Why “Under The Fig Tree”? Well, I was searching for a Biblical metaphor or image to use as the title of a new blog specifically on Christian spirituality. This “quest” led me to one thing and another until finally, while stumbling around in the vast maze that is the world wide web, I ended up at the Catholic encyclopedia website www.newadvent.org where under the category “Plants in the Bible” I found this reference to the humble fig tree:
Figs (Hebrew te’ênim), the fruit of the fig tree (Hebrew te’ênah), Ficus carica, growing spontaneously and cultivated throughout the Holy Land. The fruit buds, which appear at the time of the “latter rains” (spring), are called “green figs” (Song of Songs 2:13; Hebrew pag, cf. Beth-phage), which, “late in spring” (Matthew 24:32), ripen under the overshadowing leaves, hence Mark, xi, 13, and the parable of the barren fig tree (Matthew 21:19, 21; Mark 11:20-6; Luke 13:6-9). Precociously ripening figs (Hebrew bikkurah) are particularly relished; the ordinary ripe fruit is eaten fresh or dried in compressed cakes (Hebrew debelah: 1 Samuel 25:18, etc.). Orientals still regard figs as the best poultice (2 Kings 20:7; Isaiah 38:21; St. Jerome, “In Isaiam”, xxxviii, 21, in P.L., XXIV, 396).
And the further I read, the more I realized the less I knew – about figs and fig trees, metaphors and images, my faith, sacred history, anything and everything! I learnt how St. Augustine had interpreted the term “fig tree” as a metaphor for the human race. Then I remembered the story of the Fall, the subsequent exile and the fig leaves that offered Adam and Eve their first clothing. Talk about a real catechism class!
Finally, since just yesterday was Valentine’s Day, I leave with these words from the Songs of Songs, again taken from the newadvent website:
‘The fig tree hath put forth her green figs: the vines in flower yield their sweet smell. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come: My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hollow places of the wall, show me thy face, let thy voice sound in my ears: for thy voice is sweet, and thy face comely.” – the story of Christ’s love for his bride – which is each one of us.
Welcome! And, Happy Valentine!