Almonds – a symbol of watchfulness and old age

Almonds were also among the best products of the land sent by Jacob to the man in Egypt (Genesis 43:11). The Hebrew word for almond (seqedim) comes from the root sqd which means “to watch, wake.” King and Stager tell us that the name was given because,

its splendid white blossoms appear as early as the end of January, a true harbinger of spring. Jeremiah plays on sqd: “The word of Yahweh came to me [Jeremiah], saying, ‘Jeremiah, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘I see a branch of an almond tree (saqed).’ Then Yahweh said to me, ‘You have seen well, for I am watching (soqed) over my word to perform it” (Jer. 1:11-12). (Life in Biblical Israel, 105)

The photo below was made in early March near the north border of the Palestinian West Bank near Jenin. Notice that the falling blossoms turn the ground gray.

Almond trees blooming in the West Bank. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Almond trees blooming in the West Bank near Jenin. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Other biblical references to the almond include the following:

  • The cups of the lampstand for the tabernacle were shaped like almond blossoms (Exodus 25:33).
  • Aaron’s rod sprouted and brought forth buds, produced blossoms, and bore ripe almonds (yummy; Numbers 17:8).
  • Used figuratively of the person growing older (“the almond tree blossoms,” Ecclesiastes 12:5). Matthew Henry says, “The old man’s hair has grown white, so that his head looks like an almond-tree in the blossom. The almond-tree blossoms before any other tree, and therefore fitly shows what haste old age makes in seizing upon men; it prevents their expectations and comes faster upon them than they thought of. Gray hairs are here and there upon them, and they perceive it not.”
Almond blossoms in the West Bank. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Almond blossoms in the West Bank. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

3 responses to “Almonds – a symbol of watchfulness and old age

  1. It is (at least for me) one of the most beautiful trees. My almond I got some years ago from friends, with a little card on which was written Jer. 1:11-12. Every year with the blossom I read this Bible passage 😉

  2. Thanks, J.P. I thought if anyone commented it would be you. Stager and King say the blossoms appear as early as the end of January in Israel. These photos were made March 13, 2000. A lot of the blossoms had already fallen.

  3. “March” isn’t that rather late for the blossom? In my garden (in the Netherlands) my almond flowered on 2 April and here it’s much colder as in Israël.

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