The history of biblical Persimmon oil

Persimmon, according to ancient Jewish sources, is the name of a plant unique to the Land of Israel, which grew in the Dead Sea Valley and the Gilad area across the Jordan river. The biblical Persimmon is a woody shrub with a wild appearance, which is about one meter high, has feathery leaves and bears small fruits that are red-orange in color..
The Persimmon is mentioned over 100 times in the Bible and other sources and its cultivation begins as early as the seventh century BC, as a plant from which a unique and valuable scent was extracted as well as oil and ointment for various uses in ancient folk medicine..

The Persimmon originates in the Arabian Peninsula and was cultivated as far as is known at the foot of the Gilad Mountains in the Jordan Valley, east of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea.
Later, its growth also spread to the southern Jordan Valley area and especially to the Jericho, Ein Gedi, and Masada areas. The drop collection (resin / milk) is done quickly and at the same time as the process of cutting the branches and stem. The white liquid is excreted from the grooves in very small amounts, and usually does not harden over time but becomes a sticky layer on the stem.

The Hebrew farmers in the Second Temple period developed unique techniques of collecting and increasing the yield of the drops and it is likely that the main secret laid in the techniques of producing and brewing different products from the different parts of the plant..
Our sages (Chazal) claimed that the Persimmon is the scent plant mentioned in the Bible, and Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel explained: “The scent is not just a resin dripping from the harvest trees.” Researchers speculate that this is a plant nowadays called Commiphora of the Gilead, which grows sparsely in the Middle East, especially in Saudi Arabia.

This is probably the Commiphora Gileadensis, a type of plant also called Commiphora. The Persimmon is also known by other names: Balsam, Balsan, Basham (from the Hebrew word ‘Bosem’ perfume) and the “Biblical Persimmon”.
The historian Pliny the Elder living in first century AD, tells of two types of Persimmon scents: Ointment scent, produced by cutting the stem, and aromatic scent, produced by cooking the plant extract with olive oil.
Joseph ben Matityahu (Josephus Flavius), from the first century AD, said that the Persimmon came to Judah as a gift from a Queen of Sheba who came to visit King Solomon. The Persimmon was known as a highly valuable scent at that time, and its value was equivalent to gold. In fact, this scent was the most prestigious product of the Kingdom of Judah during the Second Temple period. It was sold on all markets of the Roman Empire, and was also used for medicinal purposes and disinfecting as well as for burning incense.

In the summer of 1970, archaeologists engaged in excavations in the Ein Gedi area were astonished at the sight of a sensational discovery: In an ancient synagogue that served the Jewish community in Ein Gedi for nearly 300 years, from the third century to the sixth century AD, an inscription was discovered on the floor of the mosaic, the like of which has not been found anywhere in the world..
Unlike the common inscriptions in synagogues, which praise the donors or present positive stories about the place, the land and God, the inscription in the ancient synagogue in Ein Gedi was completely different, as it contained a terrible and awful curse!
A free translation from Aramaic states the inscription found in the ancient synagogue in Ein Gedi says:
“Anyone who causes a conflict between a man and his friend or slanders his friend to the Gentiles or steals his friend’s belongings or whoever reveals the secret of the city to the Gentiles – the one whose eyes wander all over the land and sees the hidden, he will face that man and his seed, and uproot him under heaven”
The archaeologists wondered what bothered the people of the ancient community in Ein Gedi so much and why someone would quarrel between people or tell slander to the Gentiles?
What are the “belongings of his friend” that must not be stolen and most importantly: What is the “secret of the city” that was completely forbidden to be revealed to the Gentiles?
The curse also seems excessive: It is not nice to quarrel, slander or steal, but is it appropriate that the distributor of the secret of the city really deserves the death penalty for this offense?
What led the people of that community to write this message on the floor of the synagogue?
The researchers believed that the key to solving the mystery was to decipher the phare “secret of the city.” For many years, the scholars worked on the task, but the one who finally cracked the secret was Professor Shaul Lieberman, one of the greatest scholars of the Talmud and the literature of the sages (Chazal). Prof. Lieberman found that the “secret of the city” was the production process of the most expensive scent in the world in those days, from the biblical Persimmon.
It should be noted that this is not the Persimmon bearing the orange fruits that is known to us today and originated in faraway China, but an ancient Mediterranean plant that was unique to the Land of Israel and hence the whole process of growing and producing products from it was a secret of the members of the Jewish community living in this area.
It turned out that the Jewish community in Ein Gedi had been an international expert in growing Persimmon and producing products from it for at least a thousand years..
The Persimmon scent was so sought after and its name was carried so far and wide, that it was used as one of the incense ingredients in the temple..

The biblical Persimmon oil was used for a variety of medicinal uses as well as for the ointment of temple tools and even the kings of Israel. The fate of the community in Ein Gedi, who lived in the heart of a remote desert, depended on this economic secret, so it is clear why the community engraved the warning not to reveal the secret of the city on the floor of its synagogue..
So what is the origin of the Persimmon plant that was so coveted and that the secret to extracting the oil from it was a secret that only a few knew about??

The ancient sources mention a very fragrant plant simply called “Bosem” (scent).
The Song of Songs says: “My beloved has gone down to his garden, to the spice beds, to graze in the gardens and to gather roses” (6:2), and the commentators explained that the reference was to a plant called Balsam or Balsan, a word similar to the Hebrew word “Bosem” (scent). Eventually the name was translated into various languages, in which it took interesting forms such as Balsemon or Parsemon, and from there it was a short way to “Persimmon ” which was first mentioned by the Greeks and later in Hebrew sources.

Different parts of the Persimmon wood were used for different purposes and the raw materials were produced by various means. Dry branches of the tree were crushed and used to make incense and we know from Maimonides about making some kind of potion designed to strengthen the body, usually after bathing in the bathhouse, which contained old wine, pure water and Persimmon oil.
The historian Yosef ben Matityahu, who lived about two thousand years ago, describing the Dead Sea area in his book “History of the Jewish War with the Romans”, where he wrote: “And there grows the Persimmon tree, the most precious from all the fruit of that land. And the one who says that this land is the garden of God will rightly say so.” This description is accepted in many sources because the scent extracted from the Persimmon was probably wonderful and most unusual.
When our sages (Chazal) wanted to describe heaven, they wrote: “And when the souls of Israel enter into heaven, they will immerse themselves in the 288 rivers of Balsemon and Persimmon bringing them into heaven”.

Although many of the references deal with its famous fragrance, the Persimmon was used not only as incense, but also for medicine and cosmetics.
The historian Diodros of Sicily, who lived about 1,900 years ago, described the Dead Sea region: “In these areas, in a certain valley, there is a tree called Balsemon from which they have a great income. Its use is for medical purposes, and it is highly valued by doctors”.
Another historian of the time, named Straubon, wrote of the Persimmon that it was “impressive in his ability to cure headaches and visual impairment.”.
Because of these virtues, the sages (Chazal) of the past ruled that anyone using Persimmon oil has to bless it first..
Indeed, in the Tractate of Blessings in the Babylonian Talmud it is narrated that Rabbi Yehuda offered the blessing: “The Creator of the oil of our land”.

An excellent description of the Persimmon tree is given in botany books written by Theophrastus, a Greek philosopher and botanist, one of Aristotle’s disciples..
Theophrastus wrote that in order to extract the Persimmon oil they would cut the stem diagonally, wrap palm fibers under the cut, and attach a concha to the bottom groove to collect the resin: “The harvest is done during the summer, but the dripping amount is not very large. A single person can only collect one full concha per day.” When one understands how much effort has been invested in collecting every drop, one can understand the curse of the Ein Gedi community on anyone who dares to steal “his friend’s belongings” – perhaps this is a warning against stealing the conches on the trees, which are unattended at night.
With the passage of time, the development of new trade routes from the East and the advancement of technology, the demand for Persimmon oil decreased until the entire industry became extinct and with it the plant, which according to all sources was unique to the Land of Israel..
Over the years, attempts have been made to restore the use of the Persimmon plant to everyday life, but without much success. This is because throughout history, the Persimmon has been recognized as a plant with wonderful and unique properties that have been the object of desire of people all over the world since ancient times to the present day, for scent and as a preparation for various medicinal uses.

The connection and desire to restore the biblical Persimmon to everyday life arose in Dotan Bonen, the founder of the venture, during one of his visits to the desert, near the place where the Persimmon was grown in ancient times..
Dotan, who until then had not known the world of plants and their virtues, was thrilled to hear about the biblical Persimmon and almost immediately, it ignited in him an affection for the rare plant and his desire to return it to growth in its place of origin intensified..
In a complex process, seedlings of Commiphora Gileadensis, that studies have found it to be the closest to the biblical Persimmon .

Dotan began to extract oil from the various parts of the plant and initially distributed the products to anyone who wanted to try the oil extracted from the Persimmon ..
The oil bottles soon found their way to all parts of the country and even to people in different countries of the world.
The experimenters who were given the time were asked to use it for any external purpose they would like and to report the effect of the oil on the symptoms they suffered from..
It was not long before the feedback began flow non-stop over the phone and the mailbox exploded.

Experimenters who used the DVIR Persimmon oil reported significant improvement in skin lesions, such as psoriasis and seborrhea, arthritis, gingivitis, respiratory symptoms and post-corona symptoms as well as a wide range of autoimmune diseases and even positive feedback from cancer patients claiming improvement after using DVIR Persimmon oil.

Eventually, the “Biblical Lands Ltd.” company was established with an aim to produce and market beneficial products from biblical plants. The company advocates growing plants according to the growing methods used thousands of years ago and producing products from them using innovative, advanced production methods, in close cooperation with top scientists, botanists and consultants in Israel and around the world, to produce premium quality products.

The uncompromising that began in the days of Queen Cleopatra.