POMEGRANATE (: Punica Granatum):
A tree of the myrtle family. The pomegranate was carried into Egypt in very early historic times (comp. Num. xx. 5), and was also cultivated in Palestine, Assyria, and most of the countries bordering the Mediterranean. The spies brought pomegranates, grapes, and figs as signs of the fertility of Canaan (ib. xiii. 23). Several Biblical passages indicate that the pomegranate was among the common fruit-trees of the country (Deut. viii. 8; Joel i. 12; Hag. ii. 19). A famous pomegranate-tree grew at Gibeah in the time of Saul (I Sam. xiv. 2). Pomegranate-groves, as well as the beautiful flower of the tree, are mentioned in the Song of Solomon; and the fruit furnishes similes (Cant. iv. 3, 13; vi. 7, 11; vii. 13). The pomegranate was used in art. The two pillars, Jachin and Boaz, were ornamented with a representation of it (I Kings vii. 18); and pomegranates were embroidered on the garment of the high priest (Ex. xxviii. 33).
Throughout the East the pomegranate is the symbol of luxuriant fertility and of life. Pomegranates are eaten raw, their acid juice being most refreshing (comp. Cant. iv. 3). They are also dried (comp. Ma'as. i. 6). The juice mixed with water is to-day a favorite drink in the East; in former times it was also prepared as a kind of wine (Cant. viii. 2; Pliny, "Hist. Naturalis," xiv. 19).