Video Lesson 7: Jacob 5–6: The Olive Tree Allegory
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“Video Lesson 7: Jacob 5–6: The Olive Tree Allegory,” Book of Mormon Video Guide (2002), 8–10

“Video Lesson 7,” Book of Mormon Video Guide, 8–10


Jacob 5–6

The Olive Tree Allegory

Note: Teaching Jacob 5–6 may require more than one class period. The content of Jacob 5 may also require additional preparation time.


To help students understand that the children of Israel have been scattered throughout the world and that every nation is blessed as the Lord gathers His children for the last time.

Before the Video

Readiness Activity

Ask how the scriptures are like a pair of eyeglasses. What are these kinds of comparison called? (Similes and metaphors.) When a comparison is long and has more than one level of meaning it is often called a parable or an allegory. Jacob 5 contains one of the greatest allegories in all scripture. What is being compared? (see Jacob 5:3). (The house of Israel to a tame olive tree.)

Scripture Understanding

Ask what the phrase “house of Israel” means in Jacob 5:3 (the descendants of the twelve tribes of Israel; see footnote 3a). Israel was the name the Lord gave to Abraham’s grandson Jacob. In the Old Testament, Israel’s twelve sons and their descendants were known as the twelve tribes of Israel.

Using the Video

The Olive Tree Allegory 14:33

Video Overview

Jacob 5 records four visits of the master to his vineyard as follows: first, verses 4–14; second, verses 15–28; third, verses 29–60; and fourth, verses 61–77 (see Book of Mormon Student Manual [Religion 121 and 122], 162). The first video segment introduces students to the care of an olive vineyard. Segments 2–4 summarize the results of the first three visits to the vineyard. Segment 5 illustrates the work in the vineyard in our day in preparation for the master’s fourth and final visit. Between segments your students use their scriptures to visit the vineyard.

“Look For” Activity

Suggest that the students try to discover how pruning, digging, nourishing, and grafting olive trees applies to Israel.

Show Segment 1

Segment 1 (6:54) shows a seminary class visiting an Old Testament olive vineyard. After learning how to work in the vineyard, they are shown a decaying olive tree similar to the one in Zenos’s allegory.

Note: The worker named Joseph does not represent the Savior or any specific person. He merely serves as a guide.

Scripture Understanding

After watching segment 1, you may want to refer to Jacob 5 and ask questions like the following:

  • Verse 3: In the allegory, who is the Lord of the vineyard? (Jesus Christ.)

    What is the vineyard? (see footnote 3b; Topical Guide, “vineyard of the Lord,” 556). (The world.)

    If the olive tree was beginning to decay, what was happening to Israel? (see footnote 3d). (Israel was in apostasy.)

  • Verse 4: What might the Lord of the vineyard do when a tree begins to decay? (Prune it, dig about it, and nourish or fertilize it.)

    What could pruning, digging, and nourishing mean when applied to Israel? (see footnote 4a). (The Lord sends His prophets to work with Israel. He persuades His children to be obedient and to produce good fruit.)

  • Verse 7: How might grafting help a decaying tree? (Withered branches can be replaced with good branches from another tree.)

  • Verse 8: What might taking away young and tender branches mean? (see footnote 8a). (The scattering of Israel.)

  • Verse 10: What do the wild branches represent? (see footnote 10a; Bible Dictionary, “Gentile,” 679). (Gentiles, or those who are not of the house of Israel.)

    What is meant when a “Gentile” is grafted into the house of Israel? (see 1 Nephi 10:14). (To come to a knowledge of the true Messiah and embrace the gospel.)

  • Verse 14: What is meant by hiding branches in the vineyard’s nethermost parts? (see footnote 14a). (The scattering of Israel among other nations and the bondage of Israel in other lands.)


The following drawing may help students understand the allegory. Provide each student with a piece of plain white paper and suggest they sketch the tame olive tree in the lower right-hand corner of the paper and an olive branch in each of the other three corners. The branches represent the scattered branches in the vineyard’s nethermost parts. Label them “Poorest Ground,” “Poor Ground,” and “Good Ground.” Label the tree “Tame Olive Tree.” To the side of each branch and the tame tree write “Visits” and “1st,” “2nd,” “3rd,” and “4th.” You may want to make a similar sketch on the board. Label the first visit as shown in the drawing below:

olive tree

Poorest Ground


1st: Planted

2nd: +

3rd: -

4th: +

Poor Ground


1st: Planted

2nd: +

3rd: -

4th: +

Good Ground


1st: Planted

2nd: +-

3rd: -

4th: +

Tame Olive Tree


1st: Grafted

2nd: +

3rd: -

4th: +

“Look For” Activity

Suggest that the students try to discover the meaning of the change of clothing in segment 2. (The clothing represents a change from Old Testament time to the time of Christ.)

Show Segment 2

Segment 2 (2:13) takes place after the grafts have bonded. The seminary class tastes the fruit of the tame olive tree and goes to see how the branches are doing in the nethermost parts of the vineyard.


When the fruit is good (tame), make a plus (+) sign by the visit; when the fruit is bad (wild), make a minus (–) sign. Ask if the tame olive tree was bearing good fruit or bad fruit (good fruit; see Jacob 5:17). Make a plus sign by the second visit. Have the students search Jacob 5:19–25 to discover what kind of fruit each scattered branch was bearing. Have them record their answers in the space next to the second visit.

Note: The branch in good ground bearing good and bad fruit refers to the Nephites and the Lamanites (see the chapter heading for Jacob 5).

“Look For” Activity

Suggest that the students watch segment 3 for the correct answers to the preceding activity.

Show Segment 3

Segment 3 (1:22) shows the seminary students reporting the results of their visits to the nethermost parts of the vineyard (the second visit). They are sent out again to see how the trees in the vineyard are doing.


Ask what kind of fruit the students would expect during the third visit. The following verses from Jacob 5 may be helpful:

“Look For” Activity

Suggest that the students watch segment 4 for the correct answers to the preceding activity.

Show Segment 4

Segment 4 (1:25) shows the students reporting that all of the fruit was corrupt or bad. They are shown trees where the branches have overcome the root and are asked what they think should be done if all the trees are bearing bad fruit.

Scripture Understanding

If all the trees are corrupt, what should be done? The following verses from Jacob 5 may be helpful in finding an answer:

  • Verses 41, 47: How does the Lord of the vineyard feel about His vineyard?

  • Verse 42: What does it mean if all the fruit in all of the vineyard is corrupt? (see footnote 42a). (Complete apostasy.)

  • Verse 48: What was one of the main causes of this complete apostasy? (see footnote 48a). (Haughtiness, or pride.)

  • Verses 50–51: Why did the Lord decide to spare the vineyard a little longer?

  • Verse 52: What does the grafting in this verse signify? (see footnote 52a). (The gathering of Israel.)

“Look For” Activity

Suggest that the students watch for what it means to work in the Lord’s vineyard.

Show Segment 5

Segment 5 (2:39) is a music and visual montage illustrating work in the vineyard today.

After the Video

Scripture Understanding

As you discuss segment 5 with students, help them understand what the Church is doing today to prepare the world for the Millennium and how each member of the Church fits into the Lord’s plan. The following verses from Jacob 5 may be helpful:

  • Verse 61: Who is being called to the work? (Servants. This may represent all Church members who are willing to do the Lord’s work, not just missionaries.)

    What might the phrase “prepare the way” mean? (see footnote 61c). (Preparing a people for the Second Coming and the Millennium. Remind the students that the three aspects of the mission of the Church are to spread the gospel, perfect the Saints, and redeem the dead.)

  • Verses 65–66: What happens to the bad fruit, or the wicked? (They are destroyed as righteousness increases.)

  • Verse 74: Is the fruit of the fourth visit good or bad? (Eventually all of the fruit is good.)

  • Verse 75: What does the Lord of the vineyard say to His servants who labor in the vineyard this last time? (“Blessed art thou; … ye shall have joy with me.”)


You may want to see how well students understand the allegory by asking them to summarize it from their drawings. You might also ask the questions below:

  • Why did the Lord scatter Israel?

  • How are the nations of the earth blessed as the Lord gathers Israel?

  • Why do you suppose only a few servants are willing to work in the vineyard? (see Jacob 5:70).

  • How does the master’s tone in Jacob 5:47 compare with that in verse 75?

Scripture Understanding

Read the chapter heading for Jacob 6. What is this chapter about? What is Jacob’s testimony? (see Jacob 6:1–4). Who does Jacob say will be blessed and who does he say will be cursed as Zenos’s allegory comes to pass?


Help students understand that the allegory of the olive tree is a way to show the Lord’s concern for Israel. With all the allegory’s detail, students need to clearly see that the Lord will not let Israel go—that His hand is stretched out still, pleading for Israel to repent. The Lord will work and toil and exercise infinite patience in its behalf. As the Lord gathers His children the last time, in His great wisdom, all the nations of the earth are blessed (see Jacob 6:4–8).