For millennia, the olive tree has been an extremely important component of Jewish and Israeli culture. Thus, it is not surprising that it has become symbolic of many important Jewish values and stories.
The olive tree is mentioned frequently in the Bible with regard to fruitfulness, health, and blessings. It is one of the seven species with which the land was blessed. Eventually, people began to associate it with the concept of “putting down roots” in the Holy Land. As such, olive trees appear in the emblems of both the State of Israel, as well as the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The olive tree has also been used as a motif in many works of art and in Jewish culture throughout history.
Here are some specific examples of ways the symbolism of the olive tree is represented in the Jewish faith:
- Peace: The olive tree has become a consistent symbol of peace over the years, thanks to the story of Noah’s Ark and the dove that brings back an olive branch as a way to inform Noah that the rain had subsided. Olive branches even became used as a means of showing peace to other leaders/nations.
- Love and celebration: Olive branches were used to make wreaths for the heads of young people on their wedding days, and at festivals in biblical times. The pilgrims who brought their first fruits to Jerusalem decorated the horns of the bull that led the procession with olive branches.
- Life and vitality: Throughout the Bible there are consistent references to olive trees as symbols of life and vitality. For example, the people of Israel are referred to as “a green olive tree, beautiful with goodly fruit” in the book of Jeremiah. When King Solomon dies, the trees of the garden mourn, shedding their leaves.
These are just a few of the many examples of symbolism of the olive tree. It is no wonder that olives continue to be an extremely important element of the Israeli economy these thousands of years later. At My Olive Tree, we are working to fulfill scripture by reclaiming the desert and bringing back the expansive olive groves of old.
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