The Olive in the Jewish and Israeli culture

The amazing olive tree can reach the age of 2,000, regenerate after fire, and produce oil for cooking, lighting, and even anointing kings.

Learning Hebrew Online - The Olive
By Shira Choen-Regev - The eteacherHebrew Team
Shalom friends,
Olives–  tiny fruit, bitter when picked, tasty and healthy after beingtreated; dark-green leaves that reveal their silvery glow, when theymeet the sun rays; a magnificent latticed trunk, evolving from strongand figurative roots that hold on to a light, non-rich soil. Olivetrees can easily resist drought, diseases, and even fire - their rootsregenerate the trees even after the ground is destroyed. Therefore theylive many years, and the older they get, the more interesting andpictorial they appear.

1,200 years old olive tree in Tsuba, near Jerusalem
Picture by Shira Cohen-Regev
Theolive fruit is tasty and healthful, not to mention the oil that itproduces – known for ages for its nutritional and healing value,as-well-as its significant role in anointing kings and high-priests.
Andthe most significant of all – the olive leaves, which are the symbol ofpeace. The dove brought Noah an olive-leaf after the flood, to showthat the waters had abated off earth, and that peace had been restored.Since then, olive leaves symbolize the hope for peace, the hope thatpeace takes the place of all the evil and destruction of the world, thehope that we live in a safe and quiet place.
 TheState of Israel chose the olive leaves around the Menorah as itsemblem. The olive leaves symbolize peace, as this is the wish of ourstate. The olive also symbolizes light, as the oil produced from theolive lightened the Menorah in the Temple.
In this time of the year,in autumn, olives are harvested. The boughs, or the whole tree areshaken and the olives fall into a sheet set on the ground. Theharvester 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 mostimportant technique of harvesting olives is doing it at once, so noolives fall to the ground without being picked. Therefore, oliveharvesting requires much cooperation. The wonderful product gives theMediterranean kitchen its unique flavor. That's why the olive is one ofthe Seven Species the Land of Israel was blessed with.
Let us liveour lives with all the traits that symbolize the olive: peace andcalmness, 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
וַתָּבֹאאֵלָיו הַיּוֹנָה לְעֵת עֶרֶב, וְהִנֵּה עֲלֵה-זַיִת טָרָף בְּפִיהָ;וַיֵּדַע נֹחַ, כִּי-קַלּוּ הַמַּיִם מֵעַל הָאָרֶץ.  (בראשית ח', י"א)
Andthe dove came unto him at eventide; and lo in her mouth an olive-leaffreshly plucked; so Noah knew that the waters were abated from off theearth. (Genesis 8:11)

The olive also appears in the Jotham parable, as a potential tree to rule the trees:
 הָלוֹךְהָלְכוּ הָעֵצִים, לִמְשֹׁחַ עֲלֵיהֶם מֶלֶךְ; וַיֹּאמְרוּ לַזַּיִת,מלוכה (מָלְכָה) עָלֵינוּ.  וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם, הַזַּיִת, הֶחֳדַלְתִּיאֶת-דִּשְׁנִי, אֲשֶׁר-בִּי יְכַבְּדוּ אֱלֹהִים וַאֲנָשִׁים;וְהָלַכְתִּי, לָנוּעַ עַל-הָעֵצִים. (שופטים ט', ח'-ט')
Thetrees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they saidunto the olive-tree: Reign thou over us. But the olive-tree said untothem: Should I leave my fatness, seeing that by me they honour God andman, 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, alltrees in a grove, or in a certain area tend to be fruitful in the sameyear.
•    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 aprophet. While trying to escape from his mission as a prophet, he wasswallowed by a big fish and lived in its belly for three days.       
Citation:    "Now the word ofthe Lord came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go toNineveh, that great city, and cry against it, for their wickedness hascome up before me." Jonah 1, 1-2.       
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