One day I was struggling with my laziness in regards to prayer and scripture reading and my inability to stick to any devotion long enough and I argued with God,
“Yes, I know we are supposed to know you, to love you and to serve you. And I know that in order to know you I should read the bible. But really, am I ever going to know you like I know my kids or my husband? I mean, I know what kind of sandwich Rick likes and what color Susie loves but will I ever know these little things about you by reading the bible? I mean if we’re going to be friends I think you need to give me a little more, don’t you think?”
And then I dared God, “Help me out here. Tell me what your favorite fruit is. I think you owe me that.” I felt instantly ridiculous and guilty. Was I putting God to the test? But I felt stubborn, too. And I decided to give him till the end of the day.
I didn’t see any obvious signs of fruit that day and felt sheepish and embarrassed as I said my lip-service prayers that night. I had obviously taken liberties by talking to God that way, but I still felt let-down. I told Him so and I dozed off to sleep…
As I slipped into half-consciousness, an image popped in my head of my Wendy’s salad from lunch earlier that day with an emphasis on the pomegranate salad dressing. I was completely surprised that I remembered what kind of dressing it had been since my memory for detail is terrible. (I would have guessed it was raspberry vinaigrette.) And then I knew. God was handing me a clue! You know that feeling of understanding that God gives you sometimes that’s not in words but suddenly infused into your consciousness? Well, that’s how it was. I knew the answer. It was pomegranate. And I could just picture Jesus sitting down maybe under a tree and breaking open the fruit and popping the seeds into his mouth. I smiled and fell asleep.
Of course I never told anybody or ever planned to tell anybody about my crazy mental games with God. It was enough that we had this thing between us. I did start to doubt it. Do pomegranates even grow in the region where Jesus grew up? I would have to look it up later.
And when I did, what I discovered astounded me. In my research the fruit quickly became something more than just Christ’s favorite snack. I found that not only did it grow in the Middle East where Jesus grew up but that the pomegranate is INCREDIBLY meaningful to the Jews.
In Exodus 28:33-34 God commanded that images of pomegranates be woven into the hem of the me’il (“robe of ephod”), a robe worn by the Hebrew High Priest in three different colors! Pomegranates can also be found in the Bible in 1 Kings 7:13-22, where the fruit is depicted on the capitals of the two pillars which stood in front of the temple King Solomon built in Jerusalem. King Solomon is said to have designed his crown based on the “crown” of the pomegranate. The significance of the Jewish pomegranate is further exemplified by its appearance on ancient coins of Judea, one of only a few images that appear as a holy symbol.
Jewish tradition teaches that the pomegranate is a symbol of righteousness because it is said to have 613 seeds, which corresponds with the 613 mitzvot, or commandments, of the Torah. For this reason and others, it is customary to eat pomegranates on Rosh Hashanah. Moreover, the pomegranate represents fruitfulness, knowledge, learning, and wisdom.
Interestingly, many Jewish scholars believe that the pomegranate was the “forbidden fruit” of the Garden of Eden. Furthermore, the pomegranate is listed in the Bible as one of the seven species (shivat haminim) of fruits and grains that are special products of the Land of Israel.
If that didn’t convince me, I was even more amazed to discover that depictions of the fruit are a symbol of resurrection and life everlasting in Christian art, In fact, the pomegranate is often found in devotional statues and paintings of the Virgin and Child. I did a quick google image search and, sure enough, found lovely paintings of the Madonna and Christ Child with Jesus often holding a pomegranate in his baby hands!
To those scholarly Christians more knowledgeable than I, this might be a “no duh” moment, but to me, completely ignorant of the symbolism of the pomegranate, it was an incredibly beautiful thing to come upon. This beautiful ruby-colored fruit that almost resembles a sacred heart will never ever be the same for me. In fact, I have contemplated making it MY favorite fruit!
Copyright 2012 Victoria Garaitonandia Gisondi