A Barren Land: In 1869 Mark Twain described Palestine (Israel) as “a desolate country given over wholly to weeds”. That was not surprising since the Negev Desert (Israel’s southern region) accounts for over half of Israel’s total land mass. But things began to change early last century. In 1909 Israel’s first kibbutz was founded by young Jewish immigrants and kibbutzim played a key role in Israel’s agricultural development. New immigrants also embarked upon an extensive program of afforestation, and since 1900 almost 250 million sub-tropical trees have been planted in all regions of Israel.
Hi-Tech Agriculture: Today, using hi-tech agriculture such as drip and micro-irrigation, link, the desert literally blooms with fruit, as prophesied in the Bible. Even those who reject the words of the Bible have to admit that the land of Israel has gone through an agricultural miracle. Israel’s agriculture is now a highly developed industry although its importance in Israel’s overall economy is relatively small. For instance, in 1979 it accounted for about 6% of GDP shrinking to just 2.5% of GDP in 2006, and only some 3% of the population is employed in actual agricultural production. But despite a small workforce, and despite the fact that more than half of Israel’s land is desert, Israel still manages to produce 95% of its own food requirements. That is some achievement!
New Forrest’s: Israel is one of only two countries in the world that began the 21st century with more trees than it had at the beginning of the 20th century: in 1948 forests covered only 2% of Israel’s territory, but by 2014 trees covered 8.5% of the land. Israel has also planted ceders, the Aleppo pine (Jerusalem pine), the common oak, the stone pine and cypress trees, link. It is interesting to note that, as Israel is restored, Bible prophecy says that these precise trees will be planted!
Fruit and Vegetables: In 2007, fruit and vegetables amounted to nearly 50% of Israel’s total agricultural output. Israel’s fruit production includes oranges, grape fruits, lemons, apples, apricots, grapes peaches, mangoes, plums and pears. Israel’s greenhouse production of tomatoes, peppers, herbs, melons adheres to the highest international standards.
Meat Production: The growth rate of Israel’s beef and veal production increased rapidly in the mid 1980’s. In 1998 about two-thirds of Israeli beef consumption was still imported, but today nearly half of the country’s fresh beef supply is from local producers. Israel’s meat production amounts to about 40% of Israel’s total agricultural output, of which 17% is poultry. One more interesting fact: Israel’s cows produce the highest amounts of milk per animal in the world! Recall that Israel was called out of Egypt “to a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exod 3.8).
These relatively recent blessings of the land were foretold in prophecy:
Even the wilderness and desert will rejoice in those days; the desert will blossom with flowers (Isa 35.1)
Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit (Isa 27.6)
The trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase (Ezek 34.27)