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November 29    Scripture

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Manners & Customs : Olive Trees

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]

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]

Grafting an Olive Tree Grafting of the olive tree. In the western part of Asia the olive tree often grows wild, and so when the trees are cultivated they must be grafted. A graft of a cultivated olive tree is inserted into the stem of the wild olive tree, and then the wild olive tree is cut down close to the ground, and the part below becomes root and feeder for the inserted shoot. This is the customary process of grafting. But the Apostle Paul, for sake of argument, speaks of grafting contrary to the natural process. He tells of GOD grafting the wild olive of the Gentiles on the good stock of the Jewish nation, which is a reversal of custom (Romans 11:24). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

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]

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]

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]

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]

Olive Tree in Easton's Bible Dictionary is frequently mentioned in Scripture. The dove from the ark brought an olive-branch to Noah (Gen. 8:11). It is mentioned among the most notable trees of Israel, where it was cultivated long before the time of the Hebrews (Deut. 6:11; 8:8). It is mentioned in the first Old Testament parable, that of Jotham (Judg. 9:9), and is named among the blessings of the "good land," and is at the present day the one characteristic tree of Israel. The oldest olive-trees in the country are those which are enclosed in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is referred to as an emblem of prosperity and beauty and religious privilege (Ps. 52:8; Jer. 11:16; Hos. 14:6). The two "witnesses" mentioned in Rev. 11:4 are spoken of as "two olive trees standing before the God of the earth." (Comp. Zech. 4:3, 11-14.) The "olive-tree, wild by nature" (Rom. 11:24), is the shoot or cutting of the good olive-tree which, left ungrafted, grows up to be a "wild olive." In Rom. 11:17 Paul refers to the practice of grafting shoots of the wild olive into a "good" olive which has become unfruitful. By such a process the sap of the good olive, by pervading the branch which is "graffed in," makes it a good branch, bearing good olives. Thus the Gentiles, being a "wild olive," but now "graffed in," yield fruit, but only through the sap of the tree into which they have been graffed. This is a process "contrary to nature" (11:24).

Olive Tree in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE ol'-iv tre (zayith, a word occurring also in Aramaic, Ethiopic and Arabic; in the last it means "olive oil," and zaitun, "the olive tree"; elaia): 1. The Olive Tree: The olive tree has all through history been one of the most characteristic, most valued and most useful of trees in Israel. It is only right that it is the first named "king" of the trees (Jdg 9:8,9). When the children of Israel came to the land they acquired olive trees which they planted not (Dt 6:11; compare Josh 24:13). The cultivation of the olive goes back to the earliest times in Canaan. The frequent references in the Bible, the evidences (see 4 below) from archaeology and the important place the product of this tree has held in the economy of the inhabitants of Syria make it highly probable that this land is the actual home of the cultivated olive. The wild olive is indigenous there. The most fruitful trees are the product of bare and rocky ground (compare Dt 32:13) situated preferably at no great distance from the sea. The terraced hills of Israel, where the earth lies never many inches above the limestone rocks, the long rainless summer of unbroken sunshine, and the heavy "clews" of the autumn afford conditions which are extraordinarily favorable to at least the indigenous olive. The olive, Olea Europaea (Natural Order Oleaceae), is a slow-growing tree, requiring years of patient labor before reaching full fruitfulness. Its growth implies a certain degree of settlement and peace, for a hostile army can in a few days destroy the patient work of two generations. Possibly this may have something to do with its being the emblem of peace. Enemies of a village or of an individual often today carry out revenge by cutting away a ring of bark from the trunks of the olives, thus killing the trees in a few months. The beauty of this tree is referred to in Jer 11:16; Hos 14:6, and its fruitfulness in Ps 128:3. The characteristic olive-green of its foliage, frosted silver below and the twisted and gnarled trunks--often hollow in the center--are some of the most picturesque and constant signs of settled habitations. In some parts of the land large plantations occur: the famous olive grove near Beirut is 5 miles square; there are also fine, ancient trees in great numbers near Bethlehem. In starting an oliveyard the fellah not infrequently plants young wild olive trees which grow plentifully over many parts of the land, or he may grow from cuttings. When the young trees are 3 years old they are grafted from a choice stock and after another three or four years they may commence to bear fruit, but they take quite a decade more before reaching full fruition. Much attention is, however, required. The soil around the trees must be frequently plowed and broken up; water must be conducted to the roots from the earliest rain, and the soil must be freely enriched with a kind of marl known in Arabic as chuwwarah. If neglected, the older trees soon send up a great many shoots from the roots all around the parent stem (perhaps the idea in Ps 128:3); these must be pruned away, although, should the parent stem decay, some of these may be capable of taking its place. Being, however, from the root, below the original point of grafting, they are of the wild olive type- -with smaller, stiffer leaves and prickly stem--and need grafting before they are of use. The olive tree furnishes a wood valuable for many forms of carpentry, and in modern...

Olive Tree Scripture - Deuteronomy 6:11 And houses full of all good [things], which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full;

Olive Tree Scripture - Hosea 14:6 His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.

Olive Tree Scripture - Jeremiah 11:16 The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, [and] of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken.

Olive Tree Scripture - Judges 9:8 The trees went forth [on a time] to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us.

Olive Tree Scripture - Psalms 52:8 But I [am] like a green olive tree in the house of God: I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever.

Olive Tree Scripture - Revelation 11:4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.

Olive Tree Scripture - Romans 11:17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;

Olive Tree Scripture - Romans 11:24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural [branches], be graffed into their own olive tree?

Olive Tree Scripture - Zechariah 4:3 And two olive trees by it, one upon the right [side] of the bowl, and the other upon the left [side] thereof.

Olive Wood The use of olive wood. Wood from the olive tree is often used in the East. It is close-grained and has a yellow tint. The Oriental carpenter is fond of using it. It is especially utilized in the construction of cabinets. King Solomon had the cherubim of the temple, and the inner and outer doors and posts of the sanctuary, all made of olive wood. (I Kings 6:23, 31, 33). [Manners And Customs of Bible Lands]

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]

Symbolism 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]

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]

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]