As recorded in the Old Testament part of the Holy Bible, olive oil (which was produced by pressing olive berries) had several uses in the spiritual life of the nation. It was used to anoint prophets and kings, and it was also used to fuel lamps in the holy temple of Jerusalem. Olive oil was also used by priests for healing and cleansing, and the olive tree was a symbol of peace between God and man.
In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus Christ is described as the “Anointed One”. This title brings to mind the process of olive-picking from the trees and, later, a trip to the oil press. This method of olive oil production reminds us that the Lord Jesus was pressed and crushed in pain and suffering in order to pay for our salvation.
Every olive tree is held in high regard by the farmers. Out of respect for the so-called “Tree of Life”, farmers in the Holy Land care for and protect their trees from harm, because of their many benefits. They use only hand-powered saws to prune the trees, because smoke from gas-powered saws negatively affects the taste of olives and olive oil. In addition, trees are not harmed when sourcing raw wood to create these faith-inspiring artful items; only wood from pruned branches is used to create the beautiful carvings.
Olive wood needs to be seasoned before carving begins. This allows the wood to dry and stabilize. Some artists dry their wood in Bethlehem caves where environmental conditions are ideal with consistent temperature and humidity levels. This drying period brings out the unique rich grain-markings in the wood, and typically, older trees produce wood with darker and more prominent patterns. Just as God made each tree unique, so is each carved piece of wood special, beautiful, and one-of-a-kind.
May each carving bring a blessing and a reminder of the Great Carver of souls!