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The Olive Trees of Gethsemane

by Sim Lee  
2/19/2019 / Travel


"Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane," Matthew 26:36 ESV

Many of the tourists who visit the Garden of Gethsemane leave with a favorable and vivid image in their minds of the eight olive trees there. With their gnarled, rugged and time-worn appearance, they make for some wonderful memories, as a walk among these old sentinels of history is to both physically and mentally associate with all things that happened there, reflecting upon those moments that our Lord spent in the Garden.

Further, most would find these olive trees to be a fitting image and testament of the Church: the Church has existed a very long time, it has weathered all that the political and natural elements have subjected it to, and it is still fruitful, producing good fruit as was intended.   Historically, by the Grace of God, we are the wild olives that were grafted onto the rootstock of Israel when they were blinded to the truth of Jesus.

Also, the Garden of Gethsemane is considered by many to be a place for the Son of Man who had no place to lay down His head. It was the place of peace that ushered in a transition to agony and betrayal, leading to the unfolding of the greatest moments in history.

That is our view as grateful believers, let us look at the scientific view:

Science has taken a closer look at these eight olive trees at the Garden of Gethsemane to determine their accurate age. Three have been carbon-dated and determined to be over 900 years old, while the other five were too fragile (hollowed out trunks) to test. With an age of 900 years old, the three tested are among the oldest olive trees on earth,* although the scientists feel that the other five trees are much older, possibly more than twice as old:

Further observation of the site determined that the root systems may be considerably older, prompting DNA testing that determined that all three of the trees are from the same parent stock, indicating that they were started as cuttings from a single tree.

Looking back in time for a possible explanation, about 900 years ago the second Gethsemane balisca was constructed, making it highly likely the three olive trees tested were started from one of the original trees that had to be removed to make room for the structure. Replacing an older tree with started cuttings of itself is still a common practice to keep the fruitful characteristics of a productive tree.

With a 2000 year old olive tree (the Al Badawi tree) being just five miles away in the city of Bethlehem, it is logical to conclude that these three olive trees examined in the Garden of Gethsemane were taken from the original olive trees that were there when our Lord Jesus was.

Note - It still remains to be determined if the other five trees may be a part of the original olive grove dating back to before 0 A.D.

* "Gethsemane Olive Trees Among World’s Oldest", By Naomi Tupper 10/30/2012 - Olive Oil Times

Sim Lee is a retired NE Iowan who loves all of God's creatures.

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