Olives are a trademark emblem in Israel. The leaves symbolize peace, the fruit symbolizes light, and the oil lit the great menorah in the Temple. This ageless tree and its fruit has deep roots in Israel. Most associate olives with Italy, however, olives have been a staple for the Jewish people since ancient times.
Of all the plants mentioned in Deuteronomy 8, olives are the most widely planted.
“…a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey…”—Deuteronomy 8:8
It is clear that the tiny fruit of these beautiful ancient trees hold vast knowledge about the history of Israel—both the land and the people.
There are a number of references to olives throughout the Bible. The oil was used for food, lighting, skin and hair care, and also as a general cleansing agent. Olives and their oil signified blessing and anointing. A loss of the crop was associated with disobedience to God.
Biblical reference to the Holy anointing oil.
“Moreover the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Also take for yourself quality spices—five hundred shekels of liquid myrrh, half as much sweet-smelling cinnamon (two hundred and fifty shekels), two hundred and fifty shekels of sweet-smelling cane, five hundred shekels of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil. And you shall make from these a holy anointing oil, an ointment compounded according to the art of the perfumer. It shall be a holy anointing oil.’”—Exodus 30:22-25
This same special blend of oil, The King’s Oil, is used today. It is a sign of surrendering one’s life to God’s purpose and setting oneself apart to be used by and for God. It is used in prayer to anoint homes much like the priests would have anointed items in the Tabernacle.
“And you shall take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it; and you shall hallow it and all its utensils, and it shall be holy.”—Exodus 40:9
Why do olives thrive in Israel?
The average lifespan of an olive tree is 500 to 600 years old! They are known to thrive on steep and rocky slopes.
“He made him ride in the heights of the earth, that he might eat the produce of the fields; He made him draw honey from the rock, and oil from the flinty rock…”—Deuteronomy 32:13
Though they take time to grow from a sapling, olive trees resist drought, diseases, and even fires as they grow and become hardier. The fact that these ancient trees have the ability to regenerate even after the ground around them has been destroyed, allows them to tell a story about their survival as they age. The trees display a more fascinating picture through their revival.
Harvesting the oil requires patience and perseverance.
Olive trees now enhance the beauty of Israel’s countryside. It wasn’t always this way however. In The Innocents Abroad (1881), Mark Twain describes the land as “desolate country whose soil is rich enough, but is given over wholly to weeds—a silent mournful expanse.”[i]
Today, the land has been beautified with lush, green trees as the Jewish people have moved back to their land. This is partly due to the agricultural advancements that have put Israel ahead of the curve when it comes to modernized farming. In recent years agricultural production in Israel has increased with minimal water use.
The revered oil does take patience and perseverance. It requires large quantities of olives to produce useable oil. This is one reason it was considered holy and used for anointing in the Bible. The tree actually taught the people of Israel, as well as us today, that valuable and precious character is developed over time and cannot be rushed.
Dating back to the flood.
Olive oil has been considered the best and healthiest of oils. Today, demand for extra virgin olive oil has increased across the board as customers have become more aware of its heart-healthy benefits. Most consumers are also careful to choose only the highest-quality oils. Unfortunately there are olive oils out there that are sub-standard. But My Olive Tree extra virgin olive oil is made and harvested in Israel near the Sea of Galilee. It is first cold press—made the original day of harvest—ensuring the finest quality.
This high-demand oil has captured the hearts of many, both past and present, not only for its health benefits, but also as a symbol of peace in Israel.
“Extending an olive branch” is a common expression of peace and reconciliation that originates from the story of Noah in the Bible. A dove brought back an olive leaf to Noah after the waters receded from the flood. This told Noah that restoration, revival and renewal was on the horizon. It was a joyous occasion that brought Noah and his family peace and hope that the storm and its aftermath was coming to a close. This everlasting symbol of peace is displayed on the Israeli Defense Forces’ flag.
“Then the dove came to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth; and Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth.”—Genesis 8:11
Ancient olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Researchers and scientists have examined some of the oldest trees in the Garden of Gethsemane. Taking portions of the trunks of these earliest trees they used carbon dating to determine their age. Results showed some were from 1092, 1166 and 1198 years old. There are even older trees in the garden that likely were there during the time of Christ.
“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, ‘Sit here while I go and pray over there.’”—Matthew 26:36
At My Olive Tree, we are planting these physical marks of peace and restoration throughout the land of Israel. We partner with the Israeli Defense Forces and plant olive trees on military bases, as well as help plant the trees with kibbutz farmers, where the oil harvested from these trees also helps Israel’s economy.
Contact us today for more information about some of our unique projects and our heart to be a part of restoration of the Promised Land as we honor the Jewish people.