For millennia, the olive has been used by God as a symbol.
When Noah sought confirmation that the great flood waters were abating, he sent out a dove. The dove returned with an olive leaf in her beak. A symbol that God had prepared a place for Noah and his family and that everything was going to be OK.
There are countless other references to olive trees, leaves and oil in the old and new testaments. Perhaps most significant is the fact that Jesus chose Gethsemane as the location for taking upon Himself the sins, sorrows and pains of the world. Gethsemane is an olive orchard and was, at the time of Christ, an important olive press. The pressing of olives requires tons of force supplied by the weight of enormous stones. As the olives are pressed, their precious oil is released through the skin drop by drop. Olives are pressed in three steps. The oil from the first pressing has a reddish tint and was given to God for use in the temple both as a light source and for ceremonial washings and annointings. The second pressing was used for food. The third was used for the cleaning of bodies and for burning in oil lamps. According to Luke, Jesus performed his atoning work in Gethsamane in three phases as His apostles slept. In Hebrew numerology the number three infers divine perfection and completeness.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of standing in Gethsemane myself. Olive trees have enormous life spans and the keepers of the garden said that some of the older trees there were likely present at the time of Christ. It was amazing to stand there with those old souls. Olive trees were to be found nearly everywhere in Israel from the northern borders of Galilee to the banks of the Jordan and everywhere else we went. Except in the most arid, barren desert regions, there were olive trees everywhere.
The olive continues to bless us even today. Olive oil is the standard base for making herbal oil infusions and for healing salves and lotions. The leaf is a valuable medicine as well. I have used it for years for it's immune stimulating and anti-microbial properties. In fact, while in Israel, I was fighting a respiratory bug. My throat would start to get scratchy and I'd start feeling it coming on. On each of these occasions I'd merely reach out to the nearest olive tree (there was always one handy) and grab a few leaves. I'd chew them up for as long as I could put up with their exciting level of bitterness and then swallow them. Without exception, I got immediate resolution of my symptoms and enjoyed the whole trip without getting sick. Olive leaf has specific activity against several viruses including influenza, rotavirus and Herpes. It also has good anti-fungal properties and can be used for Candida issues.
Olive leaf also has beneficial effects on blood sugar levels. It can also be used with good effect on high blood pressure cases.
The leaves also have some important anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties and can even protect the tissues of the gut and the central nervous system. There is some interesting research currently on olive leaf and Alzheimer's disease.
From the wood to the fruit to the oil to the medicinal leaf, the olive really is a remarkable blessing. We're luck y to have it. If you live somewhere warm enough to grow a tree, do it. Few things are more beautiful or useful.