Pomegranate in Biblical Times

Pomegranate in Biblical Times
The pomegranate plant is a suitable choice for Biblical gardens. In colder areas, these could be grown in containers that can be taken outdoors during the summer months. Pomegranates were grown in the hills of Galilee and Samaria in the Holy Land during Biblical times.

The ancient Hebrew name for this fruit was ‘rimmon.’ Song of Songs 8:2 as well as Proverbs 23:30 and Isaiah 65:11 all mention the “nectar of my pomegranate.” The Song of Solomon states that “your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates, with all choicest fruits.”

As the ancient Israelites wandered in the desert, they complained that they missed the pomegranates that had been available in Egypt. Moses told them these would be found in the Promised Land. Indeed, the spies sent into the land of Canaan brought back pomegranates along with the other fruits they found there.

Pomegranate was mentioned in the Bible numerous times, particularly in the Old Testament, such as Joel 1:11. The Songs of Solomon mentions both pomegranate wine and pomegranate orchards. The book of Solomon also makes other such mentions of pomegranate, such as Solomon 4:3, which says “…thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks.”

The Bible also refers to pomegranate as one of the seven blessed fruits or “Seven Species” found in the ancient Land of Israel or the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 8:8). Pomegranate is also mentioned in Second Samuel 4:2 and Numbers 33:19-20. Exodus 28:33-34 indicates the images of “pomegranates of blue and purple and scarlet stuff…with bells of gold between them” appeared on the priests’ robes.

Archaeologists working in Jericho have uncovered the remains of pomegranates dated to around 3000 B.C., the Middle Bronze Age. Pomegranate remains were also found at Nimrud.

Motifs featuring pomegranates appeared in the regalia of robes worn by Jewish priests and kings as well as at the Temple of Solomon on the capitals of two columns that were located at the doors of the Holy of Holies in the First Temple (2 Chron. 3:16 and 1 Kings 7:18).

In ancient Israel, skewers made from pomegranate wood were used to roast the lamb for the Passover feast.

During the 1970’s a tiny (only 1½ inches tall) pomegranate carved in ivory was found in an antique shop in Jerusalem. The Israel Museum ultimately paid over half a million dollars for this item. Initially, it was tentatively dated to the late 8th century B.C. Early on, various claims were made about its origins and potential function.

One such claim was that it could have once been a decorative head on a ceremonial scepter used by Jewish priests at the temple in Jerusalem.

Early on, some experts questioned its authenticity. For some years, one expert of ancient Hebrew indicated she believed the Hebrew inscription around the rim of the ivory pomegranate wasn’t authentic. But, in the spring of 2016 when she and other experts again examined and tested the item, she changed her opinion and said the lettering could indeed be authentic after all.

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