The biblical sycamore (Mulberry Fig) should not be confused with the European sycamore, but is an evergreen relative of the fig and produces fig-like fruit. Growing up to 12m tall, in the lower areas of Palestine but not usually in the highlands. Although not as prized as the true fig the fruit was eaten by both human and animals. The wood though somewhat soft was used for both furniture and construction.
The picture (above right, Clifford) of a flourishing tree in modern Jericho shows the benefits of irrigation, the example from near the Dead Sea (left, Clifford) probably gives a better impression of what these trees were usually like!
There is some doubt concerning the exact treatment given to the fruit, but a measure of consensus that traumatizing it possibly by slitting the skin or cutting the end off may have been practiced - explaining the reference in Amos 7:14.
This page is part of the Postmodern Bible - Amos commentary, if you have reached it as a standalone page, to view it in context, go to www.bible.gen.nz © Tim Bulkeley, 1996-2004, Tim Bulkeley. All rights reserved.