Table of Contents

Name of a range of mountains in Syria. In prose, with the exception of IIChron. ii. 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 Jer. xviii. 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 (Deut. i. 7, xi. 24; Josh. i. 4), and is mentioned as being not far from the Sea of Joppa (Ezra iii. 7). It was fully described by Greek geographers, among others by Strabo (xvi. 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 (Josh. xii. 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 i. 9; 'Er. 80a; Beẓah 25b; comp. the Κλίμαξ Τυρίων of Josephus, "B. J." ii. 10, § 2).

Proverbial Fertility.

"Lebanon" also in the Bible includes the Anti-Lebanon (comp. Josh. xiii. 5, "all Lebanon toward the sunrising," and Cant. vii. 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 (Josh. xiii. 5; Judges iii. 1-3). In the time of Solomon, the Lebanon district seems to have been in the possession of Hiram, King of Tyre (I Kings v. 6; II Chron. ii. 8). Nevertheless, Solomon appears to have erected buildings in the Lebanon (I Kings ix. 19; II Chron. viii. 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 (Deut. iii. 25). It was famous for its fruit (Ps. lxxii. 16), its wine (Hosea xiv. 8), and especially for its cedars, which furnished wood for the Temple (I Kings v. 6; Ezra iii. 7; Ps. xxix. 5, civ. 16; passim). The range had also an abundance of fir-trees and algum-trees (II Chron. ii. 8), and the thistle of the Lebanon is once referred to (ib. xxv. 18). The "smell of Lebanon" is spoken of in Hosea xiv. 7 and Cant. iv. 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 (xxxi. 16), and Isaiah speaks of the "glory of Lebanon" (Isa. lx. 13). It is for this reason that "Lebanon" is taken by the Prophets to designate Jerusalem (Isa. x. 34; Zech. xi. 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.
Images of pages