View Full Version : Pomegranate

09-01-2012, 01:07 AM
The Hebrew word for "pomegranate" is Ramam, which means "to rise up" or "to be mounted up." Tradition holds that a pomegranate has 613 seeds to represent the 613 commandments in the Torah. When not in use, the scroll handles of Torah scrolls are sometimes covered with decorative silver globes similar in shape to "pomegranates" (rimmonim). The root word for pomegranate would seem to be "to exalted". It is traditional to eat pomegranates on Rosh Hashana because the pomegranate, with its numerous seeds, symbolizes fruitfulness. - source (http://www.shalomeden.co.za/bible/The%20Pomegranate.htm)

I have found contradictory explanations of the Hebrew word for pomegranate and I would like those here that speak the language to give their view on the matter. Is the above correct?


Bel Matina
09-09-2012, 06:58 AM
The word for pomegranate is "rimmon". It appears to be a quite prolific suffix, -on, applied to the adjective "rim", "exalted, high". Semitic languages are peculiar - most easily described, the root etyma have consonants only and require vowels from another morpheme. The compensatory doubling of letters at morpheme boundaries is a fairly frequent thing in the development of Hebrew, so in the absence of a better explanation, it seems like a pretty reasonable etymology for a tree-borne fruit. (i.e. "something high")

The symbology of pomegranates within the Jewish tradition is pretty well established, though as it dates to time out of reckoning it's hard to say for certain that wordplay was the impetus. I would think not, as pomegranates, an autumn fruit, have the same connections with fertility, the harvest, and the divine in many other Mediterranian traditions.

The etymological reference is probably better understood in terms of the long tradition within Qabballah (which since the fifteenth century Alchemy has inherited) of false etymologies which prove a didactic point. Gematria seems to have emerged originally as a way of extending the flexibility of this technique.

An interesting aside is in its apparent compensatory gemination, the word rimmon comes to appear to have the root r m m instead of r m. Ram < r m m means "wormy, putrescent". This is a cute and quite apt example of the genre of pseudoetymology I just mentioned, and recalls the Sefer Yetsirah where it contrasts ענג (rapture, the sign of God's highest approval) and נגע (plagues such as leprosy, considered at the time to be the sign of God's highest displeasure) which you will notice contain the same letters (elements, in the context of the text).

Your source stretches some things a bit far. I don't know that it's accurate to say that pomegranates represent righteousness in the Jewish tradition; maybe the universe, specifically in bloom. Remember that the world consists of God's commandments, starting with "let there be light"; compare Sumero-Babylonian traditions of gods and their me, for example the seven me stripped from Inanna (In Annak, i.e. "Lady of Heaven") in her descent to the house of her sister Ereshkigal (Eresh Kik Ngal, "Great Earth Lady").

Another of my pet peeves is the term "Yahweh". I suppose it's better than "Jehovah", but the tetragrammaton is pronounced "Yahu", which pronunciation is preserved in the name of the prophet Elijah: "Eliyahu" alternating with "Eliyah", the "yah" part of all those names in the bible being a colloquial pronunciation of God's name, God's nickname if you will. The second syllable dropping bears witness to the stress being on the first syllable, with a long vowel in the second, so yes like the website.

I hope that was helpful.

09-09-2012, 04:29 PM
Thanks. I will think about it for a while then post again if something is unclear.