Manners & Customs: Fig Trees
Fig Tree Culture in Ancient Bible Times
Fig in Easton's Bible Dictionary
First mentioned in Gen. 3:7. The fig-tree is mentioned
8:8) as one of the valuable products of Israel. It
was a sign
of peace and prosperity (1 Kings 4:25; Micah 4:4;
Figs were used medicinally (2 Kings 20:7), and
and formed into "cakes" as articles of diet (1 Sam.
Our Lord's cursing the fig-tree near Bethany (Mark
occasioned much perplexity from the circumstance, as
by the evangelist, that "the time of figs was not
explanation of the words, however, lies in the
simple fact that
the fruit of the fig-tree appears before the leaves,
that if the tree produced leaves it ought also to
fruit. It ought to have had fruit if it had been
true to its
"pretensions," in showing its leaves at this
"This tree, so to speak, vaunted itself to be in
advance of all
the other trees, challenged the passer-by that he
and refresh himself with its fruit. Yet when the
its challenge and drew near, it proved to be but as
without fruit as they; for indeed, as the evangelist
the time of figs had not yet arrived. Its fault, if
one may use
the word, lay in its pretensions, in its making a
show to run
before the rest when it did not so indeed" (Trench,
The fig-tree of Israel (Ficus carica) produces two
sometimes three crops of figs in a year, (1) the
"early-ripe fig" (Micah 7:1; Isa. 28:4; Hos. 9:10,
is ripe about the end of June, dropping off as soon
as it is
ripe (Nah. 3:12); (2) the kermus, or "summer fig,"
to be formed, and is ripe about August; and (3) the
"green figs," Cant. 2:13; Gr. olynthos, Rev. 6:13,
fig"), or "winter fig," which ripens in sheltered
Fig in Naves Topical Bible
Common to Palestine
Nu 13:23; De 8:8
-Employed as a remedy
2Ki 20:7; Isa 38:21
-Dried and preserved
-Cakes of, sent by Abigail to David
-Aprons made of fig leaves, by Adam and Eve
Fig Tree in Naves Topical Bible
In an allegory
-Jeremiah's parable of
-Barren, parable of
Lu 13:6-9; 21:29-31
Mt 24:32; Re 6:13
Fig Tree in Smiths Bible Dictionary
The fig tree (Ficus carica) is very common in Israel. De 8:8
Mount Olivet was famous for its fig trees in ancient times,
and they are still found there. To "sit under one's own vine
and one's own fig tree" became a proverbial expression among
the Jews to denote peace and prosperity. 1Ki 4:25; Mic 4:4;
Zec 3:10 The fig is a pear-shaped fruit, and is much used by
the Orientals for food. The young figs are especially prized
for their sweetness and flavor. The fruit always appears
before the leaves; so that when Christ saw leaves on the fig
tree by the wayside, Mr 11:13 he had a right to expect fruit.
The usual summer crop of fruits is not gathered till May or
June; but in the sunny ravines of Olivet fig trees could have
ripe fruit some weeks earlier (Dr. Thomson), and it was not
strange so early as Easter Christ might find the young eatable
figs, although it was not the usual season for gathering the
Fig Tree in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
fig'-tre (te'enah, plural te'enim, specially "figs"; paggim,
"green figs" only in Song 2:13; suke, "fig-tree," sukon,
1. Fig-Trees in the Old Testament:
The earliest Old Testament reference to the fig is to the
leaves, which Adam and Eve converted into aprons (Gen 3:7).
The promised land was described (Dt 8:8) as "a land of wheat
and barley, and vines and fig-trees and pomegranates," etc.
The spies who visited it brought, besides the cluster of
grapes, pomegranates and figs (Nu 13:23). The Israelites
complained that the wilderness was "no place of seed, or of
figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates" (Nu 20:5). When Egypt
was plagued, the fig-trees were smitten (Ps 105:33); a
similar punishment was threatened to unfaithful Israel (Jer
5:17; Hos 2:12; Am 4:9). It is only necessary to ride a few
miles among the mountain villages of Israel, with their
extensive fig gardens, to realize what a long-lasting injury
would be the destruction of these slow-growing trees. Years
of patient labor--such as that briefly hinted at in Lk 13:7-
-must pass before a newly planted group of fig-trees can
bear profitably. Plenitude of fruitful vines and fig-trees,
specially individual ownership, thus came to be emblematical
of long-continued peace and prosperity. In the days of
Solomon "Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his
vine and under his fig-tree" (1 Ki 4:25). Compare also 2 Ki
18:31; Isa 36:16; Mic 4:4; Zec 3:10; 1 Macc 14:12. Only a
triumphal faith in Yahweh could rejoice in Him "though the
fig-tree shall hot flourish" (Hab 3:17).
2. Natural History of the Fig-Tree:
The Ficus carica, which produces the common fig, is a tree
belonging to the Natural Order. Urticaceae, the nettle
family, which includes also the banyan, the India rubber
fig-tree, the sycamore fig and other useful plants. Fig-
trees are cultivated all over the Holy Land, especially in
the mountain regions. Wild fig-trees--usually rather shrubs
than trees--occur also everywhere; they are usually barren
and are described by the fellahin as "male" trees; it is
generally supposed that their presence is beneficial to the
cultivated variety. The immature flowers harbor small
insects which convey pollen to the female flowers and by
their irritating presence stimulate the growth of the fruit.
Artificial fertilization has been understood since ancient
times, and there may be a reference to it in Am 7:14.
Fig-trees are usually of medium height, 10 or 15 ft. for
full-grown trees, yet individual specimens sometimes attain
as much as 25 ft. The summer foliage is thick and surpasses
other trees of its size in its cool and dense shade. In the
summer owners of such trees may be seen everywhere sitting
in their shadow (Jn 1:48). Such references as Mac 4:4; Zec
3:10, etc., probably are to this custom rather than to the
not uncommon one of having...
Fig Tree Scripture - 1 Kings 4:25
And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine
and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the
days of Solomon.
Fig Tree Scripture - Deuteronomy 8:8
A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and
pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey;
Fig Tree Scripture - Luke 13:6
He spake also this parable; A certain [man] had a fig tree
planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon,
and found none.
Fig Tree Scripture - Luke 21:29
And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all
Fig Tree Scripture - Matthew 24:32
Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet
tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer [is]
Fig Tree Scripture - Micah 4:4
But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig
tree; and none shall make [them] afraid: for the mouth of the
LORD of hosts hath spoken [it].
Fig Tree Scripture - Revelation 6:13
And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig
tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty
Fig Tree Scripture - Zechariah 3:10
In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall ye call every man
his neighbour under the vine and under the fig tree.
Figs. This fruit was often used in Old Testament times, especially dried figs. Abigail took two hundred cakes of figs to David (I Samuel 25:18). A cake of figs was given the Egyptian to revive him (I Samuel 30:12), and cakes of figs were brought to David at Hebron, at a time of great rejoicing (I Chronicles 12:40). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Figs in the Old Testament
Use of figs in the Old Testament. Figs were often used in the history of Israel, especially dried figs. Abigail took two hundred cakes of figs to David (I Samuel 25:18). A cake of figs was given the Egyptian to revive him (I Samuel 30:12). And cakes of figs were brought to David at Hebron at a time of great rejoicing (I Chronicles 12:40). When King Hezekiah was sick, Isaiah told him to put a lump of figs on his boil, and the LORD healed him (II Kings 20:7). Jeremiah refers to the characteristic of figs, that some of them can be very good, and then again, they can be very bad (Jeremiah 24:1, 2). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Figs Scripture - Jeremiah 24:2
One basket [had] very good figs, [even] like the figs [that
are] first ripe: and the other basket [had] very naughty figs,
which could not be eaten, they were so bad.
Figs Scripture - Jeremiah 24:3
Then said the LORD unto me, What seest thou, Jeremiah? And I
said, Figs; the good figs, very good; and the evil, very evil,
that cannot be eaten, they are so evil.
The fig tree a sign of the season. The fig tree shows sign of foliage later than some of the other fruit trees of Israel. The unfolding of the fig leaves and the deepening of their color is thought of as a sign that summertime is at hand.
JESUS made reference to this idea: "Now learn a parable of the fig tree; when his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh" (Matthew 24:32; Mark 13:28). The lover in the Song of Solomon indicated that winter was past and summer was at hand because "The fig tree putteth forth her green figs" (Song of Solomon 2:11-13).
CHRIST and the fig tree. In order to understand why CHRIST cursed the fig tree one day, it is necessary to know the custom of the fig tree's growth of leaves and fruit. The normal habit of the fig trees is that fruit begins to form on the tree as soon as leaves appear. Leaves and fruit also disappear together. But it was said of this fig tree which JESUS and his disciples saw on the Mount of Olives, "for the time of figs was not yet" (Mark 11:13).
Actually this was no excuse for this fig tree, because if it was not the time for figs, it was also not the time for leaves to appear. By a show of leaves, it was like many people, pretending to have fruit which was not there. It was like the Pharisees who professed to be very religious, but whose lives were fruitless. Therefore CHRIST cursed this tree as an object lesson to all not to be hypocritical.
JESUS also gave us the Parable of the Barren Fig Tree.
"A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down" (Luke 13:6-9).
Here was a fig tree that failed for three years to bear fruit, when its owner had a right to expect a crop. The gardener suggested patience with the tree, and proposed additional cultivation and fertilization for it, giving it another chance to bear figs. It will be noted that this fig tree had been planted in the midst of a vineyard. This is often done in Israel.
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Sitting Under a Fig Tree
Sitting under one's own fig tree. Several times the Old Testament makes use of this expression with the addition of the vine. It is used in various ways. In the prosperous reign of King Solomon it was said, "And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, all the days of Solomon" (I Kings 4:25). This was another way of saying that there was prosperity and peace in the land, that every family enjoyed the possession of his father's inheritance, which was symbolized by the fruits of the vine and fig tree belonging to each home.
The prophet Micah used the expression to picture the universal peace and prosperity which would characterize the coming Golden Age: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid" (Micah 4:3, 4). It is a picture of enjoying the blessings of peace.
[Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Three Harvest Times for Figs
THE FIG TREE
Three crops of figs in Israel. The early figs, not very many in number, but large in size, are ripe a month before the main crop; the summer or main crop is used in August and September; and the winter figs remain on the trees until late in the fall of the year. Mention is made in Scripture of the firstripe figs as being desirable (Hosea 9:10), and the ease with which they are secured when the tree is shaken (Nahum 3:12). The summer crop that is not eaten as fresh fruit is dried on the housetops, and then used in the winter months. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
Traveling with Food
Food taken by travelers. Travelers going a distance will carry food with them, which will include bread, parched grain, dried olives, dried figs, and dates. Most travelers in the East now, as in the days of JESUS, will not go any distance from home without taking barley bread or meal or parched grain sufficient to last for one or two days. When JESUS performed the miracle of feeding the four thousand, he said, "I have compassion on the multitude, because they continue with me now three days, and have nothing to eat: and I will not send them away fasting, lest they faint in the way" (Matthew 15:32). According to custom, the multitude would have a day or two's supply of food with them when they flocked to hear JESUS. But on the third day, seven loaves and a few small fish was all that was left. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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