|Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia|
fig'-tre (te'enah, plural te'enim, specially "figs"; paggim, "green figs" only in Songs 2:13; suke, "fig-tree," sukon, "fig"):
1. Fig-Trees in the Old Testament:
The earliest Old Testament reference to the fig is to the leaves, which Adam and Eve converted into aprons (Genesis 3:7). The promised land was described (Deuteronomy 8:8) as "a land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig-trees and pomegranates," etc. The spies who visited it brought, besides the cluster of grapes, pomegranates and figs (Numbers 13:23). The Israelites complained that the wilderness was "no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates" (Numbers 20:5). When Egypt was plagued, the fig-trees were smitten (Psalm 105:33); a similar punishment was threatened to unfaithful Israel (Jeremiah 5:17 Hosea 2:12 Amos 4:9). It is only necessary to ride a few miles among the mountain villages of Palestine, with their extensive fig gardens, to realize what a long-lasting injury would be the destruction of these slow-growing trees. Years of patient labor-such as that briefly hinted at in Luke 13:7 -must pass before a newly planted group of fig-trees can bear profitably. Plenitude of fruitful vines and fig-trees, specially individual ownership, thus came to be emblematical of long-continued peace and prosperity. In the days of Solomon "Judah and Isr 1 Kings 4:25). Compare also 2 Kings 18:31 Isaiah 36:16 Micah 4:4 Zechariah 3:10; Zechariah 1 APC 1Macc 14:12. Only a triumphal faith in Yahweh could rejoice in Him "though the fig-tree shall hot flourish" (Habakkuk 3:17).
2. Natural History of the Fig-Tree:
The Ficus carica, which produces the common fig, is a tree belonging to the Natural Order. Urticaceae, the nettle family, which includes also the banyan, the India rubber fig-tree, the sycamore fig and other useful plants. Fig-trees are cultivated all over the Holy Land, especially in the mountain regions. Wild fig-trees-usually rather shrubs than trees-occur also everywhere; they are usually barren and are described by the fellahin as "male" trees; it is generally supposed that their presence is beneficial to the cultivated variety. The immature flowers harbor small insects which convey pollen to the female flowers and by their irritating presence stimulate the growth of the fruit. Artificial fertilization has been understood since ancient times, and there may be a reference to it in Amos 7:14.
Fig-trees are usually of medium height, 10 or 15 ft. for full-grown trees, yet individual specimens sometimes attain as much as 25 ft. The summer foliage is thick and surpasses other trees of its size in its cool and dense shade. In the summer owners of such trees may be seen everywhere sitting in their shadow (John 1:48). Such references as Mac 4:4; Zechariah 3:10, etc., probably are to this custom rather than to the not uncommon one of having a fig-tree overhanging a dwelling.
The fruit of the fig-tree is peculiar. The floral axis, instead of expanding outward, as with most flowers, closes, as the flower develops, upon the small internal flowers, leaving finally but a small opening at the apex; the axis itself becomes succulent and fruit-like. The male flowers lie around the opening, the female flowers deeper in; fertilization is brought about by the presence of small hymenopterous insects.
There are many varieties of figs in Palestine differing in sweetness, in color and consistence; some are good and some are bad (compare Jeremiah 24:1, 8; Jeremiah 29:17). In Palestine and other warm climates the fig yields two crops annually-an earlier one, ripe about June, growing from the "old wood," i.e. from the midsummer sprouts of the previous year, and a second, more important one, ripe about August, which grows upon the "new wood," i.e. upon the spring shoots. By December, fig-trees in the mountainous regions of Palestine have shed all their leaves, and they remain bare until about the end of March, when they commence putting forth their tender leaf buds (Matthew 24:32 Mark 13:28, 32 Luke 21:29-33), and at the same time, in the leaf axils, appear the tiny figs. They belong to the early signs of spring:
"The voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land;
The fig-tree ripeneth her green figs" (paggim)
- Songs 2:12, 13.
4. Early Figs:
These tiny figs develop along with the leaves up to a certain point-to about the size of a small cherry-and then the great majority of them fall to the ground, carried down with every gust of wind. These are the "unripe figs" (olunthos)-translated, more appropriately in the King James Version, as "untimely figs"-of Revelation 6:13. Compare also Isaiah 34:4 the King James Version-in the Revised Version (British and American) "leaf" has been supplied instead of "fig." These immature figs are known to the fellahin as taksh, by whom they are eaten as they fall; they may even sometimes be seen exposed for sale in the markets in Jerusalem. In the case of many trees the whole of this first crop may thus abort, so that by May no figs at all are to be found on the tree, but with the best varieties of fig-trees a certain proportion of the early crop of figs remains on the tree, and this fruit reaches ripe perfection about June. Such fruit is known in Arabic as dafur, or "early figs," and in Hebrew as bikkurah, "the first-ripe" (Isaiah 28:4 Jeremiah 24:2 Hosea 9:10). They are now, as of old, esteemed for their delicate flavor (Micah 7:1, etc.).
5. The Cursing of the Barren Fig-Tree:
The miracle of our Lord (Matthew 21:18-20 Mark 11:12, 13, 10, 21) which occurred in the Passover season, about April, will be understood (as far as the natural phenomena are concerned) by the account given above of the fruiting of the fig-tree, as repeatedly observed by the present writer in the neighborhood of Jerusalem. When the young leaves are newly appearing, in April, every fig-tree which is going to bear fruit at all will have some taksh ("immature figs") upon it, even though "the time of figs" (Mark 11:13 the King James Version), i.e. of ordinary edible figs-either early or late crop-"was not yet." This taksh is not only eaten today, but it is sure evidence, even when it falls, that the tree bearing it is not barren. This acted parable must be compared with Luke 13:6, 9; now the time of judgment was surely coming, the fate of the fruitless Jewish nation was forcibly foretold.
6. Dried Figs:
While fresh figs have always been an important article of diet in their season (Nehemiah 13:15) the dried form is even more used. They are today dried in the sun and threaded on strings (like long necklaces) for convenience of carriage. A "cake of figs" (debhelah, literally, "pressed together") is mentioned (1 Samuel 30:12); Abigail gave 200 such cakes of figs to David (1 Samuel 25:18); the people of North Israel sent, with other things, "cakes of figs" as a present to the newly-crowned David (1 Chronicles 12:40). Such masses of figs are much used today-they can be cut into slices with a knife like cheese. Such a mass was used externally for Hezekiah's "boil" (Isaiah 38:21 2 Kings 20:7); it was a remedy familiar to early medical writers.
E. W. G. Masterman
Fig-tree (33 Occurrences)
Matthew 21:19 and seeing a fig-tree on the road-side He went up to it, but found nothing on it but leaves. "On you," He said, "no fruit shall ever again grow." And immediately the fig-tree withered away. (WEY BBE DBY WBS YLT)
Matthew 21:20 When the disciples saw it they exclaimed in astonishment, "How instantaneously the fig-tree has withered away!" (WEY BBE DBY WBS YLT)
Matthew 21:21 "I solemnly tell you," said Jesus, "that if you have an unwavering faith, you shall not only perform such a miracle as this of the fig-tree, but that even if you say to this mountain, 'Be thou lifted up and hurled into the sea,' it shall be done; (WEY BBE DBY WBS YLT)
Matthew 24:32 "Now learn from the fig-tree the lesson it teaches. As soon as its branches have now become soft and it is bursting into leaf, you all know that summer is near. (WEY BBE DBY WBS YLT)
Mark 11:13 But in the distance He saw a fig-tree in full leaf, and went to see whether perhaps He could find some figs on it. When however He came to it, He found nothing but leaves (for it was not fig time) (WEY BBE DBY WBS YLT)
Mark 11:20 In the early morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig-tree withered to the roots; (WEY BBE DBY WBS YLT)
Mark 11:21 and Peter, recollecting, said to Him, "Look, Rabbi, the fig-tree which you cursed is withered up." (WEY DBY WBS YLT)
Mark 13:28 "Learn from the fig-tree the lesson it teaches. As soon as its branch has become soft and it is bursting into leaf, you know that summer is near. (WEY BBE DBY WBS YLT)
Luke 13:6 And He gave them the following parable. "A man," He said, "who had a fig-tree growing in his garden came to look for fruit on it and could find none. (WEY BBE DBY WBS YLT)
Luke 13:7 So he said to the gardener, "'See, this is the third year I have come to look for fruit on this fig-tree and cannot find any. Cut it down. Why should so much ground be actually wasted?' (WEY DBY WBS YLT)
Luke 21:29 And He spoke a parable to them. "See," He said, "the fig-tree and all the trees. (WEY BBE DBY WBS YLT)
John 1:48 "How do you know me?" Nathanael asked. "Before Philip called you," said Jesus, "when you were under the fig-tree I saw you." (WEY BBE DBY WBS YLT)
John 1:50 "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig-tree,'" replied Jesus, "do you believe? You shall see greater things than that." (WEY BBE DBY WBS YLT)
James 3:12 Can a fig-tree, my brethren, yield olives, or a vine yield figs? No; and neither can salt water yield sweet. (WEY BBE WBS YLT)
Revelation 6:13 The stars in the sky also fell to the earth, as when a fig-tree, upon being shaken by a gale of wind, casts its unripe figs to the ground. (WEY WBS YLT)
Judges 9:10 And the trees said to the fig-tree, Come thou, and reign over us. (ASV BBE JPS WBS)
Judges 9:11 But the fig-tree said unto them, Should I leave my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to wave to and fro over the trees? (ASV BBE JPS WBS)
1 Kings 4:25 And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig-tree, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, all the days of Solomon. (ASV BBE DBY JPS WBS YLT)
2 Kings 18:31 Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make your peace with me, and come out to me; and eat ye every one of his vine, and every one of his fig-tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his own cistern; (ASV BBE DBY JPS WBS YLT)
Proverbs 27:18 Whoso keepeth the fig-tree shall eat the fruit thereof; And he that regardeth his master shall be honored. (ASV BBE DBY JPS WBS YLT)
Song of Songs 2:13 The fig-tree ripeneth her green figs, And the vines are in blossom; They give forth their fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. (ASV BBE DBY JPS WBS YLT)
Isaiah 36:16 Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make your peace with me, and come out to me; and eat ye every one of his vine, and every one of his fig-tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his own cistern; (ASV BBE DBY JPS WBS YLT)
Jeremiah 5:17 And they shall eat up thy harvest, and thy bread, they shall eat up thy sons and thy daughters, they shall eat up thy flocks and thy herds, they shall eat up thy vines and thy fig-trees; they shall batter thy fortified cities, wherein thou trusteth, with the sword. (Root in JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT)
Jeremiah 8:13 I will utterly consume them, saith Jehovah: there shall be no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig-tree, and the leaf shall fade; and the things that I have given them shall pass away from them. (ASV BBE DBY JPS WBS YLT)
Hosea 2:12 And I will lay waste her vines and her fig-trees, whereof she hath said: 'These are my hire that my lovers have given me'; and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them. (Root in JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT)
Hosea 9:10 I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the first-ripe in the fig-tree at its first season: but they came to Baal-peor, and consecrated themselves unto the shameful thing, and became abominable like that which they loved. (ASV BBE DBY JPS WBS YLT)
Joel 1:7 He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig-tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white. (ASV BBE DBY JPS WBS YLT)
Joel 1:12 The vine is withered, and the fig-tree languisheth; the pomegranate-tree, the palm-tree also, and the apple-tree, even all the trees of the field are withered: for joy is withered away from the sons of men. (ASV BBE DBY JPS WBS YLT)
Joel 2:22 Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field; for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth its fruit, the fig-tree and the vine do yield their strength. (ASV BBE DBY JPS WBS YLT)
Micah 4:4 But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig-tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of Jehovah of hosts hath spoken it. (ASV BBE DBY JPS WBS YLT)
Habakkuk 3:17 For though the fig-tree shall not flourish, Neither shall fruit be in the vines; The labor of the olive shall fail, And the fields shall yield no food; The flock shall be cut off from the fold, And there shall be no herd in the stalls: (ASV BBE DBY JPS WBS YLT)
Haggai 2:19 Is the seed yet in the barn? yea, the vine, and the fig-tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive-tree have not brought forth; from this day will I bless you. (ASV BBE DBY JPS WBS)
Zechariah 3:10 In that day, saith Jehovah of hosts, shall ye invite every man his neighbor under the vine and under the fig-tree. (ASV BBE DBY JPS WBS YLT)