The Jesse Tree

(possibly the forerunner of the modern Christmas Tree)

Jesse was the father of the great King David of the Old Testament. He is often looked upon as the first person in the genealogy of Jesus.

In Church art a design developed showing the relationship of Jesus with Jesse and other biblical personages. This design showed a branched tree growing from a reclining figure of Jesse. The various branches had pictures of other Old and New Testament figures who were ancestors of Jesus. At the top of the tree were figures of Mary and Jesus.

This design was used mostly in stained glass windows in some of the great medieval cathedrals of Europe. The Cathedral of Chartres (which was dedicated in 1260) has a particularly beautiful Jesse Tree window.

Another development in religious art during the Middle Ages was that of Mystery Plays–drama that depicted various Bible stories or lives of Saints and Martyrs. These plays were performed in churches as part of the liturgical celebrations. One such play was based on the Bible account of the fall of Adam and Eve. The “Tree of Life” used during the play was decorated with apples. (Quite possibly this is also the forerunner of our own Christmas tree.)

JESSE TREE ORNAMENTS If you decide to use one symbol each day during December, there are 24 symbolic ornaments to make for your Jesse Tree, or modern Christmas tree.

JESSE TREE scriptures and symbols for each day of December:
1 Creation: Gen. 1:1-31; 2:1-4 sun, moon, stars, animals, earth
2 Adam and Eve: Gen. 2:7-9, 18-24 tree, man, woman
3 Fall of Man: Gen. 3:1-7 and 23-24 tree, serpent, apple with bite
4 Noah: Gen. 6:5-8, 13-22; 7:17, 23, 24; 8:1, 6-22 ark, animals, dove,
5 Abraham: Gen. 12:1-3 torch, sword, mountain
6 Isaac: Gen. 22:1-14 bundle of wood, altar, ram in bush
7 Jacob: Gen. 25:1-34; 28:10-15 kettle, ladder
8 Joseph: Gen. 37:23-28; 45:3-15 bucket, well, silver coins, tunic
9 Moses: Ex. 2:1-10 baby in basket, river and rushes
10 Samuel: 1 Sam. 3:1-18 lamp, temple
11 Jesse: 1 Sam. 16:1-13 crimson robe, shepherd’s staff
12 David: 1 Sam. 17:12-51 slingshot, 6-pointed star
13 Solomon: 1 Kings 3:5-14,16-28 scales of justice,temple,2 babies & sword
14 Joseph: Matt. 1:18-25 hammer, saw, chisel, angle
15 Mary: Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38 lily, crown of stars, pierced heart
16 John the Baptist: Mark 1:1-8 shell with water, river
17 Jesus is Wisdom: oil lamp, open book
18 Jesus is Lord: Ex. 3:2; 20:1 burning bush, stone tablets
19 Jesus is Flower of Jesse: Isaiah 11:1-3 flower, plant with flower
20 Jesus is Key of David: Isaiah 22:22 key, broken chains
21 Jesus is the Radiant Dawn: Psalm 19:6-7 sun rising or high in sky
22 Jesus is King of the Gentiles: Psalm 2:7-8; Ephesians 2:14-20 crown, scepter
23 Jesus is Emmanuel: Isaiah 7:14; 33:22 tablets of stone, chalice & host
24 Jesus is Light of the World: John 1:1-14 candle, flame, sun

6 Responses

  1. Awesome stain glass! Never heard of “The Jesse Tree”, of course not a very religious individual. Spiritual yes, conventional religion, not so much.

  2. Hello Vic – Thank you for the very interesting information about the Jesse tree – stained glass window – I’ve never heard of this before!

    You know, it WOULD be tempting to covet this information for my own blog, but, I think instead, I will send folks to your blog to read for themselves, this way you will have more traffic created!

    It IS nice to chat with fellow BC’r Bloggers! I look forward to more visits to you in the future.

    I probably won’t blog for a day or two just yet, but will link to your post, with the journal date entry when I do.

    We are getting some snow here as I speak – nothing of what you folks get, and ours will be gone quickly, I’m sure.

    take care,
    Barb (Mrs. Miles)

  3. I’ve never heard of the Jesse Tree. Decorating in this fashion seems a neat idea … especially if one had children. What a teaching and learning opportunity!

  4. Interesting. I had never heard of the Jesse Tree. A neat way to decorate the tree … especially if one had children … a teaching and learning opportunity.

    (I’ve posted another link in my blog.)

  5. Why couldn’t you have been one of my teachers when I was in school? You really make things interesting!

  6. I found your blog from link on Cicero Sings. (I am trying to find more Canadian bloggers 🙂
    I have made many felt Jesse Trees over the years as gifts. Our girls are grown, but still want the Jesse Tree displayed each year. It is a great way to understand the story of redemption from Genesis through to the New Testament.

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