It Was Not the Season for Figs-Mark 11.12-14

This clause, “it was not the season for figs” in Mark needs to be taken in its wider theologic import and typology. Jesus, His disciples, and anyone else familiar with figs in Israel knows about breba figs- those trees which bear fruit early as a first crop just after winter time during initial leaf set. Here is a picture taken today in Israel one week before Passover (March 24, 2018) showing these early figs:

(picture credit: https://bleon1.wordpress.com/2018/03/23/caesarea-philippi-2/#comment-23904)

Attestation to breba figs in the O.T.: When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert; when I saw your ancestors, it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree. (Hosea 9.10 NIV)

Is. 28.4b: will be like a first-ripe fig before the summer; whoever sees it, eats it up as soon as it comes to hand(NRSB)

All your fortresses are like fig trees with first-ripe figs—if shaken they fall into the mouth of the eater. (Na. 3.12 NRSV)

Song of Solomon 2.13a: The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom (NRSV). Note that the grapes are in blossom in the spring season and the fig tree here is setting fruit at the time. All familiar images of breba figs attested in the O.T. Therefore, the clause: “It was not the season for figs” needs to be nuanced to give understanding. The main crop of figs is after summer but many varieties of figs produce a breba crop and an indication of brebas is abundant leaf set in the spring season. So the statement of Mark, “it was not the season for figs” cannot be construed as an irrational motivation when Jesus subsequently curses the tree.

Author: squeaky2

Education: BA, M.Div., BBA Profession: Carpenter (retired)

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