Nogah Hareuveni

Humble hyssop bushes (foreground) and a proud tree called a cedar of Lebanon. In a semiarid land where small trees and shrubs are the norm, the tall, stately cedar is a standout. Perhaps because of its size and its status as a luxury import, the cedar became a metaphor in the Bible for haughty pride. Low-growing hyssop on the other hand, with its thin branches bearing neither outstanding flowers nor leaves, came to symbolize humility.

These two contrasting Biblical plants and hundreds of others are being carefully cultivated—and in some cases repatriated—at Neot Kedumim, the 550-acre Biblical Landscape Reserve in Israel.

Midway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, on what was barren, rocky land just 15 years ago, Biblical botanist Nogah Hareuveni, with help from a dedicated staff and occasional groups of student volunteers, has laboriously created thriving gardens. The goal to revive, in natural settings, all the plants mentioned in the Bible and Talmud.