The usual Hebrew word for this is תּאֵנָה (teenah', of uncertain ctymology), which is universally translated fig (N.T. σῦκον) and fig-tree (N.T. σνκῆ) in both ancient and modern versions, and no doubt correctly so. It has from the earliest times been a highly esteemed fruit in the East, and its present is well as ancient Arabic name is tin. When figs are spoken of as distinguished from thee fig-tree, the masc. plur. form תּאֵנַים is used (see Jer 8:13). The other words rendered fig in the Auth. Vers. are: פִג (pag, "green fig," Song 2:13; (ὄλυνθος, "untimely fig," Re 6:13), a designation of the late fig, which, being unripe at the proper time for gathering, frequently hangs on the tree over winter (comp. also the name BETH-PHAGE); and בַּכּוּרָה (bikkurah "first ripe," Isa 28:4; Jer 24:2; Mic 7:1; Ho 9:10), which denotes the early or spring fig, still called boccore in, Mauritania, and in Spanish albacora (Shaw, Travels, p. 370, fol.). SEE SYCAMORE.
The fig is mentioned in so many passages of Scripture that our space will not allow us to enumerate them, but they are detailed by Celsius (Hierobot. ii, 368). The first notice of it, however, occurs in Ge 3:7, where Adam and Eve are described, as sewing fig-leaves together to make themselves aprons. The common fig-leaf is not so well suited, from its lobed nature, for this purpose; but the practice of sewing or pinning leaves together is very common in the East even in the present day, and baskets, dishes, and umbrellas are made of leaves so pinned or sewn together. Hence some have supposed the Ficus Indica to be the tree there referred to, but this is unlikely and unnecessary. The fig-tree is enumerated (De 8:8) as one of thee valuable products of Palestine; "a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig-trees, and pomegranates." The spies who were sent from wilderness of Paran brought back from the brook of Eshcol clusters of grapes, pomegranates, and figs. Mount Olivet was famous for its fig-trees in ancient times, and they are still found there (see Stanley, Sinai and Palalestine, p. 187, 421, 422). The fig-tree is referred to as one of the signs of prosperity (1Ki 4:25). Hence "to sit under one's own vine and one's own fig-tree" became a proverbial expression among the Jews to denote peace and prosperity (Mic 4:4;
Zec 3:10). The failure of this fruit is likewise noted as a sign of affliction (Ps 105:33). The very frequent references which are made in the Old Testament to the fig and other fruit-trees are in consequence of fruits forming a much more important article of diet in the warm and dry countries of the East than they can ever do in the cold and moist regions of the North (see Judith 10:5; comp. Mishna, Shebiith, 4:7). Figs are also used medicinally; and we have a notice in 2Ki 20:7, of their employment as a poultice (comp. Pliny, 23:62 Dioscor. i, 184). In the historical books of the Old Testament-mention is made of cakes of figs, used as articles of food, and compressed into that form for the sake of keeping them (ἰσχάδες, caricae, Lucian, Vit. Auct. 19; Martial, 13:28). Such a cake was called דּבֵלָה (Talmud, עגול or ככר, Mishna Terumoth, 4:8), or more fully דּבֶלֶת תּאֵנַים, on account of its shape, from the root דָּבֵל to make round (see 1Sa 30:12; Jern 24:2 sq.). Hence, or rather from the Syriac רבלתא the first letter being dropped, came the Gr. word παλάθη (see Wesseling, ad. diod. Sic. 17:67). Atheneaus (xi, p. 500, ed. Casaub.) makes express mention of the παλάθη Συριακή. Jerome, on Ezekiel 6:describes the παλάθη as a mass of figs and rich dates, formed into the shape of bricks or tiles, and compressed in order that they may keep. Such cakes harden so as to need cutting with an axe. The fig is still extensively cultivated in the East, and in a dried state, strung upon cords, it forms an extensive article of commerce from Persia to India. The fig-tree, though now successfully cultivated in a great part of Europe,' even as far north as the southern parts of Es-gland, is yet a native of the East, and probably of the Persian region, where it is most extensively cultivated. The climate there is such that the tree must necessarily be able to bear some degree of cold, and thus be fitted to travel northwards, and- ripen its fruit where there is a sufficient amount and continuance of summer heat. It has a smooth stem, which is seldom quite straight, and is covered with a gray bark; the leaves are of the shape of a heart, with three or five lobes, and are indented; the upper side is rough, the lower is covered with fine hair. The fruit makes its appearance before the leaves, but not before the flowers or blossom, Which lies concealed within a hollow, fleshy receptacle (Hogg, Vegetable Kingdom, p. 676). The fertilization of-the blossoms is often assisted by an artificial process called caprification (Pliny, 20:21; Tournefort, ii, 32; Russel, Aleppo, i, 108; Hasselquist, p. 221). See the Penny Cyclopaedia, s.v.