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Trees of the Bible: Almond & Carob

By Yona Williams    7/22/11

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In the Bible, some trees have a symbolic meaning, while others are highlighted because they are able to provide nourishment. The almond tree is seen as both a symbol and source of food. In this article, you will learn more about the almond tree as it pertains to Biblical text, as well as the carob tree.

Almond Trees

The medium sized trees that produce the popular nut has served as a symbol of resurrection in the Bible, as it is the first tree to flower. The white flowers appear in the late part of winter before the leaves of the tree even fully develop. The tree could actually flower as early as late January or early February. After a month has passed, hairy green fruits that continue to develop replace the flowers. Nuts are typically harvested in the middle of August, which marks the end of the growing season. The leaves also start to drop at this time.

The almond has close ties to stone fruits (which have pits), such as the apricot, cherry, and peach. However, the fruits of the almond mature in a different way. The leathery outside of the fruit splits open to reveal the stone. Almonds are referenced a handful of times in the Scriptures throughout the Old Testament.

The first time they are mentioned is in Genesis 43:11, where Jacob wishes to appease the ruler of Egypt by bringing some of the "best products of the land." Almonds are one of these products. Other references of the almond to the Bible include:

Exodus 25:33-34, 37:19-20 – As part of the divine design for the lampstand in the tabernacle, the almond motif was incorporated. Moses was instructed to construct the bowls of the lampstand in the shape of the almond flower.

Ecclesiastes 12:5 – It is believed that the "masses of white flowers on the almond tree" are referenced here, which could serve as an allusion to the white hair that comes with old age.  

Jeremiah 1:11 – The following quote "The word of the Lord came to me: 'What do you see, Jeremiah?' 'I see the branch of an almond tree', I replied" makes reference to the almond.

Carob Tree

The carob tree is a large evergreen covered in branches that produces a known substitute for cocoa called the carob. Since the carob is a member of the legume family, it is closely related to other plants, such as beans, peas, and sweet pea. The fruit is shaped like a pod that contains about 10 hard seeds that are the same size and shape of a small grain of corn. Because of the uniform size of the seeds, they actually served as a standard measure of weight in the past.

In the Bible, the carob tree is believed to have been mentioned in Luke 15:16 where fruits (referred to as "pods") are food for swine. From the New American Standard Bible, the line reads, "And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.'

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