, a curious tree, which seems to partake of the nature of both the mulberry and the fig, the former in its leaf, and the latter in its fruit. Hence its name in Greek, meaning the mulberryfig. The sycamore is thus described by Norden: "I shall remark that they have in Egypt divers sorts of figs; but if there is any difference between them, a particular kind differs still more. I mean that, which the sycamore bears, that they name in Arabic giomez. It was upon a tree of this sort that Zaccheus got up, to see our Savior pass through Jericho, Luke 19:4
. This sycamore is of the height of a beech, and bears its fruit in a manner quite different from other trees. It has them on the trunk itself, which shoots out little sprigs in form of a grape-stalk, at the end of which grows the fruit, close to one another, much like bunches of grapes. The tree is always green, and bears fruit several times in the year, for I have seen some sycamores which had fruit has the figure and smell of real figs, but is inferior to them in the taste, having a disgustful sweetness. (Compare Amos 7:17
) Its color is a yellow, inclining to an ochre, shadowed by a flesh color; in the inside, it resembles the common fig, excepting that it has a blackish coloring, with yellow spots. This sort of tree is pretty common in Egypt. The people, for the greater part, live on its fruit."
The sycamore has a very large trunk, which breaks up onto five or six stout branches not many feet above the ground; it is planted by the roadside, and often where two ways meet; and sends its enormous roots deeply into the ground in every direction, so that few trees can compare with it in steadfast firmness. The power that could say to it, "Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea," and it should obey, must be of God, Luke 17:6
. From 1 Kings 10:27 1 Chronicles 27:28 2 Chronicles 1:15
, it is evident that this tree was quite common it Palestine, as well as in Egypt; and from its being joined with the vines in Psalm 78:47
, as well as from the circumstance of David's appointing a particular officer to superintend the plantations of them, it seems to have been as much valued in ancient as in modern times. From Isaiah 9:10
, we find that the timber of the sycamore was used in the construction of buildings; and notwithstanding its porous and spongy appearance, it was of extreme durability.
Describing the catacombs and mummies of Egypt, Dr. Shaw states that he found the mummy chests, and that little square boxes containing various figures, which are placed at the feet of each mummy, to be both made of sycamore and uncorrupted for at least three thousand years.