Why Terebinth Tree?

June 19, 2009

This post was originally hosted on my Blogger blog and was without a doubt the most popular post. A day doesn’t go by without someone somewhere in the world who’s looking for information on terebinth trees viewing this post…regardless of which search engine they’re using.

I get asked from time to time “What is a terebinth tree?”  Or “Why Terebinth Tree?”  Or even “What is a ter…teri..tere..um, how do you say it?”

So I thought I’d finally answer that…

I was reading about Abraham in Genesis and came to the passage where he removed his tent, then came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre (Genesis 13:18).  To dwell in a tent, one must put down stakes, or something to keep the tent in one place. I doubt this was a little two or three person tent like what you’d take camping. This would be more of a larger tent in which his family could live. Setting it up or taking it down would be a matter of hours, and would take some planning.

In looking up the word “plain,” it can mean a large open space like a field.  It can also mean a wooded area.  My Bible has footnotes in it, and these footnotes indicated that there were terebinth trees in that plain, or a large grove of oak trees.

It seems to me that pitching ones tent near a wooded place would be an excellent idea.  Not only do you have a ready supply of firewood, you could fix things in such a way that your house can be kept cool by the shade of the trees.  And where there are trees, there’s got to be water nearby, too.  It would be a good place to “put down roots.”

According to this Wikipedia article, the terebinth tree is a small tree or a large shrub.  This article in the Jewish Encyclopediasays that the terebinth is similar to an oak in that both can be “large, strong trees.”  Oak trees are very hardy trees, and their roots go down deep.  They can survive for a very long time, too.  The Santa Rosa Plateau, which is close to where I live, is dotted with many oak trees that are hundreds of years old.

In our own lives, we seek for a good place to put down our roots.  Like an oak tree, the roots of our lives go down deep.  The feelings that we have for our children and families also go down deep.  Are not genealogies also called “Family Trees?”

There are those special days in our lives that, like the roots of an oak tree, also go down deep, where strong commitments are forged. I’m thinking specifically of the day when a couple commits themselves to each other before the Lord, “till death do us part.” Days such as this are filled with emotion, meaning and purpose. The memories and events from such a day need to be captured to be remembered and cherished.

So, this should give you an idea of what a terebinth tree is, and why I choose that name for a venture where I have a goal to capture memories that last a lifetime.

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