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Jacob 5. The Allegory of the Olive Tree.

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jacob 5
Jacob 5

The Allegory of the Olive Tree


“The parable of Zenos, recorded by Jacob in chapter five of his book, is one of the greatest parables ever recorded. This parable in and of itself stamps the Book of Mormon with convincing truth. No mortal man, without the inspiration of the Lord, could have written such a parable. It is a pity that too many of those who read the Book of Mormon pass over and slight the truths which it conveys” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 4:141).

jacob 51
Jacob 5

Do you know someone who has questioned God’s love for him or her, particularly during a time of trial when the person may have turned away from Him?

  • • A young priesthood holder develops a sinful habit. He believes that others can be forgiven, but he doubts the Lord will accept his repentance.
  • • A young woman transgresses a commandment. She experiences guilt, feels terrible about herself, and questions if the Lord still loves her.
jacob s intent

Zenos’ Intent…

Jacob’s Intent…

Jacob 5:3

Jacob 5:74

Jacob 4:4-6

Jacob 4:12

Jacob 4:14

Jacob 4:15-18

the symbolism of olive trees1
The Symbolism of Olive Trees

An olive tree with pruned branches

the symbolism of olive trees2
The Symbolism of Olive Trees

Allegory of the Tame & Wild Olive Trees

the symbolism of olive trees3
The Symbolism of Olive Trees

Olive Tree with Shoots from the Roots

the symbolism of olive trees4
The Symbolism of Olive Trees

Shoots from a Cut Down Olive Tree

the symbolism of olive trees6
The Symbolism of Olive Trees

What is the symbolism of Olives and Olive Oil?

  • Olive branch is the universal symbol of peace or victory
  • Olives are best picked individually
  • Olive oil is used for healing
  • Olive oil is the brightest burning of the vegetable oils
  • Ancient prophets, priests, and kings were anointed in the temple with olive oil
the symbols in the allegory
The Symbols in the Allegory

Read Jacob 5:3-4. 7-8, 11 and look for a symbol

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Jacob 5
  • First Visit (Jacob 5:4-14)
  • The master sees that the old tame olive tree (Israel) is dying. (vs. 3)
  • The master prunes and fertilizes the tree and wild branches (gentiles) are grafted in.(vss. 4-11)
  • Tame branches are transplanted into the nethermost part of the vineyard (vss. 8, 13, 14)
  • The days before Christ
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Jacob 5

“Now in that parable the olive tree is the House of Israel in its native land it began to die. So the Lord took branches like the Nephites, like the lost tribes to other parts of the earth. He planted them all over his vineyard, which is the world. No doubt he sent some of these branches into Japan, into Korea, into China. No question about it, because he sent them to all parts of the world” (Answers to Gospel Questions,comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., 5 vols. [1957–66], 4:204–5).

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Jacob 5
  • Second Visit (Jacob 5:15-28)
  • The grafted-in gentiles have helped save the tree. (vss. 15-18)
  • The tame branches in the poor spot of ground have borne fruit. (vss. 20-22)
  • The good ground bears good fruit, but part is wild. (vs. 25)
  • After the Crucifixion
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Jacob 5
  • Third Visit (Jacob 5:29-60)
  • The tree is cumbered with all sorts of fruit and none of the fruit is good; apostasy has become almost universal. (vss. 29-32, 36) (vs. 39)
  • In the good part of ground, the wild branches have overcome the tame.
  • The Lord of the vineyard weeps.
  • What does verse 47 tell you about how the Lord feels concerning the inhabitants of this earth?
  • The Great Apostasy
what could i have done more for my vineyard jacob 5 41 47 49
“What could I have done more for my vineyard?” (Jacob 5:41, 47, 49)

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: “After digging and dunging, watering and weeding, trimming, pruning, transplanting, and grafting, the great Lord of the vineyard throws down his spade and his pruning shears and weeps, crying out to any who would listen, ‘What could I have done more for my vineyard?’

“What an indelible image of God’s engagement in our lives! What anguish in a parent when His children do not choose Him nor the gospel He sent!”

Jeffery R. Holland, The Grandeur of God, October 2003

jacob 527
Jacob 5
  • Fourth Visit (Jacob 5:61-77)
  • The final gathering takes place by the Lord’s servants. (vss. 52-64)
  • The wild branches are cast away. (vss. 72-76)
  • The good are gathered and the bad burned for the last time. (vs. 77)
  • Our Day
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Jacob 5

The Grandeur of God (Elder Holland, October 2003) video] or Book of Mormon Teacher Resource Video

what could i have done more for my vineyard jacob 5 41 47 491
“What could I have done more for my vineyard?” (Jacob 5:41, 47, 49)

“At least fifteen times the Lord of the vineyard expresses a desire to bring the vineyard and its harvest to his ‘own self,’ and he laments no less than eight times, ‘It grieveth me that I should lose this tree.’ [This allegory] makes the Lord’s mercy so movingly memorable.”

Jeffery R. Holland, (Christ and the New Covenant [1997], 165-66).

what could i have done more for my vineyard jacob 5 41 47 492
“What could I have done more for my vineyard?” (Jacob 5:41, 47, 49)

“Clearly this at-one-ment is hard, demanding, and, at times, deeply painful work, as the work of redemption always is. There is digging and dunging. There is watering and nourishing and pruning. And there is always the endless approaches to grafting—all to one saving end, that the trees of the vineyard would ‘thrive exceedingly’ and become ‘one body; . . .From all the distant places of sin, it has always been the work of Christ (and his disciples) in every dispensation to gather them, heal them, and unite them with their Master”

Jeffery R. Holland, (Christ and the New Covenant [1997], 165-66).

olive trees

Olive Trees


definition of gethsemane
Definition of Gethsemane

Gethsemane comes from the Hebrew words Geth [Gath], meaning “press,” and semane [shemen], meaning “oil” – and therefore means “the press of oil.” The word has reference to huge stone presses that were used to squeeze the oil from olives or the juice from grapes; such presses would have been found in Gethsemane, which was a grove of olive trees. In like manner, the Savior was “pressed” in that garden by the weight of the sins of all mankind until His blood flowed from His skin.

Stephen E. Robinson

Believing Christ: The Parable of the Bicycle and Other Good News

Page 119

the symbolism of olive trees8
The Symbolism of Olive Trees



To produce olive oil, the refined olives had to be crushed in a press. The olives were placed in burlap bags and flattened on a furrowed stone. Then a huge crushing circular rock was rolled around on top, paced by a mule or an ox.

Another method used heavy wooden levers or screws twisting beams downward like a winch upon the stone with the same effect: pressure, pressure, pressure—until the oil flowed.

The first liquid to appear is red, followed by the grey-green olive oil we are used to seeing (Truman G. Madsen, “The Olive Press,” Ensign, Dec 1982, 57)

the atonement
The Atonement

“Imagine, Jehovah, the Creator of this and other worlds, 'astonished'! Jesus knew cognitively what He must do, but not experientially. He had never personally known the exquisite and exacting process of an atonement before. Thus, when the agony came in its fulness, it was so much, much worse than even He with his unique intellect had ever imagined! No wonder an angel appeared to strengthen him! All our infirmities and sicknesses were somehow, too, a part of the awful arithmetic of the Atonement.”

Neal A. Maxwell

Ensign, May 1985

Pages 72-73

the atonement1
The Atonement

“For many years I thought of the Savior’s experience in the garden and on the cross as places where a large mass of sin was heaped upon Him. Through the words of Alma, Abinadi, Isaiah, and other prophets, however, my view has changed. Instead of an impersonal mass of sin, there was a long line of people, as Jesus felt “our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:15), “[bore] our griefs, … carried our sorrows … [and] was bruised for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:4–5).

“The Atonement was an intimate, personal experience in which Jesus came to know how to help each of us…”

the atonement2
The Atonement

“The Pearl of Great Price teaches that Moses was shown all the inhabitants of the earth, which were “numberless as the sand upon the sea shore” (Moses 1:28). If Moses beheld every soul, then it seems reasonable that the Creator of the universe has the power to become intimately acquainted with each of us. He learned about your weaknesses and mine. He experienced your pains and sufferings. He experienced mine.

“He knows our weaknesses. But more than that, more than just knowing us, He knows how to help us if we come to Him in faith.”

Merrill J. Bateman

“A Pattern for All”

Ensign, October 2005

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Jacob 5

The Allegory of the Olive Tree: What applications did you see? What thoughts came to your mind? What impressions did you have?


Jacob 5:47-48 “Develop Spiritual Roots”

“It seems that some among us have this same problem; they want bountiful harvests without developing the root system that will yield them. There are far too few who are willing to pay the price, in discipline and work, to cultivate hardy roots. Such cultivation should begin in our youth. Let us each cultivate deep roots, so that we may secure the desired fruits of our welfare labors” (Spencer W. Kimball, C.R., Oct. 1978, 113).