International Standard Bible EncyclopediaOlive Tree
ol'-iv tre (zayith, a word occurring also in Aramaic, Ethiopic and Arabic; in the last it means "olive oil," and zaitun, "the olive tree"; elaia):
1. The Olive Tree:
The olive tree has all through history been one of the most characteristic, most valued and most useful of trees in Palestine. It is only right that it is the first named "king" of the trees (Judges 9:8, 9). When the children of Israel came to the land they acquired olive trees which they planted not (Deuteronomy 6:11; compare Joshua 24:13). The cultivation of the olive goes back to the earliest times in Canaan. The frequent references in the Bible, the evidences (see 4 below) from archaeology and the important place the product of this tree has held in the economy of the inhabitants of Syria make it highly probable that this land is the actual home of the cultivated olive. The wild olive is indigenous there. The most fruitful trees are the product of bare and rocky ground (compare Deuteronomy 32:13) situated preferably at no great distance from the sea. The terraced hills of Palestine, where the earth lies never many inches above the limestone rocks, the long rainless summer of unbroken sunshine, and the heavy "clews" of the autumn afford conditions which are extraordinarily favorable to at least the indigenous olive.
The olive, Olea Europaea (Natural Order Oleaceae), is a slow-growing tree, requiring years of patient labor before reaching full fruitfulness. Its growth implies a certain degree of settlement and peace, for a hostile army can in a few days destroy the patient work of two generations. Possibly this may have something to do with its being the emblem of peace. Enemies of a village or of an individual often today carry out revenge by cutting away a ring of bark from the trunks of the olives, thus killing the trees in a few months. The beauty of this tree is referred to in Jeremiah 11:16 Hosea 14:6, and its fruitfulness in Psalm 128:3. The characteristic olive-green of its foliage, frosted silver below and the twisted and gnarled trunks-often hollow in the center-are some of the most picturesque and constant signs of settled habitations. In some parts of the land large plantations occur: the famous olive grove near Beirut is 5 miles square; there are also fine, ancient trees in great numbers near Bethlehem.
In starting an oliveyard the fellah not infrequently plants young wild olive trees which grow plentifully over many parts of the land, or he may grow from cuttings. When the young trees are 3 years old they are grafted from a choice stock and after another three or four years they may commence to bear fruit, but they take quite a decade more before reaching full fruition. Much attention is, however, required. The soil around the trees must be frequently plowed and broken up; water must be conducted to the roots from the earliest rain, and the soil must be freely enriched with a kind of marl known in Arabic as chuwwarah. If neglected, the older trees soon send up a great many shoots from the roots all around the parent stem (perhaps the idea in Psalm 128:3); these must be pruned away, although, should the parent stem decay, some of these may be capable of taking its place. Being, however, from the root, below the original point of grafting, they are of the wild olive type-with smaller, stiffer leaves and prickly stem-and need grafting before they are of use. The olive tree furnishes a wood valuable for many forms of carpentry, and in modern Palestine is extensively burnt as fuel.
2. The Fruit:
The olive is in flower about May; it produces clusters of small white flowers, springing from the axils of the leaves, which fall as showers to the ground (Job 15:33). The first olives mature as early as September in some places, but, in the mountain districts, the olive harvest is not till November or even December. Much of the earliest fruit falls to the ground and is left by the owner ungathered until the harvest. The trees are beaten with long sticks (Deuteronomy 24:20), the young folks often climbing into the branches to reach the highest fruit, while the women and older girls gather up the fruit from the ground. The immature fruit left after such an ingathering is described graphically in Isaiah 17:6: "There shall be left therein gleanings, as the shaking (margin "beating") of an olive-tree, two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost branches of a fruitful tree." Such gleanings belonged to the poor (Deuteronomy 24:20), as is the case today. Modern villages in Palestine allow the poor of even neighboring villages to glean the olives. The yield of an olive tree is very uncertain; a year of great fruitfulness may be followed by a very scanty crop or by a succession of such.
The olive is an important article of diet in Palestine. Some are gathered green and pickled in brine, after slight bruising, and others, the "black" olives, are gathered quite ripe and are either packed in salt or in brine. In both cases the salt modifies the bitter taste. They are eaten with bread.
More important commercially is the oil. This is sometimes extracted in a primitive way by crushing a few berries by hand in the hollow of a stone (compare Exodus 27:20), from which a shallow channel runs for the oil. It is an old custom to tread them by foot (Micah 6:15).
3. Olive Oil:
Oil is obtained on a larger scale in one of the many varieties of oil mills. The berries are carried in baskets, by donkeys, to the mill, and they are crushed by heavy weights. A better class of oil can be obtained by collecting the first oil to come off separately, but not much attention is given to this in Palestine, and usually the berries are crushed, stones and all, by a circular millstone revolving upright round a central pivot. A plenteous harvest of oil was looked upon as one of God's blessings (Joel 2:24; Joel 3:13). That the "labor of the olive" should fail was one of the trials to faith in Yahweh (Habakkuk 3:17). Olive oil is extensively used as food, morsels of bread being dipped into it in eating; also medicinally (Luke 10:34 James 5:14). In ancient times it was greatly used for anointing the person (Psalm 23:5 Matthew 6:17). In Rome's days of luxury it was a common maxim that a long and pleasant life depended upon two fiuids-"wine within and oil without." In modern times this use of oil for the person is replaced by the employment of soap, which in Palestine is made from olive oil. In all ages this oil has been used for illumination (Matthew 25:3).
4. Greater Plenty of Olive Trees in Ancient Times:
Comparatively plentiful as olive trees are today in Palestine, there is abundant evidence that the cultivation was once much more extensive. "The countless rock-cut oil-presses and wine-presses, both within and without the walls of the city (of Gezer), show that the cultivation of the olive and vine was of much greater importance than it is anywhere in Palestine today..... Excessive taxation has made olive culture unprofitable" ("Gezer Mem," PEF, II, 23). A further evidence of this is seen today in many now deserted sites which are covered with wild olive trees, descendants of large plantations of the cultivated tree which have quite disappeared.
5. Wild Olives:
Many of these spring from the old roots; others are from the fallen drupes. Isolated trees scattered over many parts of the land, especially in Galilee, are sown by the birds. As a rule the wild olive is but a shrub, with small leaves, a stem more or less prickly, and a small, hard drupe with but little or no oil. That a wild olive branch should be grafted into a fruitful tree would be a proceeding useless and contrary to Nature (Romans 11:17, 24). On the mention of "branches of wild olive" in Nehemiah 8:15, see OIL TREE.
E. W. G. Masterman
Greek2565. kallielaios -- a cultivated olive (tree) ...
Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine Transliteration: kallielaios Phonetic Spelling:
(kal-le-el'-ah-yos) Short Definition: a cultivated olive tree
Definition: a ... //strongsnumbers.com/greek2/2565.htm - 7k
1636. elaia -- an olive (the tree or the fruit)
... the tree or the fruit). Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine Transliteration: elaia Phonetic
Spelling: (el-ah'-yah) Short Definition: an olive tree Definition: an ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/1636.htm - 7k
65. agrielaios -- of the wild olive
... wild olive. Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine Transliteration: agrielaios Phonetic
Spelling: (ag-ree-el'-ah-yos) Short Definition: a wild olive tree Definition: a ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/65.htm - 7k
1638. elaion -- an olive orchard, ie spec. the Mt. of Olives
... Cognate: 1638 (from 1636, "an olive tree") -- properly, the of olive trees (an olive
orchard), referring to the Mount of Olives (J. Thayer) -- the mountain ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/1638.htm - 7k
1637. elaion -- olive oil
... oil. Cognate: 1637 -- olive (from 1636 , "olive tree"); (figuratively)
the indwelling (empowering) of the Holy Spirit. While true ...
//strongsnumbers.com/greek2/1637.htm - 7k
Strong's Hebrew2132. zayith -- olive tree, olive...
2131, 2132. zayith. 2133 . olive tree
. Transliteration: zayith Phonetic
Spelling: (zay'-yith) Short Definition: olive
. ... olive tree
Olivet. ... /hebrew/2132.htm - 6k
2133. Zethan -- "olive tree," a Benjamite
... 2132, 2133. Zethan. 2134 . "olive tree," a Benjamite. Transliteration: Zethan
Phonetic Spelling: (zay-thawn') Short Definition: Zethan. ...
/hebrew/2133.htm - 6k
By a Comparison Drawn from the Wild Olive-Tree, Whose Quality but ...
... Against Heresies: Book V Chapter X."By a comparison drawn from the wild olive-tree,
whose quality but not whose nature is changed by grafting, he proves more ...
/.../irenaeus/against heresies/chapter x by a comparison drawn.htm
The Law of Sin with Its Guilt in Unbaptized Infants. By Adam's Sin ...
... Book I. Chapter 37 [XXXII.]"The Law of Sin with Its Guilt in Unbaptized Infants.
By Adam's Sin the Human Race Has Become a "Wild Olive Tree.". ...
/.../augustine/anti-pelagian writings/chapter 37 xxxii the law of.htm
Adam's Sin is Derived from Him to Every one who is Born Even of ...
... Book II. Chapter 58."Adam's Sin is Derived from Him to Every One Who is Born Even
of Regenerate Parents; The Example of the Olive Tree and the Wild Olive. ...
/.../augustine/anti-pelagian writings/chapter 58 adams sin is derived.htm
Faustus Argues that if the Apostles Born under the Old Covenant ...
... But the apostle himself says that the Jews, who would not believe in Christ, were
branches broken off, and that the Gentiles, a wild olive tree, were grafted ...
/.../faustus argues that if the.htm
The Allegory of the Trees Demanding a King, in the Book of Judges ...
... For we read: "The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them;
and they said unto the olive-tree, Reign thou over us. ...
/.../chapter ii the allegory of the.htm
Salvation to the Jews
... Paul likens the remnant in Israel to a noble olive tree, some of whose
branches have been broken off. He compares the Gentiles to ...
/.../white/the acts of the apostles/lesson 35 salvation to the.htm
First Catechetical Lecture of Our Holy Father Cyril,
... Thou art transplanted henceforth among the spiritual  olive-trees, being grafted
from the wild into the good olive-tree  , from sins into ...
/.../cyril/lectures of s cyril of jerusalem/first catechetical lecture of our.htm
John Chapter xix. 17-22.
... For this reason, because it was the wild olive tree that was made partaker of the
fatness of the olive tree, and not the olive tree that was made partaker of ...
/.../augustine/homilies on the gospel of john/tractate cxvii john chapter xix.htm
(On the Mysteries. Ii. )
... ye were anointed with exorcised oil  , from the very hairs of your head to
your feet, and were made partakers of the good olive-tree, Jesus Christ. ...
/.../cyril/lectures of s cyril of jerusalem/lecture xx on the mysteries.htm
The Crowning of Abimelech
... The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said
unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us. But the olive ...
/.../select masterpieces of biblical literature/iii the crowning of abimelech.htm
Olive of Prosperity
Olive: Bears Flowers
Olive: Branch of, Brought by the Dove to Noah's Ark
Olive: Branches of, Used for Booths (Huts)
Olive: Common to the Land of Canaan
Olive: Fable of
Olive: Fruit of Oil Extracted From, Used As Illuminating Oil in the Tabernacle
Olive: Israelites Commanded to Cultivate in the Land of Promise
Olive: Precepts Concerning Gleaning the Fruit of
Olive: The Cherubs Made of the Wood of
Olive: The Wild, a Figure of the Gentiles; the Cultivated, of the Jews
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