15 – Quercus calliprinos / Israeli Oak

Have you ever heard the phrase mighty Oaks from small acorns grow? Well who would have thought it? but Oaks are mentioned in the bible often. Not any old oaks either! Evergreen oaks, and how they impacted on Gods plan for our salvation is just simply wonderful which is why Oaks are known as kings of the Forest.

Quercus calliprinos Israeli Oak

This is a small tree reaching up to 30ft tall (often only 10ft tall when heavily browsed by goats) and 18in thick trunk. It is evergreen, with holly like leaves. The acorns are 1.5in long and 1in thick when mature about 18 months after pollination, held in a densely spiney cups. It is a very hardy tree will tolerate any soil type, severe drought, and long periods of rain, used to the hard life so to speak but thrives when given the chance, just about anywhere.  Its hard to imagine that it is related to the grand oaks that grace the lovely ancient forests of England like the New Forest, the Forest of Dean and Sherwood Forest.

Originally there are six Hebrew words used for Oak.  Two other evergreen oaks are well known to grow naturally in the Mediterranean region as well they are: – Quercus Ilex, Holm Oak, and Quercus coccifera, Kermes oak so, this is understandable.  However collectively they are known as the “terebinth” which means strongly, mighty, and hence a strong tree.

Oak trees from the forests above were often used to build anything of any importance usually by Royal Charter. From major long-haul seafaring ships to roof timbers and wall struts of Tudor lodges some still in existence today, as well as for furniture and artifacts.  In Israel Oak trees were never used for anything like that however they were used for some Regal engagements.

In Gen 18 v 1 – 3 we read Abraham had set up home under “terebinth”  in a place called Mamre and it was here that God appeared to him in the form of three messengers to announce this wife Sarah would have a son at the age of 100. His name would be Isaac.  Isaac had two sons Jacob and Esau who were always fighting, but we read in Gen 35 v 1 – 15 Jacob though obedient to God had unruly sons who were the leaders of the twelve tribes.  However in this passage we see that Jacob recommitted himself and all his family to God by getting rid of all of their “strange gods which were in their hands, and all their earrings” burying them under an oak tree at Shechem.  From this point on fear filled Esau and the war between his family and Jacobs ceased because the terror of God was upon all the cities round about anywhere where Jacob and his huge family went.  Jacob built an alter to God and worshipped as a result. It was from this point onwards that the 12 tribes of Israel one of which was Judah that an Oak tree was involved and marked the spot. Jesus came from the tribe of Judah.

Joshua is described as building another stone alter in Ch 24 v 26 under an oak tree as a reminder to all the nations of Israel of their recommitment to God after they had retaken the promised land.  Joshua knew the tree would still be there in the desert to mark the spot, but the stone may be buried by sand over time just as Jacob did at Shechem.

This tree may not have the beauty and grandeur of its British relatives buts it has been in the presence of Almighty God many times. This little very hardy tree will tolerate just about anything life throws at it and thrive, because it is an Oak, it is one of the Kings. We can thrive too no matter how small or how insignificant we feel by inviting Christ into our lives and by doing so become part of the greatest Royal family there is, and be in His presence every day if you choose to, all you have to do is ask.  So next time you go walking you see an Oak, or an acorn why don’t you? Maybe read John 3 v 16 and Romans 8 v 28

*The 3rd picture in this gallery and at the top of this page shows Abrahams Oak at Hebron (Oak of Mamre), taken in 2008