R. Helbo, R. 'Awira3 and R. Jose b. Hanina once visited a certain place where a peach that was [as large] as a pot of Kefar Hino4 was brought before them. (And how big is a pot of Kefar Hino? — Five se'ah.) One third [of the fruit] they ate, one third they declared free to all, and one third they put before their beasts. A year later R. Eleazar came there on a visit and [a peach] was brought to him. Taking it in his one hand5 he exclaimed, A fruitful land into a salt waste, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.6
R. Joshua b. Levi once visited Gabla7 where he saw vines laden with clusters of ripe grapes8 standing up [to all appearances] like calves. 'Calves among the vines!', he remarked. 'These', they told him, 'are clusters of ripe grapes'.8 'Land, O Land', he exclaimed, 'withdraw thy fruit; for whom art thou yielding thy fruit? For those Arabs9 who rose up against us on account of our sins?' Towards [the end10 of that] year R. Hiyya happened to be there and saw them11 standing up [to all appearances] like goats. 'Goats among the vines', he exclaimed. 'Go away', they told him, 'do not you treat us as your friend did'.
Our Rabbis taught: In the blessed years12 of the Land of Israel a beth se'ah13 yielded fifty thousand14 kor15 though in Zoan,16 even in the days of its prosperity,17 a beth se'ah yielded [no more than] seventy kor.15 For it was taught: R. Meir said, I saw in the valley of Beth Shean18 that a beth se'ah13 yielded seventy kor.15 Now, among all the countries there is none more fertile than the land of Egypt, for it is said in Scripture, Like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt;19 and there is no more fertile spot in all the land of Egypt than that of Zoan where kings were brought up, for it is written in Scripture, For his princes20 are at Zoan.21 Furthermore, in all the Land of Israel there is no ground more rocky than at Hebron22 where the dead23 were buried. Hebron was nevertheless seven times as fertile24 as Zoan; for it is written in Scripture, And Hebron was built in seven years before Zoan in Egypt,25 now what [can be the meaning of] built? If it be suggested that it was actually built, is it possible [It may be objected that] a man26 would build a house27 for his younger son28 before he built one for his elder son,29 it being stated in Scriptures And the sons of Ham, Cush and Mizraim, and Put and Canaan?30 [The meaning must] consequently be31 that it was seven times as fertile32 as Zoan.33 This refers to stony ground, but [in ground] where there are no stones [a beth se'ah would yield] five hundred [kor].34 This too refers to periods when the land was not blessed,35 but [of the time] when it was blessed35 it is written in Scripture, And Isaac sowed in that land, [and found in the same year a hundredfold].36
It was taught: R. Jose stated, One se'ah37 in Judea yielded five se'ah: One se'ah of flour, one se'ah of fine flour, one se'ah of bran, one se'ah of coarse bran and one se'ah of cibarium.
A certain Sadducee38 once said to R Hanina: 'You may well sing the praises of your country. My father left me one beth se'ah39 and from it [I obtain] oil, wine, corn and pulse, and my cattle also feed on it'.
An Amorite40 once said to a Palestinian,41 'How much do you gather42 from that date tree that stands on the bank of the Jordan?' — 'Sixty kor',37 the other replied. 'You have not improved it'. the former said to him, 'but rather43 ruined it; we used to gather44 from it one hundred and twenty kor'. 'I too', the other replied 'was speaking to you [of the yield] of one side only'.
R. Hisda stated: What [was meant] by the Scriptural text, I give thee a pleasant land, the heritage of the deer?45 Why was the Land of Israel compared to a deer? — To tell you that as the skin of a deer46 cannot contain its flesh47 so cannot the Land of Israel contain its produce.48 Another explanation: As the deer is the swiftest among the animals so is the Land of Israel the swiftest of all lands in the ripening of its fruit. In case49 [one should suggest that] as the deer is swift but his flesh is not fat so is the Land of Israel swift to ripen but its fruits are not rich, it was explicitly stated in Scripture, Flowing with milk and honey50 [thus indicating that they are] richer than milk and sweeter than honey.
When R. Eleazar went up to the Land of Israel he remarked, 'I have escaped [one penalty]'.51 When he was ordained he said, 'I have now escaped two [penalties]'.51 When he was given a seat on the council for intercalation he exclaimed, 'I have escaped the three [penalties]'; for it is said in Scripture, And My hand shall be against the prophets that see vanity etc. They shall not be in the council of My people,52 which refers to53 the council for intercalation, neither shall they be written in the register of the house of Israel,52 refers to53 ordination; neither shall they enter into the land of Israel52 [is to be understood] in accordance with its plain meaning.
When R. Zera went up to the Land of Israel and could not find a ferry wherein to cross [a certain river]54 he grasped a rope bridge and crossed. Thereupon a certain Sadducee sneered at him: 'Hasty people, that put your mouths before your ears,55 you are still, as ever, clinging to your hastiness'. 'The spot', the former replied. 'which Moses and Aaron were not worthy [of entering] who could assure me that I should be worthy [of entering]?' R. Abba56 used to kiss the cliffs of Akko.57 R. Hanina56 used to repair its roads.58 R. Ammi and R. Assi59
used to rise [from their seats1 to move] from the sun to the shade2 and from the shade to the sun.3 R. Hiyya b. Gamda4 rolled himself in its5 dust, for it is said in Scripture, For Thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and love her dust.6
R. Zera said: R. Jeremiah b. Abba stated, 'In the generation in which the son of David7 will come there will be prosecution8 against scholars'. When I repeated this statement in the presence of Samuel, he exclaimed, [There will be] test after test,9 for it is said in Scripture, And if there be yet a tenth in it, it shall again be eaten up.10
R. Hiyya b. Ashi stated in the name of Rab: In the time to come all the wild trees of the Land of Israel will bear fruit; for it is said in Scripture, For the tree14 beareth its fruit, the fig-tree and the vine do yield their strength.15