The almond, Amygdalus communis, is a medium sized tree with narrow, light green leaves. Unlike the fig and olive, the almond does not live to a great age. The almond is a well-known symbol of resurrection because it is the first tree to flower. The white, five-parted flowers are up to two inches across and come in the late winter before the leaves of the tree develop. Because they may flower as early as late January or early February, it is sometimes possible to find almond flowers with snow.
Within a month after flowering the distinctive hairy green fruits begin to develop. These have a pleasantly sour taste and are picked and sold as a very popular snack for Arabs. My children enjoyed them when in grade school! In the middle of August the nuts are harvested at the end of the growing season as the leaves begin to fall. The almond is a close relative of such stone fruits as peach, apricots, and cherries. But unlike these relatives, the fruits of the almonds are quite unusual in the way in which they open. The leathery outer covering splits at maturity releasing the stone.
Almonds are mentioned six times in the Scriptures and only in the Old Testament. The first reference is in Genesis 43:11 where Jacob, in an apparent attempt to curry favor with the ruler of Egypt, orders his sons to take some of the "best products of the land" including almonds. The best-known reference to the almond is Aaron's rod that budded (Numbers 17). This is miraculous because the flowering, budding, and fruiting of the almond in nature are always separated in time.
The almond motif was part of the divine design for the lampstand in the tabernacle (Exodus 25:33-34, 37:19-20). Moses was instructed to make the bowls of the lampstand in the shape of the almond flower. The buds and fruits were also to be present, however.
The reference to almonds in Ecclesiastes 12:5 presents some difficulty. The word translated "flourisheth" (KJV) and "blossoms" (NIV) can mean two apparently contradictory things. The reference could be to the masses of white flowers on the almond tree, an allusion to the white hair of old age. Or it could mean to be "despised."
The last reference to the almond is in Jeremiah 1:11. "The word of the Lord came to me: 'What do you see, Jeremiah?' 'I see the branch of an almond tree', I replied." The Hebrew word for almond sounds similar to that for watchful.
Almond and Almonds References