The Tree That Wakes Up Early

IN LATE January or early February, many of the terraced hillsides of Israel are dramatically transformed. Awakening from their winter sleep, almond trees burst into bloom. Since it is one of the earliest trees to do so, the almond usually has the stage to itself. Its white and pink blossoms grace the wintry countryside, reminding us of Solomon’s words at Ecclesiastes 12:5. There he compares the white hair of old age to ‘the almond tree that carries blossoms.’

In view of the almond’s precocious bloom, the Hebrew word for almond appropriately has the literal meaning “awakening one.” It has thus been used in the Bible in a number of powerful illustrations. For example, the prophet Jeremiah saw in vision an offshoot, or branch, of an almond tree. What did it represent? “I am keeping awake concerning my word in order to carry it out,” Jehovah told him. (Jeremiah 1:11, 12) Of course, Jehovah never tires out, nor does he sleep. But his words emphasized his desire to finish his work.—Isaiah 40:28.

Centuries before Jeremiah’s day, a flowering almond rod was used to identify the one whom Jehovah had appointed as high priest. A rod for each one of the 12 tribes of Israel was deposited before Jehovah in the tent of meeting. The following morning Aaron’s almond rod had not only flowered miraculously but also produced ripe almonds! This almond rod was kept inside the ark of the covenant for a while as a sign to the nation that they should never again murmur against Jehovah’s appointed representatives.—Numbers 16:1-3, 10; 17:1-10; Hebrews 9:4.

Jehovah desired that representations of the almond’s beautiful blooms embellish the seven-branched golden lampstand that illuminated the Holy Place of the tabernacle. According to the description that Moses recorded, “three cups shaped like flowers of almond were on the one set of branches, with knobs and blossoms alternating; and three cups shaped like flowers of almond were on the other set of branches, with knobs and blossoms alternating. That is the way it was for the six branches running out from the lampstand. And on the lampstand there were four cups shaped like flowers of almond, with its knobs and its blossoms alternating.”—Exodus 37:19, 20.

Although the Bible makes few references to the almond tree, it does draw our attention to its beautiful white blossoms and its early awakening. This attractive tree reminds us, above all, that Jehovah will not rest until he has accomplished his purpose.—Isaiah 55:11.