Under Their Vine and Fig Tree

Figs and fig trees are mentioned in dozens of Bible verses, sometimes as key elements, and other times just in passing. Perhaps the most noted reference to figs is the phrase “vine and fig tree” which was frequently quoted by Pres. George Washington.

“I am become a private citizen on the banks of the Potomac, & under the shadow of my own Vine & my own Fig tree…”

-From George Washington to Lafayette, 1784


“Under their vine and fig tree” is a phrase quoted in the Hebrew Scriptures in three different places: Micah 4:4, 1 Kings 4:25, and Zechariah 3:10.1 George Washington used this phrase multiple times in correspondence throughout his life, and one can find Washington reference it almost fifty times. Of the three passages, it is most likely that he was citing Micah 4:4 in his writings. The section states: “but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid….”

The phrase refers to the independence of the peasant farmer who is freed from military oppression. In the biblical passage there is a juxtaposition of the simple life with that of royalty or the state. Thus, it would seem that Washington’s use of “vine and fig tree” in its full context would be an appropriate message in the setting of the American Revolution and the founding of the United States.

Excerpt taken from the article “Vine and Fig Tree” written by George Tsakiridis, Ph.D., Instructor in Philosophy and Religion, South Dakota State University

Categories: Green Hill

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