Where Does 'Land of Milk and Honey' Come From?

Posted on 25 Nov 2015 03:28

The phrase 'land of milk and honey' is a cliche expression used today to refer to a place full of comfort and luxury. It is especially used to mean the expectation of such a place when reality does not actually deliver.

We might say, "he came to America expecting a land of milk and honey."

Land of milk and honey is more of a literary expression than a popular one. This is appropriate since it comes from one of the greatest works of literature ever written, the Bible. In Exodus, when God instructs Moses to lead his people, the oppressed Hebrew slaves of Egypt, out of bondage and into freedom, he promises them their own land. He does not tell them exactly what land describes it as a land flowing with milk and honey:

"And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows;

And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptian, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites." (Exodus 3:8)

Land Flowing with Milk and Honey from Treasures of the Bible

"Land Flowing with Milk and Honey"
Illustration from Henry Davenport Northrop's
Treasures of the Bible, 1894

The words appear in Exodus three other times, in Exodus 3:17, 13:5, and 33:3.

These words are then found again and again in other books, as in Numbers 13:27:

"And they told him, and said, We came unto the land wither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this //is/ the fruit of it."

As well as in Ezekiel 20:15:

"Yet also I lifted up my hand unto them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them. flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands [the most glorious of all lands]."

It appears more in Deuteronomy than any other book of the Bible.

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