Ancient Olive Press

This sketch looks similar to a first century olive press discovered at the ruins of ancient Capernaum in Israel.

In ancient times September was not only time to prepare for the New Year, but it was also time for harvesting olives. It lasted through November. Near the orchards there was usually an olive press, as sketched in the image above. The oil was extracted in several basic steps.

1. The farmer would grab the branches of the olive tree, and tap the branches with a stick. They would then pick up the fallen olives, being careful not to bruise them. Each olive is filled with oil, in fact over half of its weight is pure oil.

2. Next the pits are removed and the olives are gently placed into the large basin, and the pressing begins by rolling the large millstone. There was a large wooden stick placed through the center of the stone, to help roll it in a circle over the olives. The oil would flow into a container and the crushed pulp into a basket. This first pressing was the purest oil and was used mainly for lamps, cosmetics and holy anointing.

3. The second pressing was for the crushed pulp. It was the actual baskets that were crushed.

It is interesting that the Hebrew word for olive press is "Gethsemane" and the Garden of Gethsemane at the Mount of Olives is where Jesus was in agony as He prayed. Jesus ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives, and will return again a second time at the Mount of Olives where every eye will see him.

"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over."

Psalms 23:5

"Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept."

Matthew 25:1-5