It was a pomegranate - not an apple - depicted in the biblical Garden of Eden (Part I)


by nema

Pomegranates were one of the earliest fruits to be domesticated and their range now includes the Far East, India, the Mediterranean, and the Americas. The wild pomegranate did not grow natively it originated in eastern Iran and came to the Aegean world along the same cultural pathways that brought the goddess whom the Anatolians worshipped as Cybele and the Mesopotamians as Ishtar. A symbol of fertility, immortality pomegranates’ healing properties were discussed in one of the oldest medical texts, the Ebers papyrus from Egypt (circa 1500 BC). The Immortals, an elite infantry unit in ancient Persia, had spears with pomegranate-shaped counterweights at the butt made of gold, for officers, and silver for regular infantry.

The fruit is mentioned in both Greek and Persian mythology representing life, regeneration, and marriage (pomegranate connected with insemination. It protected a woman from infertility and protected a man's virile strength). In Judaism, pomegranates depicted in the temple King Solomon built in Jerusalem. Jewish tradition teaches that the pomegranate is a symbol for righteousness, because it is said to have 613 seeds which corresponds with the 613 mitzvot or commandments of the Torah. However, the actual number of seeds varies with individual fruits. some artistic depictions, the pomegranate is found in the hand of Mary, mother of Jesus. The Qur'an mentions pomegranates three times twice as examples of the good things God creates, once as a fruit found in the Garden of Paradise. The fruit is also one of the 3 blessed fruits in Buddhism. In traditional Asian medicine, pomegranate fruits were recommended as a health tonic and as a treatment for numerous ailments including diarrhea, dysentery, and diabetes.

Botanically, the fruit of P. granatum (henceforth referred to as pomegranate) is a large berry with a leathery pericarp filled with numerous edible, red ruby-like arils (seeds encased by a juicy pulp), compartmentalized by a membranous pith. The pomegranate's irresistible appeal and legendary medicinal properties have been the subject of myths, epics and works of art, from Raphael and Cezanne to Homer and Shakespeare, Rumi and Ferdosi. The pomegranate has a calyx shaped like a crown. In Jewish tradition it has been seen as the original "design" for the proper crown. Some scholars now suggest that it was a pomegranate – that led to Adam and Eve’s exodus from the biblical Garden of Eden and not apple.

Legendary allusions aside, pomegranate juice has been scientifically shown to help the body, as it is rich in antioxidants, the molecules that protect the body from heart disease, premature aging, Alzheimer's disease, and cancer. Amazingly pressed pomegranate juice has three times higher antioxidant properties than green tea and red wine. The health benefits of pomegranate have been attributed generally to the high levels and wide diversity of phyto-chemicals. These are predominantly polyphenols and include Hydrolyzable ellagitannin which constitutes the greatest proportion, followed by anthocyanins and other minor flavonoids. The whole pomegranate fruit can be divided into a) seed containing the Punicic oil, a conjugated linolenic acid, b) juice, and c) peels or husk and interior network of membranous pith that holds the most potent polyphenols in the plant kingdom.

To be continued...


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thanks nema

by sarshar45 on

thanks nema.... an interesting article with a lot of good information.

 i have read elsewhere that the fruit in the garden of eden was actually a beh/quince, not an apple.


Niloufar Parsi

great read

by Niloufar Parsi on

thanks nema. always been mad about anar :) 


Eve is not a temptress. She is Divine!

by NUR on

The literal reading of Genesis 2-3 makes Eve into a temptress lured by Satan into eating the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (etz ha-daat) put there by God in Eden. This act of transgression is then supposed to indicate the symbolic fall of humanity, indicating in Christianity the original sin which Jesus is supposed to have atoned for on the cross. That is one way to read this allegory.

Another way to read it is to look at this symbolic allegory as a sort of esoteric puzzle that unpacks its own truths - which then indicate other, more loftier things - from within the mythic symbols of the allegory itself. Start with the name of Eve. In Hebrew it is cHavah (het vav he = 19). This name is an acrostic from the phrase 'Em Koll cHayy' (the mother of all-living, alif mem kaf lamed het yud = 109), which is explictly indicated in Genesis 3:20 when Adam names her. This title of the Mother of All-Living instances the reality of the feminine aspect of the Divine, which in the Kabbalah is known as the Shekinah.

Now cHavah in Aramaic is related to the word for serpent. Here we can make a symbolic-isomorphic identity between Eve and the Serpent. Note that in most pre-Abrahamic civilizations (and especially in parts of India today) the Serpent is a symbol for the Mother Goddess (maha-devi in sanskrit). In India the Serpent (as the Cobra) also represents the form of the Shakti, i.e. the activity and feminine energy of the Brahma, whose passive aspect is the male Shiva. In Ancient Egypt the Pharaoh's headress is depicted with the Uraeus, i.e. an upright, spitting cobra, that is the symbol of the Pharaoh's sovereignty and deity. The Uraeus is a symbol for the goddess Wadjet, one of the earliest of ancient Egyptian deities, who often was depicted as a cobra. 

Returning to Eve in its Abrahamic context: an ancient Jewish Gnostic sect known as the Ophians, knowing the source and etymologies of these symbols, and following the esoteric clues to their conclusions, re-interpreted the story of Genesis in a novel way whereby the Serpent is actually the symbol of the True Living Divinity (and not Satan, who, it turns out, is actually the one who expels the two primal humans from the Garden of Eden and is called Ialdoboath) with Eve being the Avatar/Manifestation or True Messenger (i.e. the Shekinah) of this Godhead symbolized as the Serpent on the Tree. The fruit of the Tree represents gnosis ('irfan) and the subsequent turmoil ensuing as a result of such eating, the perils that the Path of ascent represents.

This theme of Eve as the True Redeemer reoccurs a few more times in several other gnostic oriented Abrahamic cultural settings over the centuries. Most interestingly of all, it appears as a central motif in the very first major composition of Siyyid 'Ali Muhammad Shirazi, the Bab (d. 1850), i.e. the Commentary on the Surah of the Cow (2). Here Fatima takes on a threefold symbolic function  as the apotheosis of Eve, the manifestation of the Tree of Reality itself (shajarat'ul-haqiqa) and the eschatological Day of the Book (yawm al-kitab). 

Given this, when the symbology of Genesis is re-appraised by  unpacking it esoterically, we find Eve not as the fallen temptress of Adam; but rather as the Theophany of the Godhead Itself, i.e. the Shekinah, the Mother of All-Living (em koll cHayy). She has not fallen to any darkside. She is the coincidence of both the light and the dark sides. She is the kosmocrator (al-fatir); she is the revivifier (muhayyi) and the Initiatrix (musharraf) into the highest mysteries of Being! She is also known by the Sufis with the name Laylah (night) that is a cipher indicating the Unmanifest Godhead.

As a final note, in Arabic numerology (abjad) when the phrase Adam and Eve (Adam wa Hawa', alif dal mim waw hah waw alif) be computed, its numerology is 66 which is equivalent to the numerical value of the word ALLAH (alif lam lam ha' = 66). Adam wa Hawa' contains 7 letters which, then, indicates the seven worlds ('awwalim saba') that indicates the seven metaphorical levels of creation that indicates the seven verses of the first surah of the Qur'an (saba' mathani) which indicates the seven independent sigils of the calligram of the Greatest Name of God that indicates the seven subtle centers (i.e. chakras, latifas) in the human body.

The fallen is the Risen!

Wahid Azal 


Tempting fruit

by John on

It was the banana that lured Eve to the dark side.


Miperi & Rimmon

by NUR on

The Hebrew word used for 'fruit' in the Book of Genesis (bereshit) chapter 3 is 'miperi,' generic word meaning fruit. The Hebrew word for pomegranate is 'rimmon', which is not mentioned in this chapter of the Bible at all. The identification of the fruit of Eden with 'apple' or 'pomegranate' is by the later rabbinic tradition and appears in the commentaries of the amoraim when the Oral Law becomes codified, and much later on in the early centuries of the diaspora in the Mishna. It becomes an important symbol of meditation in the Jewish Gnosticism of the Hekhalot between the 3rd-10th centuries CE. The identification of the forbidden fruit with pomegranate is a direct influence from the Persian tradition, since this is the specific fruit of paradise mentioned in the Mazdaean creation myth.

However the symbolism of the pomegranate prominently appears several times in the Zohar (the Book of Splendor, i.e. the preeminent source book of the Kabbalah) where it is associated both with the Tzaddik (the righteous saint or providential guide) as well as the Tree of Life (etz ha-chayyim) itself. There are also serious messianic implications in the Zohar with this symbolism of the pomegranate. It is also quite an important motif in the Hasidic tradition as well and is indicated in the sayings attributed to the Baal Shem Tov. A recent, modern Western Jewish Kabbalist by the name of Israel Regardie named one of his books on the Golden Dawn system of Qabbalah he worked with 'The Garden of Pomegranates'.

Wahid Azal