(1) shaqedh, Ge 43:11; Nu 17:8, etc. The word shaked comes from a Hebrew root meaning to "watch" or "wait." In Jer 1:11-12 there is a play on the word, "And I said, I see a rod of an almond-tree (shaqedh). Then said Yahweh unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will watch (shoqedh) over my word to perform it."
(2) luz; the King James Version hazel, Ge 30:37; lauz is the modern Arabic name for "almond"--Luz was the old name of BETHEL (which see).
1. Almond Tree:
The almond tree is mentioned in Ec 12:5, where in the description of old age it says "the almond-tree shall blossom." The reference is probably to the white hair of age. An almond tree in full bloom upon a distant hillside has a certain likeness to a head of white hair.
2. A Rod of Almond:
A rod of almond is referred to Ge 30:37, where "Jacob took him rods of fresh poplar, and of the almond (luz) and of the plane-tree; and peeled white streaks in them" as a means of securing "ring-streaked, speckled, and spotted" lambs and goats--a proceeding founded doubtless upon some ancient folklore. Aaron's rod that budded (Nu 17:2-3) was an almond rod. Also see Jer 1:11 referred to above.
3. The Blossoms:
The blossoms of the almond are mentioned Ex 25:33 f; Ex 37:19 f, etc. "Cups made like almond-blossoms in one branch, a knop (i.e. knob) and a flower," is the description given of parts of the sacred candlesticks. It is doubtful exactly what was intended--the most probable is, as Dillmann has suggested, that the cup was modeled after the calyx of the almond flower.
4. The Fruit:
Israel directed his sons (Ge 43:11) to carry almonds as part of their present to Joseph in Egypt. Palestine is a land where the almond flourishes, whereas in Egypt it would appear to have been uncommon. Almonds are today esteemed a delicacy; they are eaten salted or beaten into a pulp with sugar like the familiar German Marzipan.
The almond is Amygdalus communis (N.O. Rosaceae), a tree very similar to the peach. The common variety grows to the height of 25 feet and produces an abundant blossom which appears before the leaves; In Palestine this is fully out at the end of January or beginning of February; it is the harbinger of spring. This early blossoming is supposed to be the origin of the name shaqedh which contains the idea of "early." The masses of almond trees in full bloom in some parts of Palestine make a very beautiful and striking sight. The bloom of some varieties is almost pure white, from a little distance, in other parts the delicate pink, always present at the inner part of the petals, is diffused enough to give a pink blush to the whole blossom. The fruit is a drupe with a dry fibrous or woody husk which splits into two halves as the fruit ripens. The common wild variety grows a kernel which is bitter from the presence of a substance called amygdalon, which yields in its turn prussic (hydrocyanic) acid. Young trees are grafted with cuttings from the sweet variety or are budded with apricot, peach or plum.
E. W. G. Masterman