There are seven agricultural fruits native to the land of Israel. These are wheat, barley, pomegranates, figs, olives, dates and grapes. Wheat and barley are harvested in the spring, and the other five fruits are ready to be harvested in the autumn, before the biblical feast of Sukkot or Tabernacles. All of these fruits come from vegetation that is able to grow on its own with no intervention from man. These are known as the 7 species of Israel. All of the fruit from these trees provides nutrition and have many extraordinary health benefits and uses.
The Pomegranate Tree
The name pomegranate in English is derived from the Latin terms pomum (meaning apple) and granatus (meaning seeded) thus giving us seeded apple. In Hebrew, the word is Rimon or Rimoneem and it comes from the root word ramam, meaning to be exalted or to be lifted up.
The tree itself is quite plain and you could commonly mistake it for a giant bush instead of a tree. It does produce some of the most beautiful and exotic fruit known to man. It happens to also be one of my favorite fruits, especially when the fruit is juiced.
They have a very long life span, some known to be over 200 years of age and it is believed that this tree produces one of the oldest fruit species. On average, they usually grown between 12ft (3.5M) to 16ft (9M), but in ideal conditions they could reach a massive height of 30ft (9M) tall. I couldn’t imagine how many mouthwatering pomegranates would be covering a tree of that size. It gets me excited just thinking about it!
The leaves of the tree are like little leathery, lance-shaped leaves that could, as I stated earlier, be mistaken for a tall bush instead of a tree. But don’t let this tree fool you when trying to collect the fruit deep inside. Due to the hard stiff branches they produce, picking the fruit may give you scratches making you look like you got in a fight with a cat. Before the fruit starts developing, the pomegranate tree brings out beautiful, little red or white flowers which grow individual or in clusters up to five. This is always an exciting time because the pomegranates develop out of the flowers and the more flowers you have, the more pomegranates you get to eat.
Part of the Culture
Throughout history and particularly in Israel, pomegranates had a very powerful influence on the culture in that region and also one of the few images that appear on ancient Judean coins. It became a powerful symbol of royalty, holiness and fruitfulness due to the crown on the top of the fruit, called a calyx. We also see in the book of Exodus that images of pomegranates were commanded to be woven on the high priest’s robes. When the spies came back from spying out the land of Israel, as written in the book of Numbers, they brought pomegranates with them, in addition to all the other fall harvest fruits. Solomon also depicted pomegranates on the capitals of the two pillars which stood in front of the temple and scholars say that he designed his coronet based on the pomegranate’s crown. It is even believed that the first miracle that Yahshua did, turning the water into wine, could have been pomegranate wine due to the rich presence of this fruit in that region.
According to Jewish tradition, pomegranates are a symbol of righteousness because they believe that every fruit contains 613 seeds representing the 613 commandments (Mitzvot) of the Torah. This is one of the reasons many Jews eat pomegranates on Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot and T’bishfat. However, the actual number of seeds vary with individual fruits, and I know this fact, because I have done this experiment several times and it always came out with a different total number of seeds. Today many Torah scrolls are stored, when not in use, with a pair of hollow silver pomegranates placed over the two upper scroll handles.
My Favorite Fruit
One thing I really like about the Pomegranate, besides the taste and that they are fun to eat, is that you can actually make wine out of it, and to me, it is some of the best wine I have ever tasted. Due to the fact that pomegranates are considered a super fruit and have many health benefits, including anti-cancer and heart health properties, doctors in Israel are actually experimenting with the fruit in the hospitals to treat patients. If you ever get the opportunity to try pomegranate wine, I would highly recommend you do so.
On the contrary, the only thing I do not like about pomegranates is the fact that the juice has no mercy and will stain everything. You have to be careful when opening them because if you handle them too hard, the juice will come squirting out and leave no survivors. I did, however, find the best way to open them without getting stains on your clothes. You fill a bowl of water big enough to fit the entire pomegranate, make a deep incision around the pomegranate, immerse it in the water and pull the shell apart. That way no juices will come shooting out, the yellowish insides will float to the top and the seeds will sink to the bottom. After you finish separating the entire pomegranate and dispose of the water, you can enjoy it like eating a bowl of cereal.
The Pomegranate is only the first of the harvest fruits of Israel that I wanted to share with you today. If you would like to continue to expand your knowledge and learn about the rest of the fall harvest fruits, please check back soon as I will continue to write about the rest of them.
If you have any questions or would like to share anything about pomegranates, I encourage you to please leave a comment below.
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