Figs: The Biblical King of Trees
כִּ֚י יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ מְבִֽיאֲךָ֖ אֶל־אֶ֣רֶץ טוֹבָ֑ה אֶ֚רֶץ נַ֣חֲלֵי מָ֔יִם עֲיָנֹת֙ וּתְהֹמֹ֔ת יֹצְאִ֥ים בַּבִּקְעָ֖ה וּבָהָֽר׃
For Hashem your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams and springs and fountains issuing from plain and hill;
KEE a-do-NAI e-lo-HE-kha m'-vee-a-KHA el E-retz to-VAH E-retz NA-kha-lay MA-yim a-ya-NOT ut-ho-MOT yo-tz'-EEM ba-bik-AH u-va-HARDeuteronomy 8:7
אֶ֤רֶץ חִטָּה֙ וּשְׂעֹרָ֔ה וְגֶ֥פֶן וּתְאֵנָ֖ה וְרִמּ֑וֹן אֶֽרֶץ־זֵ֥ית שֶׁ֖מֶן וּדְבָֽשׁ׃
a land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey;
E-retz khi-TAH us-o-RAH v'-GE-fen ut-ay-NAH v'-ree-MON e-retz ZAYT SHE-men ud-VASHDeuteronomy 8:8
וְלָקַחְתָּ֞ מֵרֵאשִׁ֣ית ׀ כׇּל־פְּרִ֣י הָאֲדָמָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר תָּבִ֧יא מֵֽאַרְצְךָ֛ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יְהֹוָ֧ה אֱלֹהֶ֛יךָ נֹתֵ֥ן לָ֖ךְ וְשַׂמְתָּ֣ בַטֶּ֑נֶא וְהָֽלַכְתָּ֙ אֶל־הַמָּק֔וֹם אֲשֶׁ֤ר יִבְחַר֙ יְהֹוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ לְשַׁכֵּ֥ן שְׁמ֖וֹ שָֽׁם׃
you shall take some of every first fruit of the soil, which you harvest from the land that Hashem your God is giving you, put it in a basket and go to the place where Hashem your God will choose to establish His name.
v-la-kakh-TA may-ray-SHEET kol p'-REE ha-a-da-MAH a-SHER ta-VEE may-ar-tz'-KHA a-SHER a-do-NAY e-lo-HE-kha no-TAYN LKAH v'-sam-TA va-TE-ne v'-ha-lakh-TA el ha-ma-KOM a-SHER yiv-KHAR a-do-NAI e-lo-HE-kha l'-sha-KAYN sh'-MO SHAMDeuteronomy 26:2
וַתִּפָּקַ֙חְנָה֙ עֵינֵ֣י שְׁנֵיהֶ֔ם וַיֵּ֣דְע֔וּ כִּ֥י עֵֽירֻמִּ֖ם הֵ֑ם וַֽיִּתְפְּרוּ֙ עֲלֵ֣ה תְאֵנָ֔ה וַיַּעֲשׂ֥וּ לָהֶ֖ם חֲגֹרֹֽת׃
Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they perceived that they were naked; and they sewed together fig leaves and made themselves loincloths.
va-ti-pa-KAKH-nah ay-NAY sh'-nay-HEM va-y'-DU kee ay-ru-MIM HEM va-yi-t'-PRU a-LEH t'-ay-NAH va-ya-a-SU la-HEM cha-go-ROTGenesis 3:7
וַיֵּ֩שֶׁב֩ יְהוּדָ֨ה וְיִשְׂרָאֵ֜ל לָבֶ֗טַח אִ֣ישׁ תַּ֤חַת גַּפְנוֹ֙ וְתַ֣חַת תְּאֵנָת֔וֹ מִדָּ֖ן וְעַד־בְּאֵ֣ר שָׁ֑בַע כֹּ֖ל יְמֵ֥י שְׁלֹמֹֽה׃
All the days of Shlomo, Yehuda and Yisrael from Dan to Be'er Sheva dwelt in safety, everyone under his own vine and under his own fig tree.
vai-YAY-shev y'-hu-DAH v'-yis-ra-AYL la-ve-TAKH eesh ta-KHAT gaf-NO v'-ta-KHAT te-e-NA-to mi-DAN v'-ad b'-AYR sha-VA kol ye-MAY sh'-lo-MO. (S)1 Kings 5:5
וְיָשְׁב֗וּ אִ֣ישׁ תַּ֧חַת גַּפְנ֛וֹ וְתַ֥חַת תְּאֵנָת֖וֹ וְאֵ֣ין מַחֲרִ֑יד כִּי־פִ֛י יְהֹוָ֥ה צְבָא֖וֹת דִּבֵּֽר׃
But every man shall sit Under his grapevine or fig tree With no one to disturb him. For it was God the lord of Hosts who spoke.
v'-ya-sh'-VU EESH TA-khat gaf-NO v'-TA-khat t'-ay-na-TO v'-AYN ma-kha-REED kee FEE a-do-NAI tz'-va-OT di-BAYRMicah 4:4
וְנִבְחַ֥ר מָ֙וֶת֙ מֵחַיִּ֔ים לְכֹ֗ל הַשְּׁאֵרִית֙ הַנִּשְׁאָרִ֔ים מִן־הַמִּשְׁפָּחָ֥ה הָרָעָ֖ה הַזֹּ֑את בְּכׇל־הַמְּקֹמ֤וֹת הַנִּשְׁאָרִים֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר הִדַּחְתִּ֣ים שָׁ֔ם נְאֻ֖ם יְהֹוָ֥ה צְבָאֽוֹת׃
And death shall be preferable to life for all that are left of this wicked folk, in all the other places to which I shall banish them—declares the lord of Hosts.
v'-ni-V'-khar ma-VET me-kha-YIM l'-KOL ha-sh'-AY-REET ha-nish-a-REEM min ha-mish-PA-khah ha-ra-AH ha-ZOT b'-KOL ha-m'-KHO-MOT ha-nish-a-REEM a-SHER hi-DAKH-TEEM SHAM n'-UM a-do-NAI tz'-va-OT. (S)Jeremiah 8:3
כִּֽי־תְאֵנָ֣ה לֹֽא־תִפְרָ֗ח וְאֵ֤ין יְבוּל֙ בַּגְּפָנִ֔ים כִּחֵשׁ֙ מַֽעֲשֵׂה־זַ֔יִת וּשְׁדֵמ֖וֹת לֹא־עָ֣שָׂה אֹ֑כֶל גָּזַ֤ר מִמִּכְלָה֙ צֹ֔אן וְאֵ֥ין בָּקָ֖ר בָּרְפָתִֽים׃
Though the fig tree does not bud And no yield is on the vine, Though the olive crop has failed And the fields produce no grain, Though sheep have vanished from the fold And no cattle are in the pen,
ki-te-E-na lo-tif-RACH v'-AYN ye-VUL ba-ge-fa-NIM ki-KHESH ma-a-SEH-za-YIT u-sh'-DE-MOT lo-a-SA o-KHEL ga-ZAR mi-mikh-LAH tzo-AN v'-AYN ba-KAR ba-ro-FA-timHabakkuk 3:17
כַּעֲנָבִ֣ים בַּמִּדְבָּ֗ר מָצָ֙אתִי֙ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל כְּבִכּוּרָ֤הֿ בִתְאֵנָה֙ בְּרֵ֣אשִׁיתָ֔הּ רָאִ֖יתִי אֲבוֹתֵיכֶ֑ם הֵ֜מָּה בָּ֣אוּ בַֽעַל־פְּע֗וֹר וַיִּנָּֽזְרוּ֙ לַבֹּ֔שֶׁת וַיִּהְי֥וּ שִׁקּוּצִ֖ים כְּאׇהֳבָֽם׃
I found Yisrael [as pleasing] As grapes in the wilderness; Your fathers seemed to Me Like the first fig to ripen on a fig tree. But when they came to Baal-peor, They turned aside to shamefulness; Then they became as detested As they had been loved.
ka-a-na-VEEM ba-mid-BAR ma-TZA-tee yis-ra-AYL k'-vi-ku-RAH vit-ay-NAH b'-ray-shee-TAH ra-EE-tee a-vo-tay-KHEM HAY-mah BA-u va-al p'-OR va-yi-na-z'-RU la-BO-shet va-yih-YU shi-ku-TZEEM k'-a-ho-VAMHosea 9:10
וַיֹּאמְר֥וּ הָעֵצִ֖ים לַתְּאֵנָ֑ה לְכִי־אַ֖תְּ מׇלְכִ֥י עָלֵֽינוּ׃
So the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and reign over us.'
va-yo-m'-RU ha-ay-TZEEM la-t'-ay-NAH, l'-khee AT mol-KHEE a-LAY-nuJudges 9:10
וַתֹּ֤אמֶר לָהֶם֙ הַתְּאֵנָ֔ה הֶחֳדַ֙לְתִּי֙ אֶת־מׇתְקִ֔י וְאֶת־תְּנוּבָתִ֖י הַטּוֹבָ֑ה וְהָ֣לַכְתִּ֔י לָנ֖וּעַ עַל־הָֽעֵצִֽים׃
But the fig tree replied, ‘Have I stopped yielding my sweetness, my delicious fruit, that I should go and wave above the trees?'
va-TO-mer la-HEM ha-t'-AY-nah he-kho-DAL-tee et mot-KEE v'-et t'-nu-va-TEE ha-to-VAH, v'-ha-lakh-TEE la-NU-a al ha-ay-TZEEMJudges 9:11
וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְשַֽׁעְיָ֔הוּ יִשְׂא֖וּ דְּבֶ֣לֶת תְּאֵנִ֑ים וְיִמְרְח֥וּ עַֽל־הַשְּׁחִ֖ין וְיֶֽחִי׃
When Yeshayahu said, “Let them take a cake of figs and apply it to the rash, and he will recover,”
vai-YO-mer y'-sha-YA-hu, yis-U d'-VE-let t'-E-nim, v'-yim-r'-KHU al ha-sh'-KHEEN v'-YE-khiIsaiah 38:21
What do figs have to do with the Bible? More than you may realize.
That’s because the land of Israel was blessed but even more so through the seven traditional species (wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates) as listed in Deuteronomy:
For Hashem your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams and springs and fountains issuing from plain and hill; a land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey; Deuteronomy 8:7-8
It was with these fruits that the ritual of the first fruits was performed in the Temple. The Torah commands the bringing of the first fruits from the period between the pilgrimage festivals of Shavuot (Feast of Weeks) and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles).
Thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which thou shalt bring in from thy land that Hashem thy God giveth thee; and thou shalt put it in a basket and shalt go unto the place which Hashem thy God shall choose to cause His name to dwell there. Deuteronomy 26:2
There is evidence that the common fig was among the first – if not the very first – plant species that were deliberately bred for agriculture in the Middle East, starting more than 11,000 years ago. This may have been why a fig leaf was mentioned as the first clothing mentioned in the Bible, covering up the nakedness of Adam and Eve.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they perceived that they were naked; and they sewed together fig leaves and made themselves loincloths. Genesis 3:7
In prophecy, the fig tree is described as a place of pre- and post-redemption contentment:
All the days of Shlomo, Yehuda and Yisrael from Dan to Be’er Sheva dwelt in safety, everyone under his own vine and under his own fig tree. I Kings 5:5
But every man shall sit Under his grapevine or fig tree With no one to disturb him. For it was God the lord of Hosts who spoke. Micah 4:4
Conversely, the lack of figs symbolizes bad times experienced by Israel bereft of God’s blessings:
I will make an end of them —declares Hashem: No grapes left on the vine, No figs on the fig tree, The leaves all withered; Whatever I have given them is gone. Jeremiah 8:13
Though the fig tree does not bud And no yield is on the vine, Though the olive crop has failed And the fields produce no grain, Though sheep have vanished from the fold And no cattle are in the pen. Habakkuk 3:17
The fig tree is also symbolic of Israel itself – It often symbolized the health of the nation both spiritually and physically as prophesied by Hosea:
I found Yisrael [as pleasing] As grapes in the wilderness; Your fathers seemed to Me Like the first fig to ripen on a fig tree. Hosea 9:10
It also symbolizes royalty denied as alluded to in the Book of Judges:
So the trees said to the fig tree, ‘You come and reign over us.’ But the fig tree replied, ‘Have I stopped yielding my sweetness, my delicious fruit, that I should go and wave above the trees?’ Judges 9:10-11
The fig is also mentioned as a curative. A fig compress was used by Isaiah to cure King Hezekiah:
When Yeshayahu said, “Let them take a cake of figs and apply it to the rash, and he will recover.” Isaiah 38:21
The nutritional benefits of figs is affirmed by modern science, They are purported to be rich in minerals, especially potassium, iron, and calcium, and they contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Figs also contain phytosterols, which inhibit the absorption of dietary cholesterol, thus decreasing the total levels of cholesterol.
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