by Brad Scott
In two places in the 11th chapter of Romans, Sha’ul calls those who are not part of the natural tree a "wild olive tree". The English word wild is taken from the Greek word agrios. Obviously this is part of where we get the word agriculture. Those of this wild tree are spoken of quite frequently in the Tanakh. There are basically two Hebrew words that are translated into our word wild as it appears in our text. The first word sadeh (שדה) is used quite frequently and is the common Hebrew word for a field. It's first use is in Bere’shiyt (Genesis):
Bere’shiyt 2:5And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for YHVH ’Elohiym had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.
It is a word used to speak of vegetation that is not in a garden and out growing wild in the field. The syntax of this word in Romans 11:24 tells us that those in the wild olive tree are those that are "of the field". They are those who are existing by their bootstraps and consuming whatever comes their way, as opposed to vegetation in a master's garden being taken care of by the gardener. By analogy, they are those that are out struggling in the world as opposed to dwelling in their father's house (parable of the prodigal son). Here are a few examples of how this word is used in the Tanakh.
Devariym (Deuteronomy) 7:22And YHVH thy ’Elohiym will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee.
Hoshea (Hosea) 2:12,18And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them. And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely.
Hosea 4:3Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.
The other word used in the Hebrew text from which we get the word wild is pere' (פרא). This word means to be unconstrained or free from control. It is translated as wild, divided, separated, and scattered. This word more closely resembles the way our dominant religion looks at their new found freedom in the Messiah. But this is a description of what we were before we came into the kingdom of our God. Here are two examples of this word in the dictionary of the New Testament (the Tanakh).
Bere’shiyt 16:12And he will be a wild man [Ishmael]; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.
Hoshea 8:9<For they are gone up to Assyria, a wild ass alone by himself: Ephraim hath hired lovers.
You mean Ephraim, another name for the scattered house of Israel, is directly associated with the wild olive tree in Romans 11?
Shalom Alecheim! ◊