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Bridgeway Bible Dictionary

Olive

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Olive trees, both wild and cultivated, were among the most common trees of Palestine (Deuteronomy 8:8; Judges 15:5; 1 Chronicles 27:28; Luke 22:39). They grew also in Mesopotamia and other places in the region (Genesis 8:11). The trees grew to about six metres in height, and although their timber was of no use in building construction, it could be used to make furniture and ornamental articles (1 Kings 6:23; 1 Kings 6:31). The Israelites used branches of olive trees to help make shelters for the Feast of Tabernacles (Nehemiah 8:15).

Mostly, however, people grew olive trees for their fruit, which could be crushed to produce oil (Exodus 27:20; Leviticus 2:4; 2 Kings 18:32; Micah 6:15; see OIL). Farmers harvested the olives by shaking or beating the tree so that the fruit fell to the ground. They then collected the fruit in baskets (Deuteronomy 24:20; Isaiah 17:6; Isaiah 24:13; Amos 8:2). To obtain higher quality fruit and larger harvests, they sometimes grafted branches from good quality trees on to wild trees. To graft branches from wild trees on to good trees was ‘contrary to nature’ (Romans 11:17-24).

In the symbols and pictures of the Bible, the olive tree had a variety of meanings. It was a symbol of peace (Genesis 8:10-12), fruitfulness (Psalms 128:3-4), freshness (Psalms 52:8), pleasantness (Jeremiah 11:16), beauty (Hosea 14:5-7), God’s Spirit (Zechariah 4:1-6), God’s family (Romans 11:17-24) and God’s witnesses (Zechariah 4:11-14; Revelation 11:3-4).

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Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Olive'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/bbd/o/olive.html. 2004.

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