Oil Tree

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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [1]

OIL TREE ( ‘çts-shemen ,   1 Kings 6:23 ]   1 Kings 6:31-33 [plur. ‘ăts çshemen ], AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘olive tree,’ mg. ‘trees of oil’ or ‘oily trees,’ RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘olive wood’;   Nehemiah 8:15 AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘ pine branches ,’ RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘branches of wild olive’;   Isaiah 41:19 AV [Note: Authorized Version.] and RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘oil tree,’ RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] ‘oleaster’). Where there is such variation in translation, it is evident that what particular ‘tree of oil’ is here referred to is far from determined. The olive itself is improbable from   Nehemiah 8:15 , where the olive tree is mentioned just before; and that the branches of ‘wild olive’ should be specially specified, where so like those of the cultivated variety, is improbable. The oleaster ( Eleagnus angustifolia ), a beautiful and common shrub, would suit, except that it is difficult to see how it could ever have furnished a block of wood sufficient for the two cherubim ‘each ten cubits high’ (  1 Kings 6:23 ); olive wood (as RV [Note: Revised Version.] suggests) would certainly seem more appropriate. Perhaps Post’s suggestion that it was some kind of pine the ‘oil’ or ‘fat’ being the resin is as likely as any.

E. W. G. Masterman.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [2]

Oil Tree. (Hebrew, ets shemen ). The Hebrew words occur in  Nehemiah 8:15. (Authorized Version, "pine branches"),  1 Kings 6:23, ( "Olive Tree" ), and in  Isaiah 41:19. ( "Oil Tree" ).

From the passage in Nehemiah, where the ets shemen is mentioned as distinct from the olive tree, if may perhaps be identified with the Zackum tree of the Arabs, the Balanites aegyptiaca , a well-known and abundant shrub, or small tree, in the plain of Jordan. The zackum oil is held in high repute by the Arabs, for its medicinal properties. See Olive .

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

'Eets Shemen ( Isaiah 41:19), but in KJV  Nehemiah 8:15 "pine branches." Probably the Zackum or Βalanites Αegyptiaca is meant. Distinct from the Zayit , "olive tree." The Zackum is a small tree abundant in the Jordan plain. It is found all the way from India to Syria, Abyssinia, and the Niger. The zackum oil is highly esteemed by the Arabs as a remedy for wounds.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [4]

This occurs but once in the A.V. ( Isaiah 41:19 ), but the Hebrew ( ets shemen ) occurs also in  1 Kings 6:23 , where it is translated 'olive tree;' and in  Nehemiah 8:15 , where it is rendered 'pine branches:' 'olive branches' being mentioned in the same verse would seem to indicate that the 'tree of oil' is distinct from the olive tree. Some believe it to be the Balanites AEgyptiaca; but others identify it with the Elaeagnus angustifolius .

Holman Bible Dictionary [5]

 Isaiah 41:19 1 Kings 6:31-33  Nehemiah 8:15

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [6]

oil trē ( שׁמן עץ , ‛ēc shemen (  Isaiah 41:19 ), margin "oleaster," in  Nehemiah 8:15 , translated "wild olive," the King James Version "pine"; שׁמן עצי , ‛ācē shemen , in  1 Kings 6:23 ,  1 Kings 6:31 ,  1 Kings 6:32 , translated "olive wood"): The name "oleaster" used to be applied to the wild olive, but now belongs to quite another plant, the silver-berry, Eleagnus hortensis (Natural Order Elaeagnaceae ), known in Arabic as Zeizafan. It is a pretty shrub with sweet-smelling white flowers and silver-grey-green leaves. It is difficult to see how all the three references can apply to this tree; it will suit the first two, but this small shrub would never supply wood for carpentry work such as that mentioned in 1 Kings, hence, the translation "olive wood." On the other hand, in the reference in  Nehemiah 8:15 , olive branches are mentioned just before, so the translation "wild olive" (the difference being too slight) is improbable. Post suggests the translation of 'ec shemen by Pine (which see), which if accepted would suit all the requirements.