the point of pomegranates

Bear with me.

I’m reading through the books of Kings at the moment and a few weeks ago bumped into Hiram the Bronzeworker.  He sounds excellent.  If I were King Solomon, I’d definitely have employed him too – the sort of eminently trustworthy and gifted person you’d commission to make pillars and columns to build a sturdy and reliable temple.

The writer describes immense and sturdy bronze structures – the impression is one of magnificence and solidity.  Hiram knows what he’s doing. And then I ran into this verse  (1 Kings 7. 18, if you’re following):

He made pomegranates in two rows encircling each network to decorate the capitals on top of the pillars. He did the same for each capital. 

Wait, I’m sorry – pomegranates?

Don’t get me wrong – I love a pomegranate, and I gather their vitamin content (vitamins B, C and K, in case you need a top-up) is one of the highest around.   But in the building of a temple, they seem a bit – I don’t know – surplus to requirements.  They don’t exactly hold up the drapes, or even, especially, speak of God’s grandeur.

Now, I’ve read no commentary about this, and you may now be jumping up and down to tell me about the theological significance of the pomegranate in the reign of King Solomon.  Fine.  Different voices multiply, not subtract, from the riches of this story.

What I love to imagine is this.

Hiram the Bronzeworker, epically competent, heroically reliable in pillar- and column-making as he was, just really liked making bronze pomegranates.  Sure, he’d make a pillar or a column or a chain as reliable as any you’d see.  But he loved sitting down with a spare bit of bronze and knocking out a pomegranate from time to time.  And – if he was really honest – he thought he was pretty good at it too.

So amidst this weighty work in the temple, he found time – knew he should – to do the thing which was life-giving, extra, fun.  The point of a bronze pomegranate?  There is no point.  Not really.  But Hiram made really good ones, and he liked it, and so, absolutely yes, they should go in the temple of the Lord.*

I hesitate to write this, for obvious reasons, but what are your bronze pomegranates?

I’ve made a resolution to try and write more this year. I like writing.  It’s life-giving for me, and even if I’m not claiming Hiram’s skill with bronze, it’s something I’d like to own and practice and grow in.

I have written.  I am writing.  I will write.

Finding time for this can sometimes feel self-indulgent when there are pillars to be built.  But the temple of the Lord – and our lives, our time, our days – should have pomegranates as well as pillars.

* Notwithstanding any of the above, I was quite amused by the list (Soloman’s invoice?)  at the end of this building report:

  • - two pillars
  • - two bowls
  • - two lattice-works
  • - four hundred pomegranates

Hiram, being a human being, may, even with his superlative pomegranate-making abilities, gone a little too far.