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The Olive Tree

"His branches shall spread, and His beauty shall be as the olive tree"...(Hosea 14:6).

"Out of the ground, the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant for the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." Genesis 2:9"

The olive tree is native to the Holy Land  where it has been cultivated since ancient times. According to historians, the first olive groves took root in the Holy Land and along the coast of the eastern Mediterranean around 4,000 B.C.

The olive tree is a slow growing tree which fills during the first 7 years of it's life. It is especially productive thought out her life. Growing to heights ranging from 10 to 40 feet (3 to 12 meters),

Reaching the age of 200 the trunk disappears, shoots develop at the base of the trunk which eventually grow into a new tree, hence the reputation as the immortal tree.

Between April and June a multitude of small, white perfumed flowersappear in groups under the preceding year's leaves. They only last a few weeks. One olive is born for about 20 flowers. Normally the first flowering only takes place after about 8 years.


The Olive Tree has both a sentimental and religious significance to all nations and all religions. In the Old Testament, olive oil was used to anoint prophets and kings, and to light the lamps at the temple of Jerusalem, the house of God. For nourishment, healing, cleansing, lighting, and symbolic purposes, olive oil was important.

Later in the New Testament, Jesus Christ was described as the "Anointed One" the Messiah, Christians were called Nozreem or Masseheen, which in Aramic and Arabic means anointed with olive oil. Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan who used oil for healing. 

When Jesus went to Jerusalem, he went up to the Mount of Olives where he prayed and taught his disciples the word of God. The agony of our Lord was in the midst of many of these olive wood trees in the Garden of Gethsemane where He prayed asking His Father, "Let this cup pass from me but not My will but Yours be done."

Jesus Christ was arrested on The Mount of Olives that fateful night, and He ascended into Heaven from there after His Resurrection from the tomb.

Out of great respect, the people of the Holy Land protect (at times with their lives) the trees refusing to ever cut them down. In the middle of October, the people of the Holy Land pick the olive fruits to either press them and get the olive oil or to make olive to eat and cook.

Once the oil has been pressed out of the olives what remains can be used to make pure olive oil soap. This reminds us of how Jesus was pressed down in pain in the Garden as He prayed and how His expressed love for people cleanses and washes away the sins of the world.

Once the olives have all been picked it is time to cut the branches and begin the pruning process. These sacred and holy olive trees require that we use hand saws only because of the danger electric and gas saws inflict upon these trees.

In the Holy Bible, Jesus spoke of pruning that, there might be stronger life.

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes [15:2 The Greek for prunes also means cleans.] so that it will be even more fruitful. --John 15:2

 In the Book of Genesis the dove sent out from the ark by Noah returned with an olive branch (Genesis 8:11). Here it became the great symbol of peace, indicating the end of God’s anger.

The olive Tree plays a significant role in the life of the people of the Holy Land from the olive tree the people of the Holy Land get their olives and from the olives the source of Jared olives and olive oil from the olive oil they make their soap and from the trimming of the olive tree the olive wood artists make their arts and from the left over they light fire to cook and for heat. The wood shavings are given to the animal farmers for use to put on the floors of their farms to keep it clean. And these days due to the rareness of olive wood the people of the Holy Land invented a new heaters that work with the wood shavings.

The Holy Land Olive Trees Today

Since the days of Noah, the olive branch has been a symbol of peace and goodwill. Unfortunately, in recent years, the war in  the Holy Land has often led to the uprooting of olive tree orchards more than 50,000  olive trees have been uprooted and destroyed, the sole source of income for many farmers. The olive tree have traditionally symbolized the spirit of the Holy Land farmers and their connection to the Holy land a connection that has remained strong, despite years of war and political unrest.

A group of peace advocates and international supporters replant an ancient olive tree that was uprooted in Bethlehem during the recent wave of violence that made Bethlehem the city of Jesus birth and cradle of peace into a city of death and destruction.

According to old wisdom... "the olive tree stands as a perfect personification of man's historical memory on earth. It is the tree with the highest endurance and fruitful capacity. It is the sign of peace between God and mankind.

Solon's Olive protection Law during the Athenian democracy (600 B.C.), in the first written legislation of the world, prohibited the cutting down of olive trees.

Peace

The olive tree has become a symbol of peace, especially when the olive branch is extended to one's foe as a gesture of reconciliation. Peace for the Holy Land means peace for all Nations.

"And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace. " James 3:18

Prayer: How long, O Lord, how long? You know the People of the Holy Land long desire for peace – to be free, to be good neighbors, to have their place, and their home re-established. Raise up, we implore you, peacemakers among civilians and officials who are committed to make real peace break out. In the name of the Prince of Peace. Amen.

Livelihood

For the Olive Tree farmers, their land, families, and olive trees are everything. Yet the resent war has often led to the uprooting of olive tree orchards the sole source of income for many farmers.

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness." II Corinthians 9:10

Prayer: God of Resurrection: In remembering how Jesus chose to associate with the outcasts and the lowly, we  pray for all those who suffered , whose livelihood and future have been affected. We pray that by your Spirit the long night of tragedy may be overcome by the breakthrough of a new dawn for the People of the Holy Land , and wherever others in like ways suffer. Amen.

Tree of Life

Just as the olive tree is the center of life for individual Farmers, so is the Land, especially the city of Bethlehem, the cradle of biblical history and center of life for all Christians.

"On either side of the river, is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations." Rev. 22:2

Prayer: Doer of New Things bring peace to the city where Jesus the prince of peace was born bring peace to the world. Amen

Beauty

From terraced groves to woodcraft sculpture to fragrance and soap production, the olive tree gives pleasure to the senses, adds beauty, greenery and life to the rocky hills of the Holy Land.

"Out of the ground, the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant for the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." Genesis 2:9

Prayer: Beautiful Savior, God of the Nations: Your vision for our world is of the Tree of Life, beauty and wonder we thank you for your Spirit that has sustained for two thousand years the life and witness of your church in the Holy Land. Help your church to be grateful for its heritage and imbue it with vitality and youthfulness, so that we may all walk the Way of Jesus Christ into the challenge and promise of tomorrow. Amen.

Longevity

For thousands of years, olive oil gave light to the people. Light overcomes darkness and ignorance opens the door to knowledge and truth. Jesus Christ called us to be the light of the world. We through his Spirit, are empowered to bring good news to the poor, to work towards peace on earth and help one another.

"But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God" John 3:21

Legacy

"These are the trees of my father, and my father's father, and my father's father's father…"
The Christians legacy of caring for God's land and its creatures is centuries old. When a Christian of Bethlehem takes a pilgrim of any nationality into his or her home, that pilgrim is treated as one of the fold, and is surrounded by a tangible sense of cultural history, pride in faith, and familial love and unity.

"But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever." Psalm 52:8

Healing

Salves, medicaments and cleansing soaps restore life to wholeness. The olive oil offers cleansing salves and medicines to heal injuries and wounds. The peoples of Holy Land of various ethnic, and religious groups have suffered enough and welcome the healing elixir of mutual reconciliation and acceptance.

"Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord." James 5:14

Prayer: God our Shepherd: Anoint our heads with the olive oil emblematic of your Spirit, and work it into our minds and bodies, that we and your whole church may be given to thoughtful action toward the healing of wounds and the reconciling of enemies. Amen.

  • Olive branches have come to symbolize peace, longevity, fertility, maturity, wealth and prosperity
     

  • The olive tree has inspired artists, who tried to capture the emerald and silver hues of the leaves shimmering against an azure Mediterranean sky or the gnarled and twisted branches that withstand the ages, as many olive trees date back thousands of years
     

  • The Impressionists – Renoir, Matisse, Cezanne and Van Gogh – were especially enamored of the olive tree and its bounty
     

  • Much has been written over the years about the olive – references to the tree and its fruit can be found in works by Shakespeare, Milton, Byron and Bates

"We are just like the Olive tree that I see now from my window. No matter how in the cold and harsh winter they are not  broken, no matter how in the hot summer they are not  burned and dried, no matter where in the autumn wind they are not scattered, as days come and ages past they bloom again, fresh, young and so beautiful." We are alive and with God willing we will survive.