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Date Palms

Date Palms

Date Palm trees are one of the Middle East’s most ancient fruit trees—remains have been found from 4,000 B.C.!  Date palms love the heat and grow well in desert oases.  There is a proverb that says that the ‘date tree has its head in the fire [sun] and its feet [roots] in water’.  The palm tree or palm branches are mentioned 45 times in the Bible.

Some species—there are 4,000!—can grow to a height of 100 ft. [30 m.] and have large leaves.  Dates are harvested in the fall of the year and a single tree can produce over 125 lbs. [55 kg.] of fruit each year.  The fruit can be eaten fresh or dried and many believe that usually the “honey” mentioned in the Bible was made from dates—rather than being “bee honey.”

The trunk was used for fences, rafts/boats (especially in Egypt and Mesopotamia), and fuel.  The long (6–10 ft. [2-3m.]) leaves were woven into mats, baskets, and roof thatch and they were one of the four “kinds” used at the festival of Succoth (Lev 23:40).  The branches were also “waved” to acknowledge and greet important people—compare Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem (John 12:12–13)

The Hebrew name for the date palm is “Tamar” and this was (and is) is a popular female personal name.  The date palm was used as a decorative motif in Solomon’s Temple, in Synagogue decoration, and on coins (as an emblem of victory).  The Romans used the date palm as a symbol of the captured province of Judah after their victory over the Jews in A.D. 70.

Psalm 92:12–14 “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.  They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.”