The cedars of Lebanon are an integral part of the history of Lebanon, just like Byblos, Tyre, and Baalbek. They date back to antiquity, when the Phoenicians were exporting cedar-wood to the pharaohs. The superb qualities of the cedar wood as beautiful color, hardness, exquisite fragrance, resistance to insects, humidity and temperature, incited Phoenicians, Egyptians, Greeks and many others to use it extensively. The wood was not only used for construction but more especially for nobler purposes, this was the sacred wood of the gods and used to honor the dead, a task to which the people of the ancient orient attached a deep importance. The Egyptians used its resin to mummify their dead and thus called it the “life of death”, and cedar sawdust was found in the tombs of the Pharaohs as well.
The Cedar is a symbol of holiness, eternity and peace. As an emblem of longevity, the cedar of Lebanon has its origin in many biblical references. It is mentioned seventy-seven times in the Bible, especially in the book Psalms, where it says: “the trees of the Lord are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.” The earliest reference to our Cedars though is in the Epic of Gilgamesh, which dates back at least four thousand years: “On the Mountain the cedars uplift their abundance. Their shadow is beautiful, is all delight. Thistles hide under them, and the dark prick-thorns, sweet smelling flowers hide under the cedars … In all directions, ten thousand miles stretches that forest…”
The cedars of today are very few in number because they have been overexploited, but their isolation gives them even greater majesty, evoking some awesome presence in the pure silence of the mountain peak, standing strong under the snow amid sparkling cascades or locked in grim struggle against the desolation of bare rock.
As you walk through the lonely ancient woods and hear the voices of cedars of Lebanon, whispering a truth known to all, but remembered by few. Their leaves are evergreen and their trunks are strong and lean. Their roots are deep and their lives are long. These cedars look up at the sky, day and night, watching the clouds and stars. They breathe deeply and sing sweetly. They keep on growing, reaching up towards the sky. Yes, the wind may change but the cedar wood remains, strong, constant, and alone. These tall cedars kiss the sun. They kiss the sky. They kiss the land in which their roots grow. They are there to remind us that life is here to stay, that we are here to stay. That life has more longevity then this meager life we live. Those cedars are our forefathers souls that have fought against time, humans, nature’s challenges, and changing weathers. 4000 years on, what is left of them, remain elegant in their posture and proud of their resilience.
Because Alphonse de Lamartine marveling at the cedars of Lebanon during his trip to the Orient with his daughter Julia had these words: “the cedars of Lebanon are the relics of centuries and nature, the most famous natural landmarks in the universe. They know the history of the earth, better than the story itself,” I #livelovelebanon and I will #fighton
U2 have a song called The Cedars of Lebanon: