A dresser of sycamore trees

Tonight, people from hundreds of churches across the United States are brushing up on the prophet Amos, whose eponymous Biblical book is the subject of a series of Sunday school lessons for the month of June. Amos describes himself: “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore trees.” (Amos 7:14, NRSV) But how could a person’s job be tending sycamore trees?

“Sycamore tree” means something very different in Africa and the Arabian peninsula than it does in the United States! People living in the U.S. probably think of the American Sycamore when they hear the word “Sycamore” – but the sycamore tree of the Bible is a fruit tree!

If you want to know more about the sort of tree that Amos tended, click here for a brief article about the Sycamore Fig, which includes some lovely photographs and a (short) embedded YouTube video. Many thanks to Woody Davis, a Sunday school teacher in Mississippi, who found this article when preparing for tomorrow’s class, and shared it with me.

If you are studying the UMC Adult Bible Studies series this summer, and you find something you’d like to share, let me know! Maybe (with your permission) it will end up being shared in this space.

4 responses

  1. Yes, I found your blog because I teach the adult class at my church and we are using your series for the summer in theAdult Bible Studies series. Look for to gathering info from your site

  2. I checked your blog for my Sunday School class at Sylvan UMC in Fosters, AL. Thank you for the sycamore information and links.

  3. Loving this quarter’s Adult Bible Studies! I’m going to use a youtube video by Ken Medema with this week’s Adult Bible Studies lesson. Ken Medema is an amazing artist, blind from birth, who often completely improvises a song after he hears a sermon. In this instance, the sermon was about Amos, and must have discussed what a “fig dresser” does – squeeze or cut the skin of the figs to induce ripening. Here’s Ken’s impromptu video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3Y9LQBUcd4. It’s worth a watch!!

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