Heb ya'ar, meaning a dense wood, from its luxuriance. Thus all the great primeval forests of Syria (Ec 2:6; Isa 44:14; Jer 5:6; Mic 5:8). The most extensive was the trans-Jordanic forest of Ephraim (8/6'>2Sa 18:6,8; Jos 17:15,18), which is probably the same as the wood of Ephratah (Ps 132:6), some part of the great forest of Gilead. It was in this forest that Absalom was slain by Joab. David withdrew to the forest of Hareth in the mountains of Judah to avoid the fury of Saul (1Sa 22:5). We read also of the forest of Bethel (2Ki 2:23-24), and of that which the Israelites passed in their pursuit of the Philistines (1Sa 14:25), and of the forest of the cedars of Lebanon (1Ki 4:33; 2Ki 19:23; Ho 14:5-6).
The house of the forest of Lebanon (1Ki 7:2; 10:17; 2Ch 9:16) was probably Solomon's armoury, and was so called because the wood of its many pillars came from Lebanon, and they had the appearance of a forest. (See Baalbec.)
Heb horesh, denoting a thicket of trees, underwood, jungle, bushes, or trees entangled, and therefore affording a safe hiding-place. place. This word is rendered "forest" only in 2Ch 27:4. It is also rendered "wood", the "wood" in the "wilderness of Ziph," in which david concealed himself (1Sa 23:15), which lay south-east of Hebron. In Isa 17:14 this word is in Authorized Version rendered incorrectly "bough."
Heb pardes, meaning an enclosed garden or plantation. Asaph is (Ne 2:8) called the "keeper of the king's forest." The same Hebrew word is used Ec 2:5, where it is rendered in the plural "orchards" (R.V., "parks"), and Song 4:13, rendered "orchard" (R.V. marg., "a paradise").
The forest of the vintage (Zec 11:2, "inaccessible forest," or R.V. "strong forest") is probably a figurative allusion to Jerusalem, or the verse may simply point to the devastation of the region referred to.
The forest is an image of unfruitfulness as contrasted with a cultivated field (Isa 29:17; 32:15; Jer 26:18; Ho 2:12). Isaiah (Isa 10:19,33-34) likens the Assyrian host under Sennacherib (q.v.) to the trees of some huge forest, to be suddenly cut down by an unseen stroke.
Palestine was more wooded very anciently than afterward; the celebrated oaks and terebinths here and there were perhaps relics of a primeval forest on the highlands. But in the Bible the woods appear in the valleys and defiles leading from the highlands to the lowlands, so they were not extensive. "The wood of Ephraim" clothed the sides of the hills which descend to the plain of Jezreel and the plain itself near Bethshah (Jos 17:15-18), and extended once to Tabor which still has many forest trees. That "of Bethel" lay in the ravine going down to the plain of Jericho. That "of Hareth" on the border of the Philistine plain in the S. of Judah (1Sa 22:5). That "of Kirjath Jearim" (1Sa 8:2; Ps 132:6), meaning" town of the woods", on the confines of Judah and Benjamin; "the fields of the wood" from which David brought up the ark to Zion mean this forest town.
That "of Ziph-wilderness," where David hid, S.E. of Hebron (1Sa 23:15, etc.). Ephraim wood, a portion of the region E. of Jordan near Mahanaim, where the battle with Absalom took place (2Sa 18:6,23), on the high lands, a little way from the valley of the Jordan. (See EPHRAIM WOOD.) "The house of the forest of Lebanon" (1Ki 7:2) was so-called as being fitted up with cedar, and probably with forest-like rows of cedar pillars. "Forest" often symbolizes pride doomed to destruction; (Isa 10:18; 32:19) the Assyrian host dense and lifted up as the trees of the forest; (Isa 37:24) "the forest of his Carmel," i.e., its most luxuriant forest, image for their proud army.
Forest also symbolizes unfruitfulness as opposed to cultivated lands (Isa 29:17; 32:15). Besides ya'ar, implying "abundance of trees", there is another Hebrew term, choresh from a root "to cut down," implying a wood diminished by cutting (1Sa 23:15; 2Ch 27:4). In Isa 17:9 for "bough" translated "his strong cities shall be as the leavings of woods," what the axeman leaves when he cuts down the grove (Isa 17:6). In Eze 31:3, "with a shadowing shroud," explain with an overshadowing thicket. A third term is pardeec, related to "paradise" (Ne 2:8), "forest") a park, a plantation under a "keeper." The Persian kings preserved the forests throughout the empire with care, having wardens of the several forests, without whose sanction no tree could be felled.
2. yaar, a 'forest.' This is the word commonly used for both 'wood' and 'forest;' to be distinguished from a third word, pardes, Ne 2:8, which signifies 'a park,' with cultivated trees, whereas the other is wild.
Several forests are specified under the word yaar.
1. The forest in ARABIA, Isa 21:13; its situation is unknown.
3. The forest of HARETH, 1Sa 22:5: situated in Judah, but not known.
The context shows that these passages do not refer to the forest at Lebanon; but that Solomon had a house at Jerusalem built of the trees from Lebanon, and called it 'the house of the forest of Lebanon.' The actual forest at Lebanon is often referred to for its noble trees.
5. The wood of EPHRAIM in which Absalom was slain, on the east of the Jordan. 8/6'>2Sa 18:6,8,17. This has not been identified. It has been suggested that the pride and defeat of Ephraim mentioned in Jg 12:1-6 caused some forest to be called after the name of that tribe. This place, by its swamps, morasses and pits, 'devoured' the Israelites by preventing their escape.
Although Palestine has never been in historical times a woodland country, yet there can be no doubt that there was much more wood formerly than there is a t present, and that the destruction of the forests was one of the chief causes of the present desolation.