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.
This particular tree is still standing within the city of Jericho, and the tourist peddlers are out in force. Some of the items for sale can be unique and you should consider taking a few treasures home. We had plenty of time, and there are some interesting places to see while your in the area.
Editors note: This particular tree is a relative from a much older tree describe within the original text of Biblical scriptures. The local Jericho Palestinians called it the Zacchaeus tree, and said this tree was a generational seedling that could be trace back to the same tree Zacchaeus had climbed. Since this comes from oral history we cannot confirm this but thought it should be mentioned. These trees can live up too 250 years so I assume all of the Sycamore trees are all biologically related to each other.
Jericho And The Ancient Sycamore Tree
Discover the Sycamore tree of the ancient world.
Jericho is a living, vibrate small Palestinian town in the Jordan Valley. It is the world’s oldest town. The town dates back to 8,000 BC. It has always been occupied since ancient times. It is also the lowest town in the world. Jericho is 780 feet below sea level. It is a Jordan Valley Oasis! This is the year it is about to get another face lift. They are bringing back into focus the beautiful Sycamore Tree that Zacchaeus climbed to get a better look at Jesus. We read about this encounter in the Gospels.
“And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, who was the chief among the tax collectors, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus … but could not because of the crowd, because he was of short stature. And he ran ahead, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house.” Luke 19:1-5
Jericho’s Sycamore Tree for years has been tucked away on a side street. Until 2010 it was kept out of the eyes of tourists. They came, took a picture, and left! But that has been changing. It has now become the main attraction of a museum complex. This complex opened in 2010 and each month sees new additions. This is the birthday of Jericho and this ancient Sycamore Tree is about to be the star attraction.
Palestine is being promoted to the world as a place to come to. This mega venture also includes future plans for a major 5 Star Resort to be built on the banks of the Dead Sea. In the future there is the hope of building a major airport in the area. The town is busy cleaning and painting. The yards are being cut and manicured. This magnificent Palestinian town is getting a face lift. It is getting ready for a another mega birthday celebration. Happy Birthday, Jericho!
The road into Jericho has always been a country road, complete with potholes! Now it is a four-lane highway! Before there was a Israelite check-point going into the town. Now everyone comes and goes freely! This no longer slows down traffic and tourists are not deterred from coming. Things are happening and Jericho is sharing another one of her treasures with the world. Welcome her newest start attraction…. the Sycamore Tree.
The history of the Sycamore Tree in the area is on display in the new Museum. Local restaurants gear up for the added pilgrims that will be coming into the area. No longer is the tree that Zacchaeus climbed being regulated to the side street. The story of how Zacchaeus climbed the Sycamore Tree so he could see Jesus, is now being told to the world. This is another birthday celebration of the oldest town in the world, and Zacchaeus’ story and the tree he climbed, will be the center of attention. Palestine invites you to join them in Jericho, at the foot of….. the Sycamore Tree.
This area of Tel Jericho has a tremendous amount of information, and areas of historical interest. If you would like to learn more about this area, and our time there you can read this recent post.
Here are some Pinterest Boards from the region
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