Avinoam Danin

The sycomore tree. So abundant were they in the Shephelah that the Bible observes that King Solomon “made cedar as plentiful as the sycomore of the Shephelah” (1 Kings 10:27; 2 Chronicles 1:15, 9:27). Unrelated to the American sycamore, the evergreen sycomore bears numerous grape-like clusters of a fruit (see inset) similar to figs. These fruit are generally considered inferior to the fig in taste, however, and so were regarded, in ancient times, as fit only for the poor to eat. With its light-weight, sturdy wood, especially suitable for use in ceilings, sycomore was so valued that King David appointed Baal-hanan, the Gederite, as a warden to guard the sycomores (1 Chronicles 27:28). Lacking seeds to reproduce themselves, and depending entirely on transplantings by people for their continued survival, sycomores nevertheless still thrive in the Shephelah and on the coastal plain.