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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Cedar

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'Εrez , from 'aΙraz , "coiled" or "compressed," a deeply rooted tree. According to Scripture, tall (Isaiah 2:13), spreading (Ezekiel 31:3), fit for beams, boards, and pillars (1 Kings 6:10; 1 Kings 6:15; 1 Kings 7:2), masts (Ezekiel 27:5), and carved work as images (Isaiah 44:14). The timber for the second temple, as for Solomon's, was cedar (Ezra 3:7). As our modern cedar is hardly fit for masts, and is of a worse quality than inferior deal, probably by the "cedar" of Scripture is meant Scotch fir (Pinus sylvestris). In Ezekiel 27:3 the Septuagint translate "masts of fir," and by "fir" is meant cypress. Moreover the deodara cedar (the tree of God, Psalms 104:16, the sacred tree of the Hindus, of which they construct their temples) has the durability wanting in our modern cedar of Lebanon.

The Nineveh inscriptions state that the palaces were in part constructed of cedar; this proves on microscopic examination to be yew; so that by "cedar of Lebanon" the wood of more than one tree is meant, the pine cedar, Scotch fir, yew, deodara. Cedar was also used in purification, probably the oxycedrus abounding in Egypt, Arabia, and the wady Mousa; indeed, the greater cedar not being found there, the tree meant in the laws of purification must have been a distinct one (Leviticus 14:4; Numbers 19:6). It was anciently burnt as a perfume at funerals. In a hollow of Lebanon, where no other trees are near, about 400 cedars of Lebanon stand alone, 3,000 feet below the summit and 6,400 above the sea. Only eleven or twelve are very large and old.

This forest is regarded by the neighboring people with superstitious reverence. Sennacherib had desired to "go up to the sides of Lebanon and cut down the tall cedars thereof" (2 Kings 19:23), but was baffled by the interposition of Jehovah. Another Assyrian king accomplished it, as an inscription at Nimrud states in recording his conquests in N. Syria. But God in retributive justice "consumed the glory of the Assyrian's forest" figuratively; fulfilling His threat, "the rest of the trees of his forest shall be few that a child may write them" (Isaiah 10:18-19). Solomon's 80,000 hewers must have inflicted such havoc that the cedar forest never recovered it completely. The cedar of Lebanon is an evergreen, its leaves remaining on for two years, and every spring contributing a fresh supply.

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Cedar'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/fbd/c/cedar.html. 1949.

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