LEBANON

Lebanon was the name of a mountain range north of Israel between Phoenicia and Syria. It ran parallel to the coast, leaving only a narrow coastal plain for the Phoenician cities, most important of which were Tyre and Sidon (see PHOENICIA). The range gave its name to much of the surrounding territory, and even today the nation that occupies this region is called Lebanon. The Lebanon Range actually consisted of twin parallel ranges.

The western half was referred to simply as Lebanon, and the other half as East Lebanon or Antilebanon (Josh 13:5). The range extended from Mt Hermon, in the border regions of Israel, north to a mountain pass known as ‘the entrance of Hamath’. This was the gap between the twin ranges where Lebanon opened on to the Syrian plain (see HAMATH; HERMON). Lebanon was considered to be the northern boundary of the land promised to Israel (Deut 11:24), but Israel’s conquest under Joshua extended no further than Mt Hermon (Josh 11:16- 17).

The rest of the Lebanon Range remained unconquered (Judg 3:1-3). Only for two brief periods, first during the reign of Solomon and later during the reign of Jeroboam II, did Israel’s territory reach as far as the entrance of Hamath. This was considered the ideal northern border of Israel (2 Chron 8:3-4; 2 Kings 14:25; Amos 6:14). The lower slopes of Lebanon towards the Phoenician plain were very fertile (Ps 72:16; Hosea 14:5- 7). Further up the mountains were the forests of cedar trees for which Lebanon became famous (Ps 104:16; Song of Songs 5:15). These mighty cedars were symbols of majesty and strength (2 Kings 14:9; Ps 92:12-13; Isa 35:2; 60:13), but they could also be symbols of pride and arrogance (Isa 2:12-13; 10:33- 34; Ezek 31:3-14). Cedar from Lebanon was beautiful, enduring and expensive, and people considered that anything made from it was the finest and best (Song of Songs 3:9; Ezek 27:5). Solomon used it extravagantly in the building of his temple, palace and government buildings (1 Kings 5:1-11; 7:1-8).

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