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May 3    Scripture

Manners & Customs: Olives and Olive Oil
Olives and Olive Oil in ancient Bible times

Abundance of Olive Trees Olive and Fig Tree Culture THE OLIVE TREE - ABUNDANCE OF OLIVE TREES IN BIBLE LANDS. For centuries the olive tree has been growing in lands bordering on the Mediterranean Sea, but its growth in Israel has been quite abundant. Moses told Israel that Canaan was "a land of oil olive" (Deuteronomy 8:8). He also told them that they would acquire olive trees which they had not planted (Deuteronomy 6:11). From that day down to the present day, the growth of the olive tree, and the use of its products, have played an important part in the history of the land. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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Description of an Olive Tree Characteristics of the olive tree. The young olive tree only bears olives after seven years of growth, and it is about fourteen years before the crop reaches its maturity. Because of the injurious method of harvesting the olives by using sticks to knock off the fruit, the trees only bear a full crop every other year. Some twenty gallons of oil are often derived from the olives of one tree. The berries are harvested in the month of October. After the olive tree reaches its maturity, its fruitfulness lasts for many years. Its longevity is one of the remarkable characteristics of the tree. It lives and bears fruit for centuries. The old Olive tree is often seen to have several thrifty young shoots springing up all around it from its roots. It was this picture that the Psalmist had in mind when he wrote: "Thy children like olive plants round about thy table" (Psalm 128:3). The olive tree thrives in Palestinian soil which has so many rocks in it. Thomson says of it: "It insinuates its roots into the crevices of this flinty marl, and draws from thence its stores of oil." Doubtless it is to this that the song of Moses alludes: "He made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock" (Deuteronomy 32:13). To the Occidental, the olive tree with its dull grayish color of foliage, does not seem to be a particularly beautiful tree, but the Oriental sees in it many charms. Writers of Scripture often speak of the beauty and attractiveness of the olive. Concerning Israel, the prophet Jeremiah said: "the Lord called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit" (Jeremiah 11:16). The prophet Hosea said, "His beauty shall be as the olive tree" (Hosea 14:6). And David asserted concerning himself: "I am like a green olive tree in the house of God" (Psalm 52:8). Olive trees have a remarkable number of blossoms, many of which fall without ever maturing into fruit. Sometimes the breeze blows upon the tree and the falling blossoms look like a shower of snowflakes. The Book of Job makes a comparisoto this characteristic of the olive blossoms: "And shall cast off his flower as the olive" (Job 15:33). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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Harvesting Olives Harvesting the olive crop. The Arabs harvest their crop of olives in the Holy Land by beating the trees with sticks in order to knock off the fruit. Instead of hand picking them, they beat the limbs and thus cause the fruit to fall. The tender shoots that would ordinarily bear fruit the following year are thus apt to be damaged, so as to interfere greatly with the next year's crop. This is no doubt the reason for the trees yielding a good crop only every other year. The reason why this method is used is because their forefathers have always done it this way, and they don't believe in change of customs. As a matter of fact, Moses indicates that the same method was used by Israel when he gave the law concerning leaving some of the olive berries for the poor: "When thou beatest thine olive tree thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, or the fatherless, and for the widow" (Deuteronomy 24:20). Isaiah also speaks of the obtaining of berries left by the olive harvesters: "Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it, as the shaking of an olive tree, two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof" (Isaiah 17:6). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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Making Olive Oil The process of making olive oil. Olive mills are used for making oil. There have been many of these instruments for the manufacture of oil located in Israel. Oil-presses comprised, in addition to the vat, an upright stone with a large hole in it. In this hole a beam was inserted. This beam rested on the olives which were to be pressed, extending far beyond the receptacle containing the olives, and weights were hung on the end farthest from the stone. The Garden of Gethsemane was in reality an olive orchard, and the word, "Gethsemane," means "Oil-Press." Another Bible-time way of making oil was to tread the olive berries with the feet. This primitive method was mentioned by the prophet Micah: "Thou shalt tread the olives, but thou shalt not anoint thee with oil" (Micah 6:15). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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Olive in Easton's Bible Dictionary the fruit of the olive-tree. This tree yielded oil which was highly valued. The best oil was from olives that were plucked before being fully ripe, and then beaten or squeezed (Deut. 24:20; Isa. 17:6; 24:13). It was called "beaten," or "fresh oil" (Ex. 27:20). There were also oil-presses, in which the oil was trodden out by the feet (Micah 6:15). James (3:12) calls the fruit "olive berries." The phrase "vineyards and olives" (Judg. 15:5, A.V.) should be simply "olive-yard," or "olive- garden," as in the Revised Version. (See OIL T0002774.)
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Olive in Fausset's Bible Dictionary Its foliage is the earliest mentioned (Genesis 8:11). Tradition from Noah's days has ever made it symbolize peace. It is the emblem of "fatness" in the oldest parable (Judges 9:8-9). Emblem of the godly (Psalm 52:5; Psalm 52:8), in spirit constantly dwelling "in the house of God"; in contrast to slave-like formalists now sojourning outwardly in it for a time, but not abiding ever (John 8:34-35; Psalm 15:1; Psalm 23:6; Psalm 27:4-5; Psalm 36:8); the wicked and antichrist shall be "rooted out of (God's) dwelling place," literally, 5 ('ohel). The Septuagint, Chaldee, Vulgate, and Aben Ezra interpret 'ohel "the tabernacle" (2 Thessalonians 2:4; Daniel 11:44-45). The saint's children are "like olive plants round about his table" (Psalm 128:3). The old olive sends out young suckers which spring up round the parent tree, and which in after ages, when the parent's strength fails, shelter it on every side from the blast. It is the characteristic tree of Judea on Roman coins, Deuteronomy 8:8. Asher "dipped his foot in oil" (Deuteronomy 33:24). Emblem of Judah's adoption of God by grace (Jeremiah 11:16; Romans 11:17), also of joy and prosperity. The Gentile church is the wild twig "engrafted contrary to nature" on the original Jewish olive stock; it marks supernatural virtue in the stock that it enables those wild by nature to bear good fruit; ordinarily it is only a superior scion that is grafted on an inferior. The two witnesses for God (antitypes to Elijah and Moses, Zerubbabel and Joshua, the civil ruler and the priest: Malachi 4:5-6; Matthew 17:11; Acts 3:21; Judges 1:6) are "the two olive trees," channels of the oil (the Holy Spirit in them) feeding the church (Revelation 11:3-4; Zechariah 4:11-12). The wood, fine grained, solid, and yellowish, was used for the cherubim, doors, and posts (1 Kings 6:23; 1 Kings 6:31-33). The tree was shaken to get the remnant left after the general gathering (by "beating," Deuteronomy 24:20), Isaiah 24:13; image of Israel's "remnant according to the election of grace." The least breeze makes the flowers fall; compare Job 15:33, "he shall cast off his flower as the olive," i.e. the least blast sweeps away in a moment the sinner's prosperity. The tree poetically is made to cast off its own blossom, to mark that the sinner brings on his own ruin (Isaiah 3:11; Jeremiah 6:19). It thrives best in a sunny position. A rocky calcareous subsoil suits it; compare "oil out of the flinty rock" (Deuteronomy 32:13). The trunk is knotty and gnarled, the bark smooth and ash colored. Its growth is slow, but it lives very long. The leaves are grey green, not deciduous, suggestive of tenacious strength.
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Olive in Naves Topical Bible (A fruit tree) -Branch of, brought by the dove to Noah's ark Ge 8:11 -Common to the land of Canaan Ex 23:11; De 6:11; 8:8 -Israelites commanded to cultivate in the land of promise De 28:40 -Branches of, used for booths (huts) Ne 8:15 -Bears flowers Job 15:33 -Precepts concerning gleaning the fruit of De 24:20; Isa 17:6 -The cherubs made of the wood of 1Ki 6:23,31-33 -Fable of Jud 9:8 -FIGURATIVE Of prosperity Ps 128:3 The wild, a figure of the Gentiles; the cultivated, of the Jews Ro 11:17-21,24 -SYMBOLICAL Zec 4:2-12; Re 11:4 -FRUIT OF Oil extracted from, used as illuminating oil in the tabernacle Ex 39:37; Le 24:2; Zec 4:12
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Olive in Smiths Bible Dictionary The olive was among the most abundant and characteristic vegetation of Judea. The olive tree grows freely almost everywhere on the shores of the Mediterranean, but it was peculiarly abundant in Israel. See De 6:11; 8:8; 28:40 Oliveyards are a matter of course in descriptions of the country like vines and cornfields. Jud 15:5; 1Sa 8:14 The kings had very extensive ones. 1Ch 27:28 Even now the is very abundant in the country. Almost every village has its olive grove. Certain districts may be specified where at various times this tree been very luxuriant. The cultivation of the olive tree had the closest connection with the domestic life of the Israelites 2Ch 2:10 their trade, Eze 27:17; Ho 12:1 and even their Public ceremonies and religious worship. In Solomon's temple the cherubim were "of olive tree," 1Ki 6:23 as also the doors, vs. 1Ki 6:31,32 and posts. ver. 1Ki 6:33 For the various uses of olive oil see OIL. The wind was dreaded by the cultivator of the olive for the least ruffling of a breeze is apt to cause the flowers to fall. Job 15:33 It is needless to add that the locust was a formidable enemy of the olive. It happened not unfrequently that hopes were disappointed, and that "the labor of the olive failed." Hab 3:17 As to the growth of the tree, it thrives best in warm and sunny situations. It is of moderate height, with knotty gnarled trunk and a smooth ash-colored bark. It grows slowly, but lives to an immense age. Its look is singularly indicative of tenacious vigor, and this is the force of what is said in Scripture of its "greenness, as emblematic of strength and prosperity. The leaves, too, are not deciduous. Those who see olives for the first time are occasionally disappointed by the dusty color of their foilage; but those who are familiar with them find an inexpressible charm in the rippling changes of their slender gray-green leaves. (See Ruskin's "Stones of Venice," iii. 175-177.) The olive furnishes the basis of one of Paul's allegories. Ro 11:16-25 The Gentiles are the "wild olive" grafted in upon the "good olive," to which once the Jews belonged, and with which they may again be incorporated, (The olive grows from 20 to 40 feet high. In general appearance it resembles the apple tree; in leaves and sterns, the willow. The flowers are white and appear in June, The fruit is like a plum in shape and size, and at first is green, but gradually becomes purple, and even black, with a hard stony kernel, and is remarkable from the outer fleshy part being that in which much oil is lodged, and not, as is usual, in the almond of the seed. The fruit ripens from August to September. It is sometimes eaten green, but its chief value is in its oil. The wood is hard, fine beautifully veined, and is open used for cabinet work. Olive trees were so abundant in Galilee that at the siege of Jotapata by Vespasian the Roman army were driven from the ascent of the walls by hot olive oil poured upon them and scalding them underneath their armor. - -Josephus, Wars, 3; 7:28. --ED.)
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Olive Oil and Olives Olives and olive oil. Some use is made of the pickled berry of the olive, but the bulk of the fruit is used to make oil. In the Orient, olive oil usually takes the place of butter, and is largely used in cooking meals. A survey of several Scriptures will indicate how important a food olive oil was considered to be. The widow who fed Elijah said to him: "I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse" (I Kings 17:12). She had been depending largely on bread and oil for her food, but the supply of both was about gone. The miracle of Elijah was the multiplication of that supply, "And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah" (I Kings 17:16). The Meal Offering of the Mosaic law called for unleavened fine flour mingled with oil baked in a pan (Leviticus 2:5). And the prophet Ezekiel in reciting to Jerusalem all its past blessings from JEHOVAH said of her, "Thou didst eat fine flour, and honey, and oil" (Ezekiel 16:13). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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Olive Oil in Bible Times The wide use of olive oil in Bible lands. Olive oil was considered to be one of the great sources of wealth in the days of King Solomon (cf. I Kings 5:11; II Chronicles 2:10). Solomon gave to Hiram each year in return for services rendered by his men, among other things, twenty thousand baths of oil, one bath being about seven and one-half gallons. The prophets Ezekiel and Hosea make mention of the exporting of oil to other lands (Ezekiel 27:17; Hosea 12:1). Oil has been used for a great variety of purposes in the Orient. It largely took the place of butter in eating, and for cooking purposes it was used in place of animal fat. Ezekiel mentions three important items of diet of which oil is one, and flour and honey are the other two (Ezekiel 16:13). And olive oil was used almost exclusively for light in lamps. The most famous example of this is "the ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom" (Matthew 25:1). Also oil is used today in Bible lands in the manufacture of soap, and it is quite likely that it was so used in Bible days. And oil was often used for anointing the body. Naomi told Ruth, "Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor" (Ruth 3:3). Then oil was many times used in various religious ceremonies. It formed a part of the meal offering (Leviticus 2:1). The prophet was anointed with oil when he took over his duties (I Kings 19:16). The priest was also anointed with oil when he took over his duties (Leviticus 8:12). And the king was anointed either by a prophet or by the priest (I Samuel 16:13; I Kings 1:34). In New Testament times the sick were anointed for the healing of their bodies (Mark 6:13; James 5:14). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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Olives Scripture - Judges 15:5 And when he had set the brands on fire, he let [them] go into the standing corn of the Philistines, and burnt up both the shocks, and also the standing corn, with the vineyards [and] olives.
http://www.bible-history.com/kjv/Judges/15/


Olives Scripture - Luke 19:29 And it came to pass, when he was come nigh to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount called [the mount] of Olives, he sent two of his disciples,
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Olives Scripture - Luke 19:37 And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen;
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Olives Scripture - Luke 21:37 And in the day time he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called [the mount] of Olives.
http://www.bible-history.com/kjv/Luke/21/


Olives Scripture - Mark 11:1 And when they came nigh to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples,
http://www.bible-history.com/kjv/Mark/11/


Olives Scripture - Mark 13:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately,
http://www.bible-history.com/kjv/Mark/13/


Olives Scripture - Matthew 21:1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples,
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Olives Scripture - Matthew 24:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what [shall be] the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
http://www.bible-history.com/kjv/Matthew/24/


Olives Scripture - Matthew 26:30 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
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Olives Scripture - Micah 6:15 Thou shalt sow, but thou shalt not reap; thou shalt tread the olives, but thou shalt not anoint thee with oil; and sweet wine, but shalt not drink wine.
http://www.bible-history.com/kjv/Micah/6/


Rams Horn to Carry Oil Rams' horns. The horns of the rams are considered to be of great value. In many Western lands, growers of sheep have endeavored to develop a hornless breed, but in the East the horns are thought of as an important part of the animal. The ram's horn has been used chiefly as a vessel in which liquids have been carried. For carrying purposes a wooden plug is driven into the large end of the horn so as to close it, and sometimes it is covered with raw hide to hold it in place. The small part of the pointed end of the horn is cut off, and the opening closed with a stopper. The ram's horn was used in Bible times to carry oil. Samuel was told to take his horn of oil and anoint David to be the future king (I Samuel 16:1). Solomon was anointed king by the oil in the horn of Zadok the priest (I Kings 1:39). Reference has already been made to the shepherd's use of oil with his sheep, and this was carried in a ram's horn. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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Symbolism of Olives The symbolic use of the olive. The olive tree has been thought of as a symbol of peace, ever since the dove sent out by Noah from the ark came back, and "Lo, in her mouth an olive leaf plucked off" (Genesis 8:11). Throughout the Bible, oil is often used symbolically of the HOLY SPIRIT. And when the Apostle John speaks of the "anointing which ye have received" (I John 2:27), he means by it the enduement with power of the HOLY SPIRIT. Also oil was considered a symbol of abundance (Deuteronomy 8:8), and a lack of it was a symbol of want (Joel 1:10). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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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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Uses of Olives Use of olives for eating. The natives of Bible lands have made large use of a form of dried olives. The pickled olive berry so much used in the Occident, is gradually being introduced by the returning Jews. It has been said that bread and olives are used in Syria today, much like porridge and mi1k are used in Scotland. The workingman of the East usually has some olives in his bag when he leaves home for his daily work. [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]
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