Leaf a term occurring in the Bible, both in the singular and plural, in three senses.

1. LEAF OF A TREE (prop. עָלֵה, aleh', so called from springing up; Gr. φύλλον; also עַפַר, ophi', foliage [Ps 104:12], or in Chald. the top of a tree [Da 4:9,11,18], and טֶרֶŠ ', to'reph, a fresh leaf [Eze 17:9] "plucked off" [Ge 8:11]). The olive-leaf is mentioned in Ge 8:11. Fig-leaves formed the first covering of our parents in Eden. The barren fig-tree (Mt 21:19; Mr 11:13) on the road between Bethany and Jerusalem "had on it nothing but leaves." The fig-leaf is alluded to by our Lord (Mt 24:32; SMark 13:28): "When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh."' The oak-leaf is mentioned in Isa 1:30; Isa 6:13. Leaves, the organs of perspiration and inhalation in plants, are used symbolically in the Scriptures in a variety of senses; sometimes they are taken as an evidence of grace (Ps 1:3), while at others they represent the mere outward form of religion without the Spirit (Mt 21:19). Their flourishing and their decay, their restoration and their fragility, furnish the subjects of numerous allusions of great force and beauty (Le 26:36; Isa 1:30; Isa 34:4; Jer 8:13; Da 4:12,14,21; Mr 11:13; Mr 13:28; Re 22:2). The bright, fresh color of the leaf of a tree or plant shows that it is richly nourished by a good soil, hence it is the symbol of prosperity (Ps 1:3; Jer 17:8). A faded leaf, on the contrary, shows the lack of moisture and nourishment, and becomes a fit emblem of adversity and decay (Job 13:25; Isa 64:6). Similar figures have prevailed in all ages (see Wemyss, Symbol. Dictionary, s.v.). In Ezekiel's vision of the holy waters, the blessings of the Messiah's kingdom are spoken of under the image of trees growing on a river's bank; there "shall grow all trees for food, whose leaf shall not fade" (Eze 47:12). In this passage it is said that "the fruit of these trees shall be for food, and the leaf thereof for medicine" (margin, for bruises and sores). With this compare John's vision of the heavenly Jerusalem (Re 22:1-2): "In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life...and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations." There is probably here an allusion to some tree whose leaves were used by the Jews as a medicine or ointment; indeed, it is very likely that many plants and leaves were thus made use of by them, as by the old English herbalists. SEE TREE OF LIFE.

2. LEAF OF A DOOR (צֵלָע, tse'la, a side, in 1Ki 6:34 [where the latter clause has, prob. by error, קֶלִע, ke'lang, a curtain], means the valve of a folding door; so also דֶּלֶת, de'leth, a door [Isaiah 45:1]). SEE DOOR.

Definition of leaf

3. LEAF OF A BOOK (דֶּלֶת, de'leth, a door-valve, as above, hence perhaps a fold of a roll [Jer 36:23], like our column of a volume). SEE BOOK.

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