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ATS Bible Dictionary

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• Torrey's Topical Textbook
Palm-tree, The

Exodus 15:27. This tree is called in Hebrew tamar, from its straight upright, branchless growth, for which it seems more remarkable than any other tree; it sometimes rises to the height of a hundred feet.

The palm is one of the most beautiful trees of the vegetable kingdom. The stalks are generally full of rugged knots, which render it comparatively easy to climb to the top for the fruit, Song of Solomon 7:7,8. These projections are the vestiges of the decayed leaves; for the trunk is not solid like other trees, but its center is filled with pith, round which is a tough bark, full of strong fibers when young, which, as the tree grows old, hardens and becomes ligneous. To this bark the leaves are closely joined, which in the center rise erect, but after they are advanced above the sheath that surrounds them, they expand very wide on every side the stem, and as the older leaves decay, the stalk advances in height. With its ever verdant and graceful crown continually aspiring towards heaven, it is an apt image of the soul growing in grace, Psalms 92:12. The leaves, when the tree has grown to a size for bearing fruit, are six to eight feet long, are very broad when spread out, and are used for covering the tops of houses, and similar purposes.

The fruit, from which the palm is often called the date-tree, grows below the leaves in clusters sometimes weighing over fifteen pounds, and is of a sweet and agreeable taste. The diligent natives, says Mr. Gibbon, celebrate, either in verse or prose, the three hundred and sixty uses to which the trunk, the branches or long leaf-stalks, the leaves, fibers, and fruit of the palm are skillfully applied. A considerable part of the inhabitants of Egypt, of Arabia, and Persia, subsist almost entirely on its fruit. They boast also of its medicinal virtues. Their camels feed upon the date stone. From the leaves they make couches, baskets, bags, mats, and brushes: from the branches or stalks, cages for their poultry, and fences for their gardens; from the fiber of the trunk, thread, ropes, and rigging; from the sap is prepared a spirituous liquor; and the body of the tree furnishes fuel: it is even said that from one variety of the palm-tree, the phoenix farinifera, meal has been extracted, which is found among the fibers of the trunk, and has been used for food.

Several parts of the Holy Land, no less than of Idumea, that lay contiguous to it, are described by the ancients to have abounded with date-trees. Judea particularly is typified in several coins of Vespasian by a desconsolate woman sitting under a palm-tree, with the inscription, JUDEA CAPTA. In Deuteronomy 34:3, Jericho is called the "city of palm-trees;" and several of these trees are still found in that vicinity; but in general they are now rare in Palestine. Palm wreaths, and branches waved in the air or strown on the road, are associated not only with the honors paid to ancient conquerors in the Grecian games and in war, but with the triumphant entry of the King of Zion into Jerusalem, John 12:12-13, and with his more glorious triumph with his people in heaven, Revelation 7:9.

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859. Public Domain, copy freely.

Bibliography Information
Rand, W. W. "Entry for 'PALM-TREE'". "American Tract Society Bible Dictionary".
<>. 1859.


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