Of the five species in Deuteronomy 8:8, pomegranate Punica granatum is certainly the most beautiful. For this reason, the shrub is planted in many parts of the world as an ornamental. With many stems arising from the base, the pomegranate grows to a height of about ten feet and has small, dark green leaves. The flowers, produced in the Spring, are strikingly beautiful with a bright red-orange color and a delicate bell shape.
The fruits begin to mature in the first half of August. The fruits are large, up to six inches across. The tough, leathery rind is crimson or some other color of red. There are many varieties of pomegranate. Some are sweet and eaten as a dessert. Others are very tart and are used either as a substitute for lemon in cooking or to make a refreshing drink. Each fruit contains hundreds of hard, small seeds. Unlike most seeds which have a seed coat which is hard and durable, eg., a bean, the outer seed coat of the pomegranate is fleshy and is the source of the juice which makes the fruit desirable.
Pomegranates figure prominently in two places in the Scriptures: the garment of the high priest and in the temple. Bells and pomegranates alternate on the skirt of the high priest. "And on the skirts thereof thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and purple, and scarlet, round about the skirts thereof; and bells of gold between them round about." Exodus 28: 33.
"And Saul abode at the extreme end of Gibeah under the pomegranate tree which was in Migron." I Samuel 14:2. Saul under the pomegranate bush at Gibeah must have been a curious sight. He was head and shoulders above other men yet was holding court under a bush. Rather than a conspicuous tree, like the palm of Deborah, he chooses the shortest of trees.
A greater king gave the pomegranate a prominent place. In Solomon's temple there were two hundred pomegranates engraved on the capitals of the two pillars which were at the front of the temple. Above the pomegranates were lilies. The name of the one pillar was Jachin (He will establish), and the other Boaz (in Him is strength). When taken into captivity, the pomegranate on the pillars are specifically mentioned (Jeremiah 52: 22-23).
There are several references in the Song of Songs to pomegranates which is not surprising considering the symmetry and beauty of the fruit. In these verses, the image of the beautiful flowers and fruits are alluded to (Song of Songs 4:3, 6:7, 4:13, 6:11, 7:12).
As with the other trees of the land, failure of the pomegranate crop is a manifest sign of God's judgment (Joel 1:12). This is of special note as the pomegranate requires considerably less care than most of the other Bible fruits.
The family contains only two species, the well-known pomegranate and its putative wild ancestor, P. propunica restricted to the island of Socotra.
In the Qu'ran, pomegranates, Punica granatum of the family Puniceacae, are mentioned as one of the provisions of Allah (Al-An'm 6:99-- It is He who sends down water from the sky with which We bring forth the buds of every plant. From these We bring forth green foliage and close-growing grain, palm-trees lade with clusters of dates, vineyards and olive groves, and pomegranates alike and different. Behold their fruits when they ripen. Surely in these there are signs for true believers).
Pomegranate and Pomegranates References