Olea europaeae (Oleaceae)

"And the dove came in to him in the evening: and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off: so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth" (Genesis 8.11)

This is the first of innumerable mentions of the olive and its products in the Bible. It was a sign that...the waters had abated and that He (God) now felt more conciliatory towards what remained of the human race. Thus the olive branch became a symbol of peace. Few trees in the world give greater visual pleasure than the olive; whether on hillside terraces in the Holy Land or in Tuscany, their knobbly trunks and the shimmering grey‑green beauty of their leaves gives an impression of beauty and timelessness. "His beauty shall be as the olive tree" (Hosea 14.6)

The olive tree was an essential tree in the Holy Land, closely associated with the people's daily life. One tree would supply a whole family with fats.

The olive tree provided a setting for those later sacred and glorious events. The Mount of Olives, outside Jerusalem, was where our Lord retired alone or with His disciples and it was there that the disciples witnessed His ascension into Heaven (Acts 1).

There are several varieties of olive in the Holy Land. The tress are twenty to thirty feet high with gnarled trunks and smooth ash‑coloured barks. All have leathery green leaves and small, whitish flowers. Almost every village has its olive grove or olive 'garden'.

The Flowers and Fruits of the Bible

John Chancellor

Acts 1:10‑12 (NKJV) And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven." Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey.

Zechariah 14:4 (NKJV) And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, Which faces Jerusalem on the east. And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two, From east to west, making a very large valley; Half of the mountain shall move toward the north and half of it toward the south..

Olive Oil

The fatty liquid most familiar to the Hebrews was that obtained from olives. Fully ripened black olives gave the most oil, but those yet green, though beginning to change in colour produced the oil of finest quality. After the fruit was carefully removed from the trees, and the twigs and leaves were cleaned from the olives, they were carried to the oil press.

The pulp of the ripe olive berry is about half oil, which varies in grade according to the method of processing the pulp. The very best, called "pure, beaten olive oil," was produced by a simple process before the olives were put into the press. (Lev.24.2) First the olives were placed in a mortar and beaten until they were well bruised, or they were sometimes trodden by foot. (Mic.6.15) Next the bruised fruit was transferred to strainer baskets wherein it "bled" oil until the "virgin" or "first expressed" oil was released.


Oil, A Symbol Of Prosperity And Important Commodity

Great prosperity was signified when reference was made to the vats overflowing with oil. (Joel 2.24)

Suffering Job longed for his previous days of plenty when "the rock poured...out rivers of oil" for him. (Job 29.1,2,6)

The LORD caused "Jacob," or the Israelites, figuratively to suck "oil out of a flinty rock". (Deut.32.9,13)

Moses declared that Asher would "dip his foot in oil," indicating that this tribe would enjoy material blessings. (Deut.33.24)

Olive oil became an important trade commodity because of its abundance there. Yearly Solomon gave King Hiram of Tyre twenty cors (1,162 gallons; 4,400 litres) of beaten oil as part payment for temple construction materials. (1 Kings 5.10,11)

Olive oil was a common lamp fuel. (Matt.25.1‑9)

"Pure beaten olive oil" was burned in the lamps of the golden lampstand in the tent of meeting. (Ex.27.20,21 RSV)

As a cosmetic it was applied to the body after bathing. (Ruth 3.3)