SYCAMORE (שִׁקְמָה, H9204; συκομορέα, G5191). The word “sycamore” appears seven times in the OT—for instance in 1 Kings 10:27, “He made cedars as plentiful as the sycamore,” and Amos 7:14 “a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore.” The most importat mention is, however, in Luke 19:4 when Zacchaeus climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to see the Lord Jesus.

Sycamore comes from sykē (fig) and mora (a mulberry). In the NT the tree is mentioned under its Gr. name συκομορέα, G5191. There is no doubt that the tree is the sycamore fig, Ficus sycomorus, often called the fig-mulberry.

The tree known today as the sycamore is the Acer pseudo platanus.

Because the branches of the sycamore-fig are strong and wide-spreading, and because it produces many lateral branches, it was an easy evergreen tree for Zacchaeus to climb, and in which he could easily be hidden.

The fruits produced by the tree are in clusters and look like small figs; they are sweet, but by no means as good as the true fig. The fruit is produced several times during the year. It is a popular tree under which to pitch a tent, because of the ample shade it gives.

The prophet Amos says in Amos 7:14: “I was a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees.” This word “dresser” should have been tr. “cultivator.” Amos not only looked after sheep, but also the sycamore trees which grew in the grass orchards. Amos was a shepherd and a gardener.

It is necessary with sycamore figs to puncture each fruit with the point of a knife at a certain stage so as to help insure that the little figs ripen properly. Amos thus tended the trees. The words “dresser of” prob. means “one who cut or scraped.” Incidentally, Pliny in his writings refers to this garden operation on sycamore trees.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)