What did the Israelites herds graze on?


It was a desert, a dry dry desert. What did the cattle eat? (and one can assume a lot of cattle.)


Do you mean while wandering for 40 years before conquering the land of Canaan?


During the 40 years. Like before Sinai and such. I have been looking at satelite images of the area and can’t figure out what the animals ate. It’s possible I guess that God could have made grass grow in front of their herds as they went but…yeah…hmm.


Today, the land of Israel extends in a long north-south axis similar to California, the north Galilee region being watered and the south Negev region being dry desert. It also has lowlands and uplands, and slopes facing toward rain sources, and slopes facing away from rain sources. In that respect, it is similar to California, which has forested mountains and deserts to the east.

The Israelites herded sheep more than cattle. Their animal sacrifices in the Temple were mostly sheep.


Thank you. I should have specified, during the Exodus event. When they were wandering in the desert.


You are not counting the possibility that the region may have been slightly more humid them.

The Bible says that the Israelites wandered 40 years before conquering Jericho. There has been no accurate determination where their wanderings took them. They could have spent years in the Sinai highlands where the burning bush was growing. There would likely be forage and water for their animals. Most likely, they had goats and sheep, which can survive on much less water and forage than cattle. On the other hand, since Moses had spent 40 years in Midian (NW Arabia) after killing the Egyptian, he led his people there during the Exodus where they are supposed to have adopted Yahweh as their God.


Correct. There is such a thing as desertification.


It does seem to have dried out some. Stone boat anchors have been found three miles from the present Sea of Galilee.

But cattle are grazed to this day in the area of the North American Desert (Tex, NM, Az) where the climate resembles that of Erez Israel. Remember also that they may have stayed put for some time, in such places as Sinai, or the Oasis of Kadesh.



W. Texas, NM, and Az have drier parts and wetter parts. It is a gross generalization to characterize them as the North American Desert. A professor of mine told a story of a visitor, a vegetation specialist from France, who was shown portions of the “North American Desert”. He kept on asking, “Where is the desert?” He was accustomed to the Sahara. Erez in Israel is near the NE border with Gaza, .

Many parts of Az. and NM are forested, and there are vast grassy areas suited to animal grazing.

The Sinai is described as follows in the Encyclopedia Britannica:
Aside from newly irrigated areas on the northern coastal plain, the vegetation in the Sinai Desert is mostly ephemeral, but perennial scrub survives on the steep southern slopes and on the plateau to the north. Succulents and halophytes (salt-tolerant plants) are found on the subdesertic coastal plains, and medicinal and fodder plants are widely distributed. Animals are rare, but the species represented include ibex, gazelles, sand foxes, leopards, wildcats, jackals, hares, hedgehogs, and moles. Falcons and eagles are indigenous, and there are also seasonal migrants such as quail, partridge, and grouse.

The settled population is engaged in agriculture, land reclamation, and pastoralism and in the petroleum, mining, fishery, and tourism industries. The nomadic Bedouin tribes migrate in search of water and pasturage but are increasingly attracted to industry and agriculture. In the mountainous south, a community of Eastern Orthodox Christian monks lives in St. Catherine’s Monastery.

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