Botanical background

order: Arecales

family: Arecaceae

genus: Phoenix

species: Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera)

attributes: palm with one or more trunks reaching up to 20 meters in height bearing a bunch of about twenty pinnate leaves which in turn measure up to three meters in length

origin: unclear, possibly Mesopotamia or Gulf region

habitat: along water courses, most notably in Africa and Middle East


in the Bible

And you shall take the fruit of majestic trees for yourselves on the first day, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the valley. And you shall rejoice before Jehovah your God seven days. And you shall keep it a feast to Jehovah seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall keep it in the seventh month. You shall live in booths seven days. All that are born Israelites shall live in booths, so that your generations may know that I made the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt. I am Jehovah your God. 

Leviticus 23,40-43


The date palm is the perfect plant to be cultivated at oases, which is why it‘s fruits were the staple food for desert tribes in northern Africa and southwestern Asia. The trunk was used for the construction of roofs or as firewood, while the leaves were fet to the cattle. It was also possible to make mats or baskets out of them. The Sukkot holiday (Neh 8,15) is closely linked to their harvest.

In the Old Testament the Hebrew word for date palm ( תָּמָר tāmār) was a female given name (1 Moses 38,6-8; 2Sam 13,1) and a toponym (1 Moses 14,7; 2. Chr 20,2) as well. A similar term (תִּמֹרָה timorāh) was also used to describe palmettes, decorative elements in architecture. They are mentioned in the description of the walls in the temple of Salomon (1 Book of Kings 6,29).

An example for the use of date palms in the New Testament can be found in the Gospel of John. The arrival of Christ in Jerusalem is accompanied by people cheering with palm leaves in their hands (John 12,13).


mentions: several

other text passages (selected):

Exodus 15,27

Leviticus 23,40

Numbers 33,9

Deuteronomy 34, 3

Book of Judges  1,16

Book of Judges 4,4-5

2. Book of Chronicles 28,15

Joel 1,12

Nehemia 8,15

Psalms  92,13

Song of Songs 7,8

1. Maccabees 13,37

2. Maccabees 10,7

Jesus Sirach 24,18



Riede, Peter: Palme, in: Das wissenschaftliche Bibellexikon im Internet (März 2018), URL: am 01.05.2023).

Modern King James Version 


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