Wednesday, May 5, 2021

The Biblical Symbolism of the Pomegranate

The pomegranate symbolized the hope for immortality among the ancient Egyptians. Pomegranates appear on the walls of Egyptian tombs and temples. The pomegranate tree is mentioned in several ancient Egyptian poems and in the funerary texts of Tuthmose I.

This is an image of Amenemhet carrying pomegranates. He was an official of Thutmose III (1481-1425 BC). Credit: The Yorck Project

It is likely that the pomegranate was a similiar sacred symbol of the biblical Hebrew. The hem of the High Priest’s robe had a row of pomegranates and gold bells. 

"And on the skirts thereof thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and purple, and scarlet, round about the skirts thereof; and bells of gold between them round about." (Exodus 28:33. Also see Exodus 39:24-26).

The Tyrian master craftsmen Hiram carved pomegranates onto the capitals of the pillars at the entrance to the Holy of Holies.

"He made pomegranates in two rows encircling each network to decorate the capitals on top of the pillars. He did the same for each capital." (1 Kings 7:18)

The presence of clay pomegranates in Iron Age graves indicates its symbolic association with the hope of immortality.  

Pomegranates have been found in some of the Iron Age graves at Wadi Fidan (Southern Jordan). This cemetery appears to be a burial site of ancient Edomites, Israelites, and Midianites.

The pomegranate was first cultivated in Mesopotamia and spread throughout the Levant. Carbonised remains of pomegranate peels have been found from the Early Bronze Age in Jericho and Arad. 
Bronze Age in Jericho and Arad as well as in Iraq, Lebanon, Greece and Spain
(Nigro and Spagnoli 2018: 51).

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