By means of Moses, Jehovah promised the nation of Israel that he would bring them into a land of wheat, barley, vines, figs, pomegranates, olives and honey. (Deut. 8:7-9) Prior to this the spies who went into the land had returned with grapes, figs and pomegranates. (Num. 13:2, 23) The Israelites had known the pomegranate in Egypt, as their complaint at Numbers 20:5 indicates. The sleeveless coat of High Priest Aaron’s garments had on its hem a series of pomegranates made of blue thread, reddish-purple wool and scarlet material twisted together and alternating with golden bells. (Ex. 28:33, 34; 39:24-26) Later, when the temple was constructed, the capitals of the two copper pillars on the porch of the house were decorated with chains of pomegranate figures.—1 Ki. 7:18, 20, 42; 2 Ki. 25:17; 2 Chron. 3:16; 4:13; Jer. 52:22, 23.
The pomegranate (Punica granatum) grows throughout the East as a small tree or shrub, seldom passing fifteen feet (4.6 meters) in height. The spreading branches are numerous and bear dark-green lancehead-shaped leaves, and blossoms with coral-red to scarlet flowers. The ripe fruit is of a maroon color, apple-shaped with a rosette or crown extending around the bottom. Within the hard rind it is crowded with small capsules full of juice and each containing a small pink or red seed. The juice makes a refreshing drink (Song of Sol. 8:2), a syrup called grenadine is produced from the seeds, and the blossoms are used in the preparation of an astringent medicine used as a remedy for dysentery. The Shulammite maiden’s veiled temples were compared to a “segment of pomegranate” and her skin to a “paradise of pomegranates.”—Song of Sol. 4:3, 13; 6:7.
The pomegranate was extensively cultivated in Bible times, and the place-names of Rimmon, En-rimmon and Gath-rimmon doubtless derive from the abundance of these trees in their area. (Josh. 15:32; 19:45; Neh. 11:29) The pomegranate tree was much prized and thus is often associated with other important fruit producers such as the vine and the fig tree.—Song of Sol. 7:12, 13; Joel 1:12; Hag. 2:19.