Scriptural References to Events of the Allegory of the Olive Tree

The following is a list of metaphorical and linguistic references in the Bible that can be compared to Chapter 5 of the Book of Jacob (The Book of Mormon), commonly referred to as the “Allegory of the Olive Tree.” This list is meant to illustrate to the reader the vastness of the allegory and how it is deeply rooted in Old Testament and New Testament prophecies.

  1. The Jews Will Reject the Cornerstone
  • Jacob 4:15-16 = “by the stumbling of the Jews they will reject the stone upon which they might build and have safe foundation. But behold, according to the scriptures, this stone shall become the great, and the last, and the only sure foundation, upon which the Jews can build.”
  • Matthew 21:42 = “Did ye never read the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?”
  • Psalm 118:22 = “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes”

2. The Vineyard of the Lord

  • Jacob 5:3 = “I will liken thee, O house of Israel, like unto a tame olive tree, which a man took and nourished in his vineyard; and it grew, and waxed old, and began to decay.”
  • Isaiah 5:7 = “For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant”
  • Jeremiah 12:10 = “Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot…”
  • Matt 20:1 = “For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard
  • Luke 20:9 = “Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time”

3. The House of Israel is an Olive Tree

  • Jacob 5:3 = “For behold, thus saith the Lord, I will liken thee, O house of Israel, like unto a tame olive tree
  • Romans 11:24 = “For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree…”
  • Psalm 52:8 = “But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God”
  • Jeremiah 11:16-17 = “The Lord called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken. For the Lord of hosts, that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee”

4. Pruning, Digging, and Nourishing

  • Jacob 5:4,64 = “he saw that his olive tree began to decay; and he said: I will prune it, and dig about it, and nourish it, that perhaps it may shoot forth young and tender branches, and it perish not…dig about them, and prune them, and dung them once more”
  • Luke 13:8 = “And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it
  • Isaiah 5:6 = “And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns”

5. Shoot Forth Branches

  • Jacob 5:4 = “that perhaps it may shoot forth young and tender branches, and it perish not.”
  • Luke 21:29-30 = “Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand”
  • Ezekiel 17:6 = “so it became a vine, and brought forth branches, and shot forth sprigs
  • Ezekiel 36:8 = “But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come”
  • Isaiah 27:6,8 = “Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit…In measure, when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it: he stayeth his rough wind in the day of the east wind”

6. Young and Tender Branches

  • Jacob 5:4,6 = “that perhaps it may shoot forth young and tender branches, and it perish not…And it came to pass that after many days it began to put forth somewhat a little, young and tender branches”
  • Matt 24:32 = “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh”
  • Ezekiel 17:3-4 = “and took the highest branch of the cedar: He cropped off the top of his young twigs, and carried it into a land of traffick”
  • Ezekiel 17:22 = “Thus saith the Lord God; I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon an high mountain and eminent”
  • 1 Chronicles 29:1 = “Solomon my son, whom alone God hath chosen, is yet young and tender, and the work is great…”
  • 1 Chronicles 22:1 = “Solomon my son is young and tender, and the house that is to be builded for the Lord must be exceeding magnifical…”

7. Wild Olive Branches Grafted into the Tame Olive Tree

  • Jacob 5:7,9 = “It grieveth me that I should lose this tree; wherefore, go and pluck the branches from a wild olive tree, and bring them hither unto me…Take thou the branches of the wild olive tree, and graft them in, in the stead thereof”
  • Matt 21:43 = “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof”
  • Romans 11:17,24 = “And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree…For thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree”

8. The Main Top Begins to Perish and Will be Destroyed

  • Jacob 5:6-7 = “it began to put forth somewhat a little, young and tender branches; but behold, the main top thereof began to perish…we will pluck off those main branches which are beginning to wither away, and we will cast them into the fire that they may be burned
  • Jeremiah 2:21 = “Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?
  • Jeremiah 19:15/20:4 = “I will bring upon this city and upon all her towns all the evil that I have pronounced against it, because they have hardened their necks, that they might not hear my words…and I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive into Babylon, and shall slay them with the sword

9. Cumber the Ground of the Vineyard

  • Jacob 5:9 = “these which I have plucked off I will cast into the fire and burn them, that they may not cumber the ground of my vineyard.
  • Luke 13:7 = “Behold these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?

10. Corrupt Trees Bring Evil Fruit

  • Jacob 5:38-39 = “Let us go down into the nethermost parts of the vineyard, and behold if the natural branches have also brought forth evil fruit the fruit of the natural branches had become corrupt also; yea, the first and the second and also the last; and they had all become corrupt.
  • “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit…Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Matt 7:17,19)

11. Roots of the Tree

  • Jacob 5:11,34 = “It grieveth me that I should lose this tree; wherefore, that perhaps I might preserve the roots thereof that they perish not, that I might preserve them unto myself, I have done this thing… I know that the roots are good, and for mine own purpose I have preserved them; and because of their much strength they have hitherto brought forth, from the wild branches, good fruit.”
  • Romans 11:16-18 = “and if the root be holy, so are the branches…and thou…wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree…but if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee

12. Let the Good and the Bad Grow Together

  • Jacob 5:65 = “And as they begin to grow ye shall clear away the branches which bring forth bitter fruit, according to the strength of the good and the size thereof; and ye shall not clear away the bad thereof all at once, lest the roots thereof should be too strong for the graft, and the graft thereof shall perish, and I lose the trees of my vineyard.”
  • Matt 13:30 = “Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn”

13. What More Could I Have Done for my Vineyard?

  • Jacob 5:40-41 = “And the wild fruit of the last had overcome that part of the tree which brought forth good fruit, even that the branch had withered away and died. And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard wept, and said unto the servant: What could I have done more for my vineyard?
  • Isaiah 5:3-4 = “And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?”

14. Stretched forth my hand all the day long

  • Jacob 5:47 = “Have I slackened mine hand, that I have not nourished it? Nay, I have nourished it, and I have digged about it, and I have pruned it, and I have dunged it; and I have stretched forth mine hand almost all the day long, and the end draweth nigh.”
  • Isaiah 65:2 = “I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts.”
  • Romans 10:20-21 = “But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me. But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people

15. Laborers are Few

  • Jacob 5:70 = “And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard sent his servant; and the servant went and did as the Lord had commanded him, and brought other servants; and they were few.”
  • Matt 9:37 = “Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his vineyard

16. Graft the First Last, and the Last First

  • Jacob 5:63 = “Graft in the branches; begin at the last that they may be first, and that the first may be last, and dig about the trees, both old and young, the first and the last; and the last and the first, that all may be nourished once again for the last time.”
  • Matt 20:8 = “So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen” (see also Matt 19:30/Mark 10:31/Luke 13:30)

17. Planted in Good Soil

  • Jacob 5:43 = “And behold this last, whose branch hath withered away, I did plant in a good spot of ground; yea, even that which was choice unto me above all other parts of the land of my vineyard.”
  • Ezekiel 17:8 = “It was planted in a good soil by great waters, that it might bring forth branches, and that it might bear fruit, that it might be a goodly vine”

18. Spare it a Little Longer

  • Jacob 5:49-51 =  “Let us go to and hew down the trees of the vineyard and cast them into the fire, that they shall not cumber the ground of my vineyard, for I have done all. What could I have done more for my vineyard? But, behold, the servant said unto the Lord of the vineyard: Spare it a little longer. And the Lord said: Yea, I will spare it a little longer, for it grieveth me that I should lose the trees of my vineyard.”
  • Psalm 106:23 = “Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them
  • Luke 13:7-9 = “I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down

19. Who has corrupted my vineyard?

  • Jacob 5:47 = “And it grieveth me that I should hew down all the trees of my vineyard, and cast them into the fire that they should be burned. Who is it that has corrupted my vineyard?
  • Matt 13:24-26,28 = “The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also…He said unto them, An enemy hath done this

20. Loftiness of the Trees

  • Jacob 5:48 = “Is it not the loftiness of thy vineyard—have not the branches thereof overcome the roots which are good? And because the branches have overcome the roots thereof, behold they grew faster than the strength of the roots, taking strength unto themselves. Behold, I say, is not this the cause that the trees of thy vineyard have become corrupted?”
  • Isaiah 2:12,17 = “For the day of the Lord of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low…And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low”
  • Ezekiel 31:10-11 = (Note: This is a prophecy referring to the fall of Egypt. However, the metaphor is similar to that in Jacob 5) “Because thou hast lifted up thyself in height, and he hath shot up his top among the thick boughs, and his heart is lifted up in his height; I have therefore delivered him into the hand of the mighty one of the heathen; he shall surely deal with him: I have driven him out for his wickedness”

21. The Lord Will Gather His People Again

  • Jacob 5:67-68 = “And the branches of the natural tree will I graft in again into the natural tree; And the branches of the natural tree will I graft into the natural branches of the tree; and thus will I bring them together again, that they shall bring forth the natural fruit, and they shall be one.”
  • Isaiah 11:11-12 = “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people…and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth”

22. Satan Will Be Bound But Will Return for a Short Time

  • Jacob 5:76-7 = “For behold, for a long time will I lay up of the fruit of my vineyard unto mine own self against the season, which speedily cometh…And when the time cometh that evil fruit shall again come into my vineyard, then will I cause the good and the bad to be gathered…and my vineyard will I cause to be burned with fire.”
  • Revelation 20:2-3 = “And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled; and after that he must be loosed a little season” (Revelation 20:2-3)

23. Good and Evil Will Be Separated in the Last Days

  • Jacob 5:77 = “then will I cause the good and the bad to be gathered; and the good will I preserve unto myself, and the bad will I cast away into its own place. And then cometh the season and the end”
  • Matt 25:32 = “And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats

4 thoughts on “Scriptural References to Events of the Allegory of the Olive Tree

    • My writings are very unorganized, but for me this article and several others I have wrote suggest that whoever authored the Book of Mormon had a powerful command of Biblical language and doctrine across both the Old and New Testament. This provides evidence contrary to the assumption that Joseph Smith simply made up the Book of Mormon as he went along while having his head buried in a hat

      • I think that Joseph had notes that were used as part of the process. Yes, none of the witnesses ever mention the use of notes, but there are two simple possibilities for this.
        1) Joseph hid the notes in his lap while seated at a table (like cheating high schoolers do).
        2) The scribes did not want to admit that they were accomplices to fraud in their accounts.

        Of course, it is also possible that Joseph had amazing recall and improvisation skills (his mother said that before the plates arrived he would tell stories about the Nephites). As far as familiarity with the Bible, no one ever says that Joseph was not well versed in the Bible. His father was a sometimes school teacher, his brother went to Dartmouth College, and the Bible was likely his main reading material growing up.

  1. […] Both the Book of Mormon (Jacob 5) and the First Book of Napoleon (Napoleon 2) use allegories of good trees and bad trees. This is where the similarity ends. The fifth chapter in the Book of Jacob recounts a 77-verse allegory of how the House of Israel is like a decaying olive tree. The Lord of the vineyard tries to preserve the fruit by transplanting some of its branches into other parts of the vineyard, while at the same time grafting branches from wild olive trees into the mother tree. The Lord’s several attempts to preserve the tree are described. The purpose of the allegory is to show the history of the scattering of Israel and how Israel will be gathered together again in the last days. This allegory follows similar language found in both the Old and New Testaments, such as Luke 13:6-9, Romans 11: 16-24, and Isaiah 5:1-7. An in-depth look at the similarities in the language of the Book of Mormon and the Bible can be found here. […]

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