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Why Wave Palm Leaves?

Question sent in by Janie. Palm Sunday the people greeted Jesus back from the desert waving palm leaves. WHY?

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'Jesus enters Jerusalem, and the crowds welcomes him, by Pietro Lorenzetti, 1320.'

Why Wave Palm Leaves There are a couple of explanations. One is that it was common practice in the ancient world to welcome home a king or war hero by laying out a path of branches for him to ride/walk on - similar to rolling out the red carpet today in English-speaking countries. Others suggest that Romans honored champions of the games and the military with palm branches Another explanation is that it is a reminder of the Festival of the Booths commanded in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

For this festival the Israelites were commanded: “And you must take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, the fronds of palm trees and the boughs of branchy trees and poplars of the torrent valley, and you must rejoice before Jehovah your God seven days.” The palm branches were used as a mark of rejoicing. The temporary booths were a reminder that Jehovah had saved his people out of Egypt, to live in tents in the wilderness. “The alien resident and the fatherless boy and the widow” shared in this festival. All Israel was to “become nothing but joyful.”­Leviticus 23:40; Deuteronomy 16:13-15 However others believe there is no connection between this festival that occurred months after Passover and the triumphal entry into Jerusalem by Christ just before his death and resurrection. Another interesting fact: Why did Christ ride in on a donkey or ass? 

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16 thoughts on “Why Wave Palm Leaves?

  1. Why did Jesus ride on a donkey? It also was to show him as king, which ties in with welcoming a king with palm leaves in the ancient world as already mentioned. 1 Kings 1:33 King David set the pattern as he had Solomon to “ride on my own mule” and be proclaimed king. Exodus 13:2, 12-13 the firstborn of a donkey is redeemed and belongs to the Lord, Mark 11:2-7 ” the Lord has need of it”, so that Jesus is “riding on God’s own mule”

    1. Mules were associated with royalty. They were bought from Egypt. I don’t think donkeys were.

  2. It is my understanding that Palm branches were not growing in this region at the time of Palm Sunday and that they had to be imported for the festival?

    1. Yes palm branches were also used to celebrate the anniversary of the Maccabean revolt, when JuDas Maccabean cleansed the temple. The people thought Jesus was entering to cleanse the place of the Roman Empire instead he surprises them all by overthrowing the religious establishment.

    2. they weren’t imported it’s all in the time line in the Bible it was six months earlier when they were growing .

      1. Jerusalem was a marketplace. Palms are evergreens.

      2. No. Evergreen.

    3. Jerusalem was a huge marketplace.

    4. .”..they brought them to their kinsfolk at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then they returned to Samaria. -2 Ch 28:15

  3. Resist devil and he will flee.
    Come out and be separate.

  4. In mere future we ( next generation ) can’t see the trees (palm tree), for health + wealth:-).
    Lord Jesus Christ indirectly Indicating it.

  5. Palm branches were used to welcome the King of righteousness because he is the Lord our righteousness Jeremiah 23:5–6 and Jeremiah 33:15—17. Now what is the significance of the Palm branches? The Palm tree signifies uprightness another word for righteousness. Jeremiah 10:5. All ye welcome the King of righteousness says the Lord.

  6. Riding a donkey prior to crucifiction -> Christ shown coming in humbleness anticipating his positive volition towards going to the cross to eradicate mankind’s personal sins as an issue.

    Riding a white steed at the SECOND ADVENT to rid the evil of Satan’s world through total eradication of those on earth who practiced negative volition.

  7. How could I print out a small copy , of part of it , at home ?

    1. Ken – We have a free online version at You can see more details and close-ups of the physical version at Hope they help in your Bible study. Thank you!

  8. The palm was anciently a symbol of independence in the holy land. That is why the Jewish leaders were so upset that the people laid palms at the feet of Jesus–it was to them a symbol of rebellion against the Romans. 40 years later in the final rebellion against Rome, the Jewish rebels stamped palm leaves on Roman coins as a sign of their independence from Rome

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