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Fig Tree


The Bible mentions fig trees even from the beginning of salvation history. The Garden of Eden had fig trees, from which Adam and Eve “sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves” (Gen 3:7). That happened after they sinned by disobeying God. Until then, “The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame” (Gen 2:25).

The land of Canaan that God promised to the Israelites was “a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, of olive trees and of honey” (Deut 8:8). Vine and fig trees were part of the prosperity of the Israelites.

During the reign of Solomon, “Judah and Israel lived in security, everyone under their own vine and fig tree from Dan to Beer-sheba, as long as Solomon lived” (1 Kgs 4:25). The vine and the fig tree were documented together by the Bible (Song 2:13) and were considered valuable (Kgs 10:27).

Jesus used the fig tree as a similitude of Israel for his teachings because his listeners were familiar with the tree. In the parable of the barren fig tree (Lk 13:6-9) Jesus compared Israel to a fig tree that did not yield fruit on time. The gardener requested an extension of time with assurances of additional care for obtaining a good result. We are in that waiting period for repentance and fruit production. Jesus cursed a fig tree that failed to produce fruit and it withered later (Mk 11:12-14,20-22). Here the tree represented Jerusalem, that the Romans destroyed in 70 AD.

People can assume seasons by watching the changes happening on the trees. Jesus was pointing to the disciples a fig tree near them during the spring because fig and olive trees were plenty on the Mount of Olives where they sat during this discourse of Jesus. People can learn from nature that God, in His wisdom, created. The lesson here is the sign of the Jewish revolt and the consequent Roman attack on Jerusalem that happened in 70 AD, 40 years after the prediction of Jesus.

The animals, the plants, and the trees prepare themselves according to the change in the seasons. The fig trees’ branches becoming tender, swelling to form buds, and sprouting leaves during spring is a natural and normal phenomenon. That happens because of better sunlight after the winter, and the flow of sap from the roots to the bark of the tree. That it becomes a sign of summer being close at hand is familiar to all. Similarly, there would be sure signs of the prediction of Jesus of the end times. Though the disciples will recognize them, the non-believers and the ungodly cannot acknowledge it, like the Scribes and the Pharisees who failed to understand the Messiah when he came as Jesus.


The shade of the fig tree was commonplace for prayer, contemplation, and meditation during the time of Jesus’ ministry. The Jews used to sit for scripture study and reflection under the vine or fig tree. Its canopy-like shade created peaceful and comfortable conditions during the summer when it was hot inside the house. Their thick and large leaves provided shade and sunlight during daytime and relief during the hot weather. In Judaism, the fig tree symbolizes the study of Law (Torah) and in Rabbinic literature, the proper place to study the Torah was under a fig tree (https://www.learnreligions.com/nathanael-the- true-israelite-701068). Jesus also used to pray under the trees on mountains and in gardens as he did in the Garden of Gethsemane (Jn 28:1) on the Mount of Olives. Jesus had noticed Nathanael doing so before he called him to be his disciple (Jn 1:48).


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