As a born-again Christian, I have always been curious about the phrase milk and honey as used in the Bible. I have read the story of God delivering the Israelites out of Egypt and into a land flowing with milk and honey a couple of times. However, every time I read this story, I always wonder and have the question, “What does milk and honey symbolize in the bible?”
One popular symbol of milk and honey in the Bible is abundant fertility. In the book of Exodus, God referred to the land that he was giving his people as a land flowing with milk and honey. According to studies from scholars, milk is used to show that the land had green pastures for livestock, and honey showed that there were flourishing plants where bees could Sack nectar from. Also, in Numbers 13:27, the Bible implies that the ten spies that Moses sent to check the land confirmed that it had flowing honey and milk by giving Moses a cluster of grapes that was so big that it had to be carried by two people. This shows the fertility of the land.
In this article, I invite you to join me as I delve into the topic of symbolism and meaning of milk and honey in the Bible. I will also learn the answers to questions such as what the bible says about milk and honey, why Israel is referred to as the land flowing with milk and honey, and what it means, so read till the end.
What does the Bible say about milk and honey?
The Bible talks a lot about milk and honey, especially when referring to the Promised Land. It mentions milk and honey to describe the land that God had promised to give the Israelites. Let us look at some of the things in different books and verses that the Bible says about milk and honey.
First, in the book of Leviticus 20:24, the Bible mentions that God said to his people that they are to own the land flowing with milk and honey that He has given them, for He is their Lord who has separated them from the people. In this verse, we learn that God is the owner of milk and honey, and he will give it to his people. Therefore, God is the only provider of milk and honey, and he will only give them to the people he is pleased with, as is said in Numbers 14:8
Second, in Exodus 3:8, Exodus 3:17, and Exodus 13:5, the Bible says that the land flowing with milk and honey belonged to the Hittite, Canaanites, Perizzite, Jebusite, Amorite, and the Hivite. Therefore, from these scriptures, we learn that the Israelites had to conquer nations to get milk and honey.
Additionally, according to Ezekiel 20:15, the Bible implies that the land flowing with milk and honey is the glory of all lands. The land that God chose to give his people was the best land he had on earth. Therefore, God gives his people the best things that no other can give on earth.
Why is Israel referred to as the land of milk and honey?
In Bible verses such as Exodus 3:8, Numbers 14:8, Deuteronomy 31:20, and Ezekiel 20:15, God refers to the Promised Land (Israel’s land) as “a land flowing with milk and honey.” This description is believed to emphasize the fertility of the land and the bounty that Israelites would receive in that land. According to studies from scholars, “the land of milk” suggested that the Israelites’ livestock could find plenty of green pastures to feed on, and “the land of honey” shows the vast farmland with plenty of flourishing flowers and plants for the bees to draw nectar from.
In Exodus 3:8, the Bible implies that God told Moses that He had come to rescue the Israelites from the Egyptians and bring them to a land that was good and spacious, a land that had flowing honey and milk. God mentions the enemies that the Israelites were to fight to get this land. Therefore, not only was the land flowing with milk and honey, but it was also good and spacious. Egypt was a large country that supported both the Egyptians and the Israelites well. The only problem was that they were slaves. However, God called Israel a good and spacious land. In Hebrew, the word good means fruitful and pleasant. Therefore, He emphasized that the land is fruitful and beautiful.
In Numbers 13:27, the Bible suggests that after Moses had sent ten spies to go check the Promised Land, they came back and told him it was true that the land was flowing with milk and honey. They even gave him a fruit which was a single cluster of grapes that had to be carried on a pole by two people (Verse 23). Therefore, they confirmed that Israel was truly a land of milk and honey.
Therefore, God’s description of Israel as a Land of milk and Honey is a beautiful picture of the agricultural richness of the land. He shows that the soils in this land are fertile, and the land is blessed with rains to give a good harvest. God brought his people out of slavery just like He had promised their ancestors and took them to a prosperous land where they would be free and worship the Lord for his blessings towards them.
What does “a land flowing with milk and honey” mean?
Christians believe that land flowing with milk and honey means land with abundance. It shows that in this land, God blesses in plenty. This phrase can be interpreted as both a physical description of land and a spiritual metaphoric meaning of land. In the Book of Exodus, God takes Israelites out of Egypt, where they were slaves, and promises to take them to a land flowing with milk and honey, which was spacious and good.
The physical description of this phrase is believed to be that the land had nourishing food. In Egypt, the Israelites were constricted; hence, they could not keep big numbers of livestock or farm in large lands. Christians believe that that is the reason God told them that the land would be spacious and good. Good in Hebrews means pleasant or beautiful. Therefore, this land was beautiful with milk and honey.
Milk and honey in the Bible are generally understood to be milk from goats and date honey. Therefore, a land flowing with milk and honey shows the ability to keep livestock in the land and the fertility of the land to grow plants such as dates. Milk and honey are products of animals and plants which is said to be a presentation of completeness and harmony. Therefore, the land was to bring harmony to the people of God and give them a feeling of satisfaction.
The spiritual metaphoric description of the land flowing with milk and honey is believed to be that this land could be a land where Israelites would receive spiritual nourishment. In Egypt, the Israelites did not have the freedom to worship their God since they were oppressed. However, in this land, they were free to follow the will of God and worship him whenever they wanted. Therefore, they would receive spiritual growth and connect more with their God.
Also, God gave them Moses, who was His chosen man, to help them in their Journey to Israel. In the Wilderness, we learn that Moses was always ready to pray for the Israelites and beg God for his forgiveness towards them. Therefore, they had a man to guide them spiritually. Also, God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments that they were to follow and keep forever to live according to the will of God. Therefore, Christians learn that during the journey to the land flowing with milk and honey, God was preparing them spiritually.
Is the reference to Israel as the land of milk and honey literal?
Yes, the reference to Israel as the land of milk and honey is literal. According to studies, Israel is highly developed in Agriculture. It is a leading country in agriculture technologies and a major export of agricultural produce, even though its geography does not favor agricultural practices.
More than half of Israel is a desert; hence, they lack enough water for agriculture, but that has not stopped them from farming and keeping livestock. Theologians believe that land with milk and honey means land with high fertility to keep livestock and farm. This has been proven true because Israel is the land that is described in the Bible as a Land with milk and honey, and in today’s life, Israel has grown to be the best in agricultural practices. Also, Israel is believed to practice beekeeping which produces honey. They also have camels and goats, which produce milk. Therefore this phrase is factual for Israel.
What was the symbolic meaning of milk in the Bible?
Milk has been used in the Bible to show many symbolic meanings. It is used in different books and verses which have different messages. Therefore, milk has different messages for the people of God. Some of the Symbolic meanings of milk in the Bible include;
One symbolic meaning of milk in the Bible is that it is the understanding of righteousness through Jesus Christ. In Hebrews 5:12-13, the Bible implies that we need someone to teach us the basic principles of the oracles of the Lord because we need milk since anyone who lives by milk is unskilled in the righteousness of God. From this verse, we can say that milk has been used to show that the people are still not skilled enough about what righteousness is. Therefore, just like a child is first given milk before it can start eating solid food, a Christian should also be given spiritual milk, which is knowledge about the righteousness of God. Therefore, Milk is the foundation of teachings about Jesus Christ because it is through Jesus that we receive God’s righteousness.
Another symbolic meaning of Milk in the Bible is that it refers to the basic Christian Teachings. This is also seen in the Book of Hebrews. Peter uses Milk as a metaphor to teach the people all they need to know about Christianity. He says in Hebrews 6:1 – 2 that the beginning principles of the oracle of God are repentance, having faith and believing in the existence of God, Baptism, laying on of the hand, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. He also tells the people that they need to milk so they can learn these teachings. Therefore, Milk is the Christian teaching that Peter tells the people they need to be righteous in God and live according to the will of God.
Another symbolic meaning of Milk in the Bible is abundance. Christians believe that Milk shows the abundant blessing of God towards his people. According to the book of Joel 3:18, the Bible says that on that day, the hills of Judah will flow with milk. In this verse, Christians learn about the overflowing blessings of the Lord. Milk has been used to show that God’s blessings are plenty, and He will bless his children abundantly. Also, in the book of Exodus, when God referred to Canaan as a land flowing with milk, it showed that he had blessed that land. This was a land where his people would experience his abundant blessings.
What is the symbolic meaning of honey in the Bible?
Honey appears a lot of times in Bible verses to relay different messages to the people of God. Therefore, Honey has been used in the Bible with different symbolic meanings. Some of these symbolic meanings include.
One, the symbolic meaning of Honey is Wisdom. According to Proverbs 24:13-14, the Bible implies that wisdom is like honey because when you find it, there is a future hope for you which will not be cut off. Therefore, from this verse, honey is linked with wisdom. To show that wisdom is a sweet and good thing to have in life. We also know that God is the provider of wisdom, and it is only those who follow his teachings in the Bible that have it. Also, according to Isaiah 7:15, the Bible implies that the person who eats honey knows the difference between good and bad and gets to reject doing the wrong thing and chooses to do right.
In this verse, honey is used metaphorically to mean wisdom. Wisdom is the knowledge of good and wrong. It is through wisdom that one can choose to do the right thing and rejects doing the wrong thing. This is learned in the story of Solomon, where he asked God for wisdom and was able to make the right judgment when the two mothers came to him with one child, and both claimed to be their child. Therefore, honey is used in the Bible to teach Christians about wisdom that they can only get from God.
Another symbolic meaning of honey is blessings. In various scriptures, especially the book of Exodus, honey has been mentioned to show God’s blessings to his people. When the Israelites cried for God to bless them with their place, God heard them and gave them a land where they had freedom and were no longer slaves. He gives sweet and good things to those who follow his will. God did not just give any land to the Israelites; He gave them the best they could ask of. God says that the land flows with hone and is good and spacious. Therefore, God’s gifts for his children are pleasant.
Another symbolic meaning of honey is that it shows the providing will of God. Honey is a product of a hardworking bee. A bee is symbolized to mean God, while the honey shows that God provided the world with everything there is. According to the Bible, we see God as the provider of everything there is on earth and Heave. In the book of Genesis, God provided man and woman with food and clothing even after they had disobeyed him. The Bible also teaches that God provided a nation to the Israelites. In the New Testament, we learn that God provided human beings with His one and only son to die for their salvation. Therefore, just like a bee works hard to serve others and give them honey, God also does the same by providing us with all the things that we need.
They say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, right? Being raised by Christians significantly impacted my life since I started professing Christ from a young age. My passion for the Christian faith made me pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology. I am a believer and pastor dedicated to spreading the word of God. I have been in the Christian ministry for over a decade and am currently ministering in Life Christian Church. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Please check the About Us Page for more details.