The Olive Tree of Israel

Hebrew Word Pictures

Olive or zayit – zayin, yod, tav

– cutting the finished work of the covenant

The cultivated olive tree is an evergreen-type tree that grows 18-20 feet high with an extremely long life expectancy of over one thousand years.   If an olive tree is cut down, new branches will grow from its roots creating numerous trunks from the roots that over centuries become intertwined and give the tree an interesting appearance. 

The olive tree  is such a noble tree that when the trees discussed who would be king of the trees, the olive tree was chosen.  It did not take the honor as it did not want to lord itself over other trees and forsake its precious oil.  Olive oil was extremely important in Isra’el as it was used not only for cooking and skin care, but also for anointing priests and lighting the Temple menorah.

“Once the trees went out to choose a king to rule them. They said to the olive tree, ‘Rule over us!’ But the olive tree replied, ‘Am I supposed to leave my oil, which is used to honor both God and humanity, just to go and hold sway over the trees?’ (Judges 9:8-9).   

The olive tree is known for its fruit which is harvested in the fall during the ‘appointed time’ of ingathering.  The olive branch was added to the branches in the lulav at the Feast of Tabernacles.  All of the k’ruvim (cherubim) in Solomon’s Temple were carved from olive wood.  Jewish tradition claims the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden was an olive tree and, often times in synagogues the doors to the ark that holds the Torah scroll has olive tree decor. 

Olives are harvested by beating or shaking the tree.  The fruit is then pressed between stones, rolled or smashed with the feet of harvesters.  Once impurities like sticks and leaves are removed, the pressed oil is put in wicker baskets that act like a sieve and allow the oil to flow through catching the pulp.   The oil obtained from this first pressing was used for holy purposes in the Temple.   The remaining pulp was heated and pressed again for a lower grade oil.  Today, these two oils are known as extra virgin olive oil, the purest olive oil, and refined olive oil that goes through the extra process of heating and refining.  

“When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow” (Deuteronomy 24:20).

Although olive trees are shaken or beaten in order to get the fruit to fall from the branches, they are only to be beaten one time.  What remains on the tree is for the foreigner, the orphan and the widow.  Thus, the fruit of the olive tree and its oil was not only for Isra’el, but also for those who needed provision whether they were the poor of the Land or the foreigner. 

Olive oil is symbolic of the blessing that Isra’el would have in the Promised Land.  It is also symbolic of the Spirit of Elohim which is used for anointing people for holy positions and to heal the sick (James 5:14).  It is also known as ‘the oil of joy and gladness’ (Isaiah 61:3).  

“He will love you, bless you and increase your numbers; he will also bless the fruit of your body and the fruit of your ground — your grain, wine, olive oil and the young of your cattle and sheep — in the land he swore to your ancestors that he would give you” (Deuteronomy 7:13). 

The first olive tree is recorded after the flood when Noah sends out a dove to see if the waters had receded.  The dove returned with an olive leaf and Noah knew the water had somewhat receded.  After seven days, he sent the dove out a second time and it did not return.  He knew it was time for his family and the animals to leave the ark and start life again. 

“When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth” (Genesis 8:11).

Noah had a son named Shem.  In Hebrew, shem means ‘name’.  HaShem or ‘the name’  is most likely how Noah referred to Elohim as no specific name was given to him  for the shem of God.   From Shem descended the ethnic group known as the semites who became the lineage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. From Jacob came the 12 Tribes of Isra’el one of which was Judah and from whose lineage Elohim’s promised ‘Seed’ would come.  One small olive leaf on one olive tree after the flood foreshadowed the Olive Tree known as Isra’el.

“Adonai once called you an olive tree, beautiful, full of leaves and good fruit”  (Jeremiah 11:16-17).

The Wild and Cultivated Olive Trees

The wild olive tree is small and worthless in its natural state.  Unless it is properly taken care of, it will not produce good olives.  In order to produce an abundance of olives, it must be grafted into a cultivated olive tree.   My husband explains ingrafting with walnut trees, one type of walnut has good fruit and the other has a strong root system.  When a weak branch from the good fruit walnut is grafted into the strong tree, it gets its nourishment from the roots and sap of the strong tree.  It will still bear its unique walnut fruit, but only through its dependence on the natural tree.  The original tree also benefits from the production of good fruit.  If the grafting doesn’t take, the ingrafted branch will fall off and die. The same explanation holds true with olive trees.  The small wild olive is grafted into the stronger cultivated olive giving it life and good fruit as well as bringing fruit to the cultivated olive tree.

Olive Tree of Israel

On the Olive Tree of Isra’el, the natural cultivated branches on the tree consist of Israelites from all the 12 Tribes of Isra’el – from Judah and Levi to Asher, Benjamin, Naphtali and Reuben.  Because they lack faith, the majority of Israelites (Israelis) have not accepted Yeshua as their Messiah, they have been blinded to the truth. Until the veil over their minds is removed, they cannot see Yeshua as their Redeemer.  These Jewish branches have been cut off the Olive Tree while wild olive branches or non-Jews from the nations who have faith in Yeshua have been grafted in.   If the non-Jewish believers become arrogant over the natural branches that were cut off, they too can be removed from the tree.  This should cause serious introspection in the hearts of non-Jewish believers especially when they call the Jews ‘Christ killers’ and blindly accept anti-semitic doctrines and replacement theologies.  Natural branches who put their faith in Yeshua of Nazareth are easily grafted back into their own Olive Tree.  When the two branches grow together they intertwine and appear as one tree pulling their water from the same root and producing fruit (Romans 11:11-24).

The Golden Menorah

The prophet Zechariah had a vision of golden Menorah with seven lamps.   There are two olive trees, one on the left side of the Menorah and one on the right. The angel explaining the vision says the Menorah is symbolic of the Temple being rebuilt ‘Not by force, and not by power, but by my Spirit,’ says Adonai-Tzva’ot” (Zechariah 4:6).  This would be the Temple in Ezekiel’s vision, the Temple for the Millennial Kingdom.

The olive trees had branches that dispensed golden oil through golden spouts.  According to the angel they are “Those are the two who have been anointed with oil; they are standing with the Lord of all the land” (Zechariah 4:14).  These are the two witnesses of Elohim at the time of the restoration of the Temple.  These two witnesses are referred to in Revelation during the time of Tribulation.    

“Also I will give power to my two witnesses; and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, dressed in sackcloth.”  These are the two olive trees and the two menorahs standing before the Lord of the earth.  If anyone tries to do them harm, fire comes out of their mouth and consumes their enemies — yes, if anyone tries to harm them, that is how he must die” (Revelation 11:3-5).

The Spirit of Elohim anoints two witnesses through the symbol of golden olive oil. Golden olive oil is extra virgin olive oil infused with gold flakes.  Extra virgin olive oil that comes from the first pressing of olives and mixed with golden flakes from a refining fire becomes a special anointing by Elohim. 

There is speculation these two anointed witnesses may be the two men who never tasted death:  Enoch and Elijah.  Enoch lived before the flood and would be a witness to the water judgment in the days of Noah.  He ‘walked with God and was no more’ (Genesis 5:24).   Elijah lived in the post-flood Isra’el.  He was taken into the heavenly realm by a chariot of fire perhaps symbolizing the final judgment by fire.  Enoch could be symbolic of the wild olive tree while Elijah symbolizes the cultivated olive tree.  Together, Jew and non-Jew would prophesy to the world the salvation of Elohim.

Perhaps the two witnesses are the Jew and gentile, the one new man in Messiah, testifying to the world about Yeshua (Galatians 3:28). Through his death and resurrection, the pressing of one great olive, he brings the nations together with Isra’el fulfilling Elohim’s promise to Abraham that all nations would be blessed through him.   From one leaf that was plucked from a wild-growing olive tree after the flood, the roots brought forth a thriving Olive Tree.  The pressing of the olives brings forth the pure golden olive oil that lights the Menorah during the Millennial Reign of King Messiah.

The Israelites pounded olives to make oil.  When pounded, the olive loses its physical appearance and only its essence is extracted.  On the Olive Tree of Isra’el there are natural branches along with wild branches.  They all produce the same fruit – olives.  The root of the Olive Tree is Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the patriarchs of faith and promise.  From them came the nation of Isra’el, the natural olives, who have been relentlessly pounded through the millennia by severe persecution and near annihilation.  It began with slavery in Egypt and Pharaoh, continued with Haman in Persia, the Syrians and Antiochus Epiphanes, the Spanish Inquisitions through the Holocaust in Europe.  Wild olives grafted into the Olive Tree have also been pounded through persecutions leading to martyrdom from Stephen until today in countries where Christians are being relentlessly murdered for their faith.  The next and greatest pounding of the olives will come during the Tribulation.  Some olives will be chosen to proclaim the name of Yeshua to the world; others will lose their heads.  With each pounding of the olives, their essence remains and the pure oil of their faith  continues to light the Menorah that shines brightly in the darkness.

©2015 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

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