The almond (Amygdalus communis) is a tree native to Palestine, Lebanon, and some areas of Mesopotamia. A member of the rose family, it grew both wild and as a cultivated fruit tree.
The Hebrew name sha·qedhʹ means, literally, “awakening one,” and this is quite fitting since the almond is one of the earliest trees to bloom following the winter rest, blossoming as early as late January or early February. Note the play on words at Jeremiah 1:11, 12, where the Hebrew word for “almond tree” (sha·qedhʹ) is followed by the expression “keeping awake” (sho·qedhʹ). The tree may grow up to 5 m (16 ft) in height and, when blossoming, is covered with lovely pink and sometimes white flowers arranged in pairs. At Ecclesiastes 12:5 the blossoming almond tree is used to picture the white-headedness of old age. The leaves are oval shaped and serrated on the edges. The almond fruit has an oblong shape, rounded on one end and pointed on the other. It has always been considered a delicacy and was used by Jacob as part of a gift sent to Egypt with his returning sons. (Ge 43:11) The kernel is a source of desirable oil, 45 kg (100 lb) of the fruit producing some 20 kg (44 lb) of oil.
Doubtless due to their delicate beauty, the flowers of the almond were used as a pattern for the cups on the branches of the tabernacle lampstand. (Ex 25:33, 34; 37:19, 20) Aaron’s rod was also an almond branch and miraculously budded overnight, producing ripe almonds as proof of God’s approval on him as anointed high priest.—Nu 17:8.
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Almond blossoms. The almond is among the first trees to bloom as winter ends; thus its Hebrew name means “awakening one”