trees

trees

In ancient Palestine, scrub forests of oak and terebinth that covered portions of the central hill country, Galilee and Gilead, and solitary specimens or groves that dotted the hills and valleys. Willows formed thickets along the Jordan (Jer 12:5) and flourished by perennial streams. Tamarisks marked the Negeb, and palms the oases. The prized cedar and firs grew only in Lebanon. Trees were valued for their shade, making them an attractive place to pitch a tent (Gen 13:18), build a shrine (Gen 12:6-7), or judge disputes (Judg 4:4). The ability of the deep-rooted tree to maintain its green foliage through summer heat and drought made it a symbol of life and endurance (Ps 1:3; Isa 65:22). The tree was also a symbol of might, especially the towering cedar (Ezek 31:3; Dan 4:10-12). Trees had sacred associations in both Israelite and Canaanite religion, serving as memorial objects (Gen 21:33) and as symbols of the Canaanite fertility goddess Asherah. They marked the “high places” honored by the patriarchs (Gen 12:6-7) but condemned by the prophets (Jer 3:6). Trees were also esteemed for their fruit (Gen 1:11; Gen 1:29; Gen 2:16). Jesus assumes this in his figurative teaching that a “tree is known by its fruit” (Matt 12:33; Matt 3:10). Palestinian trees were not generally suitable for lumber, though they were used for roof beams, furniture, and implements. Five NT passages also use the word “tree” to designate the cross (Acts 5:30; Acts 10:39; Acts 13:29; Gal 3:13; 1Pet 2:24).

Jer 12:5

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Gen 13:18

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Gen 12:6-7

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Judg 4:4

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Ps 1:3

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Isa 65:22

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Ezek 31:3

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Dan 4:10-12

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Gen 21:33

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Gen 12:6-7

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Jer 3:6

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Gen 1:11

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Gen 1:29

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Gen 2:16

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Matt 12:33

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Matt 3:10

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Acts 5:30

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Acts 10:39

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Acts 13:29

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Gal 3:13

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1Pet 2:24

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