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Olive Culture in the Second Temple Era and Early Rabbinic Period

TitleOlive Culture in the Second Temple Era and Early Rabbinic Period
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication1994
AuthorsRicks, Stephen D.
EditorRicks, Stephen D., and John W. Welch
Book TitleThe Allegory of the Olive Tree: The Olive, the Bible, and Jacob 5
PublisherFoundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies/Deseret Book
CityProvo, UT/Salt Lake City
KeywordsAncient Israel; Ancient Near East; Arabia; Old World; Olive

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Olive Culture in the Second Temple Era and Early Rabbinic Period

Stephen D. Ricks

The olive, so vital a part of the economy of ancient Israel, maintains its place on the physical, economic, and religious landscape of Israel in the Second Temple period and beyond. In this paper, I discuss the olive during this time period from its primary religious literature: the Apocrypha, the Pseudepigrapha, the Mishnah, and Talmud. Given the very considerable contacts and cross-pollination between the peoples of Jewish Palestine and other parts of the ancient Mediterranean, I make some detours into classical, Christian, and ancient Near Eastern sources. Despite some overlap in topic with other papers, I hope that this will add to the fruitfulness of the discussion. First, I examine some ways in which the olive is treated in the period of the Second Temple and of the early rabbis, examining themes that are marginally relevant to the allegory of the olive tree in Jacob 5. Then I discuss those that bear on the themes presented there more or less directly.

General Observations

In Similes and Metaphors

The word olive and its cognates occur in only five verses in the Old Testament apocryphal literature. Three of these are in similes. In Ben Sira, Wisdom describes herself as growing "like a palm tree in En-gedi, and like rosebushes in Jericho; like a fair olive tree in the field."1 Later, Ben Sira, waxing eloquent in the praise of Simeon the priest, the son of Johanan, describes him as being "like an olive tree laden with fruit."2

In a passage reminiscent of Isaiah 24:13, 2 Esdras (Fourth Ezra) speaks of a time when, "just as in an olive orchard three or four olives may be left on every tree, or just as when a vineyard is gathered, some clusters may be left by those who search carefully through the vineyard, so in those days three or four shall be left by those who search their houses with the sword."3 Three or four olives remaining on a tree is a reference to the Mosaic injunction not to beat the branches of an olive tree a second time for fruit, but to leave what remains for the traditionally least protected segments of Israelite society: the alien, the fatherless, and the widow (Deuteronomy 24:20).

As a Symbol of Victory or Honor

In the apocryphal book of Judith, following her stunning victory over Holofernes, "All the women of Israel gathered to see her, and blessed her, and some of them performed a dance in her honor. She took ivy-wreathed wands in her hands and distributed them to the women who were with her; and she and those who were with her crowned themselves with olives wreaths. She went before all the people in the dance, leading all the women, while all the men of Israel followed, bearing their arms and wearing garlands and singing hymns."4 Although the olive possessed a wide symbolic inventory in the Old Testament, including health, life, thanksgiving, and peace, the wearing of an olive wreath as a sign of victory was a Greek not a Jewish symbol, and probably an indication of Hellenistic influence on Jewish practice.5 The phrase here is redolent of the Pauline expression in 2 Timothy 4:7-8, where Paul, employing a metaphor from Hellenistic athletic competitions, states that, having fought the good fight and finished the course, he looks forward to the "crown of righteousness" that is laid up in store for him.

Second Maccabees 14:3-4 records that "a certain Alcimus, who had formerly been high priest" but had disqualified himself for that office, in order to regain access to that office went to King Demetrius and presented to him "a crown of gold and a palm"—typical and obligatory signs of honor and obeisance—and, as a further sign of honor, "some of the customary olive branches from the temple." Jonathan Goldstein, in discussing this passage in 2 Maccabees, translates the term olive branches (thallōn) "gifts," although he concedes that these "gifts" probably took the form of olive branches.6

As a Product of Ancient Israel

Even before the entrance of the Israelites into the land of Israel, the olive was viewed as one of the premier products of the land. It was among the "seven species," or products, of Israel. During the Feast of Tabernacles—a festival connected with the ingathering of the fruits of the land—the Israelites lived in tents made of branches of olive, pine, myrtle, willow, palm, and "thick trees" (Leviticus 23:40-43; Nehemiah 8:14-18). In the pseudepigraphic literature it is regularly mentioned as one of the land's most important trees7 and is frequently mentioned as the quintessential symbol of Israel's fruitfulness,8 and as a sign of God's great love among the trees.9 In the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, alone among the agricultural products of ancient Israel, the olive bestows a blessing on one of Jacob's sons. In the Testament of Judah, while "heaven blessed Reuben; the earth blessed Issachar; . . . the mountains blessed Joseph; . . . the sun blessed Gad; the olive tree blessed Asher."10

So important was the olive that it became one of the symbols of Israel itself by the beginning of the Early Rabbinic period. Though there were olives of different varieties and various sizes, the olive was designated as a standard size for many halakhot, and the expression "land of olive trees" was interpreted as "a land whose main standard of measurement is the olive."11 Rabbinic literature contains innumerable details about olive oil, its types and methods of extraction. Thus, for instance, we learn from the Babylonian Talmud that "one should not even stir the soil under the olive trees [during the Festival Week or Sabbatical Year]"12 and that Beth Hillel ruled that olive trees may not be cut down after they blossom,13or that the tithe on the olive tree is to be determined by its blossoming.14

As a Symbol of Ancient Israel

In Jeremiah 11:16, the prophet declares, "The Lord called thy name a leafy olive tree, fair with goodly fruit." Reflecting on Jeremiah's statement, the Midrash extends and develops the symbol of Israel as an olive tree, summing up thus:

Just as the olive is marked out for shrivelling while it is yet on its tree, after which it is brought down from the tree and beaten, and after it has been beaten is brought up to the vat and placed in a grinding-mill, where it is ground and then tied up with ropes (through which the oil is filtered), and then stones are brought (which press upon the olives) and then at last it yields its oil, so it is with Israel: the heathen come and beat them about from place to place, imprison them and bind them in chains, and surround them with officers, and that at last do Israel repent [of their sins] and God answers them. . . . What made Jeremiah compare Israel to an olive tree? Because all liquids commingle one with the other, but oil refuses to do so and keeps separate. So Israel does not mingle with the heathen.15

As the Tree of Life or Tree of Paradise

Section 88 of the Doctrine and Covenants was designated by Joseph Smith as the "olive leaf . . . plucked from the Tree of Paradise." While there is no canonical writing that explicitly associates the olive with the tree of life (which is what I understand by the tree of paradise) or any other tree in paradise (by which I understand the Garden of Eden), this connection is frequently made in the literature of the Second Temple period. According to the Slavonic 3 Baruch 4:7, "When God made the garden and commanded Michael to gather two hundred thousand and three angels so that they could plant the garden, Michael planted the olive and Gabriel, the apple; Uriel, the nut; Raphael, the melon; and Satanael, the vine. . . . All the angels planted the various trees." When Noah wished for the third time to determine whether the waters of the flood had subsided from the earth, he sent out a dove, which returned with an olive branch in its mouth. In the Genesis Rabbah, the rabbis ask further, "Whence did she bring it? . . . R. Birai (Berekiah) said: The gates of the Garden of Eden were opened for her, and from there she brought it."16 In the Apocalypse of Moses, Adam, who was suffering terrible pain, bade his wife Eve "arise and go with our son Seth near to paradise, and put earth upon your heads and weep and pray God to have mercy upon me and send his angel to paradise, and give me of the tree out of which the oil floweth, and bring it me, and I shall anoint myself and shall have rest from my complaint."17 Elsewhere in the Apocalypse of Moses, the "tree" is referred to as the "Tree of Life."18 On the basis of these passages, L. S. A. Wells and the great Louis Ginzberg identify the tree of life with the olive.19 Later Jewish tradition occasionally debated the specific botanical species of the tree of life, some asserting that it was a fig tree, while others held it to be an olive tree or a date palm.20

In early Christianity, similar beliefs were held concerning the oil-producing properties of the tree of life. According to the Judeo-Christian Recognitiones, "Although indeed He [Christ] was the Son of God, and the beginning of all things, He became man; Him first God anointed with oil which was taken from the wood of the tree of life. From that anointing therefore He is called Christ. Thence, moreover, He Himself also, according to the appointment of His Father, anoints with similar oil every one of the pious when they come to His kingdom, for their refreshment after their labours, as having got over the difficulties of the way; so that their light may shine, and being filled with the Holy Spirit, they may be endowed with immortality."21 In the Gospel of Nicodemus a story is related similar to that found in the Books of Adam and Eve. Here Adam asks to receive the "oil of the tree of mercy to anoint my body when I was sick." But Seth is told that it may only be received at the end of time, to raise up the bodies of the dead. Given the venerable association of the oil of the olive tree with life, health, and rejuvenation, and, in the Judeo-Christian tradition, with resurrection, immortality, and the tree of life itself, is it surprising that it has remained the anointing substance par excellence?

The story of the quest of Seth for the oil of life or mercy, popular during the period of the late Second Temple and of the early centuries of Christianity, took on a life of its own in later centuries. Recast as the quest of Seth for the True Cross, the story was widely retold, appearing in Mandeville's Travels, Malory's Le Morte Darthur, and Caxton's translation of the Legenda Aurea.22

As a Symbol of Kingship

The olive serves as a symbol of kingship in the pseudepigraphic Joseph and Aseneth, where Joseph, following his elevation to second in the kingdom, is given a royal staff in his left hand "and in his right hand he held outstretched an olive branch, and there was plenty of fruit on it, and in the fruits was a great wealth of oil."23 Further, in the Testament of Levi there is a striking passage describing Levi's priestly consecration/royal coronation.

There I again saw the vision as formerly, after we had been there seventy days. And I saw seven men in white clothing, who were saying to me, "Arise, put on the vestments of the priesthood, the crown of righteousness, the oracle of understanding, the robe of truth, the breastplate of faith, the miter for the head, and the apron for prophetic power." Each carried one of these and put them on me and said, "From now on be a priest, you and all your posterity." The first anointed me with holy oil and gave me a staff. The second washed me with pure water, fed me by hand with bread and holy wine, and put on me a holy and glorious vestment. The third put on me something made of linen, like an ephod. The fourth placed . . . around me a girdle which was like purple. The fifth gave me a branch of rich olive wood. The sixth placed a wreath on my head. The seventh placed the priestly diadem on me and filled my hands with incense, in order that I might serve as priest for the Lord God.24

Among the various acts described in Levi's priestly consecration/royal coronation, we are here interested particularly in his receipt of an olive branch. Such a branch, known from Israelite-Jewish tradition to have been originally cut from the tree of life by Adam before being driven from the Garden of Eden, served to symbolize the possessor's power to bestow life.25 These traditions of the ruler's rod being a twig from the tree of paradise were inherited by the Christian church during the Middle Ages, where the Virgin Mary is often equipped as regina coeli with a sceptre that is apparently a virga, the symbolic representation of the paradise twig.26 In the same manner, the Christian bishop usually carries not a baculum (staff) but a virga. The Christian ruler, however, holds both baculum and virga.27

Themes of Jacob 5 and the Literature of the Second Temple Period and Early Rabbinic Era

Among the many details of olive culture touched on in Jacob 5, both tame and wild olive trees are prominently mentioned. The mention of wild olive trees is particularly noteworthy since they are known only in the northern part of the land of Israel, particularly in the Galilee and Mount Carmel regions, and are never specifically mentioned in the Old Testament.28 This is, perhaps, not so surprising, since most of the authors of the Old Testament were from the southern part of Israel and would have had little or no direct experience with the wild olive. Might it also be evidence that Zenos was a northerner?29

Pruning, nourishing, dunging, and engrafting, all mentioned in connection with the care of the olive in Jacob 5, are also mentioned in the literature of the Second Temple era and known from subsequent agricultural practices in Palestine.30 Of particular interest is the question of grafting wild branches onto a tame olive tree, an issue that also impinges on Paul's famous allegory of the olive tree in Romans 11:17-24.31 In Paul's allegory, the cultivated olive (kallielaios) is Israel, from which some of the branches were broken off (usually understood as Jews who rejected Christ, and so lost their place as God's people), while shoots of the wild olive (agrielaios)32 were grafted in their place (interpreted as the inclusion of Gentiles in the people of God). Eventually, however, God is able to graft the natural branches back into their own stock (Jews who "do not persist in their unbelief" will be restored, and so "all Israel will be saved"). The stock remains the same; it is only in the branches that changes occur. Similarly Israel, the people of God, is a continuous entity (cf. the Old Testament use of the olive as a symbol for Israel), but its membership is subject both to the exclusion of native Israelites and the inclusion of the alien stock of Gentile believers.33

There are similarities and differences between the accounts in Romans 11 and Jacob 5. Two questions about such grafting will concern us here: (1) the frequency—or even feasibility—of the practice of grafting wild olive branches into a tame olive tree and (2) its permissibility according to Jewish law. According to many commentators, beginning with Origen, assume that Paul's theology is better than his knowledge of horticulture. According to Origen, the grafting of wild olive branches into a tame olive tree is simply unknown.34 But, contrary to the opinion of this great and profoundly influential scholar, the grafting of wild olive branches into tame trees is attested in ancient times—as well as in the modern period—as a means of rejuvenating an unproductive olive.35 The Roman writer Lucius Junius Columella (first century B.C.) notes that "it also frequently happens that, though the trees are thriving well, they fail to bear fruit. It is a good plan to bore them with a Gallic auger and to put a green slip taken from a wild olive tree tightly into the hole; the result is that the tree, being as it were impregnated with fruitful offspring, becomes more productive."36 The function of such grafting is of particular interest to us: it enhances productivity of the tame tree. Columella further states:

Any kind of scion can be grafted on any tree, if it is not dissimilar in respect of bark to the tree in which it is grafted; indeed if it also bears similar fruit and at the same season, it can perfectly well be grafted without any scruple. Further, the ancients have handed down to us three kinds of grafting; one in which the tree, which has been cut and cleft, receives the scions which have been cut; the second, in which the tree having been cut admits grafts between the bark and the hard wood (both these methods belong to the season of spring); and the third, when the tree receives actual buds with a little bark into a part of it which has been stripped of the bark.37

Dalman reports on the practice in Lebanon of grafting a wild olive tree onto a tame one in order to give the tame tree renewed strength. Similarly, Sven Linder reports that grafting branches from a young wild olive tree into the roots or trunk of a tame one was practiced in Greece. It is significant that in both instances such grafting was done for the purpose of rejuvenating old or ailing trees—precisely the reason given in the passages in Romans and Jacob. Further, the fact that such a practice was known in more than one place around the Mediterranean is of some importance.38 According to the eighteenth-century traveler Stephan Schulz, "While I was in Jerusalem I heard from several individuals that, if a tame olive tree lost its leaves, it was possible to obtain wild olive branches from the Jordan valley and to graft them into the tame tree so that it might bear good fruit."39

Two other passages from Jewish tradition are relevant for the discussion. Philo applied a somewhat similar figure of speech to Israelites and proselytes. In De Exsecrationibus, Philo describes the troubles that will befall the land of Israel and its inhabitants as a result of the Israelites' apostasy from God before the onset of the Messianic age. But at that time the foreigner converting to Judaism would be honored and praised because he had come over to God's people, thereby assuring himself of a place in heaven as his reward, about which it was not proper to speak. On the other hand, those born as Israelites who failed to keep the commands—because they "counterfeited the noble coin of their descent"—would be cast down to Tartaros and to the deepest darkness, so that men might see and learn from their example that God will graft into the stump the new branches of the proselyte in place of the decaying and unfruitful branches of the born Israelites.40 Similarly, in the Babylonian Talmud, R. Elcazar (circa A.D. 270) is reported to have asked: "What is meant by the text, 'And in thee shall the families of the earth be blessed?' The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Abraham, 'I have two goodly shoots to engraft [lehabk, which has the same root consonants as *BRK of wenibrekū "shall be blessed"] on you: Ruth the Moabitess and Naamah the Ammonitess.'"41 Both of these women belonged to idolatrous nations and were grafted upon the stock of Israel. The former was the ancestress of David and the latter the mother of Rehoboam and his distinguished descendants Asa, Jehoshaphat, and Hezekiah.

A second question dealing with engrafting relates to the permissibility, in Jewish law, of grafting branches from a wild olive onto the stock of a tame one. While grafting itself was well known in Israel during the Second Temple period, the grafting of diverse species is contrary to rabbinic principles. According to Leviticus 19:19, fields are forbidden to be sown with "mixed seeds"; a similar prohibition exists in Deuteronomy 22:9: "You shall not sow your vineyard with mixed seed, lest the fruit of the seed you have sown and the fruit of your vineyard be defiled." These were held by the rabbis to imply a prohibition against grafting between heterogeneous fruit trees. The Mishnaic tractate Kil'ayim (Diverse Kinds) deals in considerable detail with the prohibition of mixing heterogeneous "seeds," the crossing and yoking together of diverse animals, and against covering oneself with material composite of wool and linen, all topics mentioned in these passages in Leviticus and Deuteronomy (Leviticus 19:19; Deuteronomy 22:9-11). According to the principle of kil'ayim, "seeds" include the five species of grain (wheat, barley, oats, rye, and spelt), legumes, and greens whose roots or stalks are used for human consumption. Grafting is forbidden not only between trees containing edible fruit (cēṣ ma'akāl) and those containing inedible fruit (cēṣ serāḳ),42 but also between different species of trees bearing edible fruit.43 Thus, we read in MKil'ayim 1:4: "As for trees, the pear and the crustumenian pear, or the quince and sorb apple, do not constitute kil'ayim one with the other. The apple and the crab apple, or the peach and almond, or the jujube and lote, even though they are similar one to the other, yet constitute kil'ayim one with the other (in respect of grafting only)." We are further informed that "it is not proper to graft one tree onto a tree of another sort"44 and that "it is not proper to graft olive trees into the trunk of a date palm, because that would be tree to tree (of another sort)."45 Similarly, in Midrash Psalms 128 (257b) Rabbi Jehoshua b. Levi (circa 250) is reported to have said: "Your wife is like a grapevine within your house, your sons like olive seedlings (Psalm 128:3). Just as there is no grafting of olive trees (to trees of other kinds, so that fruits of different kinds are produced) there will be nothing reprehensible among your sons."

But are the tame and wild olives different species? It is unclear whether they were viewed as different or as similar species by the rabbis. The olive and the wild olive are never specifically mentioned as representing "mixed seeds," and the rabbinic taxonomy of kil'ayim is less than perfectly perspicuous. Even though the rabbinic discussion is based on ancient Israelite principles, it is uncertain that they would have been viewed similarly in the pre-exilic period, Zenos's age. Thus, the relevance to Jacob 5 of the rabbinic discussion on grafting remains tentative.


When we look for commonalities in the horticultural details mentioned in Jacob 5 and those found in the literature of Judaism of late antiquity, we are not disappointed: we find them in profusion. Beyond these, however, the symbolism of the olive in the literature of ancient Judaism—as a sign of kingship and authority, and as a symbol of the tree of life—provides us with further significant insights into the meaning of the olive and its products in the Restoration.


  1. Ben Sira 24:14.
  2. Ben Sira 50:10.
  3. 2 Esdras (Fourth Ezra) 16:29-31.
  4. Judith 15:12-16:1.
  5. Cf. Michael Blech, Studien zum Kranz bei den Griechen (New York: de Gruyter, 1982), 136, 142-45, 153-54, 375.
  6. Jonathan Goldstein, II Maccabees (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1983), 485.
  7. Letter of Aristeas 63, 112; Jubilees 13:6, 21:12.
  8. Sibylline Oracles 4:17; Apocalypse of Daniel 5:10; 10:1; 1 Enoch 10:19.
  9. Apocalypse of Sedrach 8:2.
  10. Testament of Judah 25:2.
  11. TB Berakhot 41b.
  12. TB Moced Qaṭan 3a.
  13. TB Pesaḥim 53a.
  14. TB Rosh Hashanah 13b; cf. TB Moced Qaṭan 4b, 9b.
  15. Exodus Rabbah 36:1.
  16. Genesis Rabbah 33:6; cf. Sibylline Oracles 1:251; 2 Baruch 77:23.
  17. Apocalypse of Moses 28:1. In 2 Enoch 8:3-5 (shorter recension), the tree of life and the oil of life are both mentioned, although the olive tree, which was "always discharging the oil of its fruit," is described as being "alongside" the tree of life.
  18. Louis Ginzberg, Legends of the Jews 7 vols. (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1968), 5:119; L. S .A. Wells, "The Books of Adam and Eve," in R. H. Charles, ed., Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament: Pseudepigrapha (Oxford: Clarendon, 1976), 143.
  19. Geo Widengren, The King and the Tree of Life in Ancient Near Eastern Religion. Uppsala Universitets Årsskrift (1951:4): 38; Widengren, "Royal Ideology and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs," in F. F. Bruce, ed., Promise and Fulfilment: Essays Presented to Professor S. H. Hooke (Edinburgh: Clark, 1964), 207-8; Widengren, "Til det sakrala kungadömets historia i Israel," Horae Soederblomianae 1/3 (1947): 4. In contrast, according to W. E. Oesterly, "Early Hebrew Festival Rituals," in S. H. Hooke, ed., Myth and Ritual (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1933), 141, the Egyptian, Babylonian, and Assyrian tree of life was the date; a similar view is expressed in 1 Enoch 24:3-5. In Zoroastrianism it is the haoma plant that appears to function in this role, and the kalpavriksha in Hinduism; cf. August Wünsche, Die Sagen vom Lebensbaum und Lebenswasser: Altorientalische Mythen (Leipzig: Pfeiffer, 1905), 3.
  20. Recognitiones I, 45 in "Clementine Recognitions," in Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, eds., The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1951) 8:89.
  21. Gospel of Nicodemus 19/Descent of Christ 3; cf. Origen, Contra Celsum VI, 27, where a group affirms at the time of their baptismal anointing, "I have been anointed with white ointment from the tree of life"; cf. Hippolytus, Refutatio Omnium Heresium IX, 10.
  22. Esther C. Quinn, The Quest of Seth for the Oil of Life (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962), vii.
  23. Joseph and Aseneth 5:5 (7), in James H. Charlesworth, ed., The Old Testament Pseudeipigrapha, 2 vols. (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1983), 2:208. This whole scene, with olive branch, oil, and fruit is redolent of the ancient Greek eiresiōnē, "an olive branch covered with wool covered with first fruits of different sorts," Otto Kern, "Eiresiōnē," in Georg Wissowa, Paulys Real-Encyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1905), 5:2135, a "thank offering to the gods" for the harvest, Martin P. Nilsson, Greek Folk Religion (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1961), 29, and a symbol of fertility; cf. ibid, 36, 39; Witold Klinger, "L'Irésione greque et ses transformations postérieures," Eos 29 (1926): 157-74; Albrecht Dieterich, "Sommertag," Archiv für Religionswissenschaft 8 (1905): 82-117, reprinted in Albrecht Dieterich: Kleine Schriften (Leipzig: Teubner, 1911), 322-52; S. Follet, "Deux vocables religieux rares attestés épigraphiquement," Revue de Philogie 48 (1974): 30-32; Wilhelm Mannhardt, Antike Wald- und Feldkulte aus nordeuropäischer Überlieferung Erläutert (Berlin: Borntraeger, 1877), 214-29.
  24. Testament of Levi 8:1-11, in Charlesworth, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 1:790-91.
  25. E. A. W. Budge, The Book of the Bee (Oxford: Clarendon, 1886), 50, provides a Christian parallel to the tradition of Adam taking a piece of the tree of life with him, which served as a sign of kingship:
    When Adam and Even went forth from Paradise, Adam, as if knowing that he was never to return to his place, cut off a branch from the tree of good and evil-which is the fig tree-and took it with him and went forth; and it served him as a staff all the days of his life. After the death of Adam, his son Seth took it, for there were no weapons as yet at that time. This rod was passed on from hand to hand until Noah, and from Noah to Shem; and it was handed down from Shem to Abraham as a blessed thing from the Paradise of God . . . At that time there were wars everywhere, and an angel took the rod, and laid it in the Cave of Treasures in the mount of Moab, until Midian was built. There was in Midian a man, upright and righteous before God, whose name was Yathro. When he was feeding his flock on the mountain, he found the cave and took the rod by divine agency; and with it he fed his sheep until his old age. When he gave his daughter to Moses, he said to him, "Go in, my son, take the rod, and go forth to thy flock." When Moses had set his foot upon the threshold of the door, an angel moved the rod, and it came out of its own free will towards Moses. And Moses took the rod, and it was with him until God spake with him on Mount Sinai.
  26. R. Bauerreis, Arbor Vitae: Der "Lebensbaum" und seine Verwendung in Liturgie, Kunst und Brauchtum des Abendlandes (Munich: Neuer Filser-Verlag, 1938), 117-20.
  27. Geo Widengren, The King and the Tree of Life, 40-41; cf. Karl von Amira, Der Stab in der germanischen Rechtssymbolik: Abhandlungen der königlichen bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Philosophisch, philologisch, und historische Klasse 25:1 (1909): 113-21, esp. 114-15.
  28. The phrase cēṣ šemen, which appears in the description of the construction of the Temple of Solomon in 1 Kings 6:23, 31, 32, 33, has been rendered "wild olive tree," though without any clear justification. As Jehuda Feliks, "Olive," in Encyclopedia Judaica, 12:364, notes, the wild olive is a prickly shrub (cf. TB Baba Meẓia), which does not make it a particularly good candidate for use as a source of lumber.
  29. John L. Sorenson, "The 'Brass Plates' and Biblical Scholarship," Dialogue 10/4 (Autumn 1977): 33-34, stresses the likely northern origin of the plates of brass, as well as of the prophet Zenos.
  30. Gustav Dalman, Arbeit und Sitte in Palästina, 7 vols. (Gütersloh: Bertelsmann, 1935), 4:153-95, provides a detailed discussion of the culture of the olive in Palestine, based both on ancient sources (Old Testament, New Testament, Mishnah, Talmud, Midrash, etc.) and practices current during the early decades of the twentieth century.
  31. G. W. Ahlström, "zayith," in G. Johannes Botterweck and Helmer Ringgren, Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, David E. Green, tr. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1981), 4:58-62; A. G. Baxter and J. A. Ziesler, "Paul and Arboriculture: Romans 11:17-24," Journal for the Study of the New Testament 24 (1985): 25-32; Myles M. Bourke, A Study of the Metaphor of the Olive Tree in Romans XI (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America, 1947); Gustaf Dalman, Arbeit und Sitte in Palästina, 6 vols. (Gütersloh: Bertelsmann, 1935), 4:153-290; William M. Ramsay, "The Olive-Tree and the Wild-Olive," in Ramsay, Pauline and Other Studies in Early Christian History (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1906), 219-50; K. H. Rengstorf, "Das Ölbaum-Gleichnis in Röm 11, 16 ff.: Versuch einer weiterführenden Deutung," in E. Bammel, C. K. Barrett, and W. D. Davies, eds., Donum Gentilicum: New Testament Studies in Honour of David Daube (Oxford: Clarendon, 1978), 127-64; Roy A. Stewart, "Engrafting: A Study in New Testament Symbolism and Baptismal Application," Evangelical Quarterly 50 (1978): 8-22.
  32. The agrielaios is not an uncultivated speciment of kallielaios, but a different species, probably the oleaster.
  33. In A study of the Metaphor of the Olive Tree in Romans XI, Myles Bourke provides a detailed discussion of the meaning of the allegory without, however, discussing the horticultural feasibility of the engrafting described there.
  34. Origen, Commentary on Romans VIII, 10.
  35. Cf. Ramsay, "The Olive Tree and the Wild-Olive," 219-50.
  36. Columella, De Re Rustica V, 9, 16.
  37. Columella, De Re Rustica V, 11, 1; cf. ibid. V, 11, 12; cf. De Arboribus 26-27, where much the same material is repeated verbatim.
  38. Sven Linder, "Das Pfropfen mit wilden Ölzweigen (Röm. 11, 17)," Palästinajahrbuch 26 (1930): 40-43. Dalman, Arbeit und Sitte in Palästina, 4:184, cites Linder but says that his Arab friends found the idea ludicrous.
  39. Georg Benedikt Winer, Biblisches Realwörterbuch, 2 vols. (Leipzig: Reclaim, 1847-49), 2:171.
  40. Philo, De Exsecrationibus 6; cf. Hermann L. Strack and Paul Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch, 4 vols. (Munich: Beck, 1954), 3:291.
  41. TB Yebamot 63a.
  42. M Kil'ayim 6:5.
  43. M Kil'ayim 1:7; TY Kil'ayim 27a; TB 'Orlah 61; TB Siphra 89a.
  44. M Kil'ayim 1:7.
  45. M Kil'ayim 1:10.