This section is from the book "The Florist And Garden Miscellany". Also see: All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space!.
The root of the word thus translated in the Scriptures signifies in the Hebrew, to wake.
"This tree," says Parkhurst, "before all others, first waketh and riseth from its winter repose." Pliny noticed it as flowering in the month of January, and bringing fruit to maturity in March. In Barbary it flowers in January, and gives its fruit at the beginning of April. At Aleppo and Smyrna it blossoms, at latest, early in February. We know how it gladdens our own eyes as the herald of coming flowers.
It is certain, from the abundant reference to the Almond-tree in the Bible, that God would have us learn some holy lessons as we contemplate it. Let us examine them attentively one by one.
Almonds are mentioned among the "best fruits" of the land of Canaan; Gen. xliii. 11. From their early coming, we may also call them the first-fruits of that good land. The next allusion to the Almond is in Exodus xxv. 33, 34, and the corresponding passage, Exodus xxxvii. 19, 20. Here we find this first and best fruit, with its accompanying flower, chosen by God as the model whereby to form the bowls of the golden candlestick, with their respective appendages.
It must here be remembered that the almond abounds with essential oil, and this property, added to its early rising out of winter's death, renders it a fit and beautiful emblem of Him who is "the Resurrection and the Life," who is "risen from the dead, the first-fruits of them that slept," that "in all things He might have the pre-eminence;" and one of whose many glorious names is "the Light;" - "giving light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death." The next mention we have of the almond confirms and enlarges these thoughts of its typical import.
As Israel journeyed through the wilderness, Aaron was chosen as high-priest, and shewed forth, in type, the work of Christ Himself, "the great high priest." To intrude, then, upon his office was in that dispensation what it would be now to seek to rob Christ of His priestly glory. The sin was judged immediately. See Numbers xvi. After this, when God would powerfully confirm His own previous order, He distinguished Aaron by causing his rod, among the twelve written on with the names of the twelve tribes, to bud, and bloom blossoms, and yield almonds.
This rod was laid up in the ark of the covenant for a token against the rebels. It was a plain evidence of God's power to quicken the dead - a dry rod being thus made alive. It is this very fact that is to be the object of the faith whereby righteousness comes. See Romans iv. 17-25.
If the Almond-tree, wakening before all others from its winter sleep, be a lively emblem of "the first-born from the dead" (Col. i. 18); so the rod cut off from the Almond-tree, blooming and bearing-fruit by the quickening power of God, is a lively emblem of Him who said, "I am He that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore." And it is also written, "He hath given to the Son to have life in Himself".
I confess 1 do not understand the next allusion to the Almond-tree (Eccl. xii. 5), not being satisfied with a common interpretation, that it is one of the figures describing old age.
The remaining passage is Jer. i. 11. The prophet is thus addressed by the Lord: "Jeremiah, what seest thou?" He answers, "I see a rod of an Almond-tree." Whereupon the Lord says to him, "Thou hast well seen; for I will hasten My word to perform it." The word hasten has the same root in the Hebrew as the Almond' tree: this explains the meaning. The Almond-tree was to teach the prophet this great truth, that the word of the Lord spoken to him, and which he was to speak to others, would be performed surely and quickly. Compare with this almost the last words of the Bible; Rev. xxii. 20. Were our spiritual senses fully awake, like our natural senses, we should enjoy our garden with the one as well as the other. God, we see, condescends to teach even by a flowering tree. May we be willing learners!