Unripe figs

Unripe figs August 18, 2014

In the Song of Songs, the Lover calls His beloved out to romp, encouraging her by telling her it’s the time of love – springtime, when everything comes back to life. There are seven signs of the new creation of spring: winter past, rain over, flowers appear, pruning, turtledoves coo, unripe figs (olunthos) ripen, vines blossom and give fragrance (Song of Songs 2:11-13).

Unripe figs are mentioned only once in the New Testament, in Revelation 6, which compares stars of heaven to unripe figs that fall to the ground when the tree is shaken by a wind. 

Perhaps we can make a subtle connection. The ripening of unripe figs means that spring has come, the time of love. If figs are shaken down before coming ripe, it’s a sign that spring is aborted. The tree began to produce fruit, but in the end its fruit never fulfilled the function of fruit, which is to feed those who grow the fruit. If ripening figs is a sign of consummated love, then figs that fall before they ripen serve as a sign of abortive love, love cut short before consummated. 

In Revelation 6, this may mean: Some lover has called a beloved into the springtime world, into new creation, but spring never came. Some great wind brought back winter, and littered the ground with the rotting fruit of unfulfilled love. And that may mean this: The image of stars (Israel as constellations) is conflated with the image of figs (Israel as fruit of God, as beloved tree); Yahweh calls Bride Israel into the springtime, but she is shaken and sheds her figs before He tastes and delights in them.

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