Bible Question:

Ecclesiastes 12:3 refers to the “keepers of the house” and Ecclesiastes 12:5 refers to the “almond tree.” What does this mean?

Bible Answer:

Here are the passages of scripture you are referring to.

. . . in the day that the watchmen of the house tremble, and mighty men stoop, the grinding ones stand idle because they are few, and those who look through windows grow dim; and the doors on the street are shut as the sound of the grinding mill is low, and one will arise at the sound of the bird, and all the daughters of song will sing softly. Furthermore, men are afraid of a high place and of terrors on the road; the almond tree blossoms . . . (NASB) Ecclesiastes 12:3-5


Ecclesiastes 12:1-7 is about something that will happen to all of us, unless Jesus Christ returns first. It is about death. The passage is a reminder that after this short time here, there is an eternity after the heart stops beating and our brain has thought its last thought. This section of the Bible describes the physical problems of growing older. It is a warning that death is real. Here are the meanings of the symbols in this section.

Symbol Meaning Passage
Sun, the light, the moon, and the stars are darkenedFace is not as brightEccl. 12:2
Clouds return after the rain.One illness after anotherEccl. 12:2
Watchmen of the house tremble.Legs are weakEccl. 12:3
Mighty men stoopBack is weakEccl. 12:3
Grinding ones stand idle because they are fewEating is slow because there are fewer teethEccl. 12:3
Look through windows grown dimEyesight is poorerEccl. 12:3
Doors on the street are shutTrouble speakingEccl. 12:4
Sound of the grinding mill is lowHearing is poorEccl. 12:4
Arise at the sound of the birdTrouble sleeping at nightEccl. 12:4
Afraid of a high place and of terrors on the roadFear of unknown and heightsEccl. 12:5
Almond tree blossomsGray hair comes with ageEccl. 12:5
Grasshopper drags himself alongPerson hobbles alongEccl. 12:5
Caperberry is ineffectiveSexual drive dropsEccl. 12:5
Silver cord is brokenSpinal cord is snapped or spirit departsEccl. 12:6
Golden bowl is crushedCranial cavity is crushedEccl. 12:6
Pitcher by the well is shatteredUrinary tract problemsEccl. 12:6
Wheel at the cistern is crushedHeart attackEccl. 12:6


After this short, earthly life we live forever.

. . . then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it. (NASB) Ecclesiastes 12:7

Jesus Christ has made it possible to live forever with God. God offers this to anyone who believes in Him. Find out more on the page “Searching for God.”

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What does the Bible say about the Silver Cord in Ecclesiastes 12:6?