In the New Testament, the palm-branches become a symbol of martyrdom (Apoc. 7:9) meaning "victory over death". For this reason in Christian art martyrs were usually represented with palms in their hands. These branches were usually cut from date-palms (Cr. foinix) as witnessed by St. Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 387) in his tenth catechesis (P.C. 33, 688A). Referring to the scriptural text of Ps. 92 (91): 12-13: "Palm tree—planted in the house of Ulhim," according to the Septuagint translation, palm-trees also represented paradise. In ancient art Yaohushua often was portrayed in heaven amid palms.
The word "loinix" (date-palm) became also confused with the legendary bird—phoenix, believed to revive from its ashes. Thus, since the end of the fourth century, the palm-branch also became a symbol of the Resurrection. (P.C. 33, 1025-1028).
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Instances of Palm Trees in Scripture
The Palm Tree plays a significant role in Biblical symbolism, or what is correctly called "typology". Palm trees are first mentioned in the Book of Exodus where 70 palms and 12 wells are described near the town of Elim (Exo. 15: 27).
Deborah, one of the judges of Israel, was noted for delivering her pronouncements sitting under a palm tree. And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment (Judg. 4: 5) This means that the palm tree is associated with the ideas of "judging" and "government". For this reason it is sometimes referred to as the Royal Tree.
Palm trees were one of the few images that God commanded should adorn the Temple: Then Solomon carved all the walls of the temple all around, both the inner and outer sanctuaries, with carved figures of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers (1 Kgs 6: 29).ZZ
Likewise in Ezekiel's vision of the temple he saw palm trees engraved upon the gates and archways (Ezek. 40: 16-22)
The strategic city of Jericho was known in the Bible as the City of Palms. Then the men who were designated by name rose up and took the captives, and....they brought them to their brethren at Jericho, the city of palm trees (2 Chron. 28: 15). We believe this has prophetic implications in regard to Carnarvon (See page 8). It was also the place where Israel first entered into its spiritual inheritance, when it crossed over into the Promised Land.
In Ezekiel's vision he sees palm trees carved into the gateposts of the Temple. Seven steps led up to it, and its archway was in front of them; and it had palm trees on its gateposts, one on this side and one on that side (Ezek. 40: 26). The gateposts are places of authority and power, and their relationship to palm trees suggest that palms are identified with authority, divine power and entering into new spiritual realms.
At Jesus' entry into Jerusalem the crowds welcomed Him with palm branches in their hands (John 12: 13).
John the beloved disciple was given a vision of heavenly things and there saw thousands of righteous saints standing before the Lord with palm branches in their hands: After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands (Rev. 7: 9). These branches represent the righteous acts of the saints.
The prophetic meaning of Palms
The palm was one of the few trees chosen by the Lord to be used for making booths during the Feast of Tabernacles: And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days (Lev. 23: 40 compare Neh. 8: 15). Since Tabernacles is an end time feast, and has a prophetic implication, we can see that the use of the palm tree in this feast gives weight to the tree's importance. The fact that the saints in heaven stand with palm branches in hand (Rev. 7: 9) attests to the truth that palms represent end time issues.
Palm trees also stand for the righteous saints of the Lord. The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree (Psa. 92: 12). The Hebrew word for palm is "tamar" which means "to erect", "to be erect" or "to be a pillar". The association with being righteous is obvious : righteous people can stand erect and upright before the Lord and are pillars of righteousness in His sight.
Exodus 15: 27 is the first mention of palm trees in the Bible, where it's said that the Israelites camped at Elim, a place with 70 palm trees and 12 wells of fresh water. This is significant, for the number 70 is the number standing for Hebrew government (the 70 elders of Moses and the 70 disciples of Jesus) and the number representing the Gentile nations (Gen. 10: 1-26). The number 12 is also that representing "government", as in the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 disciples . Put together this verse gives us a clue to another aspect of palm trees, that regarding divinely inspired government, oversight and eldership. Thus it is seen as an end time verse when the saints of God, initially out of Israel (=12) but now including the Gentiles (=70), shall bring the Kingdom of God to govern upon the face of the earth!
It's also significant that in Exodus 15: 23-27 we find that the very first time palm trees are mentioned is after a divine intervention of healing at the waters of Marah. The very next place that Israel stops at is Elim. Here the palm trees are linked to water and rest, both of which point to our end time refreshment in God and the Sabbath rest that awaits us. So palms clearly speak to us of the refreshment and rest that comes after divine intervention.
In the Hebrew language the palm tree is also referred to as "umbrella-like" referring to the idea of "covering, shade, and protection". Thus the palm tree prophetically represents a place of protection and anointed covering.
Along with the grape vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate and the apple tree, the palm symbolises "joy" .The vine has dried up, and the fig tree has withered; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree; all the trees of the field are withered; surely joy has withered away from the sons of men (Joel 1: 12).
It is called the "goodly tree" by many rabbis. No doubt this is partly due to it being used as a covering in the booths built for the feast of Tabernacles.
In some Jewish thinking the palm tree is regarded as a pillar stretching from earth to heaven, and therefore symbolising "divine communication". Deborah's choice of the palm to sit under while giving judgment in the name of God would seem to indicate that the palm was associated with divine inspiration and communication.
Palm trees were identified with the Cherubim in both Solomon's temple (1 Kgs. 7: 36) and Ezekiel's temple vision And it was made with cherubim and palm trees, a palm tree between cherub and cherub. Each cherub had two faces, so that the face of a man was toward a palm tree on one side, and the face of a young lion toward a palm tree on the other side; thus it was made throughout the temple all around. (Ezek. 41: 18-19). Cherubs signify supernatural power and lions signify earthly power. The fact that the palm tree is associated with both suggests it has great symbolic value.