12th April 2022
The terebinth tree – pistacia terebinthus – is also known as the turpentine tree. It grows to a height of 10m and is a tree of the Mediterranean region. It can love for up to 1000 years, if not disturbed. It is a deciduous tree with glossy leaves, purplish-red flowers and brownish-red pea-like fruits. The whole plant emits a strong odour variously described as bitter or medicinal. It certain,y has many medicinal uses including treating coughs and asthma. It is used to flavour spirits, oils, and bread. It’s leaves are edible and its fruits can be roasted like coffee beans. Turpentine can be produced from its resin, whilst a sweet gum can be made from its bark.
In Hebrew it is named ‘elah’ and ‘elot’ in the plural as opposed to the oak which is named ‘alon’. Often in English translations both words are translated as oak. Although the two types of tree are in many respects very different, the terebinth is, like the oak, said to symbolise strength and endurance.
So Abram moved his tent and came and settled by the terebinths of Mamre, which are at Hebron, and there he built an altar to the LORD. Genesis 13:18
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great terebinths that the LORD has planted for his own glory. Isaiah 61:3