13 – Phoenix dactylifera / Date palm (Palm Tree)

On a walk in the woods you may have seen a makeshift shelter or two built. But recently the weather has changed and thoughts of going to a tropical island paradise on holiday is more appealing? Then let us see what my next tree has to offer: –

Phoenix dactylifera Date palm (Palm Tree)

Date trees typically reach about 69–75 ft in height, growing singly or forming a clump with several stems from a single root system. The leaves are 13–20 ft long, with spines on the centre stem with about 150 leaflets. The leaflets are 12 in long, 1 in wide and pointed. The full span of the crown ranges from 20–33 ft.

The date palm is single sexed having separate male and female plants. They can be easily grown from seed, but only 50% of seedlings will be female and hence fruit bearing, and dates from seedling plants are often smaller and of poorer quality. Most commercial plantations thus use cuttings of heavily cropping cultivars, “cloning” for best crops”

As a Dendrologist it is difficult to call the Palm a tree because it does not produce tree rings or grain in its timber when cut. However, it clearly has a root supporting an exceptionally large crown on a clearly defined trunk. Many botanical purists call it a plant instead of a tree for this reason alone.  I could argue a lot more on this single issue, but I would prefer to see what the bible has to say about it from here.

In Leviticus 23 v 40 the Palm tree is declared a “goodly tree” by God and instructed by Him that its branches every 7 years are to be used to help build shelters as part of “The Feast of Tabernacles”. This is redescribed in Neh. 8 v 13 -18. The other trees required by God for this Shelter I have already covered, they are Olive, Fig and Myrtle if God declares the Palm as a “goodly tree” then a tree it is then.

But why “goodly”? Dates as a fruit have been cultivated since time began.  They are unbelievably delicious, sweet, nutritious, and store well. Ps 92 v 12 says “The Righteous shall flourish like the palm tree” Jeremiah describes the tree as upright Ch 10 v 5, and song of songs describes the tree as being very fruitful. Throughout the bible we are told if we are “Righteous” and “Upright” bear much fruit or in right standing with God. (“Godly” “goodly”)

At our Lord’s triumphal entrance into Jerusalem the crowds took palm branches, and went forth to meet Him shouting “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that comes in the name of the Lord” Matt. 21 v 8 & John 12 v 13. We celebrate this event every year on the Sunday before Easter calling it Palm Sunday.  On that day Jesus was the Hero of the hour yet one week later he was the villain and suffered the most cruel and barbaric death ever devised by man.  But in fact, the greatest Feast of Tabernacles had only just begun.

In John 14 v 2 & 3 we are told that Christ is preparing a place, shelter, or tabernacle for us, and he wants us to share that place with Him all we must do is ask Him, enabling us to join Him in that great big Festival. So, the Palm TREE does speak of paradise and of victory over death itself when we read in Revelation 7 v 9 & 10

“After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a mighty shout, “Salvation comes from our God on the throne and from the Lamb”

That is going to be some Festival! Hope to see you there. Maybe your shelter is beside mine.