Ask The Rabbi

Olive Branch of Peace

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Dove, Symbol of Peace

Barry Pogrund from Cape Town, South Africa wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

We often talk about the dove and the olive branch as symbols of peace. Is there any Talmudic source for such a notion, and if not from where do we arrive at the contention that the dove and the olive branch are symbols of peace? Many thanks for your wonderful and elucidating series.


Dear Barry Pogrund,

There's no reference in the Talmud identifying the dove or olive branch as symbols of peace.

However, Noah's flood is compared to a "war" between G-d and Mankind. This idea is seen in the symbol of the rainbow. After the flood, G-d showed Noah a rainbow as a sign that there would never again be a world-wide flood. The rainbow looks like an archer's bow pointing up towards heaven. The Ramban explains that the "upside-down bow" symbolizes that G-d will no longer "shoot arrows" at the earth in the form of a flood, just as a warrior turns his bow towards himself as a gesture of peace.

In this sense, the dove returning to the ark could be seen as peace symbols, indicating that the "war" between G-d and Man had ended.

By the way, the "olive branch" is a misconception. The dove returned to Noah with an olive leaf in its mouth, not a branch.

Sources:

  • Ramban, Genesis 9:12


 
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