In Leviticus, the Hebrew terms for the four plants are: 1) etz hadar, or citrus trees; 2) t’mārîm, date palm trees; 3) etz avot, thick, leafy trees; and 4) arvey nahal, willows of the brook. In the 1st century CE, commentaries began to identify the species from Leviticus as: citron, date palm, myrtle, and willow. This is how we call them in Hebrew: Etrog, Lulav, Hadas, and Aravah.
What Represents the People of Israel?
In Jewish tradition, Four Species represent the people of Israel.
- Etrog (citron) has both taste and fragrance – it represents Jews who possess both learning and good deeds.
- Lulav (date palm) has taste but no fragrance – it represents Jews who possess learning but not good deeds.
- Hadas (myrtle) has fragrance but no taste – it represents Jews who possess good deeds but not learning.
- Aravah (willow) has neither taste nor fragrance – it represents Jews who possess neither learning nor good deeds.
Understand Even the Obscure Words of Scripture
Biblical commentators said, “Let them all be tied together… and they will atone one for another”. From the times of the Bible until today, Jews tie together these four species and wave them before God during this joyful festival. Enroll in our Discovering the Hebrew Bible course, and even the obscure words of Hebrew Scriptures will become a meaningful reality for you!