Mark 11:13-14, Cursing the Fig Tree

And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.

//Ever wonder why Jesus cursed the tree for not producing fruit, when it wasn’t the season for figs anyway? This seems to puzzle a lot of people, but it wouldn’t puzzle Palestinians. Because the fig tree does produce fruit before its fig season. This fruit is called phage (fah-gay) in Hebrew, and begins to appear as soon as the first leaves appear in the spring. While Mark’s story takes place before the season for sukon (Greek, meaning, ripe figs) and the fact that the tree had leaves at all indicates that it should have also had the edible preseason phage.

After Jesus visits Jerusalem, he and his entourage pass back by the fig tree, and find it withered. This is a literary technique Mark uses multiple times; he sandwiches one story inside another. In this case, his visit to Jerusalem is the time when he overturned the tables of the moneychangers in the Temple. He says the merchants are making the House of God into a den of thieves … “and the scribes and chief priests heard it,” echoing the language at the end of verse 14. Clearly, Jesus ties the withering of the fruit tree to the upcoming destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple forty years later, when it literally became a “den of thieves.”

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