Officially, we have about another month of summer, but admit it: You are already thinking about your fall garden. It can’t be helped! Such is the gardener’s way, dreaming and preparing for things to come. Has your planning led you to make lists of plants to purchase for the fall, or bulbs to order for the spring? You are not alone. The Lord has written plant lists, too, found throughout His Word.
Bible plant lists reflect every kind of vegetation, from vegetables to flowers and fragrance to natives, herbs, and evergreens. There is something here for everyone—landscaper, foodscaper, beginning gardener, and chef. You may be surprised to find some favorite, familiar fruits along with exotic spices only available direct from the Holy Land. Quiz yourself to see if you have discovered these passages of botanical beauty in your Bible, and may you be inspired to add a few from God’s lists to your own.
Then their father Israel said to them…Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift—a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds. Genesis 43:11 NIV
This list reveals Israel’s hospitality. He sent his sons to the neighboring nation of Egypt to purchase food during a famine and sent them with this gift-list of native plant products to gain favor for their request.
Click here for a recipe for Israel’s Best Granola featuring almonds, pistachios, and honey
It’s a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of oil-rich olive trees and date honey. In that land, you’ll always have plenty to eat—you won’t lack anything! Deuteronomy 8:8-9 VOICE
This list’s promise was more encouraging than we might realize. These were foods common to ancient Middle Eastern diets; however, the Israelites, had eaten manna for forty years while waiting to arrive in their homeland. What a great hope to imagine their future would include real grains for making real bread, along with sweet fruits for gooey spreads.
Moaning for Vegetables
Now the people complained about their hardships…We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. Numbers 11:1, 5 NIV
This list shows the Israelites longing for the zesty, refreshing diet they had in Egypt; it was a misplaced nostalgia, however, for these vegetables were paired with lives of misery and brutal oppression. No murmuring, please! But pass the vegetables.
And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. Leviticus 23:40 KJV
This list is for the landscapers, filled with trees and tall shrubs for making tree-forts and celebrating Sukkot, or Feast of Tabernacles. Each family was to dwell in a tent or sukkah, to experience the reality of God’s Presence with the Israelites even when they lived in temporary shelters before moving into their land of promise.
Bring Back Branches II
“Go out into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms and shade trees, to make temporary shelters”—as it is written. Nehemiah 8:15 NIV
This list is a reiteration of the last one. Nehemiah and Ezra led God’s people back to Jerusalem after exile and began rebuilding the temple and city fortification… Celebrating like days of old gave them a fresh, clear understanding of God’s Word, and helped to rebuild their lives and livelihoods in joy.
Click here for ways to bring branches into your garden life
Song of Songs Spices
Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates with choice fruits, with henna and nard, nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with every kind of incense tree, with myrrh and aloes and all the finest spices. Song of Songs 4:13-14 NIV
This list drips with divine scents and lavish spices, picturing the extravagant love of the Lord Almighty within the intensity and passion of a king for his bride. From the matchless flavor of common cinnamon to the more exotic spices noted here, our imaginations can be aroused and enlivened to God’s unfailing love.
I’ll put cedar trees in the wilderness, along with acacia, myrtle, and olive trees. I’ll plant cypresses in the desert—box trees, and pine trees together—all so that people may see and recognize, perceive, consider, and comprehend at the same time, that the hand of the Lord has done this, and that the Holy One of Israel has created it. Isaiah 41:19-20 ISV
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever. Isaiah 55:12-13 NIV
This pair of lists shows Isaiah’s love of evergreens. For those of us who love cool, mountain retreats, forest walks, and evergreenry in the garden, Isaiah is “your people!” How much more amazing will it be, then, when the dry, desolate deserts are filled with these trees? Only the Lord could do that!
Jesus’ Herbal Rebuke
“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone…” Luke 11:42 NIV
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. Matthew 23:23 NIV
This list, written slightly differently between the two gospels, reveals Jesus’ horticultural know-how in subtle ways. He chastises the religious leaders for not having hearts fruitful in the Lord’s loving character—no superficial, flavor-no-substance, outer-adornment-only will do. These lists of herbs represented tokens to the Lord, dashes of flavor without deep nourishment.
Plant Lists Blessing
May you be moved by all the plants listed here to include a few in your own garden design or add new ingredients to your home-cooked menus. Being up close and personal with the Bible’s plants invites the LORD to come along! It may seem insignificant, but you will be pleasantly surprised by what happens next and be on your way to a deeper discovery of God. “Rabboni!” Mary exclaimed, when she realized the gardener was Jesus (John 20:15-16). May you be likewise delighted and receive wonderful garden wisdom from the Master.
The Bible is filled with plants and gardening from beginning to end, Eden to Revelation. If you have enjoyed this focused overview of plant lists, try this article on Top 10 Gardening Verses of the Bible.
My Father is the Gardener is my newest book, which includes a deeper dig into Plant List #3, with botanical information and devotional essays on cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic (Numbers 11:5).
If you enjoyed this list of lists, then God’s Word for Gardeners Bible is sure to delight you! Dig into Garden Work, Garden Stories and a reading trip through the Bible’s landscapes in the Garden Tour section, all beginning on page a-11.
©2022 Shelley S. Cramm
ISV denotes Scripture quotations from The Holy Bible: International Standard Version. Release 2.0, Build 2015.02.09. Copyright © 1995-2014 by ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission of Davidson Press, LLC.
KJV denotes Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, King James Version published in 1611, authorized by King James I of England, which is public domain in the United States.
NIV denotes Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.®
VOICE denotes Scripture quotations taken from The Voice™. Copyright © 2012 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.