The pomegranate is one of the seven species of Israel (along with wheat, barley, grapes, figs, olives, and dates) listed in the Torah (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25). It has been a popular fruit in the land of Israel for thousands of years. The wine-red flesh of the fruit has a sweet taste and contains many juicy nutrients.

Pomegranates are a symbol of righteousness in Judaism. They are first mentioned in The Bible when they are brought back by the spies to evidence the fruitfulness of the Land of  Cnaan (Numbers 13:23(. In Exodus (28:33–35) pomegranate designs are part of God’s instructions for the making of priestly garments. Pomegranate Images appear on many ancient coins of the biblical period, representing prosperity and beauty. The presence of pomegranate trees was symbolic of a nation’s financial and material wealth.

In Jewish tradition, pomegranates are a symbol of fertility and love; in Solomon’s Temple there were two hundred pomegranates engraved on the crowns of the two pillars at the front of the temple.  Some Jewish traditions hold that the pomegranate’s 613 seeds correspond with the 613 laws in the Torah; others claim that the pomegranate represents Israel. A pomegranate is a metaphor for the richness of the promised land of Israel – battered on the outside like the pomegranate’s peel, yet able to offer blessings from within. 

The pomegranate appears in many ancient love songs, such as The Song of Solomon. There are several references in the Song of Songs to pomegranates: “My sister, my bride, you are a garden locked up, a spring enclosed, a fountain sealed. Your branches are an orchard of pomegranates with the choicest of fruits” (Song of Solomon 4:13).

Nowadays pomegranates are associated with Rosh Hashanna (the Jewish New Year) and you can find them on the Jewish festive table for all the reasons above.

Ancient coin showing the pillars of Solomon’s Temple and three pomegranates on an ancient shekel coin
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