Learning Hebrew Online - The Olive

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By Shira Choen-Regev - The eteacherHebrew Team

Shalom friends,

Olives –  tiny fruit, bitter when picked, tasty and healthy after being treated; dark-green leaves that reveal their silvery glow, when they meet the sun rays; a magnificent latticed trunk, evolving from strong and figurative roots that hold on to a light, non-rich soil. Olive trees can easily resist drought, diseases, and even fire - their roots regenerate the trees even after the ground is destroyed. Therefore they live many years, and the older they get, the more interesting and pictorial they appear.

1,200 years old olive tree in Tsuba, near Jerusalem
Picture by Shira Cohen-Regev

The olive fruit is tasty and healthful, not to mention the oil that it produces – known for ages for its nutritional and healing value, as-well-as its significant role in anointing kings and high-priests.
And the most significant of all – the olive leaves, which are the symbol of peace. The dove brought Noah an olive-leaf after the flood, to show that the waters had abated off earth, and that peace had been restored. Since then, olive leaves symbolize the hope for peace, the hope that peace takes the place of all the evil and destruction of the world, the hope that we live in a safe and quiet place.
 The State of Israel chose the olive leaves around the Menorah as its emblem. The olive leaves symbolize peace, as this is the wish of our state. The olive also symbolizes light, as the oil produced from the olive lightened the Menorah in the Temple.
In this time of the year, in autumn, olives are harvested. The boughs, or the whole tree are shaken and the olives fall into a sheet set on the ground. The harvester can also stand on a ladder and "milk" the olives into a sack, or use an electric tool that removes fruit from the tree. The most important technique of harvesting olives is doing it at once, so no olives fall to the ground without being picked. Therefore, olive harvesting requires much cooperation. The wonderful product gives the Mediterranean kitchen its unique flavor. That's why the olive is one of the Seven Species the Land of Israel was blessed with.
Let us live our lives with all the traits that symbolize the olive: peace and calmness, light and beauty, fruitfulness and longevity.

See you,

שִׁירָה כֹּהֵן-רֶגֶב
Shira Cohen-Regev
The eTeacherHebrew Team

Hebrew Words

Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine
Transcription:  zayit
Translation: olive


Part of Speech: gerund , Masculine
Transcription:  mesik
Translation: olive harvesting or picking

בֵּית בַּד
Part of Speech: construct state
Transcription:  beyt bad
Translation: oil-press

Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine
Transcription:  shemen
Translation: oil

Part of Speech: Noun, Feminine
Transcription:  yona
Translation: dove, pigeon

Hebrew Verses

וַתָּבֹא אֵלָיו הַיּוֹנָה לְעֵת עֶרֶב, וְהִנֵּה עֲלֵה-זַיִת טָרָף בְּפִיהָ; וַיֵּדַע נֹחַ, כִּי-קַלּוּ הַמַּיִם מֵעַל הָאָרֶץ.  (בראשית ח', י"א)
And the dove came unto him at eventide; and lo in her mouth an olive-leaf freshly plucked; so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off the earth. (Genesis 8:11)

The olive also appears in the Jotham parable, as a potential tree to rule the trees:
 הָלוֹךְ הָלְכוּ הָעֵצִים, לִמְשֹׁחַ עֲלֵיהֶם מֶלֶךְ; וַיֹּאמְרוּ לַזַּיִת, מלוכה (מָלְכָה) עָלֵינוּ.  וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם, הַזַּיִת, הֶחֳדַלְתִּי אֶת-דִּשְׁנִי, אֲשֶׁר-בִּי יְכַבְּדוּ אֱלֹהִים וַאֲנָשִׁים; וְהָלַכְתִּי, לָנוּעַ עַל-הָעֵצִים. (שופטים ט', ח'-ט')

The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive-tree: Reign thou over us. But the olive-tree said unto them: Should I leave my fatness, seeing that by me they honour God and man, and go to hold sway over the trees?  (Judges 9:8-9)

Interesting Facts about Olives
•    Some olive trees have been known to live for more than 2,000 years.
•    רְחוֹב הַזַּיִת – The Olive Street is the most popular name for streets in Israel.
•    The olive tree becomes fruitful when it is six years old, but the older it gets the more fruitful it is.
•    Olive trees tend to be more fruitful every other year. Most often, all trees in a grove, or in a certain area tend to be fruitful in the same year.
•    The symbol of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF, צְבָא הֲגָנָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל – צה"ל) shows a sword wrapped by an olive branch.


Hebrew Names


Name:    Izhar (Yitzhar)
Gender:    Male   
Meaning:    Refined fresh olive oil.

History:    Izhar was Levi's grandson and Korah's father.

"And the sons of Kohath, Amram, and Izhar, and Hebron, and Uzziel." Exodus 6, 18


Name:    Jonah (Yona)

Gender:    Male / Female       
Meaning:    Dove, pigeon.       
History:    A name of a prophet. While trying to escape from his mission as a prophet, he was swallowed by a big fish and lived in its belly for three days.       
Citation:    "Now the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before me." Jonah 1, 1-2.       

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