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NAVE: Palm Tree
EBD: Palm tree
SMITH: PALM TREE
ISBE: PALM TREE
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Palm Tree

Palm tree [EBD]

(Heb. tamar), the date-palm characteristic of Palestine. It is described as "flourishing" (Ps. 92:12), tall (Cant. 7:7), "upright" (Jer. 10:5). Its branches are a symbol of victory (Rev. 7:9). "Rising with slender stem 40 or 50, at times even 80, feet aloft, its only branches, the feathery, snow-like, pale-green fronds from 6 to 12 feet long, bending from its top, the palm attracts the eye wherever it is seen." The whole land of Palestine was called by the Greeks and Romans Phoenicia, i.e., "the land of palms." Tadmor in the desert was called by the Greeks and Romans Palmyra, i.e., "the city of palms." The finest specimens of this tree grew at Jericho (Deut. 34:3) and Engedi and along the banks of the Jordan. Branches of the palm tree were carried at the feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:40). At our Lord's triumphal entrance into Jerusalem the crowds took palm branches, and went forth to meet him, crying, "Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord" (Matt. 21:8; John 12:13). (See DATE.)

Palm Tree [NAVE]

PALM TREE
Deborah judged Israel under, Judg. 4:5.
Wood of, used in the temple, 1 Kin. 6:29, 32, 35; 2 Chr. 3:5.
In the temple seen in the vision of Ezekiel, Ezek. 40:16; 41:18.
Branches of, thrown in the way when Jesus made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, John 12:13.
Jericho was called the City of Palm Trees, Deut. 34:3.
Figurative
Of the prosperity of the righteous, Psa. 92:12.
Used as a symbol of victory, Rev. 7:9.

PALM TREE [SMITH]

(Heb. tamar). Under this generic term many species are botanically included; but we have here only to do with the date palm, the Phoenix dactylifera of Linnaeus. While this tree was abundant generally in the Levant, it was regarded by the ancients as peculiarly characteristic of Palestine and the neighboring regions, though now it is rare. ("The palm tree frequently attains a height of eighty feet, but more commonly forty to fifty. It begins to bear fruit after it has been planted six or eight years, and continues to be productive for a century. Its trunk is straight, tall and unbroken, terminating in a crown of emerald-green plumes, like a diadem of gigantic ostrich-feathers; these leaves are frequently twenty feet in length, droop slightly at the ends, and whisper musically in the breeze. The palm is, in truth, a beautiful and most useful tree. Its fruit is the daily food of millions; its sap furnishes an agreeable wine; the fibres of the base of its leaves are woven into ropes and rigging; its tall stem supplies a valuable timber; its leaves are manufactured into brushes, mats, bags, couches and baskets. This one tree supplies almost all the wants of the Arab or Egyptian." --Bible Plants.) Many places are mentioned in the Bible as having connection with palm trees; Elim, where grew three score and ten palm trees, (Exodus 15:27) and Elath. (2:8) Jericho was the city of "palm trees." (31:3) Hazezon-tamar, "the felling of the palm tree," is clear in its derivation. There is also Tamar, "the palm." (Ezekiel 47:19) Bethany means the "house of dates." The word Phoenicia, which occurs twice in the New Testament -- (Acts 11:19; 15:3) --is in all probability derived from the Greek word for a palm. The, striking appearance of the tree, its uprightness and beauty, would naturally suggest the giving of Its name occasionally to women. (Genesis 38:6; 2 Samuel 13:1; 14:27) There is in the Psalms, (Psalms 92:12) the familiar comparison, "The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree." which suggests a world of illustration whether respect be had to the orderly and regular aspect of the tree, its fruitfulness, the perpetual greenness of its foliage, or the height at which the foliage grows, as far as possible from earth and as near as possible to heaven. Perhaps no point is more worthy of mention, we wish to pursue the comparison, than the elasticity of the fibre of the palm and its determined growth upward even when loaded with weights. The passage in (Revelation 7:9) where the glorified of all nations are described as "clothed with white robes and palms in their hands," might seem to us a purely classical image; but palm branches were used by the Jews in token of victory and peace. (To these points of comparison may be added, its principle of growth: it is an endogen, and grows from within; its usefulness; the Syrians enumerating 360 different uses to which it may be put; and the statement that it bears its best fruit in old age. --ED.) It is curious that this tree, once so abundant in Judea, is now comparatively rare, except in the Philistine plain and in the old Phoenicia about Beyrout .

PALM TREE [ISBE]

PALM TREE - pam'-tre (tamar, same as the Aramaic and Ethiopic, but in Arabic = "date"; phoinix (Ex 15:27; Lev 23:40; Nu 33:9; Dt 34:3; Jdg 1:16; 3:13; 2 Ch 28:15; Neh 8:15; Ps 92:12; Song 7:7 f; Joel 1:12); tomer, Deborah "dwelt under the palm-tree" (Jdg 4:5); "They are like a palm-tree (margin "pillar"), of turned work" (Jer 10:5); timorah (only in the plural), the palm tree as an architectural feature (1 Ki 6:29,32,35; 7:36; 2 Ch 3:5; Ezek 40:16); Greek only Ecclesiasticus 50:12; Jn 12:13; Rev 7:9):

1. Palm Trees:

The palm, Phoenix dactylifera (Natural Order Palmeae), Arabic nakhl, is a tree which from the earliest times has been associated with the Semitic peoples. In Arabia the very existence of man depends largely upon its presence, and many authorities consider this to have been its original habitat. It is only natural that such a tree should have been sacred both there and in Assyria in the earliest ages. In Palestine the palm leaf appears as an ornament upon pottery as far back as 1800 BC (compare PEF, Gezer Mere., II, 172). In Egypt the tall palm stem forms a constant feature in early architecture, and among the Hebrews it was extensively used as a decoration of the temple (1 Ki 6:29,32,35; 7:36; 2 Ch 3:5). It is a symbol of beauty (Song 7:7) and of the righteous man:

"The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree:

He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

They are planted in the house of Yahweh;

They shall flourish in the courts of our God.

They shall still bring forth fruit in old age;

They shall be full of sap and green" (Ps 92:12-14).

The palm tree or branch is used extensively on Jewish coinage and most noticeably appears as a symbol of the land upon the celebrated Judea Capta coins of Vespasian. A couple of centuries or so later it forms a prominent architectural feature in the ornamentation of the Galilean synagogues, e.g. at Tell Chum (Capernaum). The method of artificial fertilization of the pistillate (female) flowers by means of the staminate (male) flowers appears to have been known in the earliest historic times. Winged figures are depicted on some of the early Assyrian sculptures shaking a bunch of the male flowers over the female for the same purpose as the people of modern Gaza ascend the tall trunks of the fruit-bearing palms and tie among the female flowers a bunch of the pollen-bearing male flowers.

2. Their Ancient Abundance in Palestine:

In Palestine today the palm is much neglected; there are few groves except along the coast, e.g. at the bay of Akka, Jaffa and Gaza; solitary palms occur all over the land in the courtyards of mosques (compare Ps 92:13) and houses even in the mountains. Once palms flourished upon the Mount of Olives (Neh 8:15), and Jericho was long known as the "city of palm-trees" (Dt 34:3; Jdg 1:16; 3:13; 2 Ch 28:15; Josephus BJ, IV, viii, 2-3), but today the only palms are scarce and small; under its name Hazazon-tamar (2 Ch 20:2), En-gedi would appear to have been as much a place of palms in ancient days as we know it was in later history. A city, too, called Tamar ("date palm") appears to have been somewhere near the southwestern corner of the Dead Sea (Ezek 47:19; 48:28). Today the numerous salt-encrusted stumps of wild palm trees washed up all along the shores of the Dead Sea witness to the existence of these trees within recent times in some of the deep valleys around.

3. Palm Branches:

Branches of palms have been symbolically associated with several different ideas. A palm branch is used in Isa 9:14; 19:15 to signify he "head," the highest of the people, as contrasted with the rush, the "tail," or humblest of the people. Palm branches appear from early times to have been associated with rejoicing. On the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles the Hebrews were commanded to take branches of palms, with other trees, and rejoice before God (Lev 23:40; compare Neh 8:15; 2 Macc 10:7). The palm branch still forms the chief feature of the lulabh carried daily by every pious Jew to the synagogue, during the feast. Later it was connected with the idea of triumph and victory. Simon Maccabeus entered the Akra at Jerusalem after its capture, "with thanksgiving, and branches of palm trees, and with harps, and cymbals, and with viols, and hymns, and songs: because there was destroyed a great enemy out of Israel" (1 Macc 13:51 the King James Version; compare 2 Macc 10:7). The same idea comes out in the use of palm branches by the multitudes who escorted Jesus to Jerusalem (Jn 12:13) and also in the vision of the "great multitude, which no man could number .... standing before the .... Lamb, arrayed in white robes, and palms in their hands" (Rev 7:9). Today palms are carried in every Moslem funeral procession and are laid on the new-made grave.

See also TAMAR as a proper name.

E. W. G. Masterman


Also see definition of "Palm Tree" in Word Study


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