Skip to comments.Advent Activity - The Jesse Tree
Posted on 11/29/2003 9:21:26 PM PST by Salvation
Sometimes called the root of Jesse or radix Jesse in Latin, the Jesse tree is a visual representation of Jesus' genealogy which dates back to the father of David who was Jesse. The biblical references used habitually to establish Christ's descent from David are the following:
The Fathers of the Church and Latin hymns refer to the tree of Jesse not only when speaking about the line of David (radix Jesse) but also when speaking of Mary (virga ex radice = branch or offshoot of the root of Jesse) and Jesus (flos ex virga = flower that blossoms on the branch). Based on these literary sources, the visual rendering of the Jesse tree shows Jesse in reclined and slumbering position, a tree growing out of his body on whose branches a changing and diverse group of ancestors can be observed.
The tree which is patterned after the tree of life in paradise and the cross as the definitive tree of life habitually shows a series of kings of the Solomonic line, or prophets and evangelists. The top of the tree is composed of Mary, Jesus and angels, sometimes with reference to the gifts of the Spirit. But variations are frequent. The artistic motif of the Jesse tree is known beginning in the 11th century and seems to have disappeared in the 16th century. During the time of bloom it found many and diversified ways of realization from illuminations to bronze doors (for example, St. Zeno, Verona). The example here presented is taken from a psalter of the 13th century, the so-called Ingeborg Psalter (1210) conserved today in Chantilly, Paris.
The tree is highly stylized and of sophisticated ornamentation. Jesse is lying on his bed more pensive than slumbering. He wears the typical Jewish hat. From the mid-section of his body or rather behind it, the trunk of the tree rises to a height of four levels or tiers each once of them in the shape of a chalice.
They show in ascending order [from left to right] Abraham, David, Mary and Jesus Christ. It is the royal line. For this reason all figures except Christ wear crowns.
They are flanked by Old testament figures on both sides. We have on the left: Malachi standing next to Jesse followed by Daniel and Isaiah in ascending order.
To the right of Jesse we have Aaron, Ezekiel, and an exception to the group of prophets, a feminine figure which represents the Sybil of Cumae.
|Aaron||Ezekiel||Sybil of Cumae|
These figures are in all likelihood characters taken from a mystery play, the so called mystery of Rouen. They present, with the exception of Aaron who is designated as high priest and holds the blooming staff, open scrolls with part of their vision about the coming Savior (not necessarily corresponding to the exact Scripture quote). The Cumaean Sybil reminds the reader of the finiteness of all creation. Ezekiel speaks about the closed door (reference to Mary's virginity) through which God alone will proceed. Malachi proclaims the grandeur of God's name, whereas Daniel in his visions of the four beasts celebrates God's definitive victory over evil. Isaiah announces the rule of Immanuel. The dove next to the prophet's head indicates the presence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ, who is enthroned at the top of the tree which, in fact, is not a tree but an edifice symbolizing the house of David, rules as the Pantokrator both blessing (right hand) and judging (book in the left hand). He is surrounded by two worshiping angels and the seven doves, symbols of the seven gifts of the Spirit: "The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord" (Isaiah 11,2-3).
During Advent, biblical persons representing the ancestors of Jesus, either in faith or bloodline, are gradually added onto a tree or branch, named after the father of David,. The symbols such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Jesse, David, Solomon, Joseph and Mary can be drawn, cut out or purchased.
by Catherine Fournier
"But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse and from his roots a bud shall blossom" (Is 11:1) This ancient Old Testament quotation refers to one of Christ's ancestors. There are two versions of the Jesse Tree. One uses a Scripture reading for each day of the Advent season, representing each reading with an illustrated disk hung on a 'tree' shape. For a description of this type of Jesse tree, click here.
This Jesse tree is an abbreviated version which uses only a few illustrations to represent the genealogy and symbolism of the coming of Christ. Each illustration in this Jesse tree is a symbol for some aspect of the Messianic prophecies. Choose which symbols and names your family thinks best symbolize the story of Jesus, or use the suggestions below, which come from the EWTN web site.
Just as the natural sun gives light and life to all upon whom its rays fall so Christ, the Rising Dawn, dispels darkness and brings eternal life and light.
The Law of Moses as symbolized in the tablets which God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai was fulfilled in Christ Who brings a law of love.
The key is the emblem of authority and power. Christ is the Key of the House of David Who opens to us the full meaning of the scriptural prophecies, and reopens for all mankind the gate of Heaven.
Seven hundred years before Christ's birth, Micheas prophesied that the Savior would be born in the town of Bethlehem. Bethlehem, which means "House of Bread," was appropriately designated as the birthplace of Christ, the Bread from Heaven.
The flower which springs up from the root of Jesse is another figure of Christ. Isaiah prophesied that the Savior would be born from the root of Jesse, that He would sit upon the throne of David, and in Christ this prophecy is fulfilled.
The six-pointed star is the emblem of the Royal House of David even to this day. Christ Who is born of the House of David, can truly claim this emblem as His own.
In a vision, Jacob saw a ladder reaching from heaven to earth, with angels descending and ascending. Christ, the Incarnate God, is the Ladder reuniting earth to heaven, mankind to God.
As Jonas remained in the whale three days, so Christ remained three days in the earth after His death.
The Temple was God's dwelling place among the Jews of the Old Testament. His new Presence is within us.
The crown and sceptre signify Christ's universal kingship. As we sing in the fifth O Antiphon, Christ is not only the King of the Jewish nation, but the "Desired One of all," the cornerstone which unites both Jew and Gentile.
Judith of the Old Testament, who killed with a sword the leader of the Assyrian army, saved the Israelite nation. She prefigured Mary whose "Fiat" brought salvation to all mankind.
God appeared to Moses in the form of a burning bush, which burned but was not consumed, a symbol of the Virgin Birth of Christ.
A savior, Noah preserved the natural life of all within the Ark; Christ brings supernatural life to mankind and preserves that life within His Mystical Body the Church.
We address Mary as the Ark of the Covenant because she, like the Ark of the Old Testament, contained the most precious Gift of the New Law
Sacrifice was offered daily on the Jewish altar of holocaust--a type of the Christian altar and the daily sacrifice of the Mass.
"O Happy Fault, whereby we have merited so great a Redeemer."
At the yearly Pasch, the Jews sacrificed a new, unblemished lamb in thanksgiving for all that God had done for them and as an atonement offering for all their sins. This sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb was fulfilled in Christ, the "Lamb who takes away the sins of the world."
In the Old Testament, God appeared in a pillar of fire to lead His people through the desert, as Christ leads us through the desert of life.
The manna which the Jews ate in the desert for forty years was a symbol of Christ, the true Bread which descended from heaven.
Whichever version you and your family decide to use, the Jesse Tree is a powerful means of bringing the hope and expectation of the prophecies to your home and family.
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I was going to start a new thread about The Jesse Tree, but there is so much information here too!
So I will just add to it!
Getting a little bit of a late start here for 2005, my apologies.
Symbols: Sun, Moon, Stars, Earth
During this Advent season we review our salvation history, meditating on God's promise of a Savior. We begin with Creation, the birth of life, beginning of time.
In the creation of world and man, God gave the first and universal witness to His almighty love and His wisdom, the first proclamation of the "plan of His loving goodness," which finds its goal in the new creation of Christ.
Recommended Readings: Genesis 1-2
ADAM AND EVE
Symbols: Tree, Man and Woman
Adam and Eve are the first ancestors of the human race. Christ is called the "second" or "new Adam" because He ushered in the new creation by forgiving sin and restoring humanity to the grace of God's friendship lost by original sin. Mary, because she is the mother of the eternal Son of God made man, is called the "new Eve," the "mother of the living" in the order of grace.
Recommended Readings: Genesis 2:7-9; 18-24
FALL OF MAN
Symbols: Tree with Fruit or Apple
The parents of the human race, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God's command in the Garden of Eden, thereby commiting the original sin, resulting in the closing of the gates of Heaven to mankind.
Even after this sin, man was not abandoned by God. God promises a Messiah and Redeemer: "I will put emnity between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel (Gen 3:14)." He tells us of a "New Adam" who will have victory over sin.
This victory of Christ has given us greater blessings than those which sin had taken from us. God permits evil in order to draw forth some greater good: "O Happy Fault, whereby we have merited so great a Redeemer (Exsultet)."
Recommended Readings: Genesis 3:1-7, 9, 14-29, 23-24
Symbols: Animals, Dove, Rainbow
When Noah finally left the Ark and settled on dry land, he built an altar to worship the Lord who had saved him. God placed a rainbow in the sky as token of his resolve to never visit such a disaster over the face of the earth again.
Noah was a savior, preserving the natural life of all within the Ark; Christ bring supernatural life to mankind and preserves that life within His Mystical Body, the Church.
Recommended Readings: Genesis 6:5-8; 7:11-16; 8:15-16; 9:12-13