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Olive wood tree speaks…

Contributed by Toine Van Teeffelen on 24.05.2006:

The story of the olive wood tree

when he would be able to speak…

Have you ever wondered why there are so many signs and symbols of olive branches and doves and why the name “olive wood” sounds so special? Oh, if this beautiful little tree could speak, here are some of the wonderful secrets she would share with us.

I am a small shapely tree with pointed dark, green leaves and silvery undersides, grown for thousands of years for its fruit and oil. Would you believe the fascinating and exciting things I can tell you about myself?

I am first mentioned in the Bible in Genesis when Noah and a dove came forth to see if the waters had abated after the flood. The dove returned as it found no resting place. Seven days later, Noah again sent forth the dove, and it returned carrying an olive branch. So he knew that the waters were receding from the surface of the earth. This is perhaps my most famous symbol and recognized universally as a sign of peace, the peace God promised Noah.

I witnessed many events that took place on the Mount of Olives. Jesus Christ sat many times under my lovely branches, resting and teaching his followers in my shade. I acquired my symbol for healing too. Altogether I am mentioned over 37 times in the Bible.

It is my pleasure to have my branches pruned and trimmed regularly, for it keeps me looking young and growing vigorously. My wood may be fashioned into many beautiful articles for tourists and pilgrims to buy and enjoy, and take them as souvenirs from the Holy Land. Most of the trees from which the wood is pruned grow in and around the areas of Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Nazareth.

My lovely dark, natural grains are actually my growing rings which greatly enhance the products from me. I am a very old wood and one of the world’s oldest cultivated crops. Recently, when the roots of two old olive trees which had just died were removed from the Garden of Gethsemane, the Carbon 14 dating process was used and verified the fact that these two and the other eight, which are still standing, are over 2300 years old!

Keep me looking attractive and handsome indefinitely by occasionally wiping and oiling me with lemon or mineral oil. It brings out the beauty of my grains and renews me!

From: Stories of Bethlehem, A Narrative Approach to English Language Teaching. Al-Mawrid, Ramallah, 1995

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