Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Exodus 25:33 - "Cones of Almond shape" of the Golden Lampstand

In my previous posts on the Menorah, particularly in this one, I have tried to explain the reasoning behind the meaning of the expression "cones of Almond shape"(גבעים משקדים) [ḡəḇi‘îm məšuqqāḏîm], and tried to show an illustration of what these "cones" might have looked like (like so):

However, it had been suggested by an author (J.P. van de Giessen) of web site bijbelaantekeningen.nl, that assuming that the word שקד [šəqēḏ] indeed means an Almond tree, the expression "cones of Almond shape"(גבעים משקדים) [ḡəḇi‘îm məšuqqāḏîm] refers either to the flower and a knob, or to the knob from a half grown nutshell with the rest of the flower on top of it.
 
This is of'course not an unreasonable statement, as flowering Almond and flowering Almond seed pods do indeed match the description provided in the original text.
 
On the other hand, a closer look at the text and at the expression in question reveals the following:
  1. The word שקד [šəqēḏ] means "an Almond Nuts" (Genesis 43:11). This is because it would be hard to imagine that Jacob asked his sons to bring to Pharaoh any other part of an Almond tree, such as branches, flowers, e.t.c.
  2. The word גביע [gəḇî] means "cup"/"beaker"/"pit" or "ditch" (Genesis 44:2). Basically a "cup" of sorts, as it would be hard to imagine that Joseph was drinking from something other than a "cup".
  3. Exodus 25:33 explicitly differentiates between expressions "cups"[ḡəḇi‘îm], "knops"/"spheres"(כפתר)[kafətōr] and "flowers"/"buds"/"blossoms" (ופרח)[wāferaḥ]. It would be hard to imagine that any of these expressions mean the same thing and refer to the same part of the plant.
  4. Some traditional sources say that Oil was put in these "cups". This is absolutely incorrect and has no basis whatsoever in the original text. On the contrary, the text explicitly says that the Oil was placed into the 7 Golden Lamps, which were essentially separate pieces from the Lampstand itself. (I.e Exodus 25:37, Leviticus 24:2 e.t.c)
Therefore, these "cups" were some kind of hollow cone-like objects, that would somewhat resemble either a flowering Almond pod or nut.

To better illustrate the point, I have found several images that should provide you with sufficient information.

Here are a couple of images of a flowers and a seed pod (follicle) of the Indian almond (Sterculia foetida). Images are from this web site:


Here is another one from the same web site:




And here is an image of raw ripe Almond Nuts in the pods (image is from this web site):

And here is an Almond Nut on an Almond tree with the flowers still on it (from this website):

And here is another view upon an opened Almond Pod (from this web site):

And here is a view upon a flowering Almond tree, early in the flowering period (no Pods or Nuts). Image is from this web site:

So in conclusion, assuming that the text indeed means an Almond Tree and not some other tree, the "cups" of the Golden Lampstand would look as one of the parts of an Almond tree.

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