Palm Sunday: Date Palms Do Not Grow in Jerusalem

Image result for image of date palm
date palm

 

So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting,

“Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—
    the King of Israel!”

Gospel of John 12:13

 

Palms do not grow commonly in the uplands, and they were usually brought up from the Jordan valley when required for ceremonial use…Matthew and Mark do not mention palms, but suggest that the disciples spontaneously cut branches of the trees growing in the locality.  –Lindars (1972, 422)

Date palms are the palms mentioned in the New Testament with reference to Palm Sunday…  The date palm can survive a temperature as low as 20 degrees Fahrenheit but requires a mean temperature over 65 degrees Fahrenheit in order to flower and fruit.  The mean temperature in Jerusalem in the winter is 41 degrees Fahrenheit for the low.  Of course it sometimes gets much colder and it even snows in Jerusalem.  …Date palms grow in cities like Jericho which had always been famous for them.  Jericho is about 40 km east of Jerusalem.  –Solowey (1987, 115-117)

It (the date palm) is the only native palm tree in the Holy Land.  Actually, it is native only to desert oases, e.g., Jericho, ‘the city of palms'” (Deut. 34:3; 2 Chr. 28:13);  –Malina and Rohrbaugh (1998, 210) in Social Science Commentary on the Gospel of John

(All quotes taken from The Resurrection:  A Critical Inquiry, pp. 57-58, by Jewish author, Michael J. Alter)

 

Gary:  And we are to believe that the author of the Gospel of John was an eyewitness to this event!!!  My goodness.  The man didn’t even know that date palms do not grow in Jerusalem, yet, he has the disciples (and the crowds?) strewning palm fronds all over the streets of Jerusalem!

This is just another example of why the Gospels are NOT reliable historical documents.  They were not written by eyewitnesses.  They most likely were not even written by Palestinian Jews.

 

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13 thoughts on “Palm Sunday: Date Palms Do Not Grow in Jerusalem

  1. Gary –

    do some fact checking. Just google “photos date palms jerusalem”, and you’ll see the place is loaded with them.

    sheesh.

    Better yet, go visit there.

    the date palm is virtually the “national tree” of Israel, and has been since before the 1st century. And yeh, they had them in Jerusalem back then, too.

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    1. Scholars say that during Jesus’ time, date palms were the only palms in Palestine and that they only grew at lower elevations. The fact that other species of palm grow in Jerusalem TODAY was not the point of the post. If you can provide proof that date palms have always grown in Jerusalem, please give me the link.

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      1. Dates didn’t grow on date palms at higher elevations (or, grew very poorly – not good enough for agricultural purposes), but date palms themselves grew even in mountainous regions.

        See “The History of the Date through the Ages in the Holy Land” (Asaph Goor, Economic Bontany, Vol 21, 1967)

        It is almost ludicrous to imagine Jerusalem without palm trees. Palm trees even appeared on sheckels. And, Israeli farmers knew well about planting, cultivating and pollinating palm trees.

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        1. Please provide a credible source which states that the ancient Judean palm grew in JERUSALEM, not just a vague “higher elevation. I have looked at several sources on this issue and have found none that mention these palm trees having been in ancient Jerusalem. In addition, please be aware that the palm trees in Jerusalem today were brought in from outside the region in the 1950’s.

          We need an answer to a very specific question: Did palm trees grow in Jerusalem during Jesus life time? If not, then the author of John has made a mistake, assuming that the infamous date palms of Jericho also grew in Jerusalem, a city that is several thousand feet higher in elevation, and much colder in the winter.

          http://www.biblicalproductions.com/document/94,69,98.aspx

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          1. re: “I have looked at several sources on this issue and have found none that mention these palm trees having been in ancient Jerusalem. ”

            So what? Virtually every article available out there talks about agricultural practices. They didn’t do “date farming” in Jerusalem.

            But — It’s entirely irrelevant whether date palms grew in Jerusalem or not.

            The QUESTION is COULD A CROWD OF PEOPLE IN JERUSALEM HAVE HAD DATE PALM BRANCHES for religious celebrations?

            And, the answer to that is “Yes, very, very easily”. It’s that simple. Those date palms didn’t have to GROW in Jerusalem. Not at all. Just like any other “desired product” – and, date palm branches most certainly fit that bill, because of their significance in religious ceremonies – date palm branches could easily have been carried from Jericho to Jerusalem. Even IF they didn’t grow in Jerusalem.

            Next thing you’re going to bring up is the fact that you can’t find any references to sheep being raised in Jerusalem, in order to make an argument that there couldn’t have been sacrifices at the Temple…

            Your turn, though: Show me one credible scholar who says “there were no date palms in Jerusalem in the first century”.

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            1. The issue is not whether or not palm fronds were bought and sold in Jerusalem it is whether or not the authors of the Gospel are collectively correct to say that the disciples picked palm branches to lay at Jesus feet.

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          2. OFF THREAD: I hope you’re not getting “repeated posts” from me, but I’m afraid that might be the case. Many times that I have hit the “Post Comment” button, nothing happens, but then, I get a message about some server error. So, I try again. And, it might be that MY messages are getting to the blog server, but, the blog server isn’t sending back anything. I dunno. I just hope you haven’t gotten multiple copies of my recent posts. If so, I just want you to know I’m not intentionally trying to do anything to flood the blog, or anything like that…

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            1. Your comments go to moderation due to your past history of including personal insults in your comments. Those comments with insults are deleted. Those which address the post are posted after being reviewed.

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              1. Matthew: The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; 7 they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. 8 A very large crowd[b] spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.

                Mark: Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields.

                Luke: No mention of any branches

                John: The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,

                So if we combine the three accounts, people went out into the fields and cut palm fronds to lay at Jesus feet. Did palms grow in Jerusalem???

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      2. Dates didn’t grow on date palms at higher elevations (or, grew very poorly – not good enough for agricultural purposes), but date palms themselves grew even in mountainous regions.

        See “The History of the Date through the Ages in the Holy Land” (Asaph Goor, Economic Bontany, Vol 21, 1967)

        The venerated and well-researched Jewish Encyclopedia notes “In the Temple service, branches of the date-palm were used at the Feast of Booths”.

        It is almost ludicrous to imagine Jerusalem without palm trees. Palm trees even appeared on sheckels, and the Temple was decorated with palm-tree carvings. And, ancient Israeli farmers knew well about planting, cultivating and pollinating palm trees. So, even if there weren’t palm trees in Jerusalem when they started building the Temple, it’s almost unimaginable that there wouldn’t have been plenty planted.

        BUT – forget all that. You do realize, do you not, that the Date-Palm Capital of Judea – Jericho – is a mere TEN MILES from Jerusalem? Did you know that? Had you looked that up? Seen a map, maybe?

        Trust me – for the Feast of Booths – Succoth – it’s NO PROBLEM to bring tons of date palm branches to Jerusalem, and to the Temple. It’s not even a half-days walk from Jerusalem.

        So – your great Jewish author is, I think, perhaps a dimwit.

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        1. The Gospels state that the disciples went out and picked the branches and John says that the branches were palm branches. Therefore if these two claims are correct, the palm trees had to be in Jerusalem. Can you provide evidence that palm trees grew in ancient Jerusalem?

          I am fully aware that palm fronds are used for Succoth. However, that holiday is in the fall, and, yes, they brought palm fronds from Jericho.

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          1. re: “The Gospels state that the disciples went out and picked the branches”

            NOWHERE does it say the disciples “picked” the branches. Not in Greek. It simply says they “took” branches, and in this instance (John 12:13), it is used in exactly the same sense that we might say “he took a knife and cut the bread”.

            There is absolutely NO indication whatsoever of WHERE these branches came from.

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