A Symbolic Jesse Tree

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.

The Sun:

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 Tablets of the Law:

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 of David:

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 Root of Jesse:

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 Star of David:

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.

Jacob's Ladder:

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.

Jonas in the Whale:

As Jonas remained in the whale three days, so Christ remained three days in the earth after His death.

The Temple:

The Temple was God's dwelling place among the Jews of the Old Testament. His new Presence is within us.

The Crown and Sceptre:

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.

The Sword of Judith:

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.

The Burning Bush:

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.

Noah's Ark:

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.

The Ark of the Covenant:

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

The Altar of Holocaust:

Sacrifice was offered daily on the Jewish altar of holocaust--a type of the Christian altar and the daily sacrifice of the Mass.

The Apple:

"O Happy Fault, whereby we have merited so great a Redeemer."

The Paschal Lamb:

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."

The Pillar of Fire:

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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