Bible Places: Mount Lebanon

Two parallel mountain ranges run across Lebanon from north-east to south-west, the mount Lebanon to the east.

The fertile Bekka valley lies between, watered by the River Litani (the ancient Leontes). The average height of the Mount Lebanon 9,000 feet, though there are much higher summits on both.

As seen from the sea, they form a magnificent mountain chain. To use the words of an earlier writer: “A most impressive signal of approach to the Holy Land is the first glimpse of the ancient mountain off the shores of Cyprus, rising from the eastern waters, its peaks wreathed with everlasting snows, and flushed with shifting hues of rose and purple in the clear evening sky.”

Mount Lebanon, although beyond the boundaries of the Holy Land, is often visible from Galiled. The thunder-storm which the Psalmist tracks in its course throughout his country (Psalm 29) begins by making the solid forms of Lebanon and Sirion leap woth fear, like the wild ox, and ends by shaking the distant wilderness of Kadesh.

The name Lebanon, meaning white, may be derived either from the colour of limestone rocks or from the snows which linger so long on some summits. Numerous streams give fertility to the slopes and valleys.

Everywhere villages and hamlets appear among the lower vineyards or higher forests, inhabited by people of different races, and giving new beauty and animation to the scene.

The great event in Scripture history connected with Lebanon is the building of Solomon’s Temple, when thousands of jews laboured along with the Sidonians in cutting down the timber of its forests. And when, in the days of Ezra, the temple was rebuilt, the men of Tyre and Sidon were again applied to brings cedar logs by sea from Lebanon to Joppa (1st Kings 5:1-18 and Ezra 3:7).

The woods now consist of fir, oak, mulberry and fig trees rather than the far-renowned cedars of old. Of the latter, only a few of great size and age now remain.

The whole mountain range, with its snowy summits, its cooling streams and breezes, shady forests and fertile valleys, formed an object of attraction and interest to the inhabitants of the drier, hotter countries surrounding it. Its fame was known even in Egypt, and to behold it was one of Moses’ earnest desires, as expresses in his touching petition. “Let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon.” (Deuteronomy 3:25)

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