Symbols / Torah and Mitzvot

The Pomegranate’s Deep Roots in Jewish Design

Pomegranate applique
The pomegranate motif, around which the Jewish community has developed a world of symbolic and spiritual meaning, took root early in the history of Jewish design, even going back to the years the Israelites wandered in the dessert after leaving ancient Egypt.

God specified that the High Priest’s robe be decorated with pomegranates, though commentators disagree about whether the pomegranates were hollow or solid spheres of thread:

On the bottom [of the robe], place pomegranates made of sky blue, dark red, and crimson wool, all along its lower border. In between [these pomegranates] all around, there shall be gold bells. Thus, there shall be a gold bell and a pomegranate, a gold bell and a pomegranate, all around the lower edge of the robe. –Exodus 28:33-34

Later, when King Solomon built the Temple, pomegranates featured in the columns flanking the entrance:

[So Hiram finished all the work that he had been doing for King Solomon in the House of the Lord], the two pillars, the two bowls of the capitals that were on the top of the pillars; and the two networks to cover the two bowls of the capitals that were on the top of the pillars; the four hundred pomegranates for the two networks, two rows of pomegranates for each network, to cover the two bowls of the capitals on the top of the pillars… –Kings 7:41-42

The translations are from Aryeh Kaplan’s The Living Torah.

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