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Symbolism of the Seven Species of Food Mentioned in the Bible

Symbolism of the Seven Species of Food Mentioned in the Bible

Dear Rita,

I listened to you on Catholic Radio this morning. I am entertaining 14 adults from Catholic Radio. Thought I would do a “take” on your comments on foods from the Land of Milk and Honey. Thought I would do centerpiece with pomegranates, figs, olives, barley, wheat…and I can’t remember the other great foods you spoke of this morning. Can you help me out with other foods I could add for a centerpiece as well as the dinner. I am going to do something fun in canning jars. Any suggestions, I am surely open to that!



Dear DakotaFishing:

Here you go, and I’m glad you like my segments on Sacred Heart. I love doing them. Let me know if you need dinner ideas. For example, there’s a wonderful farro salad with which you can substitute barley, etc.



The Seven Species of Food Mentioned in the Bible

Deuteronomy 8:7-9. “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and grapes and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and dates…” 

The 7 Species of food symbolizing the relationship of the Jewish people with the land of Israel have special status.


Wheat is associated with the Eucharist.  Israel’s climate is ideal for wheat growing. In biblical times bread was the staple of the local diet. Breads like challa and pita are popular just about everywhere today. Whole wheat products are absorbed more slowly by the body so you feel fuller longer.


Barley was the poor man’s staple in Bible days. It was eaten as barley cakes and in a kind of porridge. They even fed livestock barley. Now it’s one of the darlings of the culinary world. We use it in soups, stews and salads. In Israel it is still a basic ingredient for beer.

Barley is good for our hearts, and a good source of vitamin E, a good antioxidant. It also helps reduce formation of blood clots.

Grapes and wine and raisins

Wine is part of our Eucharistic celebration. In ancient times, grapes were also used for seasoning and in vinegars. Grapes, particularly dark colored ones, are rich in iron.


In Genesis we learn the significance of the fig leaves covering Adam and Eve. Figs were a common fruit during Bible times.

The fig was eaten fresh and dried, in addition to being used to make a kind of honey. I have a fig tree which bears abundantly each year.

Figs contain lots of fiber and potassium and are good for your heart, blood pressure and muscles and have other bone building nutrients.


Olives were a valuable commodity. The olive tree was the most prolific tree in Palestine and olives and their oil were necessary for everyday life, whether it was lighting lamps, anointing sick and dead, in offerings, skin care, medicines and in food. Olive oil was used in making cakes, unleavened bread and for spreading on bread.

Olives contain monounsaturated fat and that helps your cardiovascular system.  They also have vitamin E, which is an antioxidant. Olives have anti-inflammatory properties, as well, so they can help with joint issues, like arthritis.


David gave presents of food, including cake made with dates. Much of the Bible area was known in antiquity for their date palm tree groves.

Dates are still a staple food among the Bedouins and date honey was a favored sweet. Dates were used for barter, as well.  Dates signified food for eternal life.

They’re a good source of fiber and have all of the B complex vitamins except B-12 and a lot of minerals plus iron and potassium.


Pomegranate trees are prevalent in Israeli gardens even today. Along with eaten raw, in Bible times the pomegranate was used for making wine and also as a dye. With its many seeds, it’s a symbol of fertility.

They’re called the good seeds, packed with cholesterol fighting antioxidants. Pomegranates are a great source of potassium. Pomegranate juice may also help to prevent prostate cancer and helps to prevent plaque build up in your arteries.

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