Few Bible trees would be more familiar to the American or European visitor than the oak trees. Perhaps this familiarity may explain the fact that several large trees mentioned in the Bible, such as the Atlantic pistacia, were translated as oaks by Europeans unfamiliar with the flora of the Middle East. There are two common species of oak in the Middle East-- Quercus calliprinos and Q. ithaburensis but the two are not distinguished from one another in the scriptures. Both can become massive, long-lived trees with spreading branches. Because of extensive over-grazing and cutting, large oaks are not common today. Due to its size, longevity, and beauty, it is not difficult to see how man regarded oaks as objects of veneration a practice carried out today by some Muslims. In parts of Upper Galilee, it is possible to see large trees adorned with cloths reminding one of the way these trees were regarded in the Bible. God rebukes His people in Hosea 4:13 for a similar practice, "They sacrifice on the mountaintops and burn offerings on the hills, under oak, poplar and terebinth, where the shade is pleasant."
As with other large trees, the oak can be a symbol of a mighty man. The Amorite is likened to an oak in strength Amos 2:9.
The prominent feature of the oak is its strength while that of the cedar is its height. The oak does not become an exceptionally tall tree but rather a strong tree. The wood of the oak is much stronger than that of the cedar although the oak is less resistant to decay than the cedar.
In addition to timber, these oaks were no doubt one of the sources of tannin necessary for tanning hides. Tanning is mentioned in Acts 10:6.
Oak and Oaks References