Ruth Lieberman

It’s a Mediterranean chocolate tree

Ripe carob pods contain up to about eight seeds, each weighing exactly 0.2 grams. (courtesy)

Did you know? Chocolate comes in many forms, and some have suggested that Israel has its own home-grown type – carob. I’m not sure I’d have Hershey adjust their recipe to carob, but the evergreen tree is a prominent one in our Judean lowlands.

Carob tree spreads shade in its natural Judean lowlands surroundings. (courtesy)

This magnificent, local tree provides shade and nourishment. It’s the source of many tales in ancient biblical, talmudic and modern times. Rabbis sat in its shade, philosophers mentioned its ability to be first male and then change with time to female, bearing fruit that represents the best way to peace – simply by taking a long time!

Carob is also known as St. John’s bread, presumably what John the Apostle would’ve eaten in Second Temple times, as it grew naturally in his biblical surroundings. 

Ripe pods contain up to about eight seeds, each weighing exactly 0.2 grams. (courtesy)

The carob’s seeds are surprisingly important for commerce. In ancient times in the Middle East, gold and precious gems were weighed against the seeds of the carob tree.  The system became standardized, with one carob, er, carat fixed at 0.2 grams. A pure Roman gold coin (called a solidus) equaled the weight of twenty four carob seeds. So, 24-carat gold became ‘the gold standard’, to this day. It’s a good thing nature is so reliably consistent!

But I’m still not sure about the chocolate.

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About the Author
Ruth Lieberman is an Israeli-based political consultant and licensed tour guide, combining her love of Israel with political acumen to better Israel's standing both at home and in the eyes of the world. She has consulted for political leaders in Jerusalem and in Washington, from work on election campaigns to public advocacy and events. Her tours in Israel connect Biblical history to modern realities, to highlight Israel's achievements and promote its policies. She's also added 'archaeologist' to her title, working on an advanced degree in the field.
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