CEDAR (Heb. אֶרֶז, erez), the Cedrus libani. The cedar formerly covered extensive areas of the Lebanon mountains. In biblical times, potentates used cedar-wood in the construction of palaces and other major buildings (cf. Isa. 9:9). The cedar was felled intensively during many generations and, at present, only a few large trees remain. Mentioned 70 times in the Bible, they are described, on account of their beauty, hardiness, and longevity, as "the cedars of God" (Ps. 80:11), and as "the trees of the Lord" (ibid., 104:16). Many biblical parables and symbols are associated with the cedars of Lebanon, such as the parables of Jehoash (ii Kings 14:9) and of Ezekiel (Ezek. 31:3–7). The cedar is the symbol of the tallest tree in contrast to the hyssop, which typifies the lowest (i Kings 5:13), and the fact that the Lord's thunder splits cedar is a measure of its force (Ps. 29:5). Sennacherib boasted that he had reached the height of Lebanon and cut down cedars there (ibid., 37:24). The Sidonians who, assisted by 10,000 of Solomon's men, cut cedars for his Temple were experts in felling these trees (i Kings 5:20, 28). The timber was used for the walls and ceilings of houses, for masts (Ezek. 27:5), and in the building of the First as well as the Second Temple (Ezra 3:7). Several trees of Lebanon, foremost among them the cedar, are mentioned in the prophetic vision of the flowering of the wilderness (Isa. 41:19). Almost all the biblical mentions of erez refer to the cedar of Lebanon, even when this is not explicitly stated. In Psalms 148:9 the reference to cedars ("fruitful trees and all cedars") is apparently intended as a generic term for the various non-fruit-bearing trees, the evergreen species of which, in post-biblical literature, were denoted by the term erez. Four coniferous trees (species of Pinus and Cupressus) were included under this term by some, and 10 and even 24 types of evergreen by others (rh 23a). In talmudic times the cedars of Lebanon were cut by Jews from Ereẓ Israel (tj, bk 5:9, 5a), but since they apparently diminished greatly in number, the name erez was also applied to other local hardy trees. The cedar of Lebanon is a conifer that grows on mountains at a height of more than 3,000 ft. (1,000 m.). It develops slowly but is longeval, the estimated age of some surviving cedars of Lebanon being more than 1,000 years. It is fragrant and yields cedar oil as well as an aromatic resin. Attempts have been made in modern times to cultivate the cedar of Lebanon in Israel, but it grows so slowly that the faster-growing Atlantic cedar (Cedrus atlantica) is preferred.
Loew, Flora, 3 (1924), 14–26; J. Feliks, Olam ha-Ẓome'aḥ ha-Mikra'i (19682), 76–78. add. bibliography: Feliks, Ha-Ẓome'aḥ, 33.
ce·dar / ˈsēdər/ • n. any of a number of conifers that typically yield fragrant, durable timber, in particular: ∎ a large tree (genus Cedrus) of the pine family, esp. the cedar of Lebanon (C. libani). ∎ a tall slender North American or Asian tree (genus Thuja) of the cypress family, esp. the western red cedar (T. plicata) and the northern white cedar (T. occidentalis).