Commentary on the Gospel of
What was Nathanael (Bartholomew) doing under the fig tree? We do not know for sure. However, there are hints in the Old Testament. When God establishes His kingdom of peace, people “shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees” (Mic 4:4), indicating a time of peace and trust, freedom from fear. It was not an unusual practice for the scholars to read and study the law under fig trees, and rarely, even to pray. Scholar Al Garza points out that the Syriac dictionary carries a mention of Nathanael’s mother laying him under a fig tree to save him when Herod was on a rampage killing infants to get rid of baby Jesus. Jesus, in his infinite wisdom, knew the intimate link between the fig tree and Nathanael, and no wonder the latter’s rigid stereotypes about anything good in Bethlehem would immediately burst and he would recognize the Messiah in Jesus.