Date palm as a symbol of victory and defeat
During the Second Temple period, the Land of Israel was famous for its sumptuous dates. Greek and Roman authors enthusiastically described the impressive palm groves that flourished in the Jordan Valley and Jericho region which were cultivated in an array of varieties. It is therefore not surprising that the palm became the symbol of Judea in this period, and was depicted on different Judean coins such as those minted during the Bar-Kokhba Revolt. However, the most famous ancient coins depicting the palm tree were minted by Roman emperors. After the destruction of the Temple in the year 70 CE, Caesars Vespasian and Titus minted a series of coins marking their decisive victory in Judea. These coins depict the conquering emperor standing, and a defeated Jewish woman sitting with her head bent. Between these two figures is a palm tree, symbolizing defeated Judea. The image is accompanied by the Latin inscription: "Judea Captured".
The Jewish tradition has preserved an ancient custom of eating dates on the evening of Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) accompanied by the request: "May it be your will, that there come an end to our enemies". While on the Roman coins the date palm is a symbol of Jewish defeat, on the evening of Rosh Hashanah the date expresses the hope for victory over enemies.
("Judea Capta" coin, bronze, minted in Rome, 71 CE)