Noah and the Olive Branch
WHAT I LEARNED WHEN I READ THE BIBLE
When Noah’s ark settled somewhere on the mountains of Ararat, the earth was still covered with water. Waiting close to three months for the floods to recede, Noah sent a dove out to see if it would return, knowing if it did that meant there was no dry land for the bird to perch. The dove returned, unsuccessful in finding a home away from the ark. In Noah’s second attempt to send the dove, the bird still returned, but this time carrying an olive leaf. “When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in it’s beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf!” (Genesis 8:11 NIV).
The olive tree was one of the most highly valued, and useful, trees to the ancient Jewish people. You will read mention of it all throughout the Bible. It was used for food, oils (including sacrificial oils), medicine, and lamps. It was also a common resource for furniture.
To Noah the olive branch meant new life and a new beginning. I believe it was symbolic of the new life that was prophesied throughout the Old Testament. We know just before Jesus was arrested and crucified, He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. The garden is filled with olive trees and the word Gethsemane means “olive press.” An olive is beaten and crushed to collect the oil that pours out. The same oil that was used in many sacrifices. Christ had to endure the “olive press” when He was beaten and crushed on the cross. It was only after His resurrection that the Holy Spirit was poured out on believers, just as the sacrificial oil poured out from the olive. It is through Jesus’ sacrifice we have new life and a new beginning, just as Noah did when the dove brought him hope through an olive branch.