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Bible Encyclopedias

The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia

Lebanon

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Name of a range of mountains in Syria. In prose, with the exception of IIChron. 2:8 (Hebr.), the name is always written with the article, while in poetry it occurs as often without as with the article. The name (= "white") is due either to the snow which covers its peaks for the greater part of the year, and to which Jeremiah 18:14 alludes, or to the calcareous formations of the upper ranges. The topography of the Lebanon is very vaguely indicated in the Bible; it appears only as the great northern limit of the land assigned to Israel (Deuteronomy 1:7, 11:24; Joshua 1:4), and is mentioned as being not far from the Sea of Joppa (Ezra 3:7). It was fully described by Greek geographers, among others by Strabo (16:754): it consists of two parallel ranges running south-southwest and north-northeast, the western range being called "Lebanon," and the eastern, "Anti-Lebanon"; Mt. Hermon is the highest peak in the latter range. Between the two ranges is a valley which the Bible calls "the valley of Lebanon," where the city of Baal-gad was situated (Joshua 12:7); the Greeks gave the name "Cœle-Syria" to the district. The Lebanon juts into the Mediterranean south of Tyre, where the rocks form an ascent to the top of the mountain; hence the Talmudic name (= "the ladder of Tyre"; Yer. 'Ab. Zarah 1:9; 'Er. 80a; Beẓah 25b; comp. the Κλίμαξ Τυρίων of Josephus, "B. J." 2:10, § 2).

Proverbial Fertility.

"Lebanon" also in the Bible includes the Anti-Lebanon (comp. Joshua 13:5, "all Lebanon toward the sunrising," and Song of Solomon 7:5 [A. V. 4], "the tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus"; in both verses the Anti-Lebanon being meant). At the time of Joshua, the Lebanon was inhabited by the Hivites and Giblites, and though it formed a part of the land assigned to the Israelites it was never conquered by them (Joshua 13:5; Judges 3:1-3). In the time of Solomon, the Lebanon district seems to have been in the possession of Hiram, King of Tyre (1 Kings 5:6; 2 Chronicles 2:8). Nevertheless, Solomon appears to have erected buildings in the Lebanon (1 Kings 9:19; 2 Chronicles 8:6). Owing to its extraordinary fertility, the Lebanon is the mountain range most frequently mentioned in the Bible. Moses, when looking over the promised land, mentioned the Lebanon in particular (Deuteronomy 3:25). It was famous for its fruit (Psalms 72:16), its wine (Hosea 14:8), and especially for its cedars, which furnished wood for the Temple (1 Kings 5:6; Ezra 3:7; Psalms 29:5, 104:16; passim). The range had also an abundance of fir-trees and algum-trees (2 Chronicles 2:8), and the thistle of the Lebanon is once referred to (ib. 25:18). The "smell of Lebanon" is spoken of in Hosea 14:7 and Song of Solomon 4:11, and by the Talmudists. "At the arrival of the Messiah, the young people of Israel will exhale an odor like that of Lebanon" (Ber. 43b). Lebanon is referred to as "Eden" by Ezekiel (31:16), and Isaiah speaks of the "glory of Lebanon" (Isaiah 60:13). It is for this reason that "Lebanon" is taken by the Prophets to designate Jerusalem (Isaiah 10:34; Zechariah 11:1), while the Rabbis understood it to refer to the Temple of Jerusalem, supposing that it was so called because it cleanses Israel of sin (lit. "it whitened their sins"; Yoma 39a).

E. G. H.
M. Sel.

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Bibliography Information
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Lebanon'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tje/l/lebanon.html. 1901.

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