I love a pomegranates. They are a bear to peel, extract the seeds and enjoy, but worth the effort to keep cool and nibble on throughout the day. If you have never bought one and had the fresh plump seeds inside, put it on this week’s grocery list and give it a try. So what does this have to do with the Bible?
Well, as I read over and over again in 1 Kings 7-8 how Solomon had the pomegranate etched in the pillars of the temple I wondered more about this strange fruit. Around 200 pomegranates were etched here and 400 there within the walls and I began to ponder the significance of the pomegranate to King Solomon and the Israelites as they rebuilt God’s great temple in Jerusalem.
Back in Exodus 28:33-34 it says, “Make pomegranates of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn on its lower hem and all around it. Put gold bells between them all the way around, 34 so that gold bells and pomegranates alternate around the lower hem of the robe.”
And in 2 Chronicles 3:16, “He had made chainwork in the inner sanctuary and also put it on top of the pillars. He made 100 pomegranates and fastened them into the chainwork”
Who knew? This is the beauty of God’s word. It breathes, it offers wisdom and new insights each time we read it. It never grows stale, weary or out of date. Within the text, we see that pomegranate has great significance in the Jewish tradition or it certainly would not have been all over holy places. Many scholars even believe the pomegranate was the “forbidden fruit” that Adam and Eve gave into while in the Garden of Eden. Not only that, like many others things in the Bible, there is a numerical symbolism as well. Jewish tradition says that this amazing fruit is a symbol of righteousness because like the 613 commandments of the Torah (the law of God as revealed to Moses and recorded in the first five books of the Hebrew scriptures), the pomegranate also as 613 seeds. Now, I’ve never taken the time to count this for myself. I’m just going with what most scholars say and trusting in those Jewish scholars.
Because of all those seeds the pomegranate also represents knowledge, fruitfulness, fertility and wisdom. Its healing effects are also believed to help remedy and aid in many illnesses including prostate cancer, infant brain injury and male infertility.
In Song of Solomon it is the pomegranate fields where he wants to proclaim his love.
Let’s go early to the vineyards; let’s see if the vine has budded, if the blossom has opened, if the pomegranates are in bloom. There I will give you my love. (7:12)
In Deuteronomy 8:7-8 we see this lush fruit is one of the great promised land of the Israelites after their desert wanderings are complete.
For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams of water, springs, and deep water sources, flowing in both valleys and hills; a land of wheat, barley, vines, figs, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey;
So, yes! Pomegranates were very important and symbolic fruit. This is one of the great ways to study and dig deeper into scripture as you read it. Notice repetition, what seems unusual to you or stands out, dig deeper, discover and unlock the deeper meaning so that God’s word can come alive in and stay rooted in your heart. As you seek to understand His ways and the mysteries of His word He becomes more alive and real to you. I pray you begin to thirst for Him in ways you never imagined and He opens the eyes of your heart to amazing ways.