In the Old Testament, Olive Oil was used to anoint prophets and kings. It was also used to light the lamps in the temple of Jerusalem. Olive Oil was used for healing and cleansing. The Olive Tree is a sign of peace between God and mankind.
“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes.” – John 15:2
Later in the New Testament, Jesus was described as the “Anointed One.” After the olives are picked, they are pressed for oil production. This process reminds us how Jesus was “pressed” in pain and suffered for us.
Every Olive Tree is sacred. Out of respect for the “Tree of Life”, the farmers in the Holy Land protect their trees. The farmers take special care not to damage the trees, using only handsaws to prune the trees. The smoke from diesel or gas saws may affect the taste of the olives and the olive oil. Only the pruning of the tree is used to create the beautiful carvings. The tree is not destroyed when creating these faith-inspiring items.
Heavy and rich grain is very evident on each piece. No two pieces are exactly the same. As the tree ages, the grain becomes darker and richer in color.
Each trimming must be dried before carving. Some farmers dry the wood in the caves of Bethlehem, where conditions are ideal. The caves provide natural and consistent temperatures and humidity levels.
In recent years, much turmoil has deeply affected the livelihood of the Christian Artists living Bethlehem. The war in the Holy Land has often led to the uprooting of Olive Tree Orchards. The Olive Tree is the sole source of income for many farmers.