A Lenten Look at Trees features seven tree species, a sweeping journey from the Garden of Eden to palm’s Sunday prominence, preparing our hearts for the day Jesus hung on a tree. Some trees along the way may be well-suited for your garden; others may be more suitable for the table, their fruits found easily in your grocers produce section. Either way, the symbolism and connections yield layers of hidden treasure in God’s Word.
Date Palm Trees
The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna!”
John 12:12-13 NIV
Palm Sunday commemorates the exultant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, just days away from the fate awaiting him on the cross. His friends and followers gathered and welcomed him waving palm branches, a victorious act of praise with a rich history. Remember the palm trees that signaled water and rest during the Israelites’ desert exodus from Egypt (Exodus 15:27), their first success in Jericho, “City of Palms,” overcoming cities in the land promised to them (Joshua 6:1-21), and the yearly, joyful reminder of harvest and gathering in the Feast of Tabernacles festival (Nehemiah 8:15). Palm trees and their branches have played a celebratory part in God’s Word, and guide our gardener’s hearts in Hosannas! this week.
From the days of the Tabernacles or Ingathering celebrations (Leviticus 23:40; Nehemiah 8:15) to Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem seven days before his resurrection, with a crowd forming a procession, waving palm branches and joyously shouting “Hosanna!” (John 12:12 – 15), the palm tree and its evergreen branches remind us God has faithfully led his people to victory, bringing us out of bondage and blessing our harvests. The Lord is always leading us in triumphal procession (2 Corinthians 2:14). “Hosanna! Save, I pray!”
—from “Hosanna!” God’s Word for Gardeners Bible, page 229
What can we do as gardeners, to “taste and see” this tree, to take in the pageantry and promise of Palm Sunday in a personal way? Let’s go from garden to table, as most of us will not be able to grow a date palm tree in our gardens due to its Zone 9 cold hardiness needs. Neither will they make good potted trees*….to the cooking pot instead!
The righteous will flourish like palm trees
Psalm 92:12 GNT
Dates are the honey-like, gooey fruits of the date palm; treat yourself to a date shake, or try this recipe from a treasured Bible cookbook. Author Eileen Gaden recommends this spiced date chutney with roast lamb, a sweet suggestion to compliment the spring vegetables at next week’s Easter feast.
Spiced Date Chutney
from Biblical Garden Cookery by Eileen Gaden
VINEGAR tarragon, 1 3/4 cups
SUGAR 1 1/4 cups (I didn’t use this much)
WATER 1/4 cup
GARLIC 1 teaspoon, minced
DATES 2 cups (1 pound), pitted and coarsely chopped
GINGER fresh, chopped, 1 teaspoon or 1/2 teaspoon dried
CORIANDER SEED 1/4 teaspoon, ground
MUSTARD SEED 1/4 teaspoon, ground
ANISE SEED 1/8 teaspoon, ground
CINNAMON 1/8 teaspoon, ground
SALT 1/4 teaspoon
PEPPER white, 1/8 teaspoon, ground
Combine first 4 ingredients in a saucepan and simmer 5 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients and cook over low heat, stirring until just thickened, depending on dates, about 5 minutes.
Spoon into hot sterilized jars and seal or store in a covered jar in refrigerator.
Let mellow a week and serve with lamb or poultry.
Makes about 2 half pint jars.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
Psalm 118:27 NIV
* Phoenix dactylifera, that is; tropical potted palms are readily available, pictured here from my supermarket’s supply for the holiday. These are from an ornamental, non-fruiting genus in the Palmae family, suitable for indoor or warm summer décor.
Enjoy insight on date palm trees in rhyme and meter in the A-to-Z Primer of Plants from God’s Word
Read more on date palm trees in the devotions from The Harvest of Righteousness, part of Garden Stories, page a-47, and in the Garden Tour section Fertile Crescent, “Lay of the Land,” page 30
Find more garden-to-table goodness about date palm trees in our Plant Guide – gardenndelight.wpengine.com/plant-guide/date-palm/
Recipe Credit: Eileen Gaden, Biblical Garden Cookery (Chappaqua, New York: Christian Herald Books, 1976), page 32
Photo Credits: ©2017 Shelley S. Cramm