Temple 101-The Pomegranate and the Shield/Star of David

When studying the Mishkan and Temple, one can’t help noticing that the pomegranate played a key role in its structure and even appeared on the hem of the tunic of the High Priest. Is there a connection between the pomegranate and the Star of David (Magen David/Shield of David)?

In Exo 28.33-34 and Exo 39.25 we find that the Lord wanted the pomegranate to be placed on the tunic of the High Priest along with tinkling bells. A bell and a pomegranate, a bell and a pomegranate all the way around the hem. The bells drew attention to the pomegranate. Pomegranates were deep red and when cut open you will find many seeds and the color of blood was implied. In 1 Chr 28.11-12 we see that the Lord gave David the plan for a Temple and these plans were passed on to his son Solomon.

In 1 Kings 7.18 and 1 Kings 7.42 we see that the Temple Solomon built by God’s design was full of pomegranates. Later, we find Israeli shekels with three pomegranates on them. A pomegranate made of hippopotamus bone was found and it is believed by some to be the only relic from Solomon’s Temple. It had an inscription on it that said “Belonging to the Temple of YHVH, holy to the priests.” Some have said the inscription was a forgery, while others said it wasn’t. It was thought by some that the pomegranate sat at the top of the staff of the High Priest. But, what it was used for, nobody really knows.

The important point for our study is that it was a six-petaled pomegranate. The Menorah had pomegranates on it and in Deut 8.8 we find the pomegranate listed as one of the Sheva Minim offered at the Feast of Shavuot (1 Chr 31.4-7). Now, at the bottom of the pomegranate there are petals. In Edom, for instance, pomegranates were found in archeological finds that had four petals on them. In Canaan, they were found with five or seven petals. But, in Israel they always had six petals. What did the pomegranate symbolize?

It was the symbol of protection (Magen=shield in Hebrew) and the Kingship (star) of God. Let’s look at this a little closer. In Num 16.37-41 the Lord told the children of Israel to make tassels on the corners of their garments called “tzitzit” and they were there to remind the people about all of the commandments.

Yeshua wore these fringes and many were healed by touching the “hem” of his garment (Mk 6.56) where the tzitzit were. This fulfilled a prophecy in Mal 4.2 that said the “sun of righteousness (Messiah) will come with healing in its wings.” The word for “wings” in Hebrew is “kanaf” meaning corners, where the tzitzit were. So, the tzitzit represented the commandments, or the Word of God. There are 613 commandments and the “alef-tav” is the first and last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It is also a title for the Messiah (Rev 1.8) and means “head of the covenant.”

So, these two letters are the “beginning and the end” and encompass every letter that make up the words found in the Scriptures. Psa 119 has 22 sections and every section begins with the next letter in the alphabet. Plus, every verse of that psalm talks about the commandments. So, you can see the connection between the tzitzit, the Hebrew alphabet and the 613 commandments.

Tradition says that a pomegranate has 613 seeds which stand for the precepts of God. Now, the pomegranate is a symbol for the Messiah and his protection by his word. Psa 84-9 says “Behold our shield, O God, and look upon the face of your anointed (Messiah).” The context speaks of David, and David was a type of Messiah, so this has an application to Yeshua.

Prov 30.5-6 says “For every word of God (John 1.1) is tested; He (notice the word of God is a “he”) is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” So, the “magen” is a shield and also a “he” which is seen as the Messiah. When you take a pomegranate with six petals and open them up, they form the Star/Shield of David. They have been found in a synagogue in Capernaum.

The second aspect to the pomegranate is that it symbolizes kingship. The Kingdom of God is God’s rule in your life. Gen 49.10 says “the scepter shall not depart from Judah nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet till Shiloh (Messiah) comes.” Num 24.17 says that “a star shall come forth from Jacob, and a scepter shall rise from Israel and shall crush the two temples of Moab and crush the head of all the sons of Sheth.” The “star” is linked to the pomegranate and the pomegranate to kingship.

Rev 22.16 says that Yeshua is “the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star.” The Chachamim (wisemen) in Matt 2.1-12 followed the star because they believed it was a sign signifying a king had been born and a star was linked to prophecy (Num 24.17). As an example of this, a man came about 135 years after Yeshua and many believed he was the Messiah and called him “Bar Kochba ” or “son of the star.” However, he led many astray and Rome crushed Israel in the third and final revolt against Rome.

We know some will say that the Star/Shield of David is really a pagan symbol but there are many things in the Bible that you can find in paganism. Temples, arks, incense tables, sacrificial altars, priests, offerings, immersions and even crosses were used in paganism but that doesn’t mean the pagan symbolism came first. It was probably the other way around.

It was the Lord that commissioned the pomegranate and its symbolism and it comes down to the heart when all is said and done. If God said it was alright, then go ahead and study it and try to find out what the Lord was communicating. The pomegranate predated any of these things because he made them in the Garden and its symbolism goes back that far as well. He wouldn’t have used a six petaled pomegranate in his worship and service if there was something evil in it. Remember, God made everything good and it is the enemy that perverts it into something ungodly.

So, in conclusion, the six-petaled pomegranate is the Star/Shield of David and is a symbol of the Messiah. Its red color is symbolic of the blood shed on our behalf and the ratification of the New Covenant. The pomegranate is full of seeds and it symbolizes that the Messiah was “full” of the precepts of God. So, when all of this is considered, the pomegranate star is believed to be the origin of the Star/Shield of David.

Posted in Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, The Tanach, The Temple, Understanding the New Testament

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