. 1967 (Nepal).  

Roman era oilseed production and oil extraction in Egypt after Pliny

According to archaeologist James Melaart the ancient inhabitants of Catal Huyuk in Turkey had extracted vegetable oil from almonds, acorns, pistachios, and crucifers (mustard family vegetables).  This occurred during a time from about 6500 B.C. to 5500 B.C. Earliest Civilizations of the Near East, James Melaart, 1965.

The mustard plant grew in thick fields with other plants that provided excellent cover for the ground nesting partridges that are native to the area.  Farmers sometimes destroyed nests that were in their fields as they tended their fields with machinery.  In irrigated fields the birds tried to nest on high places above the puddles.  During my April 2005 journey I discovered a chukar partridge hen and her new hatchlings amongst mustrard plants above Bethsaida and got some photos.

In 2011 I sat on a park bench overlooking Lake Tiberias and a vacant lot full of mustard and saw sparrows flying in and out of the mustard patch and perching in the upper branches where they were visible. 

Mustard greens are heart and brain healthy. A diet discovered by a Rush University researcher indicated greens including mustard greens to be part of a diet that reduces the risk of Alzheimer's Disease by more than 50%. The diet was published in 2015 and is called the "Mind Diet," as it reduces risk of cognitive impairment in older people at risk of dementia. Mustard greens contain Vitamin K, A, C, E, B, minerals and flavonoids.

Israel Photos IV Giant Mustard Page

Parable of the Mustard Seed
     A Mustard Field Along Highway 87-North Shore of Galilee
     Mustard Seeds in the Palm of a Hand
     A Branching Mustard Plant Near the Jordan River/Bethsaida
     Mustard Field March 1999
     Mustard Flowers
Ten Foot Mustard Plant
Upper Most Seats of the Synagogue
The Fig Tree
     Mt of Olives Fig Tree April 12-13, 2005
     Fig and Pomegranate trees below Siloam in Jerusalem
     Israel Photos II fig tree page
     Sycomore Fig Tree
The Good Shepherd
The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats
     Goat Herder
Ritual Cleansing
     The Olive Harvest of Samaria
     Mt. Ebal
     Olive Tree
Pearl of Great Price
A First Century Synagogue at Gamala
     View from the Vulture Overlook
     Overview of Gamala
Modern Galilee Fishing Boats

Caves and/or Tombs
     Steep Slope near the Lake
Feeding the 5,000
     On the Mountain
     Walking on Water

  Ramot-Zelon area
      Alternate location
Mt. Hermon
The Pool(s) of Bethesda in Jerusalem

     Healing Pools
     Southern Pool
     Crusader Chapel and St. Ann Church
The Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem
     Gihon Spring
     Hezekiah's Tunnel
     Overlook of Siloam
Tower of Siloam
A Watch Tower in a Vineyard/Olive Grove
     Grape Vines at Beth Horan
Mt. Precipice
     South Face
     Over the edge
     Measuring Line
     View of Nazareth from near Megiddo
     The Basilica of the Annunciation
Healing a Paralytic in Capernaum
Waterskins and Wineskins
The Fish and the Coin
A Denarius
Casting out a demon
The Road to Jericho
     Old Roman Road
     Wilderness Above Jericho

     Old Jericho
Western Wall
Gethsemani and the Cave of  Gethsemane
Church of the Holy Sepulcher
Rolling Stone Tombs - Jerusalem
     Other Rolling Stone Tombs

Solar Power in Israel

Salt of the earth

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