Sycamore Tree In Ancient Israel
The Sycamore Tree, an ancient species of the Fig Tree, is amazing. It is also related to the our everyday Mulberry Tree. There are several species of the Fig Tree that comes under the Sycamore Tree. This particular species of the Sycamore Tree is sometimes spelled Sycomore, for distinction from the other Fig species. This species of the Sycamore Tree is found in Madagascar, Egypt, and Israel. This gigantic Sycamore has been cultivated in these areas since ancient times.
This variety of the Sycamore Tree is an extremely large tree. Though the trunk is similar to the Olive Tree, you can identify them by their leaves. It has a beautiful thick and knotted trunk with extremely large scaly leaves. These huge large leathery leaves are thought to have possibly been the fig leaves referred to in the book of Genesis. In Genesis 3:7 it says:”Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” Scientists, archaeologists, and religious scholars all seem to agree that this is the most likely species of the Fig Tree that the book of Genesis could have been referring to. It is the only species of the Fig Tree that is native to the Middle East. It is also the only Sycamore Tree that has larger than normal leaves.
The remains of several Sycamore Trees in Egypt were found to date back as far as 3000 BC. These gigantic trees were also used by the Egyptians to carve out the coffins for the mummies in Egypt. It was the only tree that had the size that was needed to make these coffins. In ancient Egypt the Sycamore Tree was called the “Fig of Pharaoh.” Egypt itself was referred to as “the land where the Sycamore Tree blooms.” The Sycamore Tree has played a major importance in the food supply of the ancient Middle East throughout the centuries. Not only the wood, but all parts of the tree was used. The fruit was extremely good to eat! The leaves were used to make a healing tea! This tea tastes delicious. The sap made a sweet syrup! This syrup tastes much like Maple Syrup. The gigantic trunks of this mighty tree provided refuge for man and animals. The “Fig of Pharaoh” was an amazing resource for the ancient Egyptians.
In the many ancient Hebraic writings, the Sycamore Tree symbolized “regeneration.” When transplanting a Sycamore Tree, you must transplant it very quickly, as the roots dry out very rapidly. On the other hand, the Sycamore Tree has an amazing ability to regenerate itself. It is one of the easiest trees to grow. If the sand covers one of its branches, it will establish new roots and reproduce a whole new tree. During ancient times, these trees were considered extremely important in Israel. In the time of King David we see that he had a special overseer for both the Olive and the Sycamore Trees (1 Chronicles 27:28).
The Sycamore Tree in ancient Israel flowered and set it's fruit during the extremely hot summer months. Though it was not unusual to get up to 6 crops a year from each tree ( writings of theTalmud). The figs of this magnificent Sycamore Tree were eaten fresh in ancient times. During the time of ancient times, the Sycamores were one of the sources of food that was destroyed by the plagues in Egypt. See Psalms (78:47). In modern times, there are many other Fig Trees with a better quality of fruit. For this reason the Sycamore Tree is rarely used in modern Israel.
In the religion of the Native Kikuyu Tribe of Kenya, there was only one God. They referred to their god as Ngai. Many of the sacrifices were similar to the sacrifices which were done by the Israelite’s in ancient times. The Kikuyu Tribe did all their sacrifices under the Sycamore Tree. Both the Sycamore Tree and the Fig Tree were considered to be very sacred. The Olive Tree was considered to be sacred for women.
In other cultures the Sycamore Tree was used for daily utensils, such as wooden bowls, baskets, wood cutting boards, etc. The sap of the Sycamore Tree can be used for a syrup, similar, but of a lower quality than maple syrup. The large leaves are used to wrap food for cooking and baking. Just like fig leaves, they can be used for a tea. The fruit is good to eat, but modern fig trees have a higher quality of fruit.
The amazing Sycamore Tree has been important throughout the time of the prophets. It appears in many of their writings throughout the ages. There does not appear to be any age when the Sycamore was not important for something. It’s leaves are a source of medicine. It’s wood made sturdy kitchen vessels. It’s sap makes a sweet syrup! It’s beautiful trunk is amazing. In times of emergency, people have sought refuge inside this ancient tree.This amazing trunk is hollow in the larger trees. What other tree in the history of man has been used for so many different things? The ancient Sycamore tree of the Middle East is one of the most outstanding and practical trees of all time.
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This post was originally posted on September 18, 2015
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