Spiritual Imagery of the Lulav & Etrog
In Jewish tradition, the 7th day of Sukkot is called the “Great Hoshana (Hosanna)” or Hoshana Rabbah. There is a special Hoshana service on this day with song and chanted prayers. In the hands of each worshiper are the branches from “goodly” trees as Leviticus 23 commands. These branches are waved and shook as worshipers move in a procession shouting, “Hoshi a na!”. This heartfelt cry is translated as “Save us now!”
The arba minim (branches/4 species/ lulav and etrog) are directly associated with this cry and the service prayers. We can see this type of exclamation by the Psalmist in Psalm 118: 25-26:
now, I pray, O LORD;
O LORD, I pray, send now prosperity.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the
We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.
If we look carefully, we can see the relationship of the people waving palm branches and crying “hosanna” when Yeshua rode into Jerusalem for Pesach (Passover). Although this custom was reserved for the season of Sukkot (Tabernacles), the people nonetheless were compelled to honor Yeshua in this manner.
The untrained eye may see the people’s reaction as disconnected; but, the real beauty of their demonstration is made clear in the simple recording of what Sukkot commemorates. The fall moedim (feasts) look forward to the coronation of our Lord and King. Sukkot particularly portrays the culmination of our faith as it also looks back to the beginning of our redemption with the Pesach sacrifice. Yeshua IS the Lamb that was slain on our behalf and one day we will see Him crowned as our King! The following is the customary imagery attributed to the arba minim. Examine each “species” carefully.
|Etrog sweet taste & smell, (Citron- a citrus fruit that looks like a lemon)||People who read Torah (the Word) and do good.|
|Lulav Sweet taste no smell (Date palm branches/ leaves)||People who read Torah (the Word) but don’t do good.|
|Hadas no taste sweet smell (Myrtle branches/leaves)||People who don’t read Torah (the Word) but do good.|
|ARaVah no taste or smell (Willow branches/leaves)||People who don’t read Torah (the Word) or do good.|
This seems to mirror the Parable of the Sower and the four different types of ‘soil’ or people. The Seed is the Word of God. The Sower is the Messiah. Therefore, the Sower and that which is sown are the same thing. Carefully examine the types of soil mentioned in this parable and compare them to the 4 species above.
|1. Seeds fell by the roadside and birds ate the seed.||Person doesn’t perceive the Word and the enemy steals anything that may have been sown in their heart. Aravah|
|2. Seeds fell on rocky places and they sprang up, but died due to lack of roots.||Person receives Word with joy, but having no root (Yeshua, i.e.Life), affliction or persecution causes them to fall away. Hadas|
|3. Seeds fell among the thorns and the thorns choked the new seedlings.||Person hears the Word, but the worries of the world or the deceitfulness of wealth chokes the Word, and it produces no fruit (no good deeds). Lulav|
|4. Seeds fell on good soil and produced 100, 60, and 30-fold.||Person hears the Word, understands it and brings forth fruit (good deeds). Etrog|
Clearly, the imagery of the Etrog (the fruit) and its Seed that fell on good soil are the “people” that we desire to be. We want to release a pleasing aroma, taste sweet in the mouth, and yield many more seeds that will produce the same fruit. That fruit and its beginning—- the Seed, is Yeshua. When we are obedient to the Word, we are a living testimony of His goodness. If we’ve truly received the Seed, then we will naturally begin to produce the fruit!
Joshua Aaron has a beautiful song called Hoshiana: