When a King Defied Nature

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Amongst the beautiful sceneries through cedar, juniper and pine forests, the trail that seems to be hidden away from civilization will open up to a view of pure natural beauty.

Perched high up in the skies, lies the dormant imposing mount Hafroun. Mount Hafroun is the highest mount between Ehmej and Laklouk. Ehmej’s name originates from the Phoenician language meaning the top or crown of the mountain. the remains of Phoenician wells and sarcophagi are still found there, as well as a roman stone-paved road that used to stretch from Jbeil to Baalbeck. The neighboyring area of Hafroun contains some ancient ruins and pillars dating back to the Phoenician and roman eras. Shaped like a pyramid and facing another mount, both mounts are mentioned in the Old Testament as Hebron (Hafroun) and Nephron (Namroud).

The excavations show the remains of 14 houses and 4 mud painted caves with carves depicting: wedges, snakes and doves. Roman coinage was also found, with pottery believed to be dating back to the Phoenician, Greek and roman eras.

The story of Hafroun, meaning digger, tells that a king named Hebron took this mountain as a residence. He spent his entire life removing rocks, building his own home, and fighting the forces of nature- snow, floods, earthquakes, famine, wars, and invasion. He built his fortress there and provided water from a 4 km spring through a canal dug in the mountains whose remains are still visible nowadays.

King Nephron, brother of Hebron was on the other mountain that was also named after him. During wintertime Nephron would leave the mountain and leave his brother and soldiers behind, because of the cold weather and the snow. The king of Hebron, who refused to leave in winter due to sheer principle, wasn’t able to establish any communication with his brother and had no transportation means to move out of his castle. He died with the soldiers out of hunger and frost. It is said that the king, moments before he died, said something that some elders still repeat nowadays: “we did not die out of frost or hunger. We were terrified by the screams of the Junipers”.

Hafroun lost his battle with nature, died and was buried there in the land he loved, in a house he build out of his own hands, amongst his people, under a mountain of snow.

Some villagers say that in winter during nighttime, when the wind hums to its own wild tune, you can still hear the chilling sound of the junipers as they sway in the cold, and from a distance you can overhear the echo of the soldiers’ screams as they vanish into the night underneath the snow covered mountains.

Because sometimes there is no place like home…


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