Trees of the Bible: Olive IV

While other trees had become beneficial for the ancient civilization looking to build homes, the olive tree was not known for this function. In this article, you will encounter a collection of passages that mention the olive tree or make references to the groves during Biblical times.  

Not a Good Material for Building

The olive tree was a long-living tree that produced fruit, but did not grow very tall. The trunk was actually bent and hollow, and did not offer wood suitable for constructing a home. The wood of the olive tree is only mentioned in I Kings 6, where it was used to build a handful of items in the temple. The pieces of wood from the olive tree were too small to make large objects.

For instance, it was highly unlikely to find a piece of olive wood large enough to fashion into a door. Because of this, the wood used to build the door mentioned in the following passage is sometimes thought to be from a different species, such as sandalwood. However, perhaps the olive wood was used to create embellishments of the door or various pieces of olive wood was combined together to make a larger section of the wood.

“In the inner sanctuary he made a pair of cherubim of olive wood, each ten cubits high. One wing of the first cherub was five cubits long, and the other wing five cubits”ten cubits from wing tip to wing tip. The second cherub also measured ten cubits, for the two cherubim were identical in size and shape. The height of each cherub was ten cubits. He placed the cherubim inside the innermost room of the temple, with their wings spread out. The wing of one cherub touched one wall, while the wing of the other touched the other wall, and their wings touched each other in the middle of the room. He overlaid the cherubim with gold.

On the walls all around the temple, in both the inner and outer rooms, he carved cherubim, palm trees and open flowers. He also covered the floors of both the inner and outer rooms of the temple with gold. For the entrance of the inner sanctuary he made doors of olive wood with five-sided jambs. And on the two olive wood doors he carved cherubim, palm trees and open flowers, and overlaid the cherubim and palm trees with beaten gold. In the same way he made four-sided jambs of olive wood for the entrance to the main hall. He also made two pine doors, each having two leaves that turned in sockets. He carved cherubim, palm trees and open flowers on them and overlaid them with gold hammered evenly over the carvings.”

Other references to the olive tree and its oil include:

Olive oil played a role in trade , “Judah and Israel traded for your wares, offering wheat from Minnith, figs, honey, olive oil, and balm.” [Ezekiel 27:17; New Living Translation]

Olive trees as a source of food , “And I gave you a land on which you had done no work, and towns not of your building, and you are now living in them; and your food comes from vine-gardens and olive-gardens not of your planting.” [Joshua 24:13]

Mention of olive branches , “And I answered the second time, and said unto him, What are these two olive-branches, which are beside the two golden spouts, that empty the golden ‘oil’ out of themselves?” [Zechariah 4:12; American Standard Version]