fig-tree

fig treeThe Bible supposes the presence of the fig-tree throughout all Palestine, and regards it as one of the characteristic products of the land (Deuteronomy 8), together with the vine, so that a land which has neither fig-tree nor vine is considered wretched (Numbers 20). Figs, with other fruit, were brought back from Palestine by the envoys of Moses to give an idea of the fertility of the land (Numbers 13). The tree loses its leaves during the winter, but these begin to grow again towards the end of March, or the beginning of April. As early as the end of February, little figs grow at the junction of the old wood and the leaves, but they develop only to the size of a cherry, are inedible, and soon fall for the most part. The few that continue to develop ripen in June, and are “the figs of the first season,” described as “very good” (Jeremiah 24). In the meantime other buds grow which form the real crop, ripe in August. Figs were eaten fresh or dried, and in the latter case were pressed into solid cakes (1 Kings 25). Figs were also used for medicinal purposes as in the poultice which healed the boil of Ezechias (4 Kings 20). Both the sweet fruit and the abundant foliage, which protects from the sun, are often referred to in Scripture, in descriptions of peace and prosperity (Judges 9; 3 Kings 4). The fig-tree figures in the New Testament in the symbolic action of Our Lord (Matthew 21; Mark 11), which is a reminder of the symbolic actions of the prophets of the Old Testament. Other references in the New Testament to the fig-tree and figs are in Matthew 7 and 24; John 1; James 3; Apocalypse 6.