Sycamore Tree In Ancient Israel
Sycamore Tree, an ancient species of the Fig Tree, is amazing. It is also related to the 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 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 and very 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 the Sycamore Tree in Egypt have been found to date back as far as 3000 BC. These gigantic trees were used by the Egyptians to carve out coffins for the mummies in Egypt. It was the only tree that had the size 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 played a major importance in the food supply of ancient Egypt. Not only was the wood used, all parts of the tree was cultivated. The fruit was good to eat! The leaves made a healing tea! The sap made a sweet syrup! The gigantic trunks provided refuge. The “Fig of Pharaoh” was an amazing resource for the ancient Egyptians.
In ancient Hebraic writings, the Sycamore Tree symbolized “regeneration.” When transplanting a Sycamore Tree, you must do it quickly, as the roots dry out very rapidly. On the other hand, the Sycamore Tree has an amazing ability to regenerate itself. 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 David we see that he appointed a special overseer for the Olive and Sycamore Trees (1 Chronicles [27:28]).
Flowering and fruiting of the Sycamore Tree in ancient Israel occurred during the hot summer months. Though it was not unusual to get up to 6 crops a year from each tree (Talmud writings). The figs of the Sycamore Tree were eaten in ancient times. During the time of David, the Sycamores were considered one of the sources to 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 is not often used in modern Israel.
In the religion of the Kikuyu Tribe of Kenya, there was only one God. They referred to Him as Ngai. Many of the sacrifices were similar to the ones done by the Israelite’s in ancient times. The Kikuyu Tribe did all their sacrifices under the Sycamore Tree. Both the Sycamore and the Fig Tree were considered sacred. The Olive Tree was considered sacred for women.
In other cultures the wood of the Sycamore Tree was used for utensils, bowls, baskets, cutting boards, etc. The sap of the Sycamore can be used for a syrup, similar, but of a lower quality than the sugar maple. The large leaves are used to wrap food for cooking and like fig leaves, can be used for a tea. The fruit is good to eat, but modern fig trees have a higher quality 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 make 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 trunk.This amazing trunk is hollow in the larger trees. What other tree in the history of man can be used for so many different things? The ancient Sycamore tree of the Middle East is one of the most outstanding trees of all time.
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