Pomegranates: Spiritual implications and applications

Pomegranates are not only a source of nutrition and refreshment, but the currently popular fruit has spiritual significance as well.

Pomegranates are not only a source of nutrition and refreshment, but the currently popular fruit has spiritual significance as well.

Varying even more from the traditional Verse of the Day, we want to take a look at the “Word for the Day” for November 5, 2016, which is “Pomegranate.” The word is especially apropos since November is designated National Pomegranate Month in the United States. This month offers a great time to learn about the nutritional benefits of pomegranates in the form of fresh fruit or pomegranate juice. The nutritional and health benefits of pomegranates are well known across the globe, but the spiritual implications and applications associated with this ancient fruit are sometimes overlooked.

Once considered obscure, exotic fruit, pomegranates have now become increasingly popular within the past several years. Rich in antioxidants which reportedly prevent cancer and strokes, the popular fruit has been found to be useful in other conditions as well. Pomegranates are also valued for their nutritional benefits. The popularity of pomegranate juice has skyrocketed, being used in hundreds of products, internally and externally.

Indigenous to Middle Eastern and Mediterranean areas, pomegranates are now grown in subtropical climates all over the world, especially in California and Arizona where farmers cannot keep up with the demands. Often referred to as “Chinese apple” or “the jewel of winter,” pomegranates are in season in early winter in North America.

Within the pomegranate you find several chambers of seeds, surrounded by transparent pulp from which the nutrient-rich red juice is extracted. Grenadine, a sweet syrup, is produced from the seeds, while the blossoms also have medicinal use. The leathery skin or rind is used in dye for leather.

Spiritual Implications and Applications of Pomegranates

Literally translated “seeded apple,” the pomegranate tree was believed to have been one of the trees in the Garden of Eden. Pomegranates were also among the fruit brought back by the spies when the Children of Israel inspected the Promised Land. The fruit grows on trees which produce bright red-orange blossoms which are bell shaped. “Bells and pomegranates” were embroidered on the hem of the priests’ garments in the Old Testament. Solomon is said to have maintained orchards of pomegranate trees.

The word “pomegranate” is used eight times in the Bible, with eight representing “a new beginning.” E.W. Bullinger, in his celebrated work, Numbers in Scripture, and in an Appendix to his Companion Bible, mentions that eight denotes resurrection or new beginning or regeneration or commencement. “The eighth is a new first”. . . and is said to mean “to make fat,” “cover with fat,” “to super-abound.” As a noun, it also means “one who abounds in strength.” Symbolically, pomegranates represent abundant, luxuriant fertility and life, eternal life. Note that the number 8 when viewed on its side or horizontally is the symbol of infinity.

According to folklore, pomegranates contain 613 seeds, representing the 613 commandments found in the five books of the Law in the Old Testament. Since the fruit abounds with seeds, the pomegranate is also used to illustrate some of the spiritual principles of “giving and receiving,” “sowing and reaping,” and “seedtime and harvest.” Here we note that God’s ratio is never 1:1, not 1:10, not 1:50, not 1:100, but just for purposes of rounding off, let’s say, 1:500 as an example of the ratio of return. From planting one seed, if you get one tree which eventually produced 100 pomegranates that would be a ratio of 1/50,000 in one year. What if you planted an orchard from just one pomegranate and eventually had a 100 trees with hundreds of pomegranates with hundreds of seeds produced every year, you could not calculate the total number of seeds produced from one seed. The essence of the magnitude of this spiritual principle is expressed poetically in this way:

A Hundredfold

But others fell on good ground, sprang up,
and yielded a crop a hundredfold. . . .
Luke 8:8a

Orchards of pomegranate trees
stem from fruit of a single seed
whose life is found within itself,
sown in fertile soil of the heart.

During this period known as harvest time, we are especially aware of the application of spiritual principles expressed in the Bible in a number of ways, “Giving and Receiving,” “Sowing and Reaping,” or “Seedtime and Harvest,” or simply that “The same degree to which you give, it’s going to be given back to you.” Such principles are especially evident when you look at pomegranates which are so abundant at this time of the year.

In light of the current season for pomegranates and other fruit, we conclude with “Seedtime and Harvest” by Joel Case.

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