THE BEAUTY OF THE OLIVE TREE
The olive tree (alternatively: olive leave, olive fruit) is one of the most powerful symbols in the Hebrew Scriptures. The olive is such an essential part of Hebrew life and thought that many of the blessings, prophesies and even curses in Scriptures are connected with this fruit. Significantly, the word "olive" occurs exactly 40 times in the Pre Messianic Scriptures – according to the majority of translations. In many of the references to the olive tree in Scriptures it is quite clear that some or other symbolic or deeper meaning (that is: a meaning that goes beyond the literal meaning of words) is attached to the words "olive" or "olive tree" or "olive oil" or "olive branches". In this study we shall try to learn more about the symbolism of the olive tree – especially with regards to Yahweh’s end-time plan with Yisrael - by looking at some of these verses. Let’s start off by looking at the meaning of the word "zayit" which is the Hebrew word for "olive" or "olive tree".
All Hebrew words may be traced back to at least one root word which may help to understand the true meaning of that particular word. The word "zayit" is one of those Hebrew words which may have developed from (or may be connected to) more than one root words and therefore it is a word that may carry a number of (hidden) meanings – all of which may lead to a better understanding of the symbolism attached to this word. One source indicates that "zayit" may have come from the root word "zahah" which means "to be bright, to be fresh, to be luxuriant". This makes perfect sense, as the main purpose of olive oil was that it was used as "fuel" for the lamps – especially those used in the house of Yahweh. Yisrael is often compared to the olive tree, because she was called to reflect the light and the brightness of Yahweh in this world.
The word "zayit" also seems to be connected to the word "zuah" which means "to tremble" or "to shake". This is what was done to an olive tree to cause the ripe (and spoiled) olives to fall from the tree. In YeshaYahu 24:13 we read about the remnant being sieved from the rest of the people like a "shaking of the olive tree". This is how Yahweh will select and test and purify his called ones – especially in the end-times - when all kinds of calamities will come upon this earth as a result of its disobedience and transgression of Yahweh’s commandments.
Another word with a possible connection with the word "zayit" is the Aramaic word "zuh" which means "to put aside" or "to put away" or "to draw together". Although not much is known about this word, it is not impossible that comparing Yisrael with an olive tree may be intended to indicate that she was supposed to be set-apart from other nations and their customs. Her being put aside was the result of Yahweh being the set-apart One, calling Yisrael to be set-apart as He is set-apart (Wayyikra 11:44-45, see also 1 Kepha / 1 Peter 1:13-16).
There is one more word with a possible connection with "zayit" and that is the well known Hebrew word "zeh" which is usually translated with words like "this", "these", "here", "now" and "thus". These words are called "demonstrative pronouns" and are frequently used in the answer given to questions containing the question-words "which?", "where?", "when?" and "how?". It seems that the symbolism of the olive tree was given, at least partly, to open our eyes to Yahweh’s answer to the countless questions we normally ask concerning his end-time plan for this world. Our day and our time is filled with questions like "Which are the called ones of Yahweh?" and "Where should we look for the true Yisrael?" and "When will the end come?" and "How will the set-apart ones be saved?" Our faithful Father has given us the symbol of the olive tree so that our troubled minds and our searching hearts may find rest. The symbol of the olive tree may not provide all the specific answers that we may have wanted. But once the Spirit of Yahweh has removed the veil from our eyes and our ears, we shall begin to see the depths of what the Father has purposed for us from the very beginning. In this regard the symbol of the olive tree should be of great help. Let us look at some of the hidden meanings of the olive tree, together with its fruit and branches.
Bereshiet 8:11 The dove came back to him at evening, and, behold, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off. So Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth.
Shemot 23:10-12 For six years you shall sow your land, and shall gather in its increase, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the animal of the field shall eat. In like manner you shall deal with your vineyard and with your olive grove. Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may have rest, and the son of your handmaid, and the alien may be refreshed.
Shemot 27:20-21 You shall command the children of Yisrael, that they bring to you pure olive oil beaten for the light, to cause a lamp to burn continually. In the tent of meeting, outside the veil which is before the testimony, Aharon and his sons shall keep it in order from evening to morning before Yahweh: it shall be a statute forever throughout their generations on behalf of the children of Yisrael.
Devarim 6:10-13 It shall be, when Yahweh your Elohim shall bring you into the land which he swore to your fathers, to Avraham, to Yitschaq, and to Ja’acov, to give you, great and goodly cities, which you didn't build, and houses full of all good things, which you didn't fill, and cisterns dug out, which you didn't dig, vineyards and olive trees, which you didn't plant, and you shall eat and be full; then beware lest you forget Yahweh, who brought you forth out of the land of Mitsrayim, out of the house of bondage. You shall fear Yahweh your Elohim and Him shall you serve, and shall swear by his name.
Devarim 24:19-22 When you reap your harvest in your field, and have forgot a sheaf in the field, you shall not go again to get it: it shall be for the foreigner, for the fatherless, and for the widow; that Yahweh your Elohim may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive tree, you shall not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the foreigner, for the fatherless, and for the widow. When you gather