Jewish Perspectives on the New Testament: The Withered Fig Tree

Monday, June 11, 2012 |  Tsvi Sadan  

Jesus’ rebuke of the fig tree baffles most readers, probably because they ask the wrong questions in trying to understand it. Although it makes no sense to curse a guiltless tree, when pressed to justify Jesus’ behavior commentators are quick to point the finger at Israel.

For example, www.Bible.com— whose mission is sharing the gospel with the entire world—has this “good news” for the Jewish people: “The fig tree is Israel whichwill be judged for a lack of repentance. They have the pretension of life, but not the substance of life.” This interpretation asserts that by cursing the tree Jesus was cursing Israel.

Contrary to this harsh verdict, the disciples’ response clearly indicates that they did not see the dry fig tree as a condemnatory allegory. They did not feel sorry for the tree or lament Israel’s bad 14 fortune.

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