Day 5 (8) Zacchaeus and Sycamore Tree in Jericho

Zacchaeus and Sycamore Tree

On our way we saw a Sycamore Tree that is believed to be at the sight where Zacchaeus climbed on top of a Sycamore tree to see Jesus passing by.

The Sycamore

The sycamore, the "ficus sycomorus," belongs to the same family of the fig tree. Its name comes from the Greek "sicon," fig and "moros," blackberry bush. That is, the sycamore has leaves similar to the blackberry bush and fruit similar to the fig. In Jesus' time there were a great number of sycamores in the Holy Land. Its wood was commonly used because it is harder than that of the fig tree. Today, it is a rare tree in the Holy Land. We can find sycamores in Jericho and in Gaza. One of them in Jericho is 15 meters high. Let us remember that the fig tree is never higher than 5 meters.

The New Testament mentions the sycamore: He (Jesus) entered Jericho and was going through the town when a man whose name was Zacchaeus made his appearance; he was one of the senior tax col/ectors and a wealthy man. He was anxious to see what kind of man Jesus was, but he was too short and could not see him for the crowd; so he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus who was to pass that way. When Jesus reached the spot He looked up and spoke to him: "Zacchaeus, come down. Hurry, because I must stay at your house today" (Lk. 19:1-5). Here also Zacchaeus, as Nathanael did, goes in search of the truth and climbs a sycamore tree (that belongs to the same family of the fig tree). Zacchaeus takes the first step, climbing on a tree; Jesus takes the second one, calling him by his name.

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