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Recent Notes About Olives in Antiquity

TitleRecent Notes About Olives in Antiquity
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2000
AuthorsHess, Wilford M.
JournalBYU Studies Quarterly
KeywordsAllegory; Olives; Zenos (Prophet)

When a group of LDS scholars collaborated in 1994 under the auspices of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies to publish a book on the allegory of the olive tree in Jacob 5, few substantial works on olive production in the ancient world existed. Now, two new archaeological books add a wealth of information to our understanding of the importance of the olive in ancient life. The first mention of the olive in the Book of Mormon is found in Lehi’s prediction of the Babylonian captivity and the coming of the Lamb of God. Lehi compared the house of Israel to an olive tree whose branches would be broken off and scattered upon all the face of the earth (1 Ne. 10:12). After being scattered,the house of Israel would be gathered and the natural branches of the olive tree, or the remnants of the house of Israel, would be grafted in, or come to a knowledge of the true Messiah (1 Ne. 10:14). In this passage, Lehi probably drew upon Zenos’s allegory, found on the plates of brass. In incredible horticultural detail, that allegory compares the house of Israel to an olive tree. Yet that Old World information was apparently lost among Lehi’s descendants in the New World. After the fifth chapter of Jacob, the olive is not mentioned again in the Book of Mormon.