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Stroll through the garden of The 7 Species
and discover the intimate connection
between human nature and the biblical
fruits. For each species, read a story that
leads you toward a deeper understanding
of its symbolic significance.
“A land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees
and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey”
Deuteronomy 8:8
Passion
Pomegranate
(Based on Song of Songs 4:3, 6:7, 7:13)
A beloved and her lover pursue each other through a blossoming vineyard laden with flowering fruits. As the pomegranate trees grow heavy with ruby globes, the lovers perform a timeless dance of attraction, rejection, and return.
The beautiful Queen and the majestic King sing of everlasting love for each other.
At first, she longs for him desperately.
“Kiss me with the kisses of your mouth, for your love is better than wine… Your cheeks are like a slice of pomegranate, from behind your veil.”
But he is fickle, and she flees.
“Until the day breathes and the shadows flee, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.”
She returns to him warily, in anticipation.
“I went down to the garden of nuts...
to see whether the vine has budded,
if the pomegranates were in flower.”
Finally, she invites him back to her, and succumbs to his advances.
“Let us see if the
vine has budded,
if the blossom has
opened, if the
pomegranates are
in bloom. There I will
give my love to you.”
Peace
Olive
(Based on Genesis Chapter 7-8)
God is angry. He created the world in love, but human beings corrupted it with robbery and wanton behavior. And so He makes war on His failed Creation by bringing the Flood. Only Noah and his family deserve to be saved, and God instructs Noah to build the Ark that will preserve them.
The windows of the heavens open. Rain pours down for forty days and forty nights, completely covering the earth, even the high mountains. Every living creature on dry land meets its death in the raging torrent. The Ark floats on the surface of the water, while Noah watches over his family and the animals sealed inside.
Finally, God’s fury begins to wane. The fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens are closed. The waters slowly recede, and the Ark comes to rest on the mountains of Ararat. In hope, Noah sends out the raven. But the raven circles back and forth. The ground is not yet dry. Then Noah sends out the dove, but it cannot find a resting place, and so it returns to the Ark. After seven days, Noah again sends out the dove. The dove returns to him in the evening—and wonder of wonders! In its beak it grasps an olive leaf. So Noah knows that the waters have subsided, and along with them, God’s wrath.
The olive – symbol of the God’s pact of peace with humanity.
Never again will He destroy our world.
Kindness
Wheat
(Based on an ancient Midrash)
Once upon a time, a long time ago, there were two brothers, who farmed their wheat fields side by side. One brother was a bachelor, the other married with ten children. Day by day they labored in the fields under the hot sunshine, plowing, sowing, weeding. The rains fell and the stalks grew tall in the fields, green stems ripening to gold. At harvest time, each brother reaped his wheat and piled the sheaves in his barn.
One day, the bachelor noticed that his brother's stack of wheat was the same size as his own. "My brother has a big family,” he remarked to himself. “He will need much more than I to feed his children through the winter.” That night at midnight, the bachelor sneaked into his brother's barn, a bundle of sheaves on his back, and placed them on top of his brother’s pile. After he left, the married brother
entered his brother’s barn, a bundle of sheaves on his back. “My brother is a bachelor,” he thought, placing the sheaves on his brother’s pile. “He should save as much as possible so that he can build a house and find a wife.” Night after night, each brother stole into the other’s barn and added to his stack of wheat. Each morning, each brother wondered to himself why the other’s pile of grain remained the same height.
Then one night, the full moon rose. Each brother went out to the other’s barn, a stack of sheaves on his back. As they walked along the path leading to the barns, they met in the middle, and fell into an astonished embrace.
On that site, the Temple
was built.
Joy
Grapevine
(Based on Judges 9:12)
The trees wanted to anoint a king over themselves.
They said to the olive tree, “Reign over us!” But the olive tree said to them, “Shall I cause my richness to cease, whereby God and men honor themselves through me, and go to wave over the trees?” Then the trees said to the fig tree, “You go and reign over us!” But the fig tree said to them, “Shall I cause my sweetness and my goodly produce to cease, and go to wave over the trees?” Then the trees said to the grapevine, “You go and reign over us!” But the grapevine said to them, “Shall I give up my vintage that gladdens God and men, and go to wave over the trees?
Garlands of round grapes, bursting with juice, fall heavily on the branches. They are crushed, then left to ferment at carefully controlled intervals and temperatures. The result is ruby red, blushing pink, pale yellow; chardonnay, Emerald Riesling, Bordeaux, sparkling champagne. In celebration, or simply to enjoy.
The ancient drink that
   gladdens the hearts of both
     God and men, made from
     the fruit of the grapevine.
Humility
Barley
(Based on Book of Ruth)
Ruth is a princess, daughter of a Moabite king.
In the morning, her palace maids garb her in silken robes; before retiring at night, they bathe her in perfume. Ruth’s father, the king, marries her to a wealthy immigrant, a Jew from Canaan. His father had turned a deaf ear to his impoverished countrymen and left the Promised Land to live in Moab, and for this God punished him with death.
His son, Ruth’s husband, also meets an untimely death, as does his brother. Naomi, her mother-in-law, insists that Ruth return to her life of luxury in the palace, yet Ruth remains loyal to her adopted family. She accompanies Naomi to the homeland of their dead husbands. Destitute, They came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest.
In desperation, Ruth, daughter of a king, humbles herself, and offers to go out to the field and glean the ears of barley that the reapers leave behind for the poor. God leads her to the field of Boaz, a well-off distant relative, who is kind to her.
In her arms, Ruth gathers the sheaves of barley, sign of her humility. She takes it to her mother-in-law, and they are sustained by Boaz’s generosity. So she stayed close to Boaz’s maidens to glean, until the end of the barley harvest…
But Naomi realizes that Ruth needs more than temporary sustenance. On Naomi’s advice, she who is the daughter of a king humbles herself yet again, donning her royal finery and going to Boaz at night, hoping for his protection. Captivated by her, Boaz promises to redeem her and take her as his wife. He said, “Hold out the shawl that is upon you and grasp it.” She held it, and he measured out six measures of barley… He said, “Do not go empty-handed to your mother-in-law.”
Barley – symbol of Ruth’s humility, her willingness to put aside her royal past and glean among the poor out of loyalty to Naomi and her adopted faith. Her reward: royalty is returned to her, as she becomes the great - grandmother of King David.
Modesty
Fig
(Based on Genesis Chapter 3)
God creates the first man, and places him in a beautiful garden somewhere at the center of His new world.
He commands: “You may eat of every tree in the garden. But of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, you must not eat, for on the day you eat from its fruit, you will die.” Then God creates the first woman. They stroll through the garden, blissfully unaware of their nakedness, plucking delectable fruits of every shape and size.
But the cunning serpent tempts the woman. “Did God perhaps say, ‘You must not eat of any tree in the garden?’” he asks. “No,” she admits. “We may eat of any tree in the garden, except for the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, which stands in the center. Of the fruit of this tree, God has said, ‘Neither eat nor touch, or you will die.’”
“Not so,” insists the serpent. “For God knows that on the day you eat its fruit, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like Him, knowing good and bad.”
The woman sees that the fruit of the tree is irresistible, luscious. Tempted, she plucks the fruit and eats. Its skin is bright green, the meaty flesh dark pink, sweeter than honey. She gives it to her husband, and he eats it as well.
Then their eyes open, and they realize that they are naked. The fig tree, source of their sin, offers them a temporary solution—they pluck its leaves and sew them together into a modest garment.
In punishment, God casts them out of the perfect garden. Sentenced to exile, cast out into burning heat and torrential rain, the man approaches each species of tree, asking if he and the woman might take shelter under its branches. Pine, oak, walnut, peach, willow—one after another, the haughty trees reject the man’s request. Why should they help the sinners? In a last attempt, the man approaches the fig.
The modest fig tree is the only one to agree to their request, offering protection under the cool shadow of its broad leaves.
Honesty
Date
(Based on Genesis Chapter 38)
Tamar stands motionless beside the dusty road, waiting. She has removed her widow’s black garb and enveloped her face in a winding veil.
Her name, “date palm,” is a stately image, standing tall and upright in demand for honesty. Her life is stalled, as Judah, father of her late husband, refuses to give her his third son in marriage. And so she stands beside the dusty road, waiting for Judah to pass by and notice her. When he does, with womanly wile and a seductive smile she tempts him. In lieu of payment, he gives her three signs: his signet, wrap, and staff, as guarantee, symbols of his “honesty”.
Months later. Judah refuses to acknowledge that the child is his. He rages in fury at her presumptuousness — she dares to challenge his power. He will have her punished—burned at the stake. Then Tamar produces her proof, the signs he gave her. She accuses him: “I am with child by the man to whom these belong!” At the last moment before the flames begin to lick at her robes, Judah admits the error of his ways.
God recognizes the true honesty of Tamar’s case, and rewards her with twin boys, one of whom becomes the ancestor of David.