Sycamore Trees In The Bible

Sycamore Trees In The Bible REV:3:7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

After an early look at the Garden of Eden, it is interesting to note that there were in it two trees or large shrubs. One tree was called the Tree of Life and the other Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. The former was pleasant to the sight and good for food, pleasant to look upon and a desirable object to make one wise. The other was not good for food but pleasant to behold and a tree to be desired to make one wise (Gen 3:1-6).

Sycamore trees are mentioned frequently in the Bible and because of this they are one of the most recognizable trees to readers. The sycamore tree of today is the same tree known to early readers of Scripture. This particular tree is lauded in ancient literature and continues to be idealized even today as a symbol of charm and gracefulness. One famous example can be seen in Alexander Pope’s poem, “An Essay on Criticism,” written in 1711.

Sycamore trees are easy to identify. They have deciduous leaves, a rung-like trunk which expands as it reaches the ground, and figs for fruit. Today sycamore trees are very popular in ornamental landscapes because of their attractive bark. Biblical sycamore trees have no relation to their modern counterparts, however they share similar characteristics while carrying some significant differences as well.

Sycamore Trees In The Bible

The sycamore tree appears several times in the New Testament, but the main interpretation of what it stands for comes from the story of Zacchaeus. In this biblical excerpt, Zacchaeus is a wealthy collector in Jericho. One day, Jesus passes through the city, and Zacchaeus can’t see him because he was short in stature and the crowd is obstructing his view. So, he climbs a sycamore tree where he’s finally able to capture a glimpse of Jesus.

Because of this story, the sycamore has become somewhat of a symbol of clarity. Without the sycamore, Zacchaeus wouldn’t have been able to see Jesus, so for Catholics, it’s a symbol of a place in their own lives where they’re able to have a clear vision of their savior.

Trees have always been significant in Judaism, perhaps the most important one being the “Etz Chayim” or Tree of Life. The sycamore itself has been mentioned several times throughout the Jewish Bible, having been noted as one of the “Plants of the Bible.” The sycamore is in the same family as the common fig tree, and figs are one of the seven native species of Israel.

Sycamore trees also grew abundantly in the Jordan Valley, the Galilee and Jerusalem, and its wood was highly valued by the people of Palestine because of its lightness and durability. Therefore, the tree has historically been a giver of fruit and wood, and the people who lived among the sycamores knew that they could rely on it for their livelihood.

Sycamore Trees In The Bible

Sycamore comes from sykē (fig) and mora (a mulberry). In the NT the tree is mentioned under its Gr. name συκομορέα, G5191. There is no doubt that the tree is the sycamore fig, Ficus sycomorus, often called the fig-mulberry.

The tree known today as the sycamore is the Acer pseudo platanus.

Because the branches of the sycamore-fig are strong and wide-spreading, and because it produces many lateral branches, it was an easy evergreen tree for Zacchaeus to climb, and in which he could easily be hidden.

The fruits produced by the tree are in clusters and look like small figs; they are sweet, but by no means as good as the true fig. The fruit is produced several times during the year. It is a popular tree under which to pitch a tent, because of the ample shade it gives.

The prophet Amos says in Amos 7:14: “I was a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees.” This word “dresser” should have been tr. “cultivator.” Amos not only looked after sheep, but also the sycamore trees which grew in the grass orchards. Amos was a shepherd and a gardener.

It is necessary with sycamore figs to puncture each fruit with the point of a knife at a certain stage so as to help insure that the little figs ripen properly. Amos thus tended the trees. The words “dresser of” prob. means “one who cut or scraped.” Incidentally, Pliny in his writings refers to this garden operation on sycamore trees.

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