Friday, March 29, 2019

Mystery of the Palm I

In the only passage that mentions “palm” in the namesake observance Palm Sunday appears in, The Gospel of John.  The palm frond is viewed as a symbol for victory yet in ancient Egypt (goddess Seshat) it was a nuanced sign of victory  tempered wisdom. It is one of the four esoteric elements of the Sukkot which would have been well known in Jerusalem as a symbol of fecundity yet having both male and female attributes; the erect spine enclosed by the branched (ovaries) leaflets. The symbol might be summed up as a blessing of the ancients.  

As Jesus entered Jerusalem people displayed palm branches in the streets and greeted him.  John is the only disciple who specifies that it was palm branches. This recollection had a purpose.  In the classic world concepts were communicated with “gestures”.
“Hosanna”, (save us) they cried, thinking that this was the King of Israel come “in the name of the Lord”.  He was not the Lord to the crowd more likely thinking him a great magician who could raise the dead come to destroy the Hebrew  Pharisees and their authoritarian bureaucracy much as the Zealots had predicted.

Referring to Zechariah (Zec 9:9) and the prophecy of the Savior coming to Jerusalem John says to “Fear not daughters of Sion (Zion) ...behold thy King cometh…”  then enters the disclaimer that the significance was not understood by the people including the disciples until after the death and Resurrection.

The other accounts of the event in Matthew, Mark, Luke are very similar although they emphasize different elements of the Zechariah prophecy which seems to be on a dedicated timeline engineered by God but not the Christian institutions (who claim it) or the disciples (that witnessed it) whose analysis is after the fact (along with everyone else apparently). This leaves John’s account and the enigmatic palm frond reference.

Like nearly every other aspect of the New Testament the disciples are searching for the meaning of events that were nearly incomprehensible and certainly unprecedented so meaning is being imputed from whatever knowledge base available.  But the symbolism of John’s palm frond and the subsequent importance of it rings out as a key element.

We are left with a scene of a political rally where a revolutionary figure is hailed as a conqueror. The Pharisee and the Romans certainly thought so.  
So did the Zealots and their allies in the mob. The same mob who would call for the murder of  Jesus in the near future.

It is the appearance of the ancient palm frond that belies this characterization not the cry of “Hossana” which certainly was not a desire for Salvation. Some in the crowd knew the wisdom of the ancient sages (the religio-perennis is discussed by Schoun in the last post) and were signaling that with the palm.  Like waving a flag.

From out of the unconscious mind comes the palm frond, sign of wisdom, plenty, and the dissolution of opposites in the androgyny of the frond. Some in the crowd understood these things and John recognized and noted it.

 Jesus in his cosmic role was going to Jerusalem as a journey back to the womb.   The New Adam would go to Jerusalem and then return to the pre-existing Logos as a result of the Crucifixion.  Through the unmistakable sin of murder at the hands of evil a dramatic gesture was generated that foreshadowed the redemption or his followers forever through the subsequent Resurrection.

John 12:12—-On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13  Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. 14  And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, 15 Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt. 16  These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him. 17  The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record. 18 For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle. 19  The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him.

Ted Nottingham covers this same material from a different view:    HERE

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