ECCLESIASTES 12:5

Brother Beebe: I am a stranger to you in the flesh, but hope that I am not a stranger in spirit. Will you please give your views on Eec. xii. 5? “Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail; because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets.”

MARY A. JONES

Reply to Sister Mary A. Jones - We have understood the wise man to be describing in a highly figurative way the infirmities and declining mental and physical powers and faculties incidental to old age, as explanatory of the evil days in which human life is bereft of its principal natural enjoyments. Having set forth in the preceding verses, by very striking similitudes, the shades and obscurity of the mind to earthly pleasures, the dimmed light of the eye, decayed teeth or grinders, ceasing to perform their wonted functions, the common avenues of earthly enjoyment closed, wearisome nights, and early rising with the voice of the bird. This is very common with the aged, and the enjoyment of music is low. Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high. Easily alarmed at every thing presented to the mind which they cannot comprehend; and fears be in the way. In the imbecility of second childhood, how easily alarmed at that which would have occasioned no uneasiness to them in their more youthful days. And the almond tree shall flourish. The almond tree is the earliest tree to blossom, and when in full bloom is like the peach tree, very white. The almond tree is in full blossom, and perfectly white before any of its leaves appear, thus giving it a more snowy whiteness of appearance. How strikingly this similitude describes the hoary head of the aged. “The Hebrew name of the almond, shakad, comes from a verb signifying to make haste, to be in a hurry, to awake early. To the forwardness of the almond tree there seems to be a reference in Jer. i. 11, 12. ‘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 the Lord said unto me, Thou hast well seen; for I will hasten my word to perform it’.” (Enc. of R. K.) And the grasshopper shall be a burden. The smallest objects will be magnified to enormous size, and in the natural impatience of old age shall feel depressed and sadly burdened by very small objects. And desire faileth. As we draw near the margin of the grave, with whitened locks, dimmed eyes, decayed teeth, enfeebled limbs, exhausted energies, and tottering frame, the yielding mind at length relinquishes its desire for terrestrial things, having no more capacity to enjoy them, now only waits and longs for a change that shall launch them into a new and more vigorous mode of existence. Because man goeth to his long home. Or because he is mortal and destined to leave his short, transitory abode, which has passed swifter than the weaver’s shuttle, and he goes to his final and everlasting destiny. And the mourners go about the streets. Earthly ties the most dear and cherished are dissolved, the loved one has passed away, and those who survive are reminded that they are rapidly following in their course, by seeing the mourners continually going about the streets.

Middletown, N. Y.
June 15, 1859.

Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 4
Pages 242 – 243