|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
First mentioned in Genesis 3:7. The fig-tree is mentioned (Deuteronomy 8:8) as one of the valuable products of Palestine. It was a sign of peace and prosperity (1 Kings 4:25; Micah 4:4; Zechariah 3:10). Figs were used medicinally (2 Kings 20:7), and pressed together and formed into "cakes" as articles of diet (1 Samuel 30:12; Jeremiah 24:2).
Our Lord's cursing the fig-tree near Bethany (Mark 11:13) has occasioned much perplexity from the circumstance, as mentioned by the evangelist, that "the time of figs was not yet." The explanation of the words, however, lies in the simple fact that the fruit of the fig-tree appears before the leaves, and hence that if the tree produced leaves it ought also to have had fruit. It ought to have had fruit if it had been true to its "pretensions," in showing its leaves at this particular season. "This tree, so to speak, vaunted itself to be in advance of all the other trees, challenged the passer-by that he should come and refresh himself with its fruit. Yet when the Lord accepted its challenge and drew near, it proved to be but as the others, without fruit as they; for indeed, as the evangelist observes, the time of figs had not yet arrived. Its fault, if one may use the word, lay in its pretensions, in its making a show to run before the rest when it did not so indeed" (Trench, Miracles).
The fig-tree of Palestine (Ficus carica) produces two and sometimes three crops of figs in a year, (1) the bikkurah, or "early-ripe fig" (Micah 7:1; Isaiah 28:4; Hosea 9:10, R.V.), which is ripe about the end of June, dropping off as soon as it is ripe (Nahum 3:12); (2) the kermus, or "summer fig," then begins to be formed, and is ripe about August; and (3) the pag (plural "green figs, " Cant. 2:13; Gr. olynthos, Revelation 6:13, "the untimely fig"), or "winter fig," which ripens in sheltered spots in spring.
Noah Webster's Dictionary
1. (n.) A small fruit tree (Ficus Carica) with large leaves, known from the remotest antiquity. It was probably native from Syria westward to the Canary Islands.
2. (n.) The fruit of a fig tree, which is of round or oblong shape, and of various colors.
3. (n.) A small piece of tobacco.
4. (n.) The value of a fig, practically nothing; a fico; -- used in scorn or contempt.
5. (n.) To insult with a fico, or contemptuous motion. See Fico.
6. (n.) To put into the head of, as something useless o/ contemptible.
7. (n.) Figure; dress; array.
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 (45 Occurrences)
Matthew 21:19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he came to it, and found nothing on it but leaves. He said to it, "Let there be no fruit from you forever!" Immediately the fig tree withered away. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Matthew 21:20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, "How did the fig tree immediately wither away?" (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Matthew 21:21 Jesus answered them, "Most certainly I tell you, if you have faith, and don't doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you told this mountain,'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' it would be done. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Matthew 24:32 "Now from the fig tree learn this parable. When its branch has now become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that the summer is near. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Mark 11:13 Seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came to see if perhaps he might find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Mark 11:20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away from the roots. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Mark 11:21 Peter, remembering, said to him, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree which you cursed has withered away." (WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Mark 13:28 "Now from the fig tree, learn this parable. When the branch has now become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that the summer is near; (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Luke 13:6 He spoke this parable. "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it, and found none. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Luke 13:7 He said to the vine dresser,'Behold, these three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and found none. Cut it down. Why does it waste the soil?' (WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Luke 21:29 He told them a parable. "See the fig tree, and all the trees. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
John 1:48 Nathanael said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
John 1:50 Jesus answered him, "Because I told you,'I saw you underneath the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these!" (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
James 3:12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, yield olives, or a vine figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh water. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Revelation 6:13 The stars of the sky fell to the earth, like a fig tree dropping its unripe figs when it is shaken by a great wind. (WEB KJV WEY ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Genesis 3:7 The eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked. They sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Numbers 20:5 Why have you made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in to this evil place? It is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink." (Root in WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Deuteronomy 8:8 a land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig trees and pomegranates; a land of olive trees and honey; (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Judges 9:10 "The trees said to the fig tree,'Come and reign over us.' (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Judges 9:11 "But the fig tree said to them,'Should I leave my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to wave back and forth over the trees?' (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
1 Samuel 30:12 They gave him a piece of a cake of figs, and two clusters of raisins. when he had eaten, his spirit came again to him; for he had eaten no bread, nor drunk any water, three days and three nights. (Root in WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
1 Kings 4:25 Judah and Israel lived safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
2 Kings 18:31 Don't listen to Hezekiah.' For thus says the king of Assyria,'Make your peace with me, and come out to me; and everyone of you eat of his vine, and everyone of his fig tree, and everyone drink the waters of his own cistern; (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
1 Chronicles 12:40 Moreover those who were near to them, even as far as Issachar and Zebulun and Naphtali, brought bread on donkeys, and on camels, and on mules, and on oxen, food of meal, cakes of figs, and clusters of raisins, and wine, and oil, and cattle, and sheep in abundance: for there was joy in Israel. (Root in WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Psalms 78:47 He destroyed their vines with hail, their sycamore fig trees with frost. (WEB NIV)
Psalms 105:33 He struck their vines and also their fig trees, and shattered the trees of their country. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Proverbs 27:18 Whoever tends the fig tree shall eat its fruit. He who looks after his master shall be honored. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Song of Songs 2:13 The fig tree ripens her green figs. The vines are in blossom. They give forth their fragrance. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away." (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Isaiah 9:10 "The bricks have fallen, but we will build with cut stone. The sycamore fig trees have been cut down, but we will put cedars in their place." (WEB NIV)
Isaiah 28:4 The fading flower of his glorious beauty, which is on the head of the fertile valley, shall be like the first-ripe fig before the summer; which someone picks and eats as soon as he sees it. (WEB JPS ASV DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Isaiah 34:4 All of the army of the sky will be dissolved. The sky will be rolled up like a scroll, and all its armies will fade away, as a leaf fades from off a vine or a fig tree. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Isaiah 36:16 Don't listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria,'Make your peace with me, and come out to me; and each of you eat from his vine, and each one from his fig tree, and each one of you drink the waters of his own cistern; (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Jeremiah 5:17 They shall eat up your harvest, and your bread, which your sons and your daughters should eat; they shall eat up your flocks and your herds; they shall eat up your vines and your fig trees; they shall beat down your fortified cities, in which you trust, with the sword. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Jeremiah 8:13 I will utterly consume them, says Yahweh: 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. (Root in WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Hosea 2:12 I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees, about which she has said,'These are my wages that my lovers have given me; and I will make them a forest,' and the animals of the field shall eat them. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
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 to the shameful thing, and became abominable like that which they loved. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Joel 1:7 He has laid my vine waste, and stripped my fig tree. He has stripped its bark, and thrown it away. Its branches are made white. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Joel 1:12 The vine has dried up, and the fig tree withered; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all of the trees of the field are withered; for joy has withered away from the sons of men. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Joel 2:22 Don't be afraid, you animals of the field; for the pastures of the wilderness spring up, for the tree bears its fruit. The fig tree and the vine yield their strength. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Amos 4:9 "I struck you with blight and mildew many times in your gardens and your vineyards; and your fig trees and your olive trees have the swarming locust devoured: yet you haven't returned to me," says Yahweh. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Micah 4:4 But they will sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and no one will make them afraid: For the mouth of Yahweh of Armies has spoken. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Nahum 3:12 All your fortresses will be like fig trees with the first-ripe figs: if they are shaken, they fall into the mouth of the eater. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Habakkuk 3:17 For though the fig tree doesn't flourish, nor fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive fails, the fields yield no food; the flocks are cut off from the fold, and there is no herd in the stalls: (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Haggai 2:19 Is the seed yet in the barn? Yes, the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree haven't brought forth. From this day will I bless you.'" (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Zechariah 3:10 In that day,' says Yahweh of Armies,'you will invite every man his neighbor under the vine and under the fig tree.'" (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)