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Cedars Of Lebanon

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Palestine, as a territory, is destitute of forests suitable for building material. When, therefore, King David projected a grand edifice which should be the crowning glory of the reign of his son Solomon, and an evidence of the national devotion to God, he made application to Hiram, the Phoenician monarch, whose possessions included the powerful mountain ranges of Lebanon, for a supply of the cedars which grew there in unparalleled abundance. The Tyrian king, between whom and King David there existed a more than royal friendship, readily acceded to his request; and thus the work of preparation for building was expedited. So large was the supply of this material furnished to King Solomon, that, after the completion of the edifice upon Mount Moriah, which occupied seven years and upward, King Solomon erected, upon the contiguous hill westward, a palace for his own use, in which, so abundantly did the cedar enter, that it was entitled ‘the House of Lebanon.’

On Lebanon’s majestic brow
The grand and lofty cedars grew
That, shipped in floats to Joppa’s port
Up to Jerusalem were brought.

The principal groves of cedar were found about 150 miles north-west of Jerusalem, and not far from the seacoast on which the cities of Sidon, Sarepta, and Tyre stood. This suggests the mode of transhipment, which is described in the Scriptures: The trunks of trees were rudely shaped, made into floats or rafts, and brought down the coast by  Phoenician mariners, the most skilful sailors of the age, about 100 miles to the port of Joppa, the only seaport opposite Jerusalem, from which it was distant but 35 miles. Here they were adapted, by the tools of the workmen, to the exact places they were to occupy in the Temple, and then carried by land to the Sacred Hill.

Being incorruptible to atmospheric influences, the cedar beams and planks thus used might have remained to this day, the ornaments of Moriah and Sion, and the tokens of the brotherly covenants that connected the monarchs of Israel and Phoenicia, but for the destructive influences of invasion. The Temple, having stood for 416 years, was burned by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, who was the instrument in God’s hand to chastise a rebellious and idolatrous people.

The number of cedars remaining upon Lebanon is very small — less, it is said than 100; but these are grand specimens of the Creator’s power, towering in sublimity in the valleys, where they are hidden, and suggesting what must have been the ancient glory of Lebanon, covered with a growth of such.

JOPPA The peculiarly hilly, and even precipitous, character of Joppa is preserved in the traditions of the Degree of MARK MASTER, and a benevolent moral deduced, in accordance with the entire instructions of the grade.

True charity, a plant divinely nursed,
Fed by the hope from which it rose at first,
Thrives against hope, and in the rudest scene; 
Storms but enliven its unfading green,
Exuberant is the shadow it supplies,
Its fruit on earth, its growth above the skies.

Thus no opportunity is lost, either in covenants, emblems, traditions, or dramatic exercises, to impress upon the candidate’s mind the Divine lesson that, great as faith and hope are esteemed in their effects upon the human heart, “The greatest of these is charity.”

John Sherer
Royal Arch Mason Magazine Spring 1998