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Pomegranate

POMEGRANATE

pom'-gran-at, pom-gran'-at, pum'-gran-at (rimmon (tree and fruit); the Hebrew name is similar to the Arabic, Aramaic and Ethiopic; rhoa):

1. A Tree Characteristic of Palestine:

One of the most attractive and most characteristic of the fruit trees of Syria, probably indigenous to Persia, Afghanistan and the neighborhood of the Caucasus, but introduced to Palestine in very ancient times. The spies brought specimens of figs and pomegranates, along with grapes, from the Vale of Eshcol (Numbers 13:23). Vines, figs and pomegranates are mentioned (Numbers 20:5) as fruits the Israelites missed in the wilderness; the promised land was to be one "of wheat and barley, and vines and fig-trees and pomegranates" (Deuteronomy 8:8), a promise renewed in Haggai 2:19. In the lamentation in Joel 1:11,12 we have the pomegranate, the palm tree and the apple tree represented as withered, "for joy is withered away from the sons of men."

2. The Fruit:

The pomegranate tree, Punica granatum (Natural Order, Granateae) occurs usually as a shrub or small tree 10-15 ft. high, and is distinguished by its fresh green, oval leaves, which fall in winter, and its brilliant scarlet blossoms (compare Song of Solomon 7:12). The beauty of an orchard of pomegranates is referred to in Song of Solomon 4:13. The fruit which is ripe about September is apple-shaped, yellow-brown with a blush of red, and is surmounted by a crown-like hard calyx; on breaking the hard rind, the white or pinkish, translucent fruits are seen tightly packed together inside. The juicy seeds are sometimes sweet and sometimes somewhat acid, and need sugar for eating. The juice expressed from the seeds is made into a kind of syrup for flavoring drinks, and in ancient days was made into wine:

"I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine, of the juice (margin "sweet wine") of my pomegranate" (Song of Solomon 8:2). The beauty of a cut section of pomegranate--or one burst open naturally, when fully ripe--may have given rise to the comparison in Song of Solomon 4:3; 6:7: "Thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate." The rind of the pomegranate contains a very high percentage of tannic acid, and is employed both as a medicine and for tanning, particularly in making genuine morocco leather.

Whether the pomegranate tree in Migron under which Saul is said (1 Samuel 14:2) to have abode with his 600 men was really a tree or a place, Rimmon, is doubtful.

See RIMMON.

3. The Pomegranate in Art:

A large number of references to the pomegranate are to the use of the form of the fruit in ornamentation, in which respect it appears among the Hebrews to have something of the position of the lotus bud as a decorative motive in Egypt. It was embroidered in many colors on the skirts of Aaron's garments, together with golden bells (Exodus 28:33; 39:24-26 compare Ecclesiasticus 45:9). Hiram of Tyre introduced the pomegranate into his brass work ornamentation in the temple:

"So he made the pillars; and there were two rows round about upon the one network, to cover the capitals that were upon the top of the pillars" (margin "So the Syriac The Hebrew has `pomegranates'") (1 Kings 7:18). "And the pomegranates were two hundred, in rows round about upon the other capital" (1 Kings 7:20 compare also Ps 7:42; 2Ki 25:17; 2Ch 3:16; 4:13).

E. W. G. Masterman


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'POMEGRANATE'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.