The pomegranate is named as one of the “seven species” of fruits and grains found throughout the Promised Land, the land of milk and honey.
“For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters bursting out of valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey.”
The pomegranate is a symbol of fertility because it’s filled with seeds. It reminds us of the first commandment which is to be fruitful and multiply. (Genesis 1:28) The rabbis said that the 613 seeds in the pomegranate represent the 613 commandments in the Torah (five books of Moses).
In Exodus 28:33-34 there is a description of the robe of the high priest with the added instruction, “On its hem make pomegranates of blue, purple and crimson yarns, all around the hem, with bells of gold between them all around: a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, all around the robe.
The Archeology Wing of the Israel Museum exhibits an ivory pomegranate with an 8th century BC inscription. Some scholars believe that this pomegranate graced the head of a scepter and may have been carried by a priest into Solomon’s Temple.
In the Second Temple, during the time of Jesus, it’s said that when the high priest entered the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, (Yom Kippur), there was a rope around his ankle, so that if he would happen to faint, or have a heart attack, the pomegranates and bells would ring an “alarm” and the high priest could be pulled out by the rope, without anyone desecrating the divine space.