Significance and Allure of The Cedars of Lebanon
The Cedars of Lebanon are mentioned in various historic writings, including those of one of my favorite writers Khalil Gibran. Gibran wrote a poem in honor of the evergreens and when reading it I thought – what is so captivating and inspiring about these trees that a man would write a poem addressing them?
The cedars are also described in the 8,000-year-old Epic of Gilgamesh, and are referenced in the Bible over 70 times, always in descriptive terms of their beauty and majesty. Psalms 92:12 says, “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.”
The aromatic cedars can grow to more than 80 feet tall and have expansive and wide-spreading branches which can flatten and spread out over 50 feet. The life span of these giants can range into thousands of years.
The great trees were vital in shaping and supporting early Lebanese society, and are the symbol and inspiration of the Lebanese flag. The native inhabitants of Lebanon – Phoenicians, built the first successful trading nation in the world, they were renowned for their shipbuilding and trade (of cedar and other wood) by sea.
Due to their geographic location, the two most significant trading posts in lumber were Sidon and Tyre. The cities worked as perfect ports of trade. Cedar logs from the outlying mountains were felled and sent downstream to places like Egypt and Palestine, which had little timber suitable for construction. When negotiations could not be met, Egyptians and Mesopotamians employed military means to overcome their shortage of this robust wood using the natural resource as justification in military campaigns.
Versatile use of the cedar trees was incredible. The evergreens were used for fuel, medicine (rheumatism and skin conditions), in building ships, Egyptian temples and burial chambers of the Pharaohs of Egypt. The natural oils and resins were even used for embalming in the mummification process. The wood was sought out and fought over by most all of the leaders of the near east.
“And we will cut wood out of Lebanon, as much as thou shalt need: and we will bring it to thee in floats by sea to Joppa [Jaffa]; and thou shalt carry it up to Jerusalem.”
Because of the deforestation of the Levant throughout history, these beautiful trees are now currently on the list of threatened endangered species. There are many attempts being made to reforest this area and create nurseries that will bring the numbers back to good standing.
Watch this video to see photos of the Cedars of Lebanon: