The almond tree and its fruit are of major importance in Israel both as a cultural concept and in the physical landscape. The almond is found in the very earliest literary sources and is specifically mentioned as being one of the “choice products of the land” (Gen. 43:11).
This is the phrase that Jacob uses in his conversation with his sons (around 1700 BCE), when he wants them to go again to Egypt to bring back provisions: Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be so, do this: take some of the choice products of the land in your baggage, and carry them down as a gift for the man – some balm and some honey, gum, ladanum, pistachio nuts and almonds.”
For the prophet Jeremiah the almond symbolized moving forward and getting things done speedily: “The word of the Lord came to me: What do you see, Jeremiah? I replied: I see a branch of an almond tree. The Lord said to me: You have seen right, for I am watchful to bring My word to pass.” (Jeremiah 1:11)
Numbers 17:22-23 reports that “Moses deposited the staff before the Lord, in the Tent of the Pact. The next day Moses entered the Tent of the Pact, and there the staff of Aaron of the house of Levi had sprouted: it has brought forth sprouts, produced blossoms and borne almonds.”
In Ecclesiastes (Qohelet) 12:5, there is a specific reference to “the almond tree”. Elsewhere in the Bible, its fruit and blossom are mentioned – mainly in Exodus.