I don't know where this atheist cited by J. P. Holding at 1:42 and before in a video* gets his knowledge of fig trees from, but I have been around where fig trees grow. Not in Holy Land, but in France, where the ripening of figs obviously happens later by a few months.
One of the things which can start a fig tree growing is:
- a) you eat a fig (or two, or three ...)
- b) you shit on the ground
- c) fig seeds are now on the ground with excellent fertiliser.
In other words, fig trees do not need cultivation to grow. Nor to have good fruit.
A fig tree would typically be able to provide food for free to poor people and that from perhaps a month of two weeks before it is ripe for consumption as usually seen. An unripe fig is giving you starch where a ripe fig would give you sugar. And from perhaps 1 month before, perhaps a bit later, you would not get too much bitter stuff along with the starch either.
Eating an unripe fig from a wild fig tree is not the treat we think of as "eating a fig", but it is a makeshift when it comes to stilling your hunger.
Now, while the Greek word for "fruit" suggests sth like ripeness, since it can be picked, the word per se does not mean the fruits have to be actually ripe - especially not with figs, where the unripe fruit is, if not excellent, at least edible (if you are very hungry).
The thing is, from Bethany to Jerusalem city, Christ would normally either be walking over Mount of Olives or bast Bethphage - a place where figs are cultivated.
He would either have seen a self sown fig tree, or the fig tree closest to the limit of a fig orchard.
Now, in the case of a self sown fig tree, very obviously He and anyone else had a right to pick from it. This no one would contest.
In the case of the fig tree closest to limit of an orchard, the law of Moses stated the right of poor (and at least Franciscans claim Jesus was poor during the ministry, He was certainly not working as a carpenter any more and what He had earned from selling His part to an older stepbrother not believing in Him, He had arguably given away to the poor) ... the law of Moses stated the right of the poor to gather at the edges of someone's property and things falling to the ground.
As to figs falling to the ground, not a very good thing. They are sticky and any gravel tends to get caught. But going in and eating inside the edge of the orchard, taking nothing out, that was allowed in the law of Moses.
Now, where Our Lord was planning to eat some, whether a self sown tree or according to parallel case to Deuteronomy 23:24,25, there were no figs. Meaning, there were no unripe figs even. Now, this could be for diverse reasons.
- figs were anyway from wild figs, and the fig collectors were very early that year
- a self sown fig tree was competing with the alms of someone who wanted to show off his almsgiving before men, and he had the fruits removed
- a cultivated fig at the edge of the orchard was too often used by poor and the owner decided - if not against the law, at least against the spirit of the law - to make this impossible
- it was a male tree with no fruit, good only for pollination.
Reason four would be making a comment on the excessive machismo of Jewish culture. Reason one would be making a comment on greed. And reasons 2 or 3 would involve someone being stingy to the poor in order to push them to take alms from someone rather than from God through the fig tree.
While God has instituted private property, He has also set a limit on it.
Hans Georg Lundahl
Feast of Immaculate Conception
of the Blessed Virgin Mary
* Omitting link for now, since J. P. Holding is in same video claiming Our Lady was along with the move to declare Our Lord crazy. Link will be given when I make the post refuting this./HGL