From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [1]

FIG . ( te’çnâh ). The common fig, fruit of the Ficus carica , is cultivated from one end of Palestine to the other, especially in the mountainous regions, occupying to-day a place as important as it did in Bible times. The failure of the fig and grape harvest would even now bring untold distress (  Jeremiah 5:17 ,   Habakkuk 3:17 etc.). Although the figs are all of one genus, the fellahîn distinguish many varieties according to the quality and colour of the fruit.

The summer foliage of the fig is thick, and excels other trees for its cool and grateful shade. In the summer the owners of gardens everywhere may be seen sitting in the shadow of their fig trees. It is possible the references in  Micah 4:4 ,   Zechariah 3:10 may be to this, or to the not uncommon custom of having fig trees overhanging rural dwellings. Although fig trees are of medium height, some individual trees ( e.g. near Jenin reach to over 25 feet high. Self-sown fig trees are usually barren, and are known to the natives as wild or ‘male’ fig trees. The fruiting of the fig is very interesting and peculiar. Though earlier in the plains, the annual occurrence in the mountain regions, e.g. round Jerusalem, is as follows: The trees, which during the winter months have lost all their leaves, about the end of March begin putting forth their tender leaf buds (  Matthew 24:32 ,   Mark 13:28-32 ,   Luke 21:29-33 ), and at the junction of the old wood with these leaves appear at the same time the tiny figs. These little figs develop along with the leaves up to a certain point, to about the size of a small cherry, and then the great majority of them fall to the ground, carried down with every gust of wind. These immature figs are known as the taksh , and are eaten by the fellahîn as they fall; they may indeed sometimes be seen exposed for sale in the market in Jerusalem. They are the paggim (‘green figs’) of   Song of Solomon 2:13 , and the olynthoi (‘untimely figs’) of   Revelation 6:13 . In the case of some trees, especially the best varieties, a certain proportion of these little green figs continue to develop, and reach ripeness in June. These are then known as the dafûr or early figs, mentioned in   Isaiah 28:4 ,   Jeremiah 24:2 ,   Hosea 9:10 ,   Micah 7:1 , as bikkûrâh , ‘the figs first ripe.’ They are to-day, as of old, specially esteemed for their delicate flavour. As the dafûr are ripening, the little buds of the next crop begin to appear higher up the branches. These steadily develop and form the second and great crop of figs, which comes about August.

In the much-discussed miracle of our Lord ( Matthew 21:18-20 ,   Mark 11:12-13;   Mark 11:20-21 ) we may dismiss at once the theory that He came looking for figs from the previous season, as He would certainly not have found any such survivors, and such fruit would not have been eatable. On the other hand, at the Passover season, about April, when the young leaves are on the fig trees, every tree which is going to bear fruit at all will have some taksh on it, and so, though it is a true statement that ‘the time of figs,’ i.e. of ordinary edible figs, ‘was not yet’ (  Mark 11:13 ), yet there would be fruit which could be, and is to-day, eaten, and fruit, too, which would be a guarantee of a harvest to come later on. It was the want of promise of future fruitfulness in the Jewish nation for which they were condemned in the acted parable of the barren fig tree. It may be noted, however, that in May many fig trees may be found round Jerusalem which have dropped all their ‘green figs’ (none ripening to dafûr ) and have not yet put forth the buds of the late summer crop.

Figs are eaten in Palestine not only fresh but dried, the fruit being often threaded on to long strings for convenience of carriage. They are also pressed into a solid cake which can be cut in slices with a knife. These are the fig-cakes of  1 Samuel 25:18; 1Sa 30:12 ,   1 Chronicles 12:40 . A lump of such was used as a poultice for Hezekiah’s boil,   2 Kings 20:7 ,   Isaiah 28:21 .

E. W. G. Masterman.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [2]

Tenah , from Ta'An "to stretch out" its branches. The Ficus Carica (Carla being famed for figs) of Linnaeus. Under its appropriate covert Nathanael found that solitude and shade which suited his earnest communion with God ( John 1:48). Adam and Eve used its leaves to cover their shame and nakedness; Nathanael to lay bore his soul "without guile" before God. Mount Olivet is still famed for its figtrees as of old. "To sit under one's own vine and figtree" was the proverb for peace and prosperity; so under Solomon ( 1 Kings 4:25); type of the true Solomon, Prince of peace, and of His coming millennial reign ( Micah 4:4;  Zechariah 3:10); men will be safe in the open field as in the house. The early ripe fig is "the hasty fruit" ( Isaiah 28:4), Hebrew Bikurah , Spanish Bokkore . Figs usually ripened in August; earlier ones in June.

Esteemed a delicacy ( Jeremiah 24:2;  Hosea 9:10;  Micah 7:1): "when he that looketh upon it seeth, while it is yet in his hand, he eateth it up"; it looks so tempting he instantly swallows it; so the Assyrian conqueror Shalmaneser shall not merely conquer, but with impatient avidity destroy Samaria. The unripe fig ( Pag ) hangs through the winter and ripens in the spring about Easter ( Song of Solomon 2:13). Beth-phage, "house of green figs," is derived from it. Figs were compressed into the form of round cakes for keeping ( 1 Samuel 25:18), Debeelim . They were used as a plaster for boils ( Isaiah 38:21); God can make the most ordinary means effectual. The difficulty in  Mark 11:12 is solved thus: the leaves on the "one" figtree, when all others were bore, caught Jesus' eye "afar off"; as the fruit precedes the leaves, naturally He might have expected, for satisfying His hunger, figs from a tree with such a precocious show of leaf, even though the season of figs was not yet come.

It was the unseasonable display of leaves which led Him to come and see "if haply (if as might naturally be expected) He might find anything thereon." Similarly the Jews (for it was an acted parable) had the show of religion before the. general time of religious privileges; but that was all, the fruit of real love which ought to precede the profession was wanting. The "for" expresses the unseasonableness of the leaves. "He found nothing but leaves (I.E. He Found No Figs) ; FOR the time of figs was not yet." Mark states why no fruit was found, "for," etc. The reason why it ought to have had fruit is left for us to infer, namely, its abnormal precocious leaves, which Christ had a right to expect would be accompanied with abnormal fruit, for the fig fruit precedes the leaf. Christ cursed it, not because it was fruitless, (for the season of figs was not yet, and if it had been leafless He would not have sought fruit on it,) but because it was false to its high pretensions.

Thomson (The Land and the Book) says that in a sheltered spot figs of an early kind may occasionally be found ripe as soon as the beginning of April, the time of Christ's cursing the fig tree. In  Matthew 21:19 it is "one fig tree," standing out an exception to all the rest. The Jews' sin was, they were singled out by God from all nations ( Amos 3:2), and had the Tower to bring forth the leaves of precocious profession but not the will to bring forth the fruit of faith and love. The sheltering hillside of Olivet had protected it, the sunlight had cherished it, and the dews of heaven watered it; but precocious leaves were the only result.

Compare Isaiah 5 as to God's care of Israel; the only result was not merely unfruitfulness but deceptiveness, "the rustling leaves of a religious profession, barren traditions of the Pharisees, and vain exuberance of words without the good fruit of works" (Wordsworth); ostentatious promise of antedating the Gentile church in fruit, without performance; pretentious show and hypocrisy. Fig trees overhanging the road from Jerusalem to Bethany still grow out of the rocks of the mountain which, the Lord said, faith could remove to the distant sea ( Matthew 21:21). On Olivet too was spoken the parable of the budding fig tree, the sign of coming summer ( Luke 21:29-30). The August figs are the sweetest and best.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [3]

The fig tree is common in Palestine and the East, and flourishes with the greatest luxuriance in those barren and stony situations where little else will grow. Its large size, and its abundance of five-lobed leaves, render it a pleasant shade tree; and its fruit furnished a wholesome food, very much used in all the lands of the Bible. Thus it was a symbol of peace and plenty,  1 Kings 4:25   Micah 4:4   Zechariah 3:10   John 1:49-51 . Figs are of two sorts, the "baccore," and the "kermouse." The black and white boccore, or early fig, is produced in June; thought the kermouse, the fig properly so called, which is preserved, and made up into cakes, is rarely ripe before August. There is also a long dark-colored kermouse, that sometimes hangs upon the trees all winter.

The fruit of the fig tree is one of the delicacies of the East, and is very often spoken of in Scripture. The early fig was especially prized,  Isaiah 28:4   Jeremiah 24:2   Nahum 3:12 , though the summer fig is most abundant,  2 Kings 20:7   Isaiah 38:21 . It is a peculiarity of the fig tree that its fruit begins to appear before the leaves, and without any show of blossoms. It has, indeed, small and hidden blossoms, but the passage in  Habakkuk 3:17 , should read, according to the original Hebrew, "Although the fig tree should not bear," instead of "blossom." Its leaves come so late in the spring as to justify the words of Christ, "Ye know that summer is nigh,"  Matthew 24:32 Song of   Song of Solomon 2:13 . The fresh fruit is shaped like a pear. The dried figs of Palestine were probably like those which are brought to our own country; sometimes, however, they are dried on a string. We likewise read of "cakes of figs,"  1 Samuel 25:18   2 Kings 20:7   1 Chronicles 12:40 . These were probably formed by pressing the fruit forcibly into baskets or other vessels, so as to reduce them to a solid cake or lump. In this way dates are still prepared in Arabia.

The barren fig tree which was withered at our Savior's word, as an awful warning to unfruitful professors of religion, seems to have spent itself in leaves. It stood by the wayside, free to all; and as the time for stripping the trees of their fruit had not come,  Mark 11:14 , it was reasonable to expect to find it covered with figs in various stages of growth. Yet there was "nothing thereon, but leaves only,"  Matthew 21:19 .

Easton's Bible Dictionary [4]

 Genesis 3:7 Deuteronomy 8:8 1 Kings 4:25 Micah 4:4 Zechariah 3:10 2 Kings 20:7 1 Samuel 30:12 Jeremiah 24:2

Our Lord's cursing the fig-tree near Bethany ( Mark 11:13 ) has occasioned much perplexity from the circumstance, as mentioned by the evangelist, that "the time of figs was not yet." The explanation of the words, however, lies in the simple fact that the fruit of the fig-tree appears before the leaves, and hence that if the tree produced leaves it ought also to have had fruit. It ought to have had fruit if it had been true to its "pretensions," in showing its leaves at this particular season. "This tree, so to speak, vaunted itself to be in advance of all the other trees, challenged the passer-by that he should come and refresh himself with its fruit. Yet when the Lord accepted its challenge and drew near, it proved to be but as the others, without fruit as they; for indeed, as the evangelist observes, the time of figs had not yet arrived. Its fault, if one may use the word, lay in its pretensions, in its making a show to run before the rest when it did not so indeed" (Trench, Miracles).

The fig-tree of Palestine (Ficus carica) produces two and sometimes three crops of figs in a year, (1) the bikkurah, or "early-ripe fig" ( Micah 7:1;  Isaiah 28:4;  Hosea 9:10 , RSV), which is ripe about the end of June, dropping off as soon as it is ripe ( Nahum 3:12 ); (2) the kermus, or "summer fig," then begins to be formed, and is ripe about August; and (3) the pag (plural "green figs,"  Song of Solomon 2:13; Gr. olynthos,  Revelation 6:13 , "the untimely fig"), or "winter fig," which ripens in sheltered spots in spring.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [5]

Like olives and grapes, figs were plentiful in Israel and neighbouring countries ( Deuteronomy 8:8;  Judges 9:8-13;  Jeremiah 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;  Joel 1:12;  Micah 4:4). The cultivation of fig trees required years of patient labour, and the failure of a harvest was a major calamity ( Proverbs 27:18;  Luke 13:7; cf.  Psalms 105:33;  Habakkuk 3:17).

People ate figs either fresh or dried and often made them into cakes ( 1 Samuel 25:18;  1 Chronicles 12:40;  Nahum 3:12). They also believed that figs had some medicinal value ( Isaiah 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 ( Matthew 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).

People's Dictionary of the Bible [6]

Fig, Fig Tree. This, Ficus Carica, was a tree very common in Palestine.  Deuteronomy 8:8. Mount Olivet was famous anciently for fig trees; and still some are to be found there. The first notice we have of this tree is when Adam and Eve endeavored to clothe themselves with leaves.  Genesis 3:7. Whether the leaves they used were those of the ordinary fig tree may be questioned; but the practice of fastening leaves together for various utensils, as baskets, etc., is common in the East to the present day. Not only was the fresh fruit of the fig tree valued, but also cakes of figs are mentioned in Scripture; E.G.,  1 Samuel 25:18;  1 Samuel 30:12, These were made either by simple compression, or by pounding them into a mass, sometimes together with dates. They were then cut into cakes, often similar to bricks, and hardened by keeping. Twice the fig tree is mentioned in the New Testament. Our Lord, shortly before his crucifixion, being hungry, sought fruit from a fig tree, and, finding none, condemned it.  Matthew 21:18-20;  Mark 11:12-14;  Mark 11:20. It was early in the season, not the ordinary time for figs; but yet, as the fruit precedes the leaves, and there were leaves on this tree, figs might naturally have been expected on it; and, as there were then none, there was proof enough that the pretentious tree was worthless. The parable of the fig tree spared at the intercession of the dresser of the garden,  Luke 13:6-9, is full of instruction. There is, it may be added, an expressive phrase in which the fig tree is introduced; when men axe said to sit under their own vine and their own fig tree,  1 Kings 4:26;  Zechariah 3:10, a state of general peace and prosperity is indicated.

Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words [7]

1: Σῦκον (Strong'S #4810 — Noun Neuter — sukon — soo'-kon )

denotes "the ripe fruit of a suke, a fig-tree" (see below; cp. No. 2),  Matthew 7:16;  Mark 11:13;  Luke 6:44;  James 3:12 .

2: Ὄλυνθος (Strong'S #3653 — Noun Masculine — olunthos — ol'-oon-thos )

denotes "an unripe fig," which grows in winter and usually falls off in the spring,  Revelation 6:13 . In the Sept., Song of Sol., 2:13.

Webster's Dictionary [8]

(1): ( n.) To put into the head of, as something useless o/ contemptible.

(2): ( n.) The value of a fig, practically nothing; a fico; - used in scorn or contempt.

(3): ( n.) Figure; dress; array.

(4): ( n.) A small piece of tobacco.

(5): ( n.) The fruit of a fig tree, which is of round or oblong shape, and of various colors.

(6): ( n.) A small fruit tree (Ficus Carica) with large leaves, known from the remotest antiquity. It was probably native from Syria westward to the Canary Islands.

(7): ( n.) To insult with a fico, or contemptuous motion. See Fico.

King James Dictionary [9]

FIG, n. L. ficus Heb.

1. The fruit of the fig tree, which is of a round or oblong shape, and a dark purplish color, with a pulp of a sweet taste. But the varieties are numerous some being blue, others red, and others of a dark brown color. 2. The fig tree.


1. To insult with ficoes or contemptuous motions of the fingers. Little used. 2. To put something useless into one's head. Not used.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [10]

Fig. See Fig Tree .

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [11]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Fig'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.