Today, the 15th day of Shevat is also called Tu B’shvat, which is simply translated as the 15th of Shevat – the “tu” being the pronunciation of the Hebrew letters, tet and vav, that together have the value fifteen. Tu b’shvat is regarded as the new year for trees and is commemorated with the planting of trees, a tradition that was started by the children of Jerusalem back in 1910.
It is also interesting that some sects of Judaism commemorate Tu B’shvat as the day Elijah ascended to heaven. These two pieces of information merge into an interesting consideration. God’s people are often likened to trees and, sometimes, branches of trees.
“When you besiege a city for a long time, while making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them; if you can eat of them, do not cut them down to use in the siege, for the tree of the field is man’s food.” (Deuteronomy 20:19)
In many translations, the word “food” is in written in italics because the word “food” is actually not in that verse at all. Literally the verse reads, “the tree of the field is man.” Now consider what the Psalmist says in Psalm 1:1-3:
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.”
Also consider that believers are regarded as being a branch that has been grafted into what Paul called a good or cultivated olive tree (Romans 11). He further states that, because we have believed in Messiah, as a wild branch, we were grafted into that tree contrary to nature. His message was intended to convey that God’s family tree is comprised of both natural branches and wild branches.
Now we must speak to the second theme that is connected to טו בשבט Tu B’shvat – the prophet Elijah. In Scripture he is called “the Tishbite” or in Hebrew, התשבי ha’tishbi. Tishbite (from the Hebrew, תושב toshav) literally means, “resident alien” or “foreigner,” suggesting that Elijah was not born ethnically Israeli. In fact, it strongly insinuates that Elijah came from the nations and then joined himself to the people and God of Israel. In other words, Elijah most likely wasn’t of the natural branch; Elijah represents those of us who are the wild branch in the family tree.
It is Elijah who will herald the coming of the Messiah during “the great and dreadful day of the Lord” as recorded in Malachi 4. So today, the 15th day of Shevat or Tu Beshvat, has a special connection to the time of redemption and the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel. That is when all of His people, both natural branches and wild branches, are delivered from the nations and gathered together as one. According to the prophet Isaiah, that will be a day of great rejoicing and singing.
“For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; the mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” (Isaiah 55:12)
Remember that the trees of the field are men, that is, His people. We are the trees of the field that clap our hands on this day of great deliverance and restoration – a day that is quickly approaching.