What Does the Sycamore Tree Symbolize?

The sycamore tree has appeared in both religious texts and other forms of literature. Since ancient history, there have been images of the sycamore depicted in many forms. No matter what your beliefs stem from, it's clear that the existence of a sycamore tree in a text can mean a number of different things, but ultimately, it's a symbol of strength, protection, reliability and clarity.

The Sycamore in Catholicism

The sycamore tree appears several times in the New Testament, but the main interpretation of what it stands for comes from the story of Zacchaeus. In this biblical excerpt, Zacchaeus is a wealthy collector in Jericho. One day, Jesus passes through the city, and Zacchaeus can't see him because he was short in stature and the crowd is obstructing his view. So, he climbs a sycamore tree where he's finally able to capture a glimpse of Jesus.

Because of this story, the sycamore has become somewhat of a symbol of clarity. Without the sycamore, Zacchaeus wouldn't have been able to see Jesus, so for Catholics, it's a symbol of a place in their own lives where they're able to have a clear vision of their savior.

The Sycamore in Judaism

Trees have always been significant in Judaism, perhaps the most important one being the "Etz Chayim" or Tree of Life. The sycamore itself has been mentioned several times throughout the Jewish Bible, having been noted as one of the "Plants of the Bible." The sycamore is in the same family as the common fig tree, and figs are one of the seven native species of Israel.

Sycamore trees also grew abundantly in the Jordan Valley, the Galilee and Jerusalem, and its wood was highly valued by the people of Palestine because of its lightness and durability. Therefore, the tree has historically been a giver of fruit and wood, and the people who lived among the sycamores knew that they could rely on it for their livelihood.

The Sycamore in Egyptian Texts

The sycamore tree also appeared in the Egyptian text, the "Book of Dead." According to the text, there were two sycamore trees that stood at the eastern gate of Heaven. Between the trees, this is where the Sun God, Ra, showed himself each morning.

It's clear that the sycamore was therefore very important in ancient Egyptian culture, and even the hieroglyphic symbol of a tree is remarkably similar to a sycamore. Also, the sarcophagi, or coffins, were carved from the wood of a sycamore tree and when someone died, a sycamore was often planted next to the tomb. It seems, therefore, that the sycamore was a symbol of protection for the Egyptians.