Giant Grapes in Numbers 13.23: Charles Foster versus the Israeli Ministry of Tourism

Numbers 13 describes the exploration of Israel by the twelve spies who were sent by Moses. In Num. 13.23, we get a description of the spies collecting grapes which are so big, that they can only be carried on a pole between two people. At least, that seems to be the reasonable implication of the verse:

And they [the spies] came to the Wadi Eshcol, and they cut a vine branch from there, one cluster of grapes. And they lifted it on a pole between two. And from (there they cut) pomegranates and figs.

This scene has been portrayed many times by artists. But sometimes they have trouble making the size of the grapes unrealistically and fantastically large. For example, here is Charles Foster’s “Carrying a Bunch of Grapes from Canaan”, from Bible Pictures and What They Teach Us: Containing 400 Illustrations from the Old and New Testaments With Brief Descriptions (Philadelphia, 1897):

Charles Foster - Carrying a Bunch of Grapes from Canaan
Charles Foster – Carrying a Bunch of Grapes from Canaan (click to enlarge)

What is particularly funny about this picture is that, not only is the cluster of grapes a bit puny to be carried on a pole between two people, but one of the grape-bearers is casually carrying a second cluster of grapes in his left hand!

By contrast, the grapes in the logo for Israel’s Ministry of Tourism are huge:

Israel - Ministry of Tourism logo
Israel – Ministry of Tourism logo
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