Figs are very significate in Jewish culture. The fig is one of the seven varieties of foods mentioned in the Tenach as being a blessing to Israel. “For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams and springs and fountains issuing from plain and hill; a land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey; a land where you may eat food without stint, where you will lack nothing.” Deuteronomy 8:7-9. Figs are also one of the core agricultural products produced in Israel. (“Fig”, n.d)
Figs are grown on trees with thick leaves, and unlike other trees whose leaves may shed in the fall fig leaves are shed in winter. The leaves are also mentioned in the Tenach after Adam and Eve sinned. It states, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were without clothes. So they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves clothing.” Genesis 3:7. Fig fruit is produced twice a year, once in early summer and again in the fall. The fruit that grows early in the year are from baby figs that have not matured the year before. The early harvest is maybe what the Jewish prophet Micah was referring to in the Bible. “It is bad for me! For I am like those who pick fruit and gather grapes. There are no grapes to eat, or any of the early figs that I want so much.” Micah 7:1 (“Fig”, n.d)
And since the leaves of the fig would be on the tree at the same time the fruit is maturing that is why a fruitless leafy fig tree could be considered a sign of hypocrisy by the Jewish Rabbi Yeshua, “The next morning, on his way back to the city, he felt hungry. Spotting a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. So he said to it, ‘May you never again bear fruit!’ and immediately the fig tree dried up.” Matthew 21:18-19 Even if it was not the season for rip figs, there should have been figs in the process of growing when the leaves are on the tree.
Yeshua didn’t condemn the fig tree for not having mature fruit or fruit that was not as sweet as the figs found on others tree but for not even trying to have fruit while putting on an outward show of leaves as if it was a productive plant. God understands where we are developmentally and it is our willingness to produce good fruit in our lives by following God that matters, not where we currently are in that process. Pretending to be what we are not spiritually is an offense to God. So as you can see the fig has a rich history in both Jewish teachings and Jewish tummies. So if you have never eaten a fig maybe you should consider tasting one and study the many lessons the Bible teaches with this fruit.
Reference: Author Unknown n.d “Fig” Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael Jewish National Fund received from http://www.kkl-jnf.org/tourism-and-recreation/touring-holy-land/trees/fig.aspx
Picture originally found here