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Reference: Cedar


The finest of the trees of Lebanon, the principal constituent of its 'glory' (Isa 35:2; 60:13); it was noted for its strength (Ps 29:5), its height (2Ki 19:23) and its majesty (1Ki 4:33; 2Ki 14:9; Zec 11:1-2). Its wood was full of resin (Ps 104:16), and, largely on that account, was one of the most valuable kinds of timber for building, especially for internal fittings. It was exceedingly durable, being not readily infected with worms, and took a high polish (cf. 1Ki 10:27; Song 1:17; Jer 22:14). It was suitable, too, for carved work (Isa 44:14-15). In all these respects the 'cedar of Lebanon' (Cedrus Libani) answers to the requirements. Though but a dwarf in comparison with the Indian cedar, it is the most magnificent tree in Syria; it attains a height of from 80 to 100 feet, and spreads out its branches horizontally so as to give a beautiful shade (Eze 31:3); it is evergreen, and has characteristic egg-shaped cones. The great region of this cedar is now the Cilician Taurus Mountains beyond Mersina, but small groves survive in places in the Lebanon. The most famous of these is that at Kadisha, where there are upwards of 400 trees, some of great age. In a few references erez does not mean the Cedrus Libani, but some other conifer. This is specially the case where 'cedar-wood' is used in the ritual of cleansing after defilement by contact with a leper (Le 14:4) or a dead body (Nu 19:6). Probably erez here is a species of juniper, Juniperus Sabina, which grows in the wilderness. The reference in Nu 24:6 to 'cedar trees beside the waters' can hardly apply to the Lebanon cedar, which flourishes best on bare mountain slopes.

E. W. G. Masterman.

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