Fig Tree

Midstocket Church Aberdeen

Bible Garden

Plant type: Fig Tree

In biblical times, figs were an important food item in Israel, and in Deuteronomy, the Promised Land is described as "a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey" (Deuteronomy 8:8-10). Two crops were produced each year. The first crop was eaten fresh, while the second crop was dried for winter.

The fig tree is mentioned several times in the Bible:

  • Adam and Eve sewed leaves together to cover themselves in the Garden of Eden when they realised that were naked (Genesis 3:7).
  • Fig trees were an indicator of wealth and could be used as gifts. For example, in 2 Kings 18:31 an Assyrian commander attempted to sway the army of Jerusalem by offering each deserter his own vine and fig tree.
  • Proverbs 27:18 likens tending a fig tree to “looking after one's master. Anyone who tends a fig tree will eat its fruit and anyone who takes care of a master will be honoured”.
  • There was a fig tree in the garden of the Song of Solomon 2:13 and the song links the fig tree to feelings of love.
  • Jesus cursed a fruitless fig tree along the road to Jerusalem. Both Jesus and James used the production of figs as an example that actions and words flow from the heart of a person (Luke 6:42-44; James 3:12).
  • Because the fig tree is the last tree of the growing period to produce leaves and it does so at the start of summer, Jesus used it as an example of knowing that the end of the age was near when the signs came (Matt 24:32; Mark 13:28).
  • Jesus cursed the fig tree four days before his crucifixion when he was on his way back to the city. He saw a fig tree by the roadside. It had nothing on it except leaves. He said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered (Matthew 21:18-19). This story is placed next to the story of Jesus cleansing the temple in Jerusalem (Matthew 21:12-17). He saw that the money lenders had turned the Temple into a den of thieves. They were profiteers who exchanged foreign currency and sold animals to worshipers from distant towns to use as a sacrifice. Jesus was angered at the way they were making a profit off the pilgrims who came to worship. Cursing the fig tree was Jesus's way of saying that the whole nation had become spiritually barren before the Lord. They had the form of religion but not the reality. They knew the right words to say, but their hearts were far from God.