By: George A. Barton
A term applied to a tree (Jer. i. 11, Eccl. xii. 5), to a fruit (Gen. xliii. 11, Num. xvii. 23 [A. V. 8]), and to a bud or flower (Ex. xxv. 33,xxxvii. 19). Once (Gen. xxx. 37) the same tree is called lûz, its name in Aramaic, Arabic, and Ethiopic. The almond is the Amygdalus communis (L.), of the order Rosaceœ. Its Hebrew name (sheḲed) is derived from a stem meaning to "waken" or "watch," to which Jeremiah makes reference in his use of it (Jer. i. 11). The name is said to have been given because it was the first tree to awaken from the sleep of winter; but it more probably expresses its color or some other physical quality. About January the bare tree, still devoid of leaves, is suddenly covered with blossoms an inch or an inch and a half broad. The petals, pink at the bottom, become white at the top, producing the effect of a perfectly white tree. It is a native of western Asia. The fruit was considered a delicacy (compare Gen. xliii. 11). In Eccl. xii. 5 it is used metaphorically, according to most interpreters, of an old man's gray head.