Gray-Haired Perspective

The Fig Tree in Song of Solomon


The chapter The Olivet Solution discussed the symbolism of the fig tree in Matthew 24. The leaves of the fig tree represent tribulation events rather than Israel's becoming a nation in 1948.

But for a long time the fig tree in Song of Solomon puzzled me. Song of Solomon 2:8–13 seems to portray the rapture in symbolic language:

The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, showing himself through the lattice. My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

The speed of the roe pictures the speed of His coming. The lattice, half revealing, half concealing, reminds me of His coming with clouds. The words "Rise up, my love" sounds like something He would say at the rapture.

This passage has similarities and differences compared with Matthew 24:32–33:

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.

Similarities are 1) the fig tree is a symbol related to His coming, and 2) the fig tree indicates a season.

Differences are 1) Matthew's fig tree puts forth leaves while Solomon's fig tree puts forth green figs, and 2) the saints observe Matthew's fig tree before Christ comes, while the bride is directed to look at Solomon's fig tree after her beloved appears. No mention of leaves, no warning.

I know the Bible harmonizes, but I just couldn't put the pieces together. If the rapture comes first, and if Solomon's passage depicts the rapture, then why figs instead of leaves? Don't leaves come first, then figs? Why does the tribulation symbol appear to happen chronologically before the rapture symbol? That was my puzzle.

It all fit into place when I realized that the symbols were not intended to be interpreted together. Each symbol is adapted to fit its own situation. One symbol fits a scheduled event; the other fits a surprise event. The one provides a clue; the other provides confirmation. If the leaves mean His coming is near, then figs mean He's here.


Since I wrote the above, a brother's feedback to this site led me to do more research on the timing of figs and leaves. That research led me to the following email response from Daniel Yakir, an Israeli fig enthusiast:

Normally the leaves come first but it is a little bit more complicated: in male figs (caprifig) the figs come 3–4 times a year even when the tree is completely without leaves. In some varieties they give early crops (called Breba) the figs and the leaves come almost together.