Notes Cedar of Lebanon

Let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebannon.

Judges 9 (KJV)

This marvelous handsome tree once forested many slopes of Lebanon, but many were cut because of their excellent qualities. Both the First and the Second Temples in Jerusalem were made of cedar. Biblical scholars (e.g., Moldenke and Moldenke) lament the "history of the Holy Land," which has been transformed from a land of palms, flowing with milk and honey, to its present inhospitable desert condition. How ironic that this plundering of the forests was begun by men who wanted to build a temple to God, a place where men might worship their Creator. William Cullen Bryant beautifully praised the cedars, clearly predicting my sentiments:

"The groves were God's first temples, Ere man learned To hew the shaft ..."

Solomon, in one of the first recorded "botany lectures," spoke of trees "from the cedar that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall." Ironically, he is one of the first recorded plunderers of the forest as well. He is said to have raised a group of 30,000 Israelites and sent them in turns, some 10,000 a month, to fell the trees, with the assistance of 150,000 slaves, under the supervision of 3300 officers. They labored seven years to build a "temple for the glory of God" and thirteen more to build the fabulous House of the Forest of Lebanon that so impressed the Queen of Sheba. Adding conservational insult to injury, goats were permitted to browse the deforested slopes, finishing off the once moist forests, converting it to "one of the most impoverished" areas in the world. The cedar exudes a balsam that makes the durable wood very aromatic. Resistant to decay and insects, the timber is excellent for such building. Lebanese correctly believe the tree purifies the air (BIB).

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