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Fruit (products)

In the NT, γένημα, G1163, “fruit produce”; καρπφορέω, “to bear fruit”; ἄκαρπος, G182, “without fruit.”

The word “fruit” appears 215 times in the Bible, 106 times as the Heb. word pe and 63 times as the Gr. word karpos.

The word “fruit” often is used fig. as well as factually. For instance—fig. in Leviticus 25:19 RSV—“the land will yield its fruit,” or Deuteronomy 28:4—“Blessed shall be the fruit of your body.” Psalm 104:13—“satisfied with the fruit of thy work.” Proverbs 11:30—“the fruit of the righteous.” Song of Solomon—“His fruit was sweet to my taste.” Isaiah 3:10—“They shall eat the fruit of their deeds.”

Factually, as in Genesis 3:2—“we may eat of the fruit of the trees.” 2 Kings 19:29—“plant vineyards, and eat their fruits.” Jeremiah 11:16—“a green olive tree...and of goodly fruit”; whereas our Lord in Matthew 26:29 and Luke 22:18 refers to “the fruit of the vine,” and in Matthew 21:19 forbids the fig tree to bear fruit.

The various fruits mentioned in the Bible are found under their own headings.

In an Eastern country, the fruits grown are those indigenous to the area. The most important fruit tree is prob. the vine, which occurs again and again from Genesis 9:20 to Revelation 14:19. The olive is almost as important, and occurs first in Genesis 8:11, when a dove brings an olive leaf, and continues to Revelation 11:4, when two olive trees are described. The fig is the third claimant—it is first mentioned in Genesis 3:7 when Adam and Eve used fig leaves to cover themselves, and last in Revelation 6:13, where useless figs are shed.

These three fruit trees are all used in parabolic form to describe the Jewish people. In Jeremiah 11:16 we read “The Lord called thy name a fair green olive tree.” In Psalm 80:8, the text says: “Thou didst bring a vine out of Egypt,” obviously referring to the children of Israel, while the Lord used the fig tree in Luke 13 to describe the barrenness of the Jewish nation.

As to the kinds of fruits mentioned, there is the apple, which, as is said, is prob. an apricot; there is the blackberry, as in Luke 6:44; the fig; the melon—prob. a water melon (Num 11:5); the mulberry, mentioned three times (2 Sam 5:23, 1 Chron 14:14, 15, KJV); the olive; the date palm; the pomegranate (1 Sam 14:2); the vine, the sodom vine; and goodly fruit, prob. an orange or lemon; the locust bean—a fruit borne by trees, mentioned by inference in Luke 15:16. This makes twelve fruits in all.

The almond could be included, though it is really the seed of a fruit. The balm mentioned in Genesis 37:25 and Jeremiah 8:22 prob. comes from the fruit of the Balanites Tree. There are two species of myrrh, which bear oval, plum-like fruits. The cucumber is a fruit, though we classify it as a vegetable (Num 11:5). The walnuts grown in Solomon’s garden (Song of Solomon 6:11) also may be regarded as fruits. The mandrake in Genesis 30:14 bears a yellow fruit like a large plum, called by the Arabs “devil’s apples.”

It may be that other fruits were grown by Solomon, because in Song of Solomon 4:16 one reads “choicest fruits.” It is believed that Solomon collected fruit trees from many different parts of the world.

The term “does not bear good fruit” (Matt 3:10; Luke 3:9; Rom 1:13) may refer to seedling trees which bear quite useless fruit. The “hasty fruits”—bikkûr (Isa 28:4, KJV) are really fruits which ripen early in the summer and must be eaten immediately, while the “summer fruit” in Amos 8:1, 2, refers to the last of the ripened fruits, i.e. the end of the season.