What is an Oil tree?
(tree of oil). Isa 41:19 In 1 Kgs 6:23, 1 Kgs 6:31-33 these words are rendered "olive tree," and represent the material of the cherubim, doors, and posts of Solomon's temple. They are translated "pine" in Neh 8:15. But the olive tree is also unmistakably mentioned in this verse. If the oil tree was not the olive tree, what was it? Tristram and others believe it to be the oleaster (Elaeagnus angustifolia). This shrub has no affinity to the olive, though resembling it in leaf and general appearance and yielding from its berries an inferior oil. It is found plentifully on the highlands of Palestine and about Jerusalem, thus meeting the direction of Neh 8:15, as the Balanites AEgyptiaca, a shrub of the Jordan valley, does not. Dr Tristram therefore suggests in one place (under "Oil Tree") that its "fine hard wood" was the wood of the cherubim, but in another place (under "Olive") states that material to have been olive wood (as the A.V. reads). The latter opinion has a strong probability in its favor, and it does not appear that the oleaster is more than a large shrub, though the author cited calls it, as compared with the olive, "a smaller tree." For the passage in Nehemiah there would then be no present explanation unless we believe, as is very possible, that the term "oil tree," in later times at least, was extended or restricted to the oleaster.