Spiritual Meaning of

Bible Meanings Back to Words index Back to Plant words index

That the olive signifies the good of charity, is evident from the signification in the Word not only of an olive, but also of oil. It was with olive oil, together with spices, that the priests and kings were anointed, and it was with olive oil that the lamps were trimmed (Exod. 30:24; 27:20). The reason olive oil was used for anointing and for lamps was that it represented all that is celestial, and therefore all the good of love and of charity; for the oil is the very essence of the tree, and is as it were its soul, just as the celestial, or the good of love and of charity, is the very essence or the very soul of faith; and hence oil has this representation. That oil signifies what is celestial, or the good of love and of charity, may be confirmed from many passages of the Word; but as it is the olive-tree that is mentioned here, we will merely present some passages that confirm its signification. As in Jeremiah:--

Jehovah called thy name a green olive-tree, fair with goodly fruit (Jeremiah 11:16),

where the Most Ancient or Celestial Church is so called, which was the foundation church of the Jewish Church; and therefore all the representatives of the Jewish Church had regard to celestial things, and through these to the Lord.

[2] In Hosea:--

His branches shall spread, and his honor shall be as the olive-tree, and his smell as of Lebanon (Hosea 14:6),

which is said of the church that is to be planted, whose honor is the olive-tree, that is, the good of love and of charity; the smell as of Lebanon, being the affection of the truth of faith therefrom. Lebanon" stands for its cedars, which signified spiritual things, or the truths of faith. In Zechariah, speaking of the lampstand:--

Two olive-trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof; these are the two sons of the pure oil that stand by the Lord of the whole earth (Zechariah 4:3, 11, 14).

Here the two olive-trees denote the celestial and the spiritual, thus love, which is of the celestial church, and charity, which is of the spiritual church. These are on the right hand and on the left hand of the Lord. The lampstand here signifies, as in the Jewish Church it represented, the Lord; its lamps signify celestial things from which are spiritual, as from a flame proceed rays of light, or light. In David:--

Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine in the sides of thy house; thy sons like olive-plants (Ps. 128:3);

where wife as a vine, denotes the spiritual church; sons the truths of faith, which are called olive-plants, because from the goods of charity. In Isaiah:--

Yet there shall be left therein gleanings, as the shaking of an olive-tree, two or three berries in the top of the branch (Isaiah 17:6);

where the subject treated of is the remains in man; of an olive-tree, denoting celestial remains. In Micah:--

Thou shalt tread the olive, but shalt not anoint thee with oil; and the vintage, but shalt not drink the wine (Micah 6:15).

And in Moses:--

Thou shalt plant vineyards and dress them, but thou shalt not drink of the wine; thou shalt have olive-trees throughout all thy border, but thou shalt not anoint thyself with the oil (Deut. 28:39, 40),

where the subject is the abundance of doctrinal teachings about the goods and truths of faith, which by reason of their character, those people rejected. From these passages it is evident that a leaf signifies the truth of faith, and an olive the good of charity; and that like things are signified by the olive-leaf which the dove brought in her mouth; that is, that there now appeared in the man of the Ancient Church some little of the truth of faith from the good of charity.

from AC 886

Back to Words index, Back to Plant words index

Author:  E. Swedenborg (1688-1772). Design:  I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002. www.BibleMeanings.info