“The next day, when they were come to Bethany, Jesus was hungry, and seeing a fig tree from afar, covered with leaves, He came if perhaps He might find something on it, but on closer inspection found only leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Jesus said to it, ‘May no one eat fruit from you forever,’ And the disciples heard Him. . . . Passing by early the next morning they saw the fig tree withered from its roots.” (Mark 11:12-20)
To the Western mind, here is a perplexing case of apparent injustice. But see how H. V. Morton, that observant pre-war traveller in the Middle East, wrote about it –
“It seems to me that many commentators are wrong in the way they handle this incident. Even Dr.Edersheim, whose knowledge must induce feelings of the deepest reverence in all who attempt to write about the times of Jesus, seems to assume that Jesus was looking for figs on the fig tree. But He was not. The Passover month is too early for figs. “He found nothing but leaves,” says St. Mark, “for it was not the season for figs.” How unjust to curse a tree, some critics have said, because it did not produce figs out of season.
“This shows how difficult it is to comment on the Bible without some knowledge of the Bible country. What Jesus was looking for were not figs but green knobs about as big as an almond, which the Palestinian peasants eat to-day and call tagsh. These appear sometimes before the leaves, butalways in the budding time, and, after growing to the size of nuts, fall off to make way for the real fruit. Therefore a tree without tagsh will have no figs later on. The Gospel accounts, although puzzling to anyone who does not know this, are always meticulously accurate.”
As Jesus saw no spiritual tagsh in the nation, therefore He knew there would be no harvest later. The story then became a meaningful prophecy, and the Book of Acts portrayed its fulfilment.
[H. V. Morton, In the Steps of the Master, 1934. Chapter 10, §9, page 351. Henry Vollam Morton, 1892 – 1979, FRSL was a journalist and pioneering travel writer from Lancashire, England, best known for his prolific and popular books on Britain and the Holy Land.
Alfred Edersheim, 1825 – 1889, was a Jewish convert to Christianity and a Biblical scholar known especially for his bookThe Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah.]