- ALMOND (Heb. שָׁקֵד), one of the "choice fruits of the land" sent by Jacob to the ruler of Egypt (Gen 43:11). The tree blooms in Israel in January or February, while other fruit trees are still bare. Moreover, the almond blossoms before it is covered with leaves. Thus it symbolizes (Jer. 1:11–12) the speedy fulfillment of the prophecy of doom. It may also signify old age and the imminence of death. It is used, allegorically, in this sense in Ecclesiastes (12:5) to describe the short cycle of human life. Although the tree blossoms early, the fruit only ripens late in the summer. ahikar accordingly advised his son: "Be not like the almond tree, for it blossoms before all the trees, and produces its fruit after them." The almond can be regarded as having two periods of ripening. It is edible together with its rind a few weeks after the tree blooms, while the fruit is still green. Its second ripening is three months later, when the outer rind has shriveled and the inside cover has become a hard shell. In its exposition of Jeremiah's vision, the Talmud has the first ripening in mind: "Just as 21 days elapse from the time the almond sends forth its blossom until the fruit ripens, so 21 days passed from the time the city was breached until the Temple was destroyed" (TJ Ta'an. 4:8, 68c), the 21 days being the period between the Seventeenth of Tammuz and the Ninth of Av. Beth-El was originally called luz (Gen. 28:19) which is the less common word for almond or almond tree in Hebrew, but loz is the regular Arabic word for almond. Several localities in modern Israel bear the Arabic name Al-Luz. Two strains of almond grow in Israel: one, the amygdalus communis var. dulcis, usually producing pink blossoms and sweet fruit; the second, the amygdalus communis var. amara producing white blossoms and bitter fruit. The latter strain grows wild in mountain groves. It is edible only with the rind when it is young (Tosef. Ma'as. 1:3). Roasting, however, destroys the poisonous alkaloid, and makes this almond edible even in its later stages (cf. Ḥul. 25b). The almond played a part in the modern history of Ereẓ Israel. Grown extensively in the earlier part of the 20th century, it was attacked by the borer beetle and almost all the orchards were destroyed. In the 1960s, almond cultivation was revived especially in the Northern Negev and again became an important branch of agriculture. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Loew, Flora, 3 (1924), 242 ff.; J. Feliks, Olam ha-Ẓome'aḥ ha-Mikra'i (19682), 56–59. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 165. (Jehuda Feliks)
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.