Today I want to take a slightly closer look at the 4 species and its significance. The Bible says that they are to collect the 4 species and wave them before the Lord.
1. The Etrog – A lemon like citrus fruit (We have lemons and citrus we can use as a substitute, I don’t think we have Etrog here.) The ones with the stem still attached are considered the most valuable. This is said to represent the heart. The name “Etrog” in Hebrew is an acronym for faith, repentance, healing and redemption. Also in Hebrew the initials of the words of Psalm 36:12 – Do not let the foot of pride overtake me. Suggesting that the fruit of the humble heart is the most beautiful in the eyes of heaven.
2. Lulav – a ripe (green) date palm frond. Now the only native palm in New Zealand is the Nikau Palm, since that is the one God provided for New Zealand I deem it a suitable replacement in his eyes. This is said to represent the backbone and they look for one that is study and straight. I might tie a Nikau to a couple of flax they are sturdy and straight and the Maori had so many uses for them just as the Jews had many uses for date palm. In Hebrew the word Lulav can be broken down into 2 parts “to him” and “heart”. A person who loves the Lord with all his heart, will be given “spiritual backbone,” real conviction and strength.
3. 3 Myrtle branches (“branches of leafy trees”). The Myrtle grows in tiers of 3 leaves each and you use 3 for the 4 species Lulav bundle. They are the shape of eyes and are associated with seeing and vision. Which leads to a connection with Jesus – the miracle he performed straight after preaching in the Temple during Sukkot – The Feast of Tabernacles was to heal the man who had been blind from birth, and teach that He is the light of the world.
4. Aravah – 2 leafy branches of a willow tree (“willows of the brook”) they need a lot of water or they dry out. Often they are wrapped in a moist towel to last the week of Sukkot. The leaves are longer and narrower and represent the lips, the service of the lips – prayer. These willow branches are also used on the last day of Sukkot where they are beaten against the ground until many of the leaves fall out, this is intended to symbolize ultimate victory over your enemies. Considering the lips guard the tongue and that can often be my worst enemy I totally get that one.
These items are held together in a fragrant bouquet that is waved before the Lord in a small ceremony every day of Sukkot, the usual practice is to recite the blessing then wave the lulav in 6 directions, forward, right, to the back, left, up and down, to proclaim God’s omnipresence.