The Palm Tree of the Holy Lands

An Orientalism:
A Custom or Mannerism in the Bible Times

Read Time: 7 Minutes

Psalm 92
:12  The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.

What does it mean to flourish like the palm tree? To understand this analogy, a figure of speech used emphasize how the righteous are to flourish, we need to understand the palm tree of the Bible lands.

Bishop K. C. Pillai teaches that there are four types of palm trees that grow in that area: the coconut palm, the date palm, the plantain or banana palm, and the palm tree of the scriptures. The one God is referring to grows straight and tall, up to 80 or 90 feet. In all their height they do not change in thickness. They are a very strong palm that can withstand severe weather, even monsoons; they are flexible and bend in the storms but do not break. Their root system is so secure that no palm has ever been known to be uprooted by a storm.  Like the palm, we, those who are made righteous by God, are to grow straight and stand tall. Even if the storms of life batter us we are flexible in nature and steadfast in God's Word so that we do not break or are uprooted. In hard times and good times we flourish like the palm.

I Corinthians 15
: 58  Therefore, my beloved brethren,
    be ye stedfast, unmoveable,
        always abounding in the work of the Lord,
    forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

God instructs us to be steadfast and unmovable, it must be available. We know that Christ strengthens us (Phil 4:13), and has made available to us the tools to be strong in the Word.

Ephesians 6
:11 Put on the whole armour of God,
    that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood,
        but against principalities,
        against powers,
        against the rulers of the darkness of this world,
        against spiritual wickedness in high places.
:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God,
    that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day,
    and having done all, to stand.
:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth,
    and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
:15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
:16 Above all, taking the shield of faith,
        wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.
:17 And take the helmet of salvation,
    and the sword of the Spirit,
        which is the word of God:
:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,
    and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

In order to be steadfast and unmovable we must put on the whole armor of God -- His Word. It must be in our hearts and on our lips. In the Old Testament the righteous spoken of in Psalms 92 were those that adhered to the law. Today, God made us righteous when we believed Romans 10:9 and it is up to us to put on His Word and He will cause us to flourish like the palm.

The palm tree that God talks about also bears fruit all year long. From January through March you can obtain milk from the fruit, from April through June the fruit can be broken open and the meat eaten. From July through September the fruit has become soft enough to be peeled like one would an apple and eat the flesh, and in October through December it can be eaten like a plum. The fruit is a bit larger than a grapefruit and is supplied abundantly all throughout the year. So, to the eastern mind, when God says flourish like the palm, not only will he grow straight and be steadfast but have fruit to give abundantly through all seasons. Spiritually the fruit we are to bear is:

Galatians 5
:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
:24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
:25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Fruit is available when the plant is strong and nourished, be strong in the lord and power of his might and be fed by the Word of God.

The Palm tree is considered to be a God tree, it flourishes by the grace of God. If we compare it to the coconut palm which also bears fruit there is a marked difference. The coconut palm requires much cultivation and care for it to grow and produce fruit. God's palm tree is a miracle of growth; if ten seeds are planted, ten trees emerge and it lives without man's assistance. The people of the east say it is God-planted, God-watered, and God-owned. This is also a people's tree; if one is on your land you freely allow anyone to partake of the tree and when someone climbs the tree for fruit and leaves they freely give to others. Freely we receive, freely we should give (Matt 10:8).

When a palm tree is cut down all of it can be used. The wood makes good beams for building; termites do not infest it. The roots are used to make ink and a pithy part of the root is used to make medicine. The leaves can be used as paper and also to make roofs for booths (temporary shelters) and poorer people's houses.

To make paper from the leaves they are soaked in water until they turn white. When written on with an iron instrument the writing never fades and worms do not eat the leaves. There are a few references in the Word of writing with an iron pen, writing on the palm leaves is what is indicated.

Job 19
:23 Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!
:24 That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!

Jeremiah 17
:1a  The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond. . .

According to Bishop Pillai the tree also never dies and the people of the east never talk about how old a palm is for it produces fruit and flourishes no matter the age.

The palm tree is a symbol of fruitfulness, uprightness, steadfastness, health and longevity. God had its image engraved on the House of the Lord in an abundance of places symbolizing the fruitfulness, uprightness, steadfastness, health and longevity that He can provide to His people (I Kings 6, Ezekiel 40-42). We are God's people; flourish like the palm tree. Continually produce fruit so others may be drawn in and partake, be upright and stand fast in God's Word. Be healthy, God can make and keep you that way. And for as along as you live feed God's people.

Now we can understand the impact of God's statement:

Psalm 92
:12  The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.