is the invariable rendering, in the A. V., of the Heb. שַׁקמָה, shikmah' (which, however, occurs in the sing. only in the Talmud,Shebiith, 9, 2; the Bible employs indifferently the masc. plur. שַׁקמַים, shikzmim, 1Ki 10:27; 1Ch 27:28; 2Ch 1:15; 2Ch 9:27; Isa 9:10; Am 5:2,14; and the fem. plur. שַׁקמוֹת, shikmoth (Ps 78:47), and of the Greek συκομωραία (Lu 19:4). The Sept. always translates the Heb. word by συκάμινος, sycamine, meaning doubtless the Egyptian tree, the συκάμινος Αἰγυπτία of Theophrastus, which is really the sycamore (Dioscorides, 1, 180). See Gesenius, Thesaur. Heb. p. 1476 b; Rosenmüller, Alterthumskunde, 4:281 sq.; Celsius, Hieriob. 1, 310). The sycamore, or fig-mulberry (from σῦκον, fig, and μόρον, mulberry), is in Egypt and Palestine a tree of great importance and very extensive use. It attains the size of a walnut-tree, has wide-spreading branches, and affords a delightful shade. On this account it is frequently plaited by the waysides. Its leaves are heart-shaped, downy on the underside, and fragrant. The fruit grows directly from the trunk itself on little sprigs, and in clusters like the grape. To make it eatable, each fruit, three or four days before gathering, must, it is said, be punctured with a sharp instrument or the finger-nail (comp. Theophrastus, De Caus. Plant. 1, 17, 9; Hist. PI. 4:2, 1; Pliny, H. N. 13:7; Forskal, Descr. Plant, p. 182). This was the original employment of the prophet Amos, as he says 7:14 ("a gatherer," בּוֹלֵם, Sept. κνίζων. the exact term employed by Theophrastus). Hasselquist (Trav. p. 260; Lond. 1766) says, "The fruit of this tree tastes pretty well; when quite ripe it is soft, watery, somewhat sweet, with a very little portion of an aromatic taste." It appears, however, that a species of gall insect (Cynips sycomori) often spoils much of the fruit. "The tree," Hasselquist adds, "is wounded or cut by the inhabitants at the time it buds, for without this precaution, as they say, it will not bear fruit" (p. 261). In form and smell and inward structure it resembles the fig, and hence its name. The tree is always verdant, and bears fruit several times in the year without being confined to fixed seasons, and is thus, as a permanent food- bearer, invaluable to the poor.
In Lower Egypt it buds in March, and ripens early in June and by the poor of that country as well as of Palestine enormous quantities are consumed. The wood of the tree, though very porous, is exceedingly durable. It suffers neither from moisture nor heat. The Egyptian mummy coffins, which are made of it, are still perfectly sound after an entombment of thousands of years. It was much used for doors and large furniture, such as sofas, tables, and chairs (Wilkinson, Anc. Egypt. 2, 110).
So great was the value of these trees that David appointed for them in his kingdom a special overseer, as he did for the olives (1Ch 27:28); and it is mentioned as one of the heaviest of Egypt's calamities that her sycamores were destroyed by hailstones (Ps 78:47). The modern Haipha was the city of sycamores (Sycominon, Keland, Palaest. p. 1024), and the remains of its grove are still recognizable (Stanley, Sinai and Pal. p. 145). It was into a sycamore in the plain of Jericho that Zaccheus climbed in order to get a sight of Jesus passing by (Lu 19:4); and at the broken aqueducts of Herod's Jericho Mr. Tristram lately found "a fine old sycamore fig-tree, perhaps a lineal descendant, and nearly the last, of that into which Zacchaeus climbed (Land of Israel, p. 509). That which is called sycamore in North America, the Occidental plane or button-wood tree, has no resemblance whatever to the sycamore of the Bible. The name is also applied to a species of maple (the Acer pseudo-pluatanus, or fals plane), which is much used by turners and millwrights. See Mayer, De Sycamoro (Lips. 1694); Warnekros, Hist. Nat. Sycomori, in the Repert für bibl. Lit. 11:224 sq. 12:81 sq.; Tristram, Nat. Hist. of the Bible, p. 397 Thomson, Land and Book, 1, 22 sq. SEE FIG.