‘And their father Israel said … take of the best fruits in the land … almonds’, Gen. 43. 11

The background of our verse is the famine that afflicted the world of the time - ‘the seven years of dearth’, Gen. 41. 54. Because of the food shortages, ‘all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn’, v. 57. Thus, Jacob said unto his sons, ‘get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die’, 42. 2. However, as the crisis continued and the supplies they had acquired ran out, a second visit to Joseph became necessary, although they did not know it was their brother. Remembering the last visit and how they had found ‘every man’s bundle of money … in his sack’, 42. 35, they were afraid. They also knew that the lord of the country, Joseph, had commanded them to bring Benjamin in order to verify their original story and prove they were not spies. To provide some sign of their good intent, as his sons returned to Egypt, Jacob instructed them to take gifts, items that were particularly associated with the land of Canaan in which they dwelt. Orr says of it, ‘Palestine is a land where the almond flourishes, whereas in Egypt it would appear to have been uncommon’ (James Orr (ed.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, e-Sword resource). Of other references to almonds in the scripture, Jacob is said to have used almond tree rods, 30. 37 KJV mg, along with other types, to bring forth ‘cattle ringstraked, speckled, and spotted’, v. 39. Aaron’s rod produced almonds, Num. 17. 8, signalling which tribe was to take on the priesthood. It is said, ‘This particular branch developed buds, blossomed and produced ripe almonds all at the same time - something that any farmer of the period would have known to be impossible but for a miracle’ (quoted from https://www.timesofisrael.com). Moses was also instructed to make parts of the lampstands of the tabernacle ‘like unto almonds’, Exod. 25. 33. These few citations show us the importance of the almond, both practically and symbolically, and what it can teach us.


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