Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mystery Tree No. ?

Update: Soccer Dad is right! It's an almond tree, or in Hebrew shaqed or sheqeidia.
The almond appears several times in the Torah, for instance when Yaakov's sons go down to Egypt for the second time:
And their father Israel said unto them: 'If it be so now, do this: take of the choice fruits of the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spicery and ladanum, nuts, and almonds; (Genesis 43:11)
The almond also appears in the first chapter of Jeremiah. The verses make absolutely no sense when they are translated into English:
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.' Then said the LORD unto me: 'Thou hast well seen; for I watch over My word to perform it.'
Here's the verse in Hebrew:

וַיְהִי דְבַר-ה' אֵלַי לֵאמֹר, מָה-אַתָּה רֹאֶה יִרְמְיָהוּ; וָאֹמַר, מַקֵּל שָׁקֵד אֲנִי רֹאֶה. וַיֹּאמֶר ה' אֵלַי, הֵיטַבְתָּ לִרְאוֹת: כִּי-שֹׁקֵד אֲנִי עַל-דְּבָרִי, לַעֲשֹׂתוֹ.
There is a play on words here. The word for "almond" (shaqed) is similar to the word shoqeid which is translated her as "watch over". Shoqeid could have been translated as "being diligent" or "being assiduous". The almond tree blossoms at the end of the winter, before most if not all of the other fruit bearing trees. Just as the almond blossoms quickly, so G-d will act quickly to fulfill His word.
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