Common Name: Almond | Scientific Name: Prunus Dulcis

Family: Rosaceae

RESOURCES

Part used

In a word

Uses

Chapter from Healing Plants of the Bible
Chapter from Healing Plants of the Bible

Fact Sheet


Fact Sheet
Almond

Scientific Name: Prunus dulcis

Part used: Oil expressed from the seed

In a word: Skin healer

Uses: A powerful anti-inflammatory agent that is appropriate when the skin is red

The Almond tree occupied an important role in ancient world and indeed a prominent place in the Bible. It gets quite a few mentions in the Bible and this is largely to do with the fact the Israelites adored the tree and the fruit it produced. Almond trees were a source of beauty, inspiration, food, and medicine. It was a common tree and virtually everybody had one. Native to the region extending from India to Persia, the almond tree had spread east and west of its natural range thousands of years before the birth of Christ. The Israelites and the Chinese were aware of the tree well before the end of the Biblical period and all cultures that knew it, revered it.

The almond tree is closely related to peach, plum, apricot, and cherry trees. Unlike its relations, the almond has a leathery inedible skin wrapped around its pit. The almond nut is found within the stone. In this case you throw away the skin and save the pit. Almonds on the tree resemble fuzzy green peaches about the size of the end of your thumb.

There are three varieties of Almonds, all produce nuts, some are edible and some are not. One almond variety produces the sweet nuts we eat, one produces poisonous bitter nuts, and a third variety produces a mixture of bitter and sweet nuts. The sweet almond is raised for its nuts which are eaten out of hand, ground into confectionery pastes (marzipan), and pressed for their oil. The bitter almond, Prunus dulcis (variety amara) is poisonous and is not eaten. Instead it is pressed for its oil which is used in food and beverage flavouring. The bitter seed contains the compound Amygdalin, that, when mixed with water, produces a powerful almond scent and taste. The Israelites were familiar with both the edible and poisonous almond. The sweet almond was more popular for obvious reasons!

It seems the Israelites traded almonds early in history. Jacob sent almonds as a present to the Egyptians in 1707 BC. The Egyptians did not have almond trees at the time and as such this was quite a gift. When the Israelites migrated to Egypt in 1502 BC they carried almond growing with them. We know this because Rod of Aaron was an almond branch Aaron lived in Egypt.

The tree is known as the shak-hed tree in parts of the Hebrew Bible. The prophet Jeremiah is asked, what do you see? He answers the “shak-hed” tree. The Hebrew word shak-hed means to be wakeful or to hasten. The almond was the first tree to bloom in Israel and as such was known as the wakeful tree, referring to its hurry to wake up from the winter slumber. Producing the first bloom in spring, the almond tree was well known.

Israel is a hot, dry, unforgiving desert in many regards. The almond tree digs its roots in between hot rock and anything else it must pass to find water and nutrients. It survives the lack of rain, the heat, which could kill an American rattler snake, the frost, and the wind. It more than survives, it produces the most incredibly beautiful flowers at the first sign of spring, and delicious, nutritious fruits follow. The Israelites were so impressed with its power to thrive under harsh circumstances it became as a symbol of a desirable human traits. The ancient Israelites likened someone who could turn a horrible situation into a positive situation to an almond tree.

Like the olive, the almond provided food and oil, and both were produced with little effort from the farmer. The trees ability to survive, flourish and produce abundantly is magical in a way. Not surprisingly, it is associated with near magical occurrences in the Bible. In Numbers 17:8 one can read of a rather magical occurrence. A dormant almond branch was stuck into the ground inside a meeting tent. The branch, or Rod of Aaron, broke into bloom and bore almonds before the eyes of those gathered.

The Rod of Aaron introduces an interesting fun fact. Frequently the word sceptre appears in the Bible and a more accurate translation might be “branch of an almond tree”. It seems that almond branches were forced to bloom in winter and were then used as sceptres at official meetings. The image of Aaron presiding over the tribes of Israel with a blooming branch in his hand is not something one sees in the Hollywood version of the Bible!

The Israelites likened the leaf bare almond tree covered with white blossoms to an old man with white hair. We see this thought mentioned in Ecclesiastes. The Israelites picked almonds at two different times. The first almonds were picked 21 days after the tree bloomed. The green fruit picked at this time was in an immature state. The second harvesting occurred four months after the blossoming and these nuts were similar to the dried almonds we know. Interestingly enough, the Rabbi’s of the Talmud tells us that both the sweet and the bitter almond were eaten. The sweet almond was eaten raw in the first and the second harvest. The bitter almond was eaten raw in the first harvesting and roasted in the second harvesting. Rabbi Tosef said that the bitter almond grew wild in the mountains and the sweet almond was cultivated in the garden.

The Israelites were not the only Mediterranean natives to know and grow the almond. The Greeks and the Romans grew them and associated the trees with their gods and goddesses. The almond was sacred to the Greek Goddess Cybele. Early in Greek history the Greeks were growing ten different kinds of almonds, some bitter and some sweet. According to a Greek legend, Phyllis killed herself by hanging herself on a sweet almond tree. There after that tree produced bitter seeds and thus bitter almonds came into being.

Interestingly enough, the Roman Cato (234-149 BC) called the almond Nux graica, the Greek nut. Pliny mentions it. Theophrastus (372-287 BC) makes numerous references to the almond as a food and medicine. Almond trees growing around the Mediterranean produced so abundantly that there were nuts to spare. The southern European countries exported almonds to the northern countries very early on in history.

Though used as a food throughout history, almonds and almond oil were always seen as medicines. Knowing what you know about the harsh environment in which the almond grows, you can imagine the seed has to be pretty well packed with power to sprout in the less than hospitable environment. It has to fall off the tree, land in the crack of a rock, and strike a root down between two rocks to a water source far below the soil surface. The almond tree has to load its seed with power to enable it to accomplish this feat. The ancients found that the seed contained power which could heal an ailing body. They found the precious oil pressed from the seed could do the same.

Maimonides, an ancient Jewish physician, made use of both almonds and almond oil in his medical practice. He said this on the subject.

“The eating of almonds induces normal sleep. A concoction therewith furtherly moistens the basic liquids of the body and its oil, if trickled into the nose, induces sleep. A dish prepared with them is praiseworthy. Almonds are among the most salutory of fruits. They strengthen the stomach and the liver. Similarly its oil. One rubs the stomach and liver regions with it and its benefit is great, either eaten alone with sugar and raisins prior to meals, or during meals, or after meals. They are beneficial when used alone for all situations, and exert a normal drying action. Almonds have the property of guarding the exteriors of the brain. They watch over the moistness of organs extremely well, and do give rise to strange moisture”

Gerard said this of almonds in the 16 th century,

“They do serve also to make the physical barley water, and barley creame, which are given in hot fevers, as also, for other sicke and feeble persons, for their further refreshing and nourishments.”

Gerard was referring to almond milk, a very ancient beverage used since well before the biblical days to help the body repair itself. The almonds were soaked and grated, and the puree was added to boiling water. This water was then sweetened with honey; the resulting almond “milk” was one of the staples of the sick room. People drank this milk to speed the recovery process and insure a return to strong vibrant health.

In that Almonds are native to India it would pay to take a trip to that part of the world and see what the Indian, or Ayurvedic doctors have to say about them. In India, the almond is seen as a soothing demulcent to the mucous membranes when taken internally. Mucous membranes line your respiratory, digestive, and urinary tract the way skin lines your external body. When these membranes are unhappy or under the weather, they pump out mucous. When you get a cold you have to blow your nose to rid yourself of this extra mucous. It was in these situations the Indian physicians used and continue to use the almond.

In a book entitled “Indian Plants and Drugs” written in 1908, the author states that almond is effective in treating conditions in which excessive production of secretions is a problem, specifically in bronchitis and dysentery. He also recommends it in urinary problems when the disease is accompanied with abnormal secretion of mucous.

This business of almonds stopping excessive secretions is not exclusively an Indian idea. If we travel to England in 1597 we find Gerard running his mouth about almonds acting to stop the over production of mucous.

“white juice, like milke, which over and besides that it nourisheth, and is good for those that are troubled with the laske and bloudie flix (bloody discharges), it is profitable for those that have the pleurisie and spit up filthie matter;for there is likewise in the almonds an opening and concocting qualitie, with a certain clensing facultie, by which medicine to the chest and lungs, or lights, and serve for the raising up of phlegm and rotten humors. It also cures old coughs.”

The almond is a member of the Rose family and the entire family contains tannins, chemicals found in plants that were once used in tanning leathers. Tannins dry out animal skin and convert them into leather. They do the same thing to the linings of the human body. Almonds contain tannins in the brown peal that surrounds the seed and it is likely that these chemicals are in part responsible for the drying nature of the almond.

The best way to use them is to take a pound of almonds with their brown skins on, soak them in a bowl with equal parts water over night and drain. Put the almonds in the food processor with equal parts water and puree. Mix this paste with equal parts water, strain, and sweeten to the taste. Three cups a day of this powerful brew should be just about all that a person needs in their convalescent period or if their mucous membranes are over producing mucous.
Practitioner’s Advice

People living around the Holy Land still use the almond as a medicinal substance. Throughout the region it is seen as a nutritive tonic, effective in making the mucous membranes happier, and also used to soothe another body part, the skin.

The almond and its oil are used by the Indians as a healing agent for the skin. Applied to the skin it takes care of chapping and itching. The almond likes to grow in hot, dry places, locations where people are likely to suffer from dry skin. In these harsh environments almond oil is seen as one of the best oils to be used to treat skin conditions. It is used alone and compounded with other medicinal plants to improve the condition of the skin. No doubt the healing balms of the Israelites were made with the soothing oil of the almond! So, let’s take the hint and use almond oil to make our skin happy!
Chapter from Healing Plants of the Bible

Almond
Prunus dulcis

Rosacea

Picture this. Aaron is presiding over a meeting of the 12 Tribes of Israel. He is seated on a raised chair, putting him slightly above the noisy collection of men. Everyone is dressed in their finest robes, Aaron especially. Indeed, the tent itself is as ornamented as any wealthy bride. Bright weavings on the floor, bunches of flowers attached to the tent posts, and shiny enamel evil eye charms hang from the lofted ceiling. The tent is hazy with the musky smoke of burning frankincense and myrrh. Aaron has a sceptre in hand. No ordinary sceptre, his is a tree branch richly covered with pink satiny blossoms. In fact, his ceremonial chair has been ornamented with the same pink bloom covered branches. Framed in a cloud of pink, Aaron uses his floral pointer to indicate who may speak and when he has heard enough, uses his sceptre to indicate such…..

Quite a vision and probably not what comes to mind when one thinks Biblical leader. Hollywood does not paint this particular picture, but, Aaron, and other high ranking men of his standing, did use floral sceptres. Not just any old blooming branch, sceptres cut from a special trees with a special significance. In fact, the word sceptre appearing throughout the Bible would be more accurately translated as “branch of an almond tree”.

Aaron’s special branch sceptre in this story was cut from a blooming almond tree. The question becomes, what was the significance of this tree? In the first instance, the almond tree occupied an important role in the ancient world. Not surprisingly, it gets quite a few mentions in the Bible. The Israelites adored the tree and the fruit it produced. Almond trees were a source of beauty, inspiration, food, and medicine. The almond tree was seen as very special tree indeed and only a special man would use its blooming branch to conduct a meeting.
Botany

Though the almond tree is native to the region that extends from India to Persia, the nut bearing tree had spread east and west of its natural range thousands of years before the birth of Christ. The Israelites and the Chinese were aware of the tree well before the end of the Biblical period and all cultures that knew it, revered it.

Every country has a tree that signals spring is coming. In North America it’s the red bud tree and forsythia bush, in China it’s the quince tree, and in ancient Israel, it was the almond tree. At the first hint of spring the almond tree erupts in white-pink clouds of bloom. A welcome site at the bleakest time of the year and one of the many reasons the Israelites loved this tree!

Closely related to the peach, plum, apricot, and cherry tree, it is unlike its relations in one major regard. Whereas we eat the wrapping around the seed of these trees, in the case of the almond, we eat the seed itself. The almond has a leathery inedible skin wrapped around its pit and a succulent oily seed within the pit. When dealing with almonds, you throw the skin away and keep the seed! If you happen onto an almond grove in season, you would find trees covered with thumb sized fuzzy green fruits that resemble tiny peaches.

The almond story is a bit complex due to a little known botanical fact. There are actually three varieties of the almond tree. All three varieties produce nuts, some are edible and some are not. One almond variety produces the sweet nuts we think of when we think almond. Another produces poisonous cyanide rich bitter nuts. The third variety produces a mixture of sweet edible and bitter poisonous nuts. Fortunately the poisonous nuts are bitter to the taste so you are unlikely to make a mistake and eat the wrong nut.

Interestingly, all of the nuts, sweet and bitter, were used my ancient man. The sweet almond was raised for its nuts which were eaten out of hand, ground into confectionary pastes(marzipan), and pressed for their oil. The bitter almond, Prunus dulcis (variety amara) is poisonous and was not eaten, but was pressed for its oil which was used in food flavouring and perfumery. The bitter seed contains a chemical known as Amygdalin, that, when mixed with water, produces a powerful almond scent and taste. The compound is powerful and a tiny, non-poisonous dose is enough to flavour many a cake. The sweet almond was more popular than the bitter almond for obvious reasons- you could eat them!
Almonds in the Bible

Early on in the Bible we see almonds making an appearance. Jacob sent almonds as a present to the Egyptians in 1707 BC. Apparently the Egyptians did not have almond trees at that time and as such it was quite a gift. When the Israelites travelled to Egypt, they brought almonds trees and almond culture with them. They are said to have introduced almonds to Egypt around the year 1502 BC. The reason we know almonds grew in Egypt is because Aaron’s floral rod mentioned earlier was an almond branch and Aaron lived in Egypt.

At one point Jeremiah is asked, what do you see? He answers the “wake-tree”. The Hebrew word in this line is shaked, which means to be wakeful, to hasten, or to watch. It also means almond tree. As was stated, the almond tree was the first tree to bloom in Israel. As such it was known as the haste or wakeful tree, referring to its hurry to bloom in the spring. What Jeremiah sees is an almond tree in bloom.

Additionally, shaked is translated as “to try hard”. The term “the try hard tree” doesn’t make much sense if you don’t know anything about the Promised Land. Israel is a dry, barren, rocky, hot, lethally sunny, and all done and said, nasty piece of real estate. The nicest thing you can say about Israel is that it doesn’t lack for sun. Despite the harsh environment, the almond tree is able to survive and then some. It digs its roots in between hot rock and anything else it must pass through to find water and nutrients. It survives the lack of rain, heat which could kill an American rattler snake, the frost, and the wind. More than just survive, it produces incredibly beautiful flowers and bears abundant crops of delicious, nutritious nuts. To the Israelites, the almond tree represented the trait of trying hard. We might say, strong as an oak. An Israelite might have said, he is as determined as an almond tree.

There is a magical reference to the almond tree in the Bible that can be found in Numbers 17:8. “And on the morrow Moses went into the tent of the testimony, and behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds, and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds.” Translated, the story reveals that Aaron’s rod, an almond branch, was stuck into the ground and promptly bloomed and bore fruit. Call me crazy, but, that sounds pretty magical. How many times have you stuck a dormant apple branch into the garden and had it bloom and bear fruit? I shouldn’t think it is an everyday experience for many of us! And that was the context in which people saw the almond tree. It was seen as being so special to be almost magical.
The Nut

Though the Israelites were impressed with the hardiness of the almond tree, and its beautiful spring display, they probably really loved it for practical reasons. It produced nuts in abundance, nuts that were both nutritious and delicious. The fruit is known as shaked or luz in Hebrew. Its name in Arabic, luaz, is very similar! The reference to the almond in Genesis 43:11 “Carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds” is quite revealing. Almonds, along with a lot of Biblical commodities like myrrh and spices, were seen as a special gift.

In order to understand the significance of the Bible plants one must attempt to see the world through a different set of eyes. Today, for the most part, food is easily acquired. You take your car to the grocery, walk the aisles, and drive home again. Not so with the Israelites. These people had to pray for rain and work the soil for their supper. There was a lot of work associated with getting a meal together. To have bread, you had to grow the wheat, separate the wheat from the chaff, grind the wheat, and then bake the bread. Food was a lot of work. The almond, on the other hand, produced instantly edible nuts with little help from the farmer. The tree produced abundantly and you could eat the nuts right off the tree! The almond, relatively speaking, represented easy tasty food.

The Israelites picked almonds at two different times. The first picking occurred 21 days after the tree bloomed. Almonds picked at this stage are in an immature state but are still quite tasty. The second harvest occurred four months after blooming. Almonds picked at this stage would have been similar to the dried almonds we know.

Though you would have thought the Israelites would have only eaten the sweet almonds, there is evidence they also ate the bitter, poisonous almonds. The Rabbi’s of the Talmud tells us the bitter almond was eaten raw in the first harvesting and roasted in the second harvesting. Rabbi Tosef said that the bitter almond grew wild in the mountains where as the sweet almond was more a cultivated tree. The bitter almond was probably more of a survival food, eaten in times of trouble and war. They were, after all, potentially poisonous!

The almond, once harvested, could be used in a variety of different ways. The nuts could be eaten out of hand or roasted. They could be ground into flour which could be used to make cookies and cakes. They could be ground with honey to make a sweet almond paste. They could be pounded with water to make a milk like beverage. And lastly, they could be pressed for oil. Once you had a supply of almonds, there was no end to what you could do with them. And again, the trees produced abundantly so there was no shortage of raw material with which to work!

There is one last use for almonds which should not be discounted. They could be sold. The ancient Israelites had dealings with far away lands through characters like the Three Wise Men. Traders brought items of value from other places and traded them for local goods. The Israelite would have paid for a bit of rare spice with a bag of almonds. Keeping almonds trees gave the ancient Israelite a source of barter currency.

Almonds as medicine
Convalescence food

In the Biblical days and into the beginning of this century almonds were seen as a power source and where administered when ever a patient was seen in need of a little outside power.

Almonds were recovery food, used in the diet when a persons body needed strengthening. In the contemporary world the notion of convalescence has gone out the window. I was speaking to a group of elderly women in the bar of the Heatherdeane hotel in Eastbourne, England some days ago. They were recounting their days of having babies and at that time women were given two weeks in hospital to recover. Today, you deliver the child, they put a diaper on it, and you are out the door. In today’s world people have major surgery in the morning and are sent home in the afternoon, and are expected back to work a few days later. We are not given time to be ill and we certainly are not given time to convalesce.In the old days people spent time recovering from an illness. They ate power rich foods to assist and speed the process. Almonds played a role in the ancient recovery room.

One hundred years ago and back from that point doctors were very conscious not only the acute phase of an illness, but of the phase of recovery that follows being unwell. Doctors back then knew that if you had influenza you would be in bed for a week, but that it would take weeks if not months to fully recover. Today they call the fact you don’t feel right after a bug Post-Viral Syndrome and they tell you there is not anything you can do for it. This is not the case. The doctors of the last century would tell you that not only can you do something to assist your convalescence, you should do something about it. Almonds were the food of choice when it came to nursing someone back to health.

Knowing what you know about the harsh environment in which the almond springs up, you can imagine the seed has to be pretty well packed with power to sprout and make it to the tree stage. It has to fall off the tree, land in the crack of a rock, strike a root down between two rocks, and send a root down to a water source far below the soil surface. The plant has to load its seed with power to enable it to accomplish this feet and it does just that. Taken internally, the power gets used by your body to heal itself rather than creating a new tree.

Gerard said this of almonds, “They do serve also to make the physical barley water, and barley creame, which are given in hot fevers, as also, for other sicke and feeble persons, for their further refreshing and nourishments.” Gerard was referring to almond milk, a very ancient beverage used since well before the biblical days to help the body repair itself. The almonds were soaked and grated, and the puree was added to boiling water. This water was then sweetened with honey, the resulting almond “milk” was one of the staples of the sick room. People drank this milk to speed the recovery process and insure a return to strong vibrant health.

Maimonides was familiar with the almond and like most of the ancient Jewish physicians, made use of it in his medical practice. “The eating of almonds induces normal sleep. A concoction therewith furtherly moistens the basic liquids of the body and its oil, if trickled into the nose, induces sleep. A dish prepared with them is praiseworthy. Almonds are among the most salutory of fruits. They strengthen the stomach and the liver. Similarly its oil. One rubs the stomach and liver regions with it and its benefit is great, either eaten alone with sugar and raisins prior to meals, or during meals, or after meals. They are beneficial when used alone for all situations, and exert a normal drying action. Almonds have the property of guarding the exteriors of the brain. They watch over the moistness of organs extremely well, and do give rise to strange moisture”
Decongestant

In that Almonds are native to India it would pay to take a trip to that part of the world and see what the Indian, or Ayurvedic doctors have to say about the seed. In India, the almond is seen as a demulcent, soothing to the mucous membranes when taken internally. Mucous membranes line your respiratory,digestive, and urinary tract the way skin lines your external body. When these membranes are unhappy or under the weather, they pump out mucous. When you get a cold you have to blow your nose to rid yourself of this extra mucous.

In a book entitled “Indian Plants and Drugs” written in 1908, the author states that almond is effective in treating conditions in which excessive production of secretions is a problem, specifically in bronchitis and dysentery. He also recommends it in urinary problems when the disease is accompanied with abnormal secretion or mucous like material.

This business of almonds stopping excessive secretions is not exclusively an Indian idea. If we travel to England in 1597 we find Gerard running his mouth about almonds acting to stop the over production of mucous. “white juice, like milke, which over and besides that it nourisheth, and is good for those that are troubled with the laske and bloudie flix(bloody discharges), it is profitable for those that have the pleurisie and spit up filthie matter;for there is likewise in the almonds an opening and concocting qualitie, with a certain clensing facultie, by which medicine to the chest and lungs, or lights, and serve for the raising up of phlegm and rotten humors. It also cures old coughs.”

The almond is a member of the Rose family and the entire family contains tannins, chemicals found in plants that were once used in tanning leathers. Tannins dry out animal skin and convert them into leather. They do the same thing to the linings of the human body. Almonds contains tannins in the brown peal that surrounds the seed and it is likely that these chemicals are in part responsible for the drying nature of the almond.

The best way to use them is to take a pound of almonds with their brown skins on, soak them in a bowl with equal parts water over night and drain. Put the almonds in the food processor with equal parts water and puree. Mix this paste with equal parts water, strain, and sweeten to the taste. Three cups a day of this powerful brew should be just about all that a person needs in their convalescent period or if their mucous membranes are over producing mucous.

Christopher Hansard, a Tibetan Bon Medical Doctor, told me the following about almond use in Tibet, ” The almond is seen as a hot food that will drive out recurrent illness and diseases carried by the blood. It is also used to cure mental fatigue due to chronic illness and for fatigue in general.” Dr.Hansard feels that almonds drive disease out of the body the way a blow dryer drives water out of your hair. He said this of the tree itself, “The bark is used to close up wounds, calm labour pains if they are too strong. The leaf is used to heal oral ulcers and cuts that wont heal.”

People living around the Holy Land still use the almond as a medicinal substance. Throughout the region it is seen as a nutritive tonic, effective in making the mucous membranes happier, and also used to sooth another body part, the skin. I contacted the eminent Lebanese herbalist Joseph Nasr to see what he had to say about the almond.

“The sweet almond is eaten green and dry widely. The dry seed is pressed to make oil which is used as an ointment for the skin, to sooth it when it is dry and chapped, to treat eczema, and to prevent itching. The bitter almond is used whole, cracked, or crushed in mixtures to quiet coughs and colds. They are poisonous by nature so small amounts are used in cough syrups sweetened with sugar or honey.”
Skin healer

The almond and its oil are used by the Indians as a healing agent for the skin, and as Mr.Nasr said, applied to the skin it takes care of chapping and itching. The almond likes to grow in hot, dry places, locations where people are likely to suffer from dry skin. In these harsh environments almond oil is seen as one of the best oils to be used to treat skin conditions. It is used alone and compounded with other medicinal plants to improve the condition of the skin. No doubt the healing balms of the Israelites were made with the soothing oil of the almond!

Genesis 28:19 and he called the name of tat place Bethel, but the name of that city was called luz at the first.

Genesis 30:37 And Jacob took him rods of green poplar and of the hazel(almond) and chestnut tree

Genesis 35:6 So Jacob came to luz , which is in the land Canaan

Genesis 43:11 Carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds

Exodus 25:33-36 Three bowls made like unto almonds , with a knob and a flower in one branch; and three bowels made like almonds in the other branch

Exodus 37:19-20 Three bowls made after the fashion of almonds in one branch, a knob and a flower, so throughout the six branches going out of the candle stick

Numbers 17:1-8 And the lord spake unto Moses, saying, speak unto the children of Israel, and take of every one of them a rod according to the house of their fathers,

Numbers 17:8. “And on the morrow Moses went into the tent of the testimony, and behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds, and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds.”

Joshua 16:2,18:13 And goeth out form Beth-el to Luz , and the border went over from thence toward luz , to the side of luz , which is beth-el, southward

Ecclesiastes 12:5 Also when they shall be afraid of that of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail

Jeremiah 1:11 Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said , I see a rod of an almond tree.

The Israelites were not the only Mediterranean natives to know and grow the almond. The Greeks and the Romans grew them and associated the trees with their gods and goddesses. The almond was sacred to the Greek Goddess Cybele. Early in Greek history the Greeks were growing ten different kinds of almonds, some bitter and some sweet. According to a Greek legend, Phyllis killed herself by hanging herself on a sweet almond tree. There after that tree produced bitter seeds and thus bitter almonds came into being.

Interestingly enough, the Roman Cato(234-149 BC) called the almond Nux graica, the Greek nut. Pliny mentions it. Theophrastus (372-287 BC) makes numerous references to the almond as a food and medicine. Almond trees growing around the Mediterranean produced so abundantly that there were nuts to spare. The southern European countries exported almonds to the northern countries very early on in history.

When a group of monks wanted to start a monastery in the sixth century AD, on the list of supplies they would need was almonds. The monastery of Corbie, located in Normandy, listed almonds as one of the things they needed when they petitioned Chilperic II, King of France, for financing. Still on French soils, Charlemagne in the early ninth century demanded that the almond be planted on his imperial plantations so that he and his coterie might enjoy the healthful treat. Almonds were an important article of Venetian trade in the fourteenth century. In 1411, the Kings Templars of Cyprus taxed almonds as they passed through the ports. The almond, though not native to places like Germany and England, were an instant success and literally thousands of tons of the nuts passed from the Mediterranean to those parts of the world long before the invention of cars and trains. Medieval cookery used almonds liberally.



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