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a symbol of fertility


The pomegranate fruit (rimon in Hebrew), with its abundance of juicy seeds has been regarded as a symbol of fertility for thousands of years. It is frequently mentioned in the Bible and is one of the seven species with which the Land of Israel is blessed (Deuteronomy 8:8). It was also a favorite motif of Jewish art in ancient times: the capitals of two columns in the facade of the Temple in Jerusalem were decorated with pomegranates (1 Kings 7:42) and so were the robes of the High Priest. (Exodus 28: 33-34)

ivory pomegranate

The Israel Museum recently acquired an inscribed pomegranate, which was probably a gift to the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem. The thumb sized ivory pomegranate has a long neck with six elongated petals. The body is solid with a small, rather deep hole in the base, probably for the insertion of a rod. Around the shoulder of the pomegranate is an incised inscription in paleo Hebrew script, part of which is missing. According to its paleographic style, the inscription dates to the mid-8th century BCE. The text was reconstructed based on the surviving text and biblical evidence. The inscription reads: sacred donation for the priests of the house of Yahweh. This pomegranate is the only known relic associated with the Temple built by King Solomon on Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem.

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