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Bible Dictionaries

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary


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This is one of the earliest trees mentioned in Scripture, and has furnished, perhaps ever since he deluge the most universal emblem of peace, Genesis 8:11 . It is always classed among the most valuable trees of Palestine, which is described as a land of oil olive, and honey, Deuteronomy 6:11 8:8 Habakkuk 3:17 . No tree is more frequently mentioned in the Greek and Roman classics. By the Greeks it was dedicated to Minerva, and employed in crowning Jove, Apollo, and Hercules. The olive is never a very large or beautiful tree, and seldom exceeds thirty feet in height: its leaves are dark green on the upper surface, and of a silvery hue on the under, and generally grow in pairs. Its wood is hard, like that of box, and very close in the grain. It blossoms very profusely, and bears fruit every other year.

The flower is at first yellow, but as it expands, it becomes whiter, leaving a yellow center. The fruit resembles a plum in shape and in color, being first green, then pale, and when ripe, black. It is gathered by shaking the boughs and by beating them with poles, Deuteronomy 24:20 Isaiah 17:6 , and is sometimes plucked in an unripe state, put into some preserving liquid, and exported. It is principally valuable for the oil it produces, which is an important article of commerce in the east. A full-sized tree in full bearing vigor is said to produce a thousand pounds of oil, Judges 9:8,9 2 Chronicles 2:10 . The olive delights in a stony soil, and will thrive even on the sides and tops of rocky hills, where there is scarcely any earth; hence the expression "oil out of the flinty rock," etc., Deuteronomy 32:13 Job 29:6 . It is an evergreen tree, and very longlived, an emblem of a fresh and enduring piety, Psalm 52:8 . Around an old trunk young plants shoot up from the same root, to adorn the parent stock when living, and succeed it when dead; hence the allusion in describing the family of the just, Psalm 128:3 . It is slow of growth, and no less slow to decay. The ancient trees now in Gethsemane are believed by many to have sprung from the roots of those, which witnessed the agony of our Lord. The "wild olive-tree" is smaller than the cultivated, and inferior in all its parts and products. A graft upon it, from a good tree, bore good fruit; while a graft from a "wild" olive upon a good tree, remains "wild" as before.

Yet, "contrary to nature," the sinner engrafted on Christ partakes of His nature and bears good fruit, Romans 11:13-26 .

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of the topics are from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary published in 1859.

Bibliography Information
Rand, W. W. Entry for 'Olive'. American Tract Society Bible Dictionary. 1859.

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