Methuselah Comes Back to Life!

By Shlomo  Maital


    In the Bible, Methuselah  lived 969 years (Genesis 5:27), longer than anyone else recorded; his father was Enoch, who walked with G-d and went straight to heaven without dying.

     The modern Methuselah is much older – a Judean date palm over 2,000 years old!  And its products one day will be truly heavenly – dates that are identical to those enjoyed in Biblical times, in Judea and later exported to Rome, where the Romans loved them.

     How did this happen?    A decade ago, Sarah Sallon, an M.D., director of the Louis Borick Natural Medicine Research Center at Hadassah Medical Center,  had a wild idea.  Germination of Ancient Seed.  The idea is to use seeds found in archaeological digs, use modern techniques to germinate them – and recreate ancient plants that have medicinal properties.

     In the 1960’s the famous Israeli archaeologist Yigal Yadin excavated Massada, an outpost besieged by and conquered by the Romans, and discovered there date seeds.   Sallon asked the late archaeologist Ehud Netzer for seeds from Yadin’s excavation. Netzer thought the idea of germinating them was insane – but agreed.  Sallon brought the date seed to Dr. Elaine Solowey, a lecturer at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies at Kibbutz Ketura in the Israeli Negev.  “They gave it to me because I was the only one crazy enough to give it a try”, Solowey says.  “I had to think very hard how I could sprout them, because you only get one chance.  ..The date seeds were perfect, they had no wormholes.” 

  She called the seed Methuselah.  

   Now ten years later, it worked!   Methuselah is a 10-year-old date palm. Turns out it is male. (Did you know date palms are male and female, separately – and the male ones fertilize the female ones with their pollen?).    Methuselah’s pollen is potent!  It can impregnate the right date palm female!  Now all that is needed is a female date palm, 2,000 years old.    Solowey will try to germinate a female date palm, 2,000 years old, and recreate the Judean date palm.  Not many 2,000 year olds marry and have kids, but I sure hope Methuselah finds a great mate and manages to knock her up.