The Olive – a Contemporary Allegory
by Gavriel Engel
The olive figures among the seven species with which the Land of Israel was blessed and it is one of the three crops that constituted the basis of the land’s economy. The olive is a symbol of peace, might and resistance, as many trees were uprooted during the Flood, but not the olive tree. The dove carried one of its branches in its beak and became along with the olive tree an emblem of power and peace.
In agriculture the olive tree has marked and demarcated lands and plots for generations. It signifies ownership and establishes deed – this is my land! The trunk of the tree causes sprouts to grow “your wife like a fruitful vine in the heart of your house; your children like shoots of the olive, around your table” (Psalms 128). The olive tree, therefore, is not only a unit that demarcated physical territories in the past, but also one that points toward the future. This is a strength that expresses the cohesion and power of the trunk, because if the trunk dies, the†sprouts will unite and will replace the old trunk with a new one, whereby the power will constantly be renewed. These emblems may also be found on the lapel of IDF officer uniforms and on their ranks, where the olive symbolizes the link between might and the yearning for peace.