The almond tree is a native of Syria and Israel. Its blossoms are very pale pink and appear before its leaves. Its Hebrew name, shaked signifies “wakeful, hastening” because it blossoms so early, generally in February, and sometimes even in January. In Eccl. 12:5, it is referred to as illustrative, probably, of the haste with which old age comes. There are others, however, who contend for the old interpretation here.
“The almond tree bears its blossoms in the midst of winter, on a naked, leafless stem, and these blossoms (reddish or flesh-coloured in the beginning) seem at the time of their fall exactly like white snow-flakes. In this way the almond blossom is a very fitting symbol of old age, with its silvery hair and its wintry, dry, barren, unfruitful condition.”
In Jeremiah 1:11 “I see a rod of an almond tree [shaked]… for I will hasten [shaked] my word to perform it,” the word is used as an symbol of promptness. Jacob wanted his sons (Genesis 43:11) to take with them into Egypt of the best fruits of the land, almonds, etc., as a present to Joseph, probably because this tree was not a native of Egypt.
The Hebrew word luz, translated “hazel” in the King James Bible (Genesis 30:37), is translated as “almond” in the Revised King James Version, New King James Version, New International Version and the New Revised Standard Version. It is probable that luz means the wild almond, while shaked means the cultivated variety.