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The Fig

Fig

 

Skin so tender and fleshy that it feels almost human. Contents that are an exotic blend of fruit jam and honey …..This is the figand anyone lucky enough to gently open a ripe figjust off the tree, or softly bite into its soft flesh, will experience something that is more like a kiss than a food. It’s no surprise then that figs have been prized since the dawn of history.

Overflowing with antioxidants and vitamins, juicy perfumed figs seem to have been created for us to enjoy without guilt – perhaps this is why the figis associated so strongly with the Garden of Eden. And according to Jewish tradition, the Tree of Knowledge is believed to have been the figtree. Another indication of its importance is that the figleaf is the first fuit mentioned by name in the bible and was the first item of clothing that Adam and Eve wore in paradise to cover their nudity

With its luscious pink flesh and sensual fragrance, the fig is as much a part of Israel’s ancient history as the other six species.

 

 

“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked; and they sewed together a fig leaf and made themselves loincloths.” (Genesis 3:7)

 

History of the Fig

 

Ancient figs found in an archaeological site in Israel’s Jordan Valley may be one of the earliest cultivated agricultural products. The fossilized figs are approximately 11,000 years old, and researchers believe they were probably grown at the time when humans began the transformation from hunter-gatherers to farmers.

The fig has been part of life in the Land of Israel since ancient times. When Moses sent spies to explore the land of Canaan, they reported that the land "flowed with milk and honey,” and figs were among the fruits they carried back with them.

In ancient times, figs were often used as a healing poultice. The Book of Kings relates that when King Hezekiah was deathly ill, the prophet Isaiah instructed his courtiers to apply figs to the boil, and the king recovered. According to Greek mythology, during the war of the Titans, Zeus pursued Sykeus, son of earth mother Gaia, until his mother saved him by transforming him into a fig tree. Cleopatra revealed her love for this luscious fruit in her famous suicide—she allowed herself to be bitten by an asp, which was smuggled into her palace in a basket of figs.

 

Symbolisms of the Grape

 

The fig occupies an honored position in the Bible. In King Solomon’s Song of Songs, fig and vine are mentioned together no less than sixteen times, symbolizing the heavenly conditions that will exist when peace reigns on earth. "Each person under his vine and fig" (I Kings 5:5) relates to the tranquility that prevailed among the tribes during King Solomon’s rule.

In the words of the Jewish sages: dates and grapes have pits, and pomegranates have peels, but the fig is entirely edible—and like the fig, the words of the Torah leave no waste.

The fig tree plays a multifaceted role in the history of major cultures and religions. Demeter, Greek goddess of the harvest, revealed the first fruit to mortals, calling it the “sacred fig.” The Roman god Bacchus introduced the fig to mankind by making it grow on a sacred tree. Thus images of this god were often crowned with fig leaves.

In East Asia, the fig is one of the two sacred trees of Islam, and figs are pivotal in Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. Buddha is believed to have found bodhi (enlightenment) while meditating under a sacred fig tree. In Hinduism, the same species is Ashvastha, the "world tree" or tree of eternal life.

 

Health & Nutrition

 

Called “the fitness fruit”, figs are a rich source of nutrition, and contain more fiber, minerals, and nutrients than any other fruit.

Fat-free, sodium-free and cholesterol-free, figs have the highest overall mineral content of all fruits: a 40 gram (1/4 cup) serving provides 244 mg of potassium (7% of the recommended daily allowance, 53 mg of calcium (6% of the RDA)—as much as a half-cup of milk, and 1.2 mg of iron (6% of the RDA).  Figs also contain vitamin C and B-group vitamins in small quantities.

For many years, the fig has been used as a coffee substitute. The fruit also contains an enzyme that aids digestion and is used by the pharmaceutical industry. Due to their high alkalinity, figs can be helpful in giving up smoking. Figs provide more soluble and insoluble fiber than any other common fruit or vegetable, and are an aid to losing weight.

Fig leaves have anti-diabetic properties and can reduce the amount of insulin needed by diabetics who need insulin injections. A chemical found in figs, psoralens, has been used for thousands of years to treat skin pigmentation diseases. It is also used to encourage tanning.

 

Fun Facts

 

  • Due to their high alkalinity, figs can help people to give up smoking.
  • The fig is actually not a fruit—it is an inverted flower. The real fruits are the seeds inside, called drupes.
  • Fresh figs are gentle natural exfoliators. They contain an active enzyme that helps to remove dead cells from the skin’s surface.
  • Figs are the only fruit to fully ripen and partially dry out while still on the tree.
  • The ancient Athenians were called "sycophants" (sykon—fig,+ phainein—to show). Why were they “fig showers”? One theory holds that they informed the authorities about the illegal export of figs from their city. Eventually, the meaning of the word changed from “informer” to the modern meaning, “flatterer.”
  • According to Pliny the Elder (AD 23 - 79), a sacred fig tree grows in the Roman Forum. Alluding to the myth that Rome was founded by the twins, Romulus and Remus, who suckled on a she-wolf, Pliny tells us, "This tree is known as Ruminalis because the she-wolf was discovered beneath it, giving her teats (rumis in Latin) to the infant boys."

Wheat

Barley

Grape

Fig

Pomegranate

Olive

Date (Honey)