The date palm might just be the oldest fruit-bearing tree on our planet. It was certainly essential for our ancestors, who made much use of it – and not just the fruits. The fronds (leaves) were woven into baskets, mats, brooms, and ropes, the trunks of the trees were used to build structures, the sap was fermented into wine, and the fruit, of course, was eaten for sustenance.
Peace, victory, fertility
These ancient civilizations considered the palm tree a symbol of peace, victory, and also of fertility. The image of the palm tree was imprinted on Roman and Greek coins of the day, and the dates themselves were a valuable commodity, providing a resource that was traded as far as Africa and the Middle East. It is thought that the Greeks carved their columns to represent the trunks of the date palm.
The land of milk and honey
In Ezekiel 47:12, the old testament speaks of the trees that grow along the sandy river banks, whose leaves will never turn brown or fall. The fruit would provide food and the leaves medicine for the Isrealites as they made their new home in Canaan on the banks of the Jordan River. This was the fabled ‘promised land,’ also known as the ‘land of milk and honey.’
Jericho, along the Mediterranean coast was referred to as the ‘City of Palms.’ This region was also the land of the Canaanites and the Philistines, located where Lebanon and Beirut stand today. The region was also known for its olives, grapes, figs and pomegranates.
Date palms: a symbol of beauty
The palm tree was seen as beauty personified, and in Genesis, it was referred to as Tamar, a term also used to describe a beautiful woman.
There are many references in the bible directing people to use the date palm to build shelter or nourish their bodies. The image of palm trees figured prominently in Temple art of the day, described often in Ezekiel 41: “the walls were decorated with cherubim, each with two faces and alternating with palm trees.”
The resurrection of the ancient date
Evidence of date palm propagation was found by an archeologist named Ehud Netzer when King Herod’s palace was excavated on top of Mount Masada. The palace was destroyed by the Romans after the Jews committed mass suicide rather than surrender. There was a cache of date palm seeds at the site, which were later treated, tested and cultivated at Yale University in the 1960’s, successfully grown into a tree dubbed the Methuselah Palm. The remaining seeds were sent off to Zurich, Switzerland, for carbon dating, and were found to be more than 2000 years old. Beyond being a scientific miracle, the seeds of that era could actually be viable, it is seen by some as a metaphor for the survival of ancient Israel, and of the resurrection.
Naked Dates for the Holidays
If you are planning a holiday gathering for Easter or Passover, Naked Dates are always a welcome addition to any holiday feast. Not only are our organic Medjool dates delicious, they are chocked full of history. Lest we forget the reason for the season, dates will always be here to remind us of how our ancestors survived. Shop now for holiday delivery, and get 10% off of your entire order through April 30, 2017 using coupon code Spring17!