Like olives and grapes, figs were plentiful in Israel and neighbouring countries (Deut 8:8; Judg 9:8- 13; Jer 5:17). The saying ‘to sit under one’s own vine and fig tree’ indicated the enjoyment of long-lasting peace, contentment and prosperity. On the other hand ‘to lay waste one’s vines and fig trees’ indicated devastation and ruin (1 Kings 4:25; 2 Kings 18:31; Hosea 2:12; Joel 1:7,12; Micah 4:4). The cultivation of fig trees required years of patient labour, and the failure of a harvest was a major calamity (Prov 27:18; Luke 13:7; cf. Ps 105:33; Hab 3:17). People ate figs either fresh or dried and often made them into cakes (1 Sam 25:18; 1 Chron 12:40; Nahum 3:12). They also believed that figs had some medicinal value (Isa 38:21). Healthy fig trees bore fruit for about ten months of the year, though they lost their leaves and grew new ones according to the season (Matt 24:32). Jesus on one occasion was disappointed when he found that a fig tree that should have had fruit on it (even though the season for picking the fruit had not yet arrived) had no fruit at all. He saw the fruitless tree as symbolic of Israel, a nation that was useless to God. It produced no spiritual fruit and would fall under God’s judgment (Mark 11:12-14; cf. Luke 13:6- 9).

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