An inscribed pomegranate from Temple period found in Jerusalem, written about in Bible
Jul 29, 1998
The Israel Museum recently acquired a thumb-sized ivory pomegranate, 43 mm. high. Its body is vase-shaped and it 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. It was, however, possible to reconstruct the missing word based on the surviving text and biblical evidence. The inscription reads: sacred donation for the priests of the house of [Yahwe]h.
This pomegranate is the only known relic associated with the Temple built by King Solomon on Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem. According to its paleographic style, the inscription dates to the mid-8th century BCE. The small pomegranate was probably a gift to the Temple of Yahweh in Jerusalem the only such temple in the Kingdom of Judah.
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)
We may therefore assume that the rites performed by the priests in the Temple in Jerusalem included the use of scepters decorated with pomegranates, such as the one on view in the Israel Museum.