Creation is full of the beauty of many trees. Some are also mentioned in the Bible. Discover tree symbolism in the bible and find out the most inspiring ones.
The tree is a shelter and a shield, a symbol of fertility. Deeply rooted in the earth, it stretches towards the sky and symbolizes a wise man who respects the earth and aspires to God. The tree is precious and helpful for man in everyday life.
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The Bond Between God and People
The tree connects God and people. God speaks through his creation, primarily through the Bible’s many symbols. In the first place, the tree is a symbol of faith. He is protected and guarded by the one who places his faith and hopes in the Lord: “Blessed is the man who trusts in Jehovah and in whom Jehovah trusts.” It is like a tree planted by the water that sends its roots to the stream: it has nothing to fear when the heat comes and always remains green. It doesn’t care for a dry year; it does not stop bearing fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7)
The Most Inspiring Tree Symbolism in the Bible
The Apple Tree: The Tree of the Knowledge
The history of salvation begins around this tree: “Then Yahweh, God, make out of nowhere all kinds of trees – tempting to the eye but good for food – and the tree of life, in the middle of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:9) A man may eat fruit from any tree, but: “you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.!” (Genesis 2:17). The Jewish tradition often saw a fig tree in this tree, while the Christian tradition saw an apple in it since the Middle Ages.
Oak of Mamre: Power and Wisdom
“Yahweh appeared to him at the Mamre oak while he was sitting at the entrance to the tent for the heat of the day. Looking up, he saw three men standing not far from him. As soon as he saw them, he ran from the tent’s entrance to meet them.
He fell prostrate on the ground and said: “My Lord if I have gained favor in your eyes, do not pass your servant!” (Genesis 18:1). Under the oak of Mamre, God showed his power and his wisdom by announcing to Abraham the mission to lead his people. Oak is one of the noblest trees in creation.
Palm Tree: Love Between Spouses
The palm tree’s soft and harmonious movements symbolize the betrothed’s beauty and enthusiasm: “Your body is like a palm tree, your breasts are clusters of grapes. I said: I will climb the palm tree to reach its tops, and your breasts will be like clusters on the vine, the smell of your breath like apples” (Song of Songs 7,8). The palm tree is also a symbol of Christians: “The righteous blossoms like a palm tree…” (Psalm 92:13). An invitation to become visible signs and to immerse our roots in God’s love like a palm tree. Be “like a tree planted by flowing waters that bear fruit in its season; its leaves never wither, everything it does produces a good harvest.” (Psalm 1,3)
The Root of Jesse: Offspring
Christian art found inspiration for the genealogy of Jesus in Isaiah’s prophecy about the root of Jesse: “In that day: the offspring of Jesse, raised as a banner to the nations, the people will eagerly seek. And his abode will be glorious.” (Isaiah 11:10)
Big Tree – Nebuchadnezzar: Conceit
Dreams tormented King Nebuchadnezzar. Only the prophet Daniel could explain to him that God was warning him about arrogance, which could destroy him: “Here is a vision that crossed my mind on my bed: I looked, and there was a huge tree in the middle of the earth. The tree grew and became strong, its height reached the sky, and it could be seen from the ends of the earth. Its crown was beautiful, its fruits abundant; on it, there was food for everyone; in its shadow, the beast of the field rested; on its branches, the birds of the sky nested, and everybody was nourished by it. I was watching the visions that were running through my head on my bed when behold, the Watcher, the Saint, came down from heaven and shouted with a loud voice: “Cut down the tree, prune its branches, pluck its leaves, throw away its fruits! Let the animals flee from under it and the birds from its branches!” (Daniel 4:7)
Cedar: Force, Power, Greatness, Justice
“The righteous blossoms like a palm tree and grows like a cedar of Lebanon.” (Psalm 92:13). Cedar embodies the beauty of Lebanon. Still, it can also symbolize arrogance that provokes God’s wrath: “Hear! Yahweh breaks the cedars, Yahweh breaks the cedars of Lebanon…” (Psalm 29:5). The softwood is often used to make statues; Moses used it for his tabernacle. Cedar is also the wood from which most of Solomon’s Temple was built.
Cypress: Fertility and Generosity of the Creator
“I will plant cedar, acacia, myrtle, and olive trees in the desert. I will reforest the steppe with cypress, elm, and boxwood together. Let everyone see and know, let them think and understand: the hand of Yahweh did it; the Holy One of Israel created everything.” (Isaiah 41:19). The Garden of Eden was a place of abundance where a man could efficiently serve himself and eat. Sin changed nature, the earth was inhabited by desert, and only the Lord can make it fruitful.
The Vine: Salvation and Life
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.” (John 15:1). The vine is one of the wealthiest biblical symbols. It represents our human nature, which must be constantly purified, ridding itself again and again of sins like dry saplings and withered branches. It primarily represents Christ, whose body becomes a vine that bears fruit again in the hands of the Father.
Zacchaeus’ Wild Fig: The Search for God
“He ran forward and climbed a fig tree to see him because he had to pass that way. When Jesus came to that place, he looked up and said to him: “Zacchaeus, come down quickly! I want to stay at your house today. He hastily came down and received him all joyful.” (Luke 19:4) Zacchaeus is waiting for Jesus’ arrival on the wild fig tree. His search for God was rewarded.
Nathanael’s Fig Tree: Piety
Nathanael said to him: “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him: “I saw you before Philip called you, while you were under the fig tree.” (John 1:48). Jesus recognized the believer because he saw him under the fig tree. He recognized in him a pious man in whom there was no deceit.
Olive and the Mount of Olives: Pain
“And they came to a region called Gethsemani. And Jesus says to his disciples: “Sit here until I pray.” And he took Peter, James, and John with him. He was overcome with horror and anxiety and said to them: “My soul is sad to death! Stay here and watch!” (Mark 14:32). Gethsemane, translated as “olive press,” is the place of Jesus’ arrest.
Cross: Tree of Life
The cross is the tree of death, the only tree that does not grow out of the ground but was planted there by human hands: “The God of our fathers resurrected Jesus whom you killed by hanging him on a tree.” (Acts 5:30). In it, God saves his Son and all of humanity. The tree of death turns into the tree of life.