How is the fig similar to the Bible?

Sep 1, 2021

וְיָשְׁבוּ אִישׁ תַּחַת גַּפְנוֹ וְתַחַת תְּאֵנָתוֹ וְאֵין מַחֲרִיד כִּי־פִי יְהֹוָה צְבָאוֹת דִּבֵּר׃

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-BAYR

Micah 4:4

In Micah chapter 4, the prophet Micah describes what life will be like at the time of the ultimate redemption. Like Isaiah (2:2-4), he describes how the Temple Mount will be raised up above all other mountains, and people from all nations of the world will come to seek out God and learn His laws. He continues with a prediction of world peace, saying that all people will beat their swords into plowshares and that nations will no longer know war, and then describes how everyone will sit peacefully under their grapevines and fig trees.

Figs are one of the seven agricultural species that are special products of the Land of Israel (Deuteronomy 8:8). They are first mentioned in the Bible in the beginning of Genesis (3:7), when Adam and Eve cover their nakedness with fig leaves. During King Solomon’s reign, all of Israel lived in safety, “everyone under his own vine and under his own fig tree” (I Kings 5:5), a phrase that indicates national prosperity and also demonstrates that, in biblical tradition, the fig tree serves as a symbol of peace and tranquility. In this verse, the prophet Micah promises the same peace and tranquility in the time of the redemption.

However, there is a deeper meaning to the fig beyond prosperity and tranquility. The Sages teach that one who sees a fig in his dream is assured that he will not forget his Torah learning. This is because the Torah is likened to a fig for a number of reasons. Firstly, since figs do not all ripen on the tree at the same time, one will always find fruits on a fig tree. Similarly, one will always find new flavor and meaning in the Torah he is studying. Additionally, since most other fruit trees produce fruit all at one time, the fruits are all harvested together. However, since the fruits of the fig trees ripen slowly over time, they are picked as they ripen. In a similar vein, one cannot learn all of Torah in one day, rather it is a process that takes place over a long time.

Finally, unlike other fruits that have parts that are inedible, for example, the pits of an apple or a date, or the stems of grapes, the fig is unique in that the whole fruit can be eaten. So too, when it comes to the Bible there is nothing unnecessary or extraneous, rather there is meaning in every verse and every nuance. In all these ways, the Torah is compared to a fig. May our study of God’s word always be as sweet as the fruit of a fig.

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