An Olive Leaf for Us
In the Book of Genesis, the dove returns to Noah with a plucked olive leaf in its bill (Genesis 8:11). What does the leaf signify?
The ancient Greeks made the olive branch a symbol of peace. Irene, the Greek goddess of peace, is represented on coins holding an olive branch. Following this idea, the Septuagint - the Greek Bible translation - describes Noah’s dove as holding an olive twig, not just a leaf. Yet, this is not in the Hebrew Bible. The olive leaf plucked by the dove has no connection with peace.
The leaf must have been a symbol because doves do not eat olive leaves. They are bitter and have no nutritional value. The dove has plucked a leaf to help build its nest, and is showing Noah that he is free to rebuild the world after the destruction of the Flood.
Instead of peace, this leaf signifies new growth and a new beginning. The world is coming to life once more. The olive leaf in Genesis 8 is believed to have been plucked from the Land of Israel. If the leaf actually came from Israel, then those who follow Israel’s Messiah in their new beginning, are connected with Israel and its tree (Romans 11:17-26).
Published November 1, 2016