Bamidbar Chapter 17
וַיְדַבֵּ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר
The LORD spoke to Moses, saying:
דַּבֵּ֣ר ׀ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל וְקַ֣ח מֵֽאִתָּ֡ם מַטֶּ֣ה מַטֶּה֩ לְבֵ֨ית אָ֜ב מֵאֵ֤ת כָּל־נְשִֽׂיאֵהֶם֙ לְבֵ֣ית אֲבֹתָ֔ם שְׁנֵ֥ים עָשָׂ֖ר מַטּ֑וֹת אִ֣ישׁ אֶת־שְׁמ֔וֹ תִּכְתֹּ֖ב עַל־מַטֵּֽהוּ׃
Speak to the Israelite people and take from them—from the chieftains of their ancestral houses—one staff for each chieftain of an ancestral house: twelve staffs in all. Inscribe each man’s name on his staff,
וְאֵת֙ שֵׁ֣ם אַהֲרֹ֔ן תִּכְתֹּ֖ב עַל־מַטֵּ֣ה לֵוִ֑י כִּ֚י מַטֶּ֣ה אֶחָ֔ד לְרֹ֖אשׁ בֵּ֥ית אֲבוֹתָֽם׃
there being one staff for each head of an ancestral house; also inscribe Aaron’s name on the staff of Levi.
וְהִנַּחְתָּ֖ם בְּאֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד לִפְנֵי֙ הָֽעֵד֔וּת אֲשֶׁ֛ר אִוָּעֵ֥ד לָכֶ֖ם שָֽׁמָּה׃
Deposit them in the Tent of Meeting before the Pact, where I meet with you.
וְהָיָ֗ה הָאִ֛ישׁ אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֶבְחַר־בּ֖וֹ מַטֵּ֣הוּ יִפְרָ֑ח וַהֲשִׁכֹּתִ֣י מֵֽעָלַ֗י אֶת־תְּלֻנּוֹת֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֲשֶׁ֛ר הֵ֥ם מַלִּינִ֖ם עֲלֵיכֶֽם׃
The staff of the man whom I choose shall sprout, and I will rid Myself of the incessant mutterings of the Israelites against you.
וַיְדַבֵּ֨ר מֹשֶׁ֜ה אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל וַיִּתְּנ֣וּ אֵלָ֣יו ׀ כָּֽל־נְשִֽׂיאֵיהֶ֡ם מַטֶּה֩ לְנָשִׂ֨יא אֶחָ֜ד מַטֶּ֨ה לְנָשִׂ֤יא אֶחָד֙ לְבֵ֣ית אֲבֹתָ֔ם שְׁנֵ֥ים עָשָׂ֖ר מַטּ֑וֹת וּמַטֵּ֥ה אַהֲרֹ֖ן בְּת֥וֹךְ מַטּוֹתָֽם׃
Moses spoke thus to the Israelites. Their chieftains gave him a staff for each chieftain of an ancestral house, twelve staffs in all; among these staffs was that of Aaron.
וַיַּנַּ֥ח מֹשֶׁ֛ה אֶת־הַמַּטֹּ֖ת לִפְנֵ֣י יְהוָ֑ה בְּאֹ֖הֶל הָעֵדֻֽת׃
Moses deposited the staffs before the LORD, in the Tent of the Pact.
וַיְהִ֣י מִֽמָּחֳרָ֗ת וַיָּבֹ֤א מֹשֶׁה֙ אֶל־אֹ֣הֶל הָעֵד֔וּת וְהִנֵּ֛ה פָּרַ֥ח מַטֵּֽה־אַהֲרֹ֖ן לְבֵ֣ית לֵוִ֑י וַיֹּ֤צֵֽא פֶ֙רַח֙ וַיָּ֣צֵֽץ צִ֔יץ וַיִּגְמֹ֖ל שְׁקֵדִֽים׃
The next day Moses entered the Tent of the Pact, and there the staff of Aaron of the house of Levi had sprouted: it had brought forth sprouts, produced blossoms, and borne almonds.
וַיֹּצֵ֨א מֹשֶׁ֤ה אֶת־כָּל־הַמַּטֹּת֙ מִלִּפְנֵ֣י יְהוָ֔ה אֶֽל־כָּל־בְּנֵ֖י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וַיִּרְא֥וּ וַיִּקְח֖וּ אִ֥ישׁ מַטֵּֽהוּ׃ (ס)
Moses then brought out all the staffs from before the LORD to all the Israelites; each identified and recovered his staff.
Botanically a stone fruit, the almond is related to the cherry, the plum and the peach, but, unlike its cousins, the delicious nut is found inside the fruit. Archaeologists have determined that almonds were so loved in Egypt that they were baked into breads for the pharaohs.
The tree's early flowering and its Hebrew name "shakeid" -- to "wake" or "watch" -- make it a potent symbol of new beginnings and God's watchfulness.
In Genesis 43:11; Numbers 17:8, etc. The word shaked comes from a Hebrew root meaning to "watch" or "wait." In Jeremiah 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."
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.
In the mid-1700s the Franciscan padres brought the almond tree with them to California from Spain, but it wasn’t until the following century that they were successful in getting the trees to grow reliably. By the turn of the 20th century, the almond industry was firmly established in the inland Sacramento and San Joaquin areas of California. Today, California is the only place in North America where almonds are grown commercially, and they are the state’s largest tree nut crop, with more than 450,000 acres dedicated to the almond, accounting for more than 70% of worldwide production.
Jordan Almonds, those candy-coated delights, form part of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern wedding rituals. The guests receive little mesh bags of the pastel-colored sweets. The almonds are said to represent children, happiness, romance, good health and fortune. Interestingly, the bags contain almonds in odd numbers only (usually five), the symbolism being that odd numbers are indivisible — just as the newly married couple should be. Another tradition holds that if an unmarried woman puts a Jordan Almond under her pillow, she will dream of her future husband.
Other References to Almonds in Tanach:
- Almond Tree: The almond tree is mentioned in Kohelet 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.
- A Rod of Almond: A rod of almond is referred to Beresheit 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 (Bamidbar 17:2,3) was an almond rod. Also see Yirmiyahuh 1:11.
- The Blossoms: The blossoms of the almond are mentioned Shemot 25:33; 37:19, 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 has been suggested, that the cup was modeled after the calyx of the almond flower.
- The Fruit: Israel directed his sons (Bereishit 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.
1. Flowering Initially “Lifnei Hashem”, by Rabbi Yissocher Frand See https://torah.org/torah-portion/ravfrand-5775-korach/
2. Giving Up Everything For The Chance To Work In The Beis HaMikdash, See https://torah.org/torah-portion/ravfrand-5775-korach/
3. Rav Shlomo Zalman HaKohen Kook, See http://www.ttidbits.com/1129/1329rag.pdf
4. On Blossoms, Almonds, and Spiritual Accomplishments. See https://www.torahweb.org/torah/2002/parsha/rhab_korach.html
5. Davar b’ito mah tov (How good is a thing in its proper time). See https://torah.org/torah-portion/ravfrand-5755-korach/
6. The Blossoming of the Staff of Aaron. See https://www.etzion.org.il/en/blossoming-staff-aharon