…and they sewed leaves of the fig, and prepared for themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of YHVH Elohim walking in the breaking of the day, and Adam and his wife hid from the face of YHVH Elohim in the midst of the wood of the garden. (Genesis 3:8)
Why is the fig mentioned here? The text could have simply stated that Adam and Eve sewed together leaves of any tree and we’d have deduced the passage’s literal intent, that Adam and Eve were covering their nakedness. Yet God orchestrated the text to specify the fig, and since nothing in the Scriptures is coincidental nor extraneous, we should conclude that this is hinting at a bigger picture.
We have already identified part of that bigger picture, as the more sensible word for ‘garments’ was forsaken for the word chagorot – typically used in the context of soldiers donning heavy body armor. I think this is key to understanding why God specified the fig as well.
In figurative language, a healthy fig tree is associated with the grapevine to denote joy and peace. The idiom “everyone dwelt under his grapevine and fig tree” denotes times of safety and rejoicing within Israel (i.e. 1 Kings 4:20,25). In reality, the fig tree is easy to grow, doesn’t require much water, is pleasant to the eye, highly fragrant, produces sweet fruit and provides shade throughout the summer. In ancient Israel, mostly everyone owned a fig tree… because who wouldn’t? It was everyone’s favorite because of all its benefits. Therefore, dwelling “under the fig tree” became associated with life as it should be – as a blessing from Almighty God. In later times being “under the fig tree” became associated with prayer and studying the Scriptures, being the most tranquil spot for self-study at home. For example, when Yeshua told Netanel, “I saw you under the fig tree” (John 1:48) He meant that He saw Netanel in prayer and meditation at home, like a man with no deceit.
For these reasons, it shouldn’t surprise that Adam and Eve gravitated towards everyone’s favorite, the symbol of peace, prosperity and prayer: the fig tree. It was a place of comfort and safety, which is a lesson to us all.
I believe that the message is this: first, obedience to God’s Word – including His commandments – were meant for our peace. If everyone studied them, and put them into practice, everyone would dwell under the canopy of YHVH Elohim, as men dwell in the shade and scent of their fig trees. However, if we rebel as Adam and Eve, and transgress the commandments designed for our peace, it has the exact opposite effect. Instead, by our own hand we tear apart our peace to make “armor” for enmity and warfare against the Almighty. This sort of rebellion provokes God to destroy our fig trees (our peace) in order to convince us to return to Him (i.e. Hosea 2:17).
Secondly, this is also an end-times prophecy, concerning the time when everyone will proclaim “peace and safety!” (1 Thess. 5:3). If we accept that the fig tree represents prayer and study in peacetime, and Adam and Eve ripped apart the fig tree after wanting to “be like God”, this prophesies that all Mankind will have a false peace- a time when lawlessness will abound, and everyone will forsake sound study (doctrine) and prayer, and will likewise put on “armor” against God. Therefore, by God showing up to judge Adam and Eve at the breaking of the day, God is warning all mankind that there will be a similar “Falling Away” before the breaking of THE Day – when the feet of Yeshua will stand on the Mount of Olives and walk toward the sons of Adam in Jerusalem (Zech. 14:3, Acts 1:12), clothed with judgment at a time when the figs are in season. (Mark 11:1,13) When He calls for us, I pray we all say “Here I am” instead of “I hid myself because I was naked”.
I understand the prophecy is a deep mystery, but the life lesson in this passage is clearer: obedience to God means to have no deceit, and this has many spiritual rewards, “for whoever keeps the fig tree will eat its fruit; so he who serves his master will be honored.” (Prov. 27:18). If we serve the Master YHVH we will not destroy the things made for our peace. Therefore, let us cultivate the fig tree! Let’s be obedient to the commandments meant for our peace, and the Master YHVH will cause us to lie down safely.