Lebanon in the Bible and the Exodus of the Jewish people to Lebanon and the Land of Canaan

Written and edited by Georges and Joseph Chakkour

To dissociate Lebanon from Biblical Israel is to misunderstand the dream of Moses ...

Deuteronomy: 3: 25; 11: 24
The Book of Joshua: 11: 17
The Book of Judges: 3: 3
The Book of Kings I: 5: 13-14; 7: 2; 20: 28
The Book of Kings II: 14: 9; 19: 23
The Book of Chronicles II: 2: 8
The Book of Psalms: 29: 6; 72: 16; 92: 12; 104: 16
The Book of Proverbs:
The Book of Ecclesiastes:
The Song of Solomon: 3: 9; 4: 8; 5: 15; 7: 4
The Book of Isaiah: 10: 34; 11: 1-10; 14: 8; 29: 17; 33: 9; 40: 16; 60: 13
The Book of Jeremiah: 18: 14; 22: 6; 22: 20-23
The Book of Ezekiel: 17: 3-6; 27: 5; 31: 15-16
The Book of Daniel:
The Book of Hosea: 14: 5-7
The Book of Joel: 3: 4
The Book of Nahum: 1: 4
The Book of Habakkuk: 2: 17
The Book of Zechariah: 10: 10; 11: 1-3
The Book of Judith: 1: 6-8
The Apocalypse of John: 1: 15

Lebanon in History:

Before 1920 there was no “Lebanon,” as we know it today; there was only “Mount Lebanon.” What happened in 1920? The First World War happened (1914-1918), and with it the reshuffling of the Levant by the Western World. Starting 1920, the name “Lebanon,” which in Arabic means “White Mountain” became an “appellation” given not only to the once-known “Mount Lebanon,” but also to all the regions surrounding those biblical mountains, a name derived probably from the white limestone rocks forming them, and from the snow covering their high peaks. Thus we read in The Book of Jeremiah [18: 14]:

“Will a man leave the snow water of Lebanon, which comes from the rock of the field? Will the cold flowing waters be forsaken for strange waters?” [ 1 ]

In those days Lebanon was separate from the Bekaa Valley and the towns sparse along the Mediterranean coast, which constitute the Land of the Cedars, as it came in the Book of Judith [I: 6-8]:

“In the great plain which is called Ragua, about the Euphrates, and the Tigris, and the Jadason, in the plain of Erioch the king of the Elicians. Then was the kingdom of Nabuchodonosor exalted, and his heart was elevated: and he sent to all that dwelt in Cilicia and Damascus, and Libanus, and to the nations that are in Carmelus, and Cedar, and to the inhabitants of Galilee in the great plain of Asderon,”

Or as it came in the Book of Judges [3: 1-3], when “Lebanon” was clearly distinct from the city of Sidon and the other Phoenician cities already existing on the Mediterranean coast:

“Now these are the nations which the Lord left, that He might test Israel by them, that is, all who had not known any of the wars of Canaan (this was only so that the generations of the children of Israel might be taught to know war, at least those who had formerly known it) namely, five lords of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, the Hivites who dwelt in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal Hermon to the entrance of Hamath.”

The Hittites (Hittites are descendents of Het, second son of Canaan, son of Ham, father of the eponymous “Hamites” and son of Noah) formed a feudal society, militarily and religiously, whereby the king was the judge and the high priest too (as a Divine Sovereign or Sultan-Caliph of sorts). Agriculture was the backbone of their economy, but their actual wealth came from mining the land, such as copper, lead, silver and iron. Already, and this since Moses and Joshua, Lebanon seemed to be part and parcel of the geographical layout (in the biblical term) constituting the Promised Land. As it came in these passages from the Book of Deuteronomy, where Moses exhorts his people to leave the land of Egypt, reminding them of the Lord’s words at Horeb:

“Turn and take your journey, and go to the mountains of the Amorites, to all the neighboring places in the plain, in the mountains and in the lowland, in the South and on the sea-coast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the River Euphrates.” [1:7]

“Then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess greater and mightier nations than yourselves. Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the River Euphrates, even to the Western Sea, shall be your territory.” [11: 23-24]

In the same token, we find in The Book of Joshua [1: 2-4] that Lebanon is geographically intrinsic to the ideal Kingdom promised to Biblical Israel:

“Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the lands of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory.”

Thus, in light of the Biblical Promise as it came in the Scriptures, to disassociate Lebanon from Israel is to misunderstand the dream of Moses during the exodus and the symbolic value allocated to that name, as it came in The Song Of Solomon. In all regions, in all the countries, rivers and towns mentioned by Moses, Lebanon should be the least forgotten; yet it is forgotten the most. Even the historians-analyst of the “worldwide bestseller par excellence” have missed, as Andre-Marie Gerard did in his valuable Dictionary of the Bible, this important point, when speaking of the “Land of the Cedars.” In fact, the following is what Moses said in the Book of Deuteronomy [3: 23-25], a work written during the time of King David, who relates the three-centuries-old events, i.e. at the time of the Exodus and the Crossing of the Desert (forty years) by the Jewish people, who were led by Moses himself to the Land of Canaan:

“Then I pleaded with the Lord at that time, saying: ‘O Lord God, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand, for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do anything like Your works and Your mighty deeds? I pray, let me cross over and see the good land beyond the Jordan, those pleasant mountains, and Lebanon.”

 All in all, Solomon is the one to allocate to Lebanon the lion’s share … its Secular Prominence and Mystic Aura. First, by using its cedars as a material of choice to build the Temple of God (as his father, David, had done before him, when he constructed his own temple, wherein a special area was called the House of the Forest of Lebanon); second, by endowing it with a symbolic value of human perfection and divine splendor, as it came in his Song of Songs. Curiously enough, not once does Solomon mention God in his divine Song … and yet we understand him to speak only of God. Actually it’s the prettiest bouquet of “profane” love poems ever written to sing the beauty and magnificence of the Lord. That’s why this divine Song par excellence is also called The Song of Songs—in the very manner we say the King of kings, or God of gods. In order to accept and include this “atheist” text in their “holy” writings, the ancient Yahwists religious leaders saw it opportune to base themselves on its esoteric symbolism; so did all the Christian Churches later on, when they adopted it in their Holy ScripturesThe purely amorous, if not erotic at times, character of this Love Song did not stop them from espying a prophetic breath par excellence in Solomon. Thus the Beloved in the Song is compared to the Ideal Adam (man / woman, in other words, the soul in her eternal search for her Source, as when the River carves its bed all the way to the Original Sea), and the Bride, or Spouse, to the Ecstasy in God. Therein, Lebanon is mentioned seven times in the heart of a long tirade, and every time within the focus of a comparative fresco, whereby we forgo the purpose of the comparison but to pursue a more sublime one: the symbol it actually represents. And yet this Song has adduced a plethora of interpretations, often contradicting one another, be it in the Old or New Testament. The most recent study on the subject seeks the origin of the Song of Songs “in the cult of Ishtar and Tammuz,” as one of the Contributors of The Bible of Jerusalem wrote, “and in the rites of divine marriage, the sacred marriage, which is supposedly performed by the king, the substitute of god on earth.” This cultic and mythological theory, he adds, cannot be demonstrated, and is most probably unlikely. “One cannot imagine that a Jewish believer would peruse these productions of a religion of fertility to simply draw love songs. If there exist similarities in expression between the hymns to Ishtar or Tammuz and the poems of the Song, it is because each of them has spoken the language of love.” According to him, the allegorical interpretation goes back much further in time. “It has become common knowledge among Jews of the second century of our era: the love of God for Israel and the love of the people for their God are illustrated as the mutual relationship existing between spouses; It’s the same topic of marriage that the prophets have developed since Hosea.” The Christian authors, who have perused this book of Lebanese inspiration, mainly under the influence of Origen and despite the personal opposition of Theodore of Mopsuestia (also called the Theodore of Antioch), followed the same line of thought as the Jewish exegesis; although in their allegory Christhas become the Beloved and the Church the Bride, or this other version whereby this Song is the union of soul with God. Lebanon floats in the text in several forms, first comparatively then symbolically, and last but not least: Christly. The bed of Justice of Solomon for example:

“Of the wood of Lebanon Solomon the King made himself a palanquin.” [The Song of Solomon 3: 9]

Thus how the Beloved calls his spouse to leave her country to join him from Lebanon, all the while praising her beauty and perfection:

“You are all fair, my love, and there is no spot in you. Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon. Look from the top of Amana, from the top of Senir and Hermon, from the lion’s den, from the mountains of the leopards.” [The Song of Solomon 4: 7-8]

“Your lips, O my spouse, drip as the honeycomb; honey and milk are under your tongue; and the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.” [The Song of Solomon 4: 11]

  “A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse, a spring shut, a fountain sealed. Your plants are an orchard of pomegranates with pleasant fruits, fragrant henna with spikenard, spikenard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices—a fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon. [The Song of Solomon 4: 12-15]

Here’s how the spouse describes her beloved:

“His hands are as rods of gold set with beryl (another version says the Golden Globes). His body is carved ivory, inlaid with sapphires. His legs are pillars of marble, set on bases of fine gold. His countenance is like Lebanon, excellent as the cedars (another version says: his aspect is like Lebanon, noble as cedars.” [The Song of Solomon 5: 14-15]).

In his turn the Beloved compares his beloved as such:

“Your neck is like an ivory tower, your eyes like the pools in Heshbon by the gate of Bath-Rabbim. Your nose is like the tower of Lebanon which looks toward Damascus. Your head crowns you like Mount Caramel, and the hair of your head is like purple; a king is held captive by your tresses.” [The Song of Solomon 7: 4-5]

Lebanon is everywhere in the writings of the prophets, like Malachi, Jeremiah, Hosea.


The great prophet Isaiah, circa 740-687 BC, son of Amos, Écha’ya (Arabic اشعیاء), has transcribed on parchments his prophecies and oracles concerning The coming of the Messiah in Lebanon, which (in my humble view) the Christian history has confounded with, and wrongly attributed to Jesus of Nazareth. In his many oracles, he mentioned more than once the birth of Lebanon and its evolvement into a wonderful State, and the advent (as if these two occurrences were inextricably inter-related) of the “prophet of the Land of Cedars” who will be called the “Admirable,” and the fall of Lebanon as a punishment for its ingratitude toward the teachings and miracles of the Son of Heaven.

Thus we read:

“It is not yet a very little while till Lebanon shall be turned into fruitful field, and the fruitful field be esteemed as a forest? In that day the deaf shall hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness. The humble also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. For the terrible one is brought to nothing, the scornful one is consumed, and all who watch for iniquity are cut off—who make a man an offender by a word, and lay a snare for him who reproves in the gate, and turn aside the just by empty words.” (The Holy Bible, the New King James version, Isaiah 29: 17-21)

“It shall blossom abundantly and rejoice, even with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the excellence of Caramel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the Lord, the excellency of our God.” [Isaiah 35: 2]

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” [Isaiah 9:6]

“Behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, will lop off the bough with terror; those of high stature will be hewn down, and the haughty will be humbled. He will cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon will fall by the Mighty One. There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. His delight is in the fear of the Lord […] And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious.” [Isaiah 10: 33-34; 11: 1-10)

“And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor its beasts sufficient for a burnt offering.” [Isaiah 40: 16]

In fact, the Old Testament mentions Lebanon so many times that one starts to wonder why would “the Voice of Divine Revelation” allocate so much importance to a region, or a country (that didn’t even exist at the time) that played no major role in the making of the Levant: Lebanon certainly didn’t have the same importance of Jerusalem, Damascus, Capernaum, Canaan, Egypt, the Euphrates and the Tigris … or any of the other regions forming that part of the globe! Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

Hosea, circa 780-740 BC, one of the twelve prophets of Israel, of a lesser importance if I may add, and whose book is at the top of the list of the twelve prophets who acquired a certain importance in the Hebrew Bible, went as far as to comparing—three times!—the reputation of Israel (who walks in the shadow of Yahweh) to the wine vineyards of Lebanon:

“I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall grow like the lily, and lengthen his roots like Lebanon. His branches shall spread; his beauty shall be like an olive tree, and his fragrance like Lebanon. Those who dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall be revived like grain, and grow like vine. Their scent [literally remembrance] shall be like the wine of Lebanon.” [The Book of Hosea, 14: 5-7]

Nahum, late seventh century BC, who was considered the seventh of the twelve minor prophets, speaks thus in his psalm about Yahweh’s wrath:

“The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked. The Lord has His way in the whirlwinds and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet. He rebukes the sea and makes it dry, and dries up all the rivers. Bashan and Caramel wither, and the flower of Lebanon wilts.The mountains quake before Him, the hills melt, and the earth heaves at His presence, yes, the world and all who dwell in it.” [The Book of Nahum 1: 3-5]

Zachariah, end of the sixth century BC, another minor prophet of the Haggai period, said of the chosen people, while speaking of Lebanon … a Lebanon, alas! vowed to the fires of hell, as it seemed:

“I will also bring them back from the land of Egypt, and gather them from Assyria. I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon, until no more room is found for them.” [Zacharias, 10: 10]

Open your doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour your cedars. Wail, O cypress, for the cedar has fallen, because the mighty trees are ruined. Wail, O oaks of Bashan, for the sick forest has come down. There is the sound of the wiling shepherds! For their glory is in ruins. There is the sound of roaring lions! For the pride of the Jordan is in ruins.” [Zechariah 11: 1-3]

It is perhaps Ezekiel, about six centuries BC, the third of the four great prophets, who surprises us the most with his enigmatic prophecies concerning Lebanon. Here are two excerpts which are rather startling:

“And the word of the Lord came to me, saying: Son of man, pose a riddle, and speak a parable to the house of Israel, and say, Thus says the Lord God:

‘A great eagle with large wings and long pinions, full of feathers of various colors, came to Lebanon and took from the cedar the highest branch. He cropped off its topmost young twig and carried it to the land of trade; he set in the city of merchants. Then he took some of the seed of the land and planted it in a fertile field; he placed it by abundant waters and set it like a willow tree. And it grew and became a spreading vine of low stature; its branches turned toward him, and its roots were under it. So it became a vine, brought forth branches, and put forth shoots.

But there was another great eagle, with large wings and many feathers…” [Ezekiel 17: 1-10]

“The word of the Lord came again to me, saying,

‘Now, son of man, take up a lamentation for Tyre (Lebanon), and say to Tyre, ‘You who are situated at the entrance of the sea (the Mediterranean sea), merchant of the peoples on many coastlands, thus says the Lord God:

‘O Tyre, you have said,

‘I am perfect in beauty.’

Your borders are in the midst of the seas. Your builders have perfected your beauty. They made all your planks of fir trees from Senir (Mont Hermon); they took a cedar from Lebanon to make you a mast. Of oaks of Bashan (in the Golan Heights) they made your oars; the company of Ashurites (in Iraq) haveinlaid your planks, with ivory from the coast of Cyprus…” [Ezekiel 27: 1-6]

“Thus says the Lord God: ‘In the day when he went down to the grave, I caused mourning. I covered the deep because of him. I restrained its rivers, and the great waters were held back; I caused Lebanon to mourn for him, and all the trees of the field wilted because of him. I made the nations shake at the sound of his fall, when I cast him down to Sheol together with those who descend into the Pit: and all the trees of Eden, the choicest and best of Lebanon, all that drink water, were comforted in the depths of the earth. They also went down to Sheol with him, with those slain by the sword; and those who were his arm, who dwelt in his shadows among the nations.” [Ezekiel 31: 15-17]

Even the Apocalypse of John does not escape this law of Lebanese symbolism, and relies on Lebanon to portray the Son of Man in his beauty … who is to come at to the end of times:

“I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet saying, ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,’ and, ‘What you see write in a book and send it to the seven churches.’ […] Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. His head and hairs were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like the flame of fire; His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace [“chalkos-Libanos” in the original Greek text of the Apocalypse 2 ], an important element that almost all translators failed irresponsibly to mention in their translation], and His voice as the sound of many waters. He had in his right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. And when I saw Him, I fell at his feet as dead. But He laid his right hand on me, saying to me: ‘Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives and was dead, and behold I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death. Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.’” [The Apocalypse of John 1: 9-19] (To be continued soon …)

1 ] In other translations of Jeremiah 18:14 than King James Bible, like the English Standard Version, they mention the Sirion mountain, other name of Mount Hermon in Lebanon: “Does the snow of Lebanon leave the crags of Sirion? Do the mountain waters run dry, the cold flowing streams?” According to the Bible, the Sidonians called Mount Hermon (a mountain in the Anti-Lebanon) Sirion, and the Amorites: Senir: “And at that time we took the land from the hand of the two kings of the Amorites who were on this side of the Jordan, from the River Arnon to Mount Hermon : The Sidonians call Hermon Sirion and the Amorites call it Senir”. [Deuteronomy 3: 8-9]

2 ] Jean Gosjean, one of the translators of the Bible, and also one of the few translators to have complied with the original text of the Greek New Testament, says: “His feet are like bronze-of-Lebanon.” Almost all the translators have omitted this key word, chalkos-Libanos, which is most indicative of the return of Christ at the end of time. Bronze was an unknown metal to them, but it wasn’t so at the time of the Hittites, the ancient inhabitants of Lebanonwho worked the iron, bronze, and other metals too, a fact well known from the Bible. And yet, all translators in all languages of the world (probably because they were copying from one another) have irresponsibly omitted this key word when they wrote: “His feet were like burning brass, as if they burned in a furnace.” (The Holy Bible, translated from the original Hebrew and Greek texts by NIV) “His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace.” (The Holy Bible, The New King James Version) “His feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace.” (The Oxford Study Bible, Revised Bible with the Apocrypha) The word “Lebanon” disappeared from almost all the known texts. John, at the end of the Apocalypse, didn’t he say: “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of the prophecy, God shall take away his part from the book of life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”? By correcting this word, we would have rendered to Lebanon what is to Lebanon, and to God what is to God.

The Land of Canaan

Without Lebanon, the land of the cedars, there is no Israel in the biblical sense! Don’t they say “the Promised Land of Canaan?” Is not Lebanon part of the “Land of Canaan” which was given to the descendants of Abraham as an inheritance which was theirs to have? In Deuteronomy, doesn’t Moses sing at the gates of the Promised Land: “Let me pass, I pray Thee, let me see the good land across the Jordan, that goodly mountain and Lebanon?” But to which Lebanon Moses is referring to, and to what Promised Land? The Promised Land, as well as the Kingdom of God, to use the very words of Jesus, are in our heart … and in our love for our neighbor, because whether we like it or not, man is the brother of Man! But what a disastrous idea it was to have detached Lebanon from Syria, and Palestine from Lebanon, to name only these neighboring kindred countries who have always been in dire want of a truthful and lasting entente. Everything in them unite them—be it through their people or their adjoining borders!  Should we take a step back in the documents and historical archives of that time which was responsible for the tearing apart of that region, we would be stunned and particularly pleased to discover that the majority of Lebanese, Palestinians, and Syrians at the time the Ottoman Empire was dismembered into small States, did not want this fait accompli: not the Jews of Jerusalem, not the Mufti of Damascus, and not the Maronites of Baabda. This is to say, if we want peace to prevail in the region, we must return to the original idea of social unity, a biblical unity … the very total unity of the family of Canaan: an ethnic, economic, and religious unity, which is to bring the Land of Canaan as dreamt by Abraham, who is the common father of all children of that region: Jews, Christians and Muslims. Only then will that region shine to a bright luster and live happily ever after. I think that just like the European countries, who spent endless years tearing one another apart, through endless internecine struggles which delayed their development, like also America, India, or Pakistan … the Land of Canaan will be united or will not be at all!

Excerpts from the Bible … (Reasoned Citations taken from the Old and New Testament)
The Dreyfus Affair and the Balfour Promise …

The prophecy of Isaiah and the advent of Dr. Dahesh in Lebanon …
Conclusions and historical meditations …
Excerpts from « Dahesh la Rencontre » on Lebanon and the symbolism of the Song of Songs (French) le Liban et le symbolisme du Cantique des Cantiques

A general idea on Daheshim and the teachings of Doctor Dahesh … Daheshism in a Bird’s Eye view

“Daheshism is also a call for fundamental unity – social and religious – of the Peoples of Canaan, without which peace is not possible in the region nor in the world.” Manifesto for peace in the Middle-East by Joseph H. Chakkour

Copyright © 2009 Georges H. Chakkour – Tous droits réservés