|Lebanon - |
"exceeding white", namely, with snow, as Mont Blanc. In Hebrew Lebanon, related to "alp". The double mountain range N. of Palestine, running in parallel lines from S.W. to N.E., having between the fertile valley anciently called Coelosyria, now El Beka'a (where are the grand ruins of the temple of the sun), about six or seven miles wide, "the valley of Lebanon" (Joshua 11:17). The range is about 80 miles long, 15 broad. It forms the northern head of the Jordan valley and the southern head of the Orontes valley. (See HAMATH.) The western range is the region of the Hivites and Giblites (Joshua 13:5; Judges 3:3). (See GIBLITES.) The eastern range was Antilibanus, or "Lebanon toward the sunrising." The wady et Teim separates the southern part of Antilibanus from Lebanon and also from the Galilee hills. The river Leontes (Litany) sweeps round its southern end, and drains Coelo-Syria, falling into the Mediterranean five miles N. of Tyre.
Lebanon runs parallel to the coast in the plain of Emesa opening from the Mediterranean, in Scripture "the entering in (i.e. entrance) of Hamath" (1 Kings 8:75). The river Eleutherus (nahr el Kebir) here sweeps round its northern end. The average height is 7,000 ft. But one peak, Dhor el Khodib, N. of the cedars, is 10,051 ft.; and Hermon in Antilebanon is 10,125 ft.. Lebanon is of grey limestone, with belts of recent sandstone along the western slopes. Eastward in the glens of Antilibanus flow toward Damascus Abana (Barada) and Pharpar (nahr el Awaj). All that now represents Hiram's cedar forests is the cluster called "the cedars," 6,172 ft. above the sea, in the center of the vast recess or semicircle formed by the highest summits of Lebanon above the deep valley of the sacred river Kadisha. frontCEDARS.) Odorous flowers and aromatic shrubs and vines still yield" the smell of Lebanon" wafted by the mountain breeze (Song of Solomon 4:11).
The line of cultivation runs at the height of 6,000 ft. Every available space is utilized for figtrees, vines, mulberry trees, and olives. Numerous villages nestle amidst the rocks. The trees striking their roots into the fissures of rocks illustrate Hosea 14:5, "Israel shall strike forth his roots as Lebanon." Lebanon is a delightful retreat from the sultry heat of the plains and of Palestine, cooled as it is by the snows which crown its peaks. Jeremiah (Jeremiah 18:14) asks, "will a man leave the snow of Lebanon which cometh from the rock of the field (a poetical name for Lebanon towering above the surrounding plain)? Or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place (from the distant rocks) be forsaken?" None. Yet Israel forsakes Jehovah the living fountain, ever near, for broken cisterns. Hyaenas, panthers, jackals, wolves, and bears still haunt its glens and peaks (compare Song of Solomon 4:8; 2 Kings 14:9).
The river Adonis (nahr Ibrahim) springs from a cave beneath the high peak Sunnin. The plain of Phoenicia, two miles wide, runs at the base of Lebanon between it and the sea. The eastern slopes are less abrupt and fertile than the western. Maronite Christians people the northern part of the range; Druses abound more in the southern. Lebanon was assigned to Israel, but never conquered (Joshua 13:2-6; Judges 3:1-3). It was under the Phoenicians in Solomon's time and subsequently (1 Kings 5:2-6; Ezra 3:7). Antilibanus is less peopled than Lebanon, and has more wild beasts: Song of Solomon 4:8, "look from the top of Amana, from ... Shenir and Hermon ... the lions' den ... the mountains of the leopards," referring to the two higher peaks, Hermon, and that near the fountain of Abana, where panthers still are found. "The tower of Lebanon which looketh toward Damascus" is Hermon (Song of Solomon 7:4).